Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sick Day Recipes

Time for a recipe post!

Chocolate Chip-Banana Pancakes

1/4 c flour                                            1 TB sugar
2 tsp baking powder                            1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon                                 1 1/4 c milk
1 mashed banana                                 1 beaten egg
1 tsp vanilla                                         1/4 c chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir in egg, milk, banana and vanilla.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Cook on a greased griddle, heated to about 350 degrees.  Serve with warm chocolate syrup and whipped cream.  Every day should be this good....
 I double this recipe for my family.

About To Die Chicken Noodle Soup

When some one in the family feels like they are about to die, this is the cure.  I haven't lost a patient yet.

Thaw a chicken breast or two in the microwave.
 Cut it up with kitchen shears and saute in several TBS of butter.
 Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
 If you have any veggies to toss in, now would be the time to do it.  Last night, I just used some sliced mushrooms, but onions, garlic, celery and carrots are really good too.
 Add 4 to 8 cups of water, depending on the size of your pot, number of breasts etc...
Bring to a boil and add several cubes of chicken bouillon  and a healthy portion of dried pasta.  Alphabet is fun, but plain macaroni or broken up spaghetti will do.
 Set timer according to directions on pasta box.
 Once the timer has gone off, stir in 1 to 2 cans of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup or both.
Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.  Milk can thin it down or tame extra saltiness.  Cornstarch can thicken.
For an extra kick in pants, serve with hot apple cider.  No one can stay sick for long with that combination  :-)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dee!

Happy Birthday to my curious and independent Dee!

We kicked off his 6th birthday with snuggles in bed, then a rousing breakfast of Cap'n Crunch.  The breakfast of geriatric pirate champions everywhere!

Next on the roster of fun, fun, fun we loaded up and hit the Hardesty library for a Paul Mesner puppet show.  The last show was a blast, he uses these large and complex puppets, capable of spitting up hairballs, no less.  I knew we would be a teeny bit late.  No biggie, I'm always a teeny bit late.  But then I had to do an emergency refueling op.  Then I went a mile too far north, and hit every red light for the next 7 miles west.  The red lights were spaced 1/4 of a mile apart.  We took the very last parking spot available, way out in the back 40.  I was packing a good 30lbs in my book bag.  Gabby refused to walk, Dee decided it would be funny to swing, Tarzan like off my 10 lb purse.  "Look, ma!  There's a parking spot right next to the front door you could have had. Ha, ha, ha!"  Ha.

The attendant at the door looked at us a little funny, but said that there might be some seats in the far back corner.  There was one empty row.  Score!!!!

We got settled and shushed and tried to decipher the in progress story line.  Approximately 2 minutes, 40 seconds later the lights come on and everyone wildly applauds whilst I do some fancy math in my head.  I must have written the wrong time down on the calendar.

The good news: There is another showing after lunch.

The bad news:  We already know how it ends.

Hairy Man doesn't actually eat Wiley.  Shhhh.

After battling our way through the hordes of frazzeled day care workers to get to the car, (feeling a bit like a day care worker myself)  it was most definitely time for lunch.  I had intended that we would go to Mazzio's in Broken Arrow, then to the B A library for a primer in Broken Arrow history.  But Dee elected to return to Hardesty for the second showing of "Wiley and Hairy Man."  And it's his birthday, after all.

So, I whip out my handy dandy Trac Phone, textless but equipped with the internet, none the less.  411 Search indicated there was a Mazzio's just up the road.  I could not find it.  I dialed the number listed.  Well!  Just because they moved and I'm the 39,857th person to inquire is no reason to be snappy.  Sheesh!

I eventually found a quaint little Mazzio's at 51st and Sheridan.  The kids loved the old timey atmosphere.  Dee ate nothing but cheese sticks and cinnamon bites.  He was happy.

We made sure to get back to the library with plenty of time to spare.  The librarian had informed me that the next show began at 2, but I should be there by 1:30.  I arrived at 1:45, only to learn that it actually began at 2:30, but the doors don't open until 2:15.  We wait.

It was an excellent program, the kids had a blast.  We came home and I made Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes, IHOP style.  Robert called ahead that he was desperately ill and in need of some homemade chicken noodle soup.  I made that too.  Now it's time to settle in and watch classic Batman with Adam West.  I'm certain caped avengers in tighty-whities will gambol about the living room until way past bedtime.  You only turn 6 once, after all!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Katie, Bar The Door!

Fear.  Trust.  Sovereignty of God.  Responsibility of man.

These have been the themes of my devotions, the past few days.

This year I am reading out of a Daily Bible.  The selections are arranged so that I will have read the Bible through in a year.  I am currently reading out of Nehemiah, Acts, Psalms and Proverbs.  And it's amazing how certain verses have been leaping out and grabbing me by the throat!  I love it when God does that  :-)

The first verse is Neh. 6:13  I prefer the King James Version, but the first time I read this verse it was in NAS and it spoke to me.  So I'll leave this one in NAS, but usually you can count on good ol' KJV to be the standard here.

"13 He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me."

What got me was the "that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin" part.  Fearful actions often lead to sinful actions.  Being scared out of my skull is a terrible testimony!  "Fear thou not for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God" Isaiah 41:10

Sounds like a command to me.  A command and a promise.  "I will be with thee, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

I am battling a lot of fear and mistrust right now.  How do I know that my doctor knows what's best?  What if he slept through that class on B-Lynch sutures?   (hyperbole to prove my desperation, I know he is perfectly competent.  I think.  Just kidding.  Maybe.)

What is really going on here is that I don't want to let go of the control that I like to fantasize about having.  But, then again, God went to a lot of trouble to give me some brains.  I think He expects me to use them periodically.  

That is where Proverbs 21:31 comes in.

31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.

If you have a horse and don't get him ready for the fight, you deserve to lose.  But safety is of the Lord.  Not by might, nor by strength, but by the Lord's Spirit, comes the victory.  Even yet, Biblical examples command us to gather up pots, seek out faithful men, gird on your sword while building the walls, get on a ship, let down the nets, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, hold up your hands and pray.  

Basically, there is no telling what God might do and what means He might use to supernaturally bless or prosaically supply.  

Trust God and take your vitamins.
Trust God and buckle your seat belt.
Trust God and refrain from eating the yellow snow.

I like to learn about obstetrics.  It's a weird little obsession of mine.  Maybe someday it will become a cool ministry, like if I could serve a crisis pregnancy center as a doula.  For the present, it can facilitate greater communication between me and my doctor.  I am familiar with options and procedures and best case scenarios and worst case scenarios.  And that gives me a measure of peace.
But none of it is going to protect me or keep me from hemorrhaging, eclampsia, a fatally deformed baby or anything else that I can't even imagine.  That is God's business.  And that's the way it should be.

Trust God, and find a good doctor.  Check.  Time to go relax

Friday, July 26, 2013

Of Habits and Destiny

I do believe I have been suffering from "mommy burnout" for awhile.  Everything seems to take such tremendous effort, that more often that not I simply don't bother.  And that's a problem.  I have let many essential habits slip in myself, and not formed good habits in my children.  And I think that is making my job 20 times harder.

I picked up my copy of A Charlotte Mason Companion yesterday, looking for some pearls of wisdom to help me combat this.  This is what I found:

Sow an act, reap a habit,
sow a habit, reap a character,
sow a character, reap a destiny.

                                                   Thomas a Kempis

This is very, very deep to my way of thinking.  I copied it out with a Sharpie on a scrap of pink paper and posted it on the fridge.

The habit we are going to work on this and next week is:
1. Clean the boys room before meals.  No dinner until it's tidy.
2. If I notice a boy wandering around without certain articles of clothing, inquire as to it's whereabouts.  Indubitably they will be found cluttering the floor.

I hope to make Monday my Habit of the Week post.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Power Outage

I was awakened last night by the text alert on my phone.  I have it set to go off every two minutes until I check my text.  Which can cause some problems, such as trying to have an important conversation with the doctor at the hospital and the dang thing won't shut up and I don't want to interrupt the doctor to dig it out of my purse.  But I digress...  The long and the short of it is, there was a tornado warning, on the other side of the county.  That's when we noticed our power was out.  I fell asleep, dreaming of a dystopian Amish-type community where I was going to have "natural" surgery to fix my veins.  I then realized that natural meant no anesthesia...  And the surgeon was a sadistic, Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman.  Armed with a butcher knife and hatchet.  It was a long night.  The power is still out.  According to PSO, it may take a few days to restore power.  Time to light an oil lamp and dig out Little House On The Prairie!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What Actually Happened

Here's the good, bad and the ugly of how the day actually shook out:

*Yelled at Dee for spraying the shower water all over the bathroom floor and soaking 6 towels.

*Changed a dirty diaper.

*Recognized that Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is not very cheery mood music.

*Wipe some of the mold out of the shower with a used washcloth on my way to the laundry room.

*Scratch the biscuits, we're having toast.

*Cleaned off 3 inches of grease from the stove.  Rob fried chicken last night. 'Nuf said...

*Switched out laundry.

*10 minute computer break!!!!!!!!!!!! (my forced labor slaves are allegedly cleaning the breakfast
 table) -update- alleged is a good word, cuz evidently it never happened.

*Did I say 10 minute break?  I meant 20 minutes...

*Cleaned a bathroom!

*Disciplined kids for wanton destruction and miscellaneous hitting

*Family worship, obviously too little, too late

*Studied Japanese karate terms with Cy to prepare for his yellow belt test next week

*Sneaked peeks of hysterectomy videos on you tube

*Switch out laundry


*Waxed hateful as we skid (scudded?) out the door.

*Made it to the library.  Mass pandemonium.  I hide with the two littles in the kiddie section whilst the two older ones participate in the scavenger hunt.  Their reward, a "dirt" scratch and sniff bookmark, which makes me sneeze.  Oh, and jump ropes.  I'm hearing snatches of "The Hanging Tree" in the background.

*Snow cones.  Ahh, yeah!

*Water park.  Cy responds to trash talking black kid by saying "If you know karate then surely you know what a zikuda dachi is."  That's my boy!

*Walmart.  Done.  It wasn't pretty.  But it's done.

Coloring rainbows and idllyic naps clearly aren't in the cards for me today.  But, really it's been a pretty good day.  I feel like I did some special, out of the ordinary things with my kids.  And (using "grandma money" for the snow cones) they didn't cost anything other than gas and effort.  And it kept me from obsessing over uteri all day.  And that's worth it.

Experimental Project X

Still no comments, I see...

I am feeling rather down today.  I think it may be because I'm consigned to wearing compression hose and taking baby aspirin for the duration of this pregnancy.  I went to my surgeon yesterday to be evaluated for clots and such.  I have one superficial clot on the side of my leg, close to my knee.  And a deeper varicosity down below my calf.  That one might cause problems if a clot were to develop...  I shouldn't be surprised, this is pretty much par for my course.  I'm just disappointed that it's acting up so soon.  9 weeks is way too early for all this.  Which makes me wonder if I have a clotting disorder that shows up only when I'm pregnant.  I realize that has never shown up in any of my blood work, but I'm still convinced.  Which is the first sign of clinical hypochondria, I suppose.  Sigh.  And of course, if I have some rare, undiagnosed clotting disorder than it's practically a done deal that I'm going to lose my uterus.  Obviously. 

So, here I sit, perusing internet comment boards about postpartum hysterectomies.  And wishing I could just kick the kids down to OKC so as to further facilitate fruitless 'wallering'* by yours truly.

Or, I could try an experiment.  We'll call it Project X.  I hereby resolve to spend this day trying to make it as fun for my children as possible.  Without losing my sanity.  Which means limiting the Star Wars sound track to only being played twice in a row. 

First up, biscuits with last nights gravy.
Then, after a pep talk and 10 minute clean up race, we can sit down and color all together.
This means me.
Then they can do some obligatory math worksheets whilst I do some obligatory cleaning
Library summer program at 1:30
Water Park
Snow cones
Return some items to WalMart and buy some light bulbs. (We're down by 6)
Movie at home whilst I curl up in a fetal position and self medicate with a 1200 page book.
Spaghetti for supper
Plead the need to keep my feet up and on a heating pad because of "dangerous" blood clots or potential thereof so as to avoid cleaning the kitchen.

 Update to follow

*Wallering or wallerin: a colloquialism, commonly used by rednecks to denote wallowing in despair.  Ex: "Quit yer wallerin an' get back ta werk!"

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Testing 1,2,3...

So, I'm pretty new at this blogging thing.  I'm really not all that technically literate.  I have yet to find my comments inbox or the spam box that I am supposed to check periodically.  Can any of you out there help me with a simple test?  Just try leaving a comment so I can see what happens.  It would also be great to get to meet some of you.  I'm particularly interested to hear from my international readers.  :-)  If I don't get any comments in the next few days I will have to assume either I have no readers, OR I have yet to get the comments feature properly set up.  And that I can fix.  Not having any readers, not so easy... 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Past Is Prologue

"Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy grace I'm come.
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home."
Robert Robinson, 1757

Ebenezer, contrary to popular opinion, is not just the name of a miserly Victorian businessman.  It first came from 1 Samuel 7:12

"Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us."

Ebenezer, the stone of help.  A memorial to the faithfulness of Jehovah.  My previous posts have been my Ebenezer.  A record of what has been and how God has brought me through it all.  It is only by His Grace that I have made it this far.  And I am trusting He will take me the rest of the way, throughout however many days and whatever kind of experiences, all the way home.  And when I get there, I will have a story to tell and a song to sing!

After Elle was born, I had a lot of emotional and physical effects to deal with.  Immediately after the crisis was over I experienced an adrenaline high of epic proportions.  I had a baby girl and was alive to enjoy her!  Let's order pizza!  I received visitors all evening and laughed and glowed.  I was feeling no pain and ready to party.  That night I couldn't sleep.  I just stared at the ceiling, remembering all that had happened.  The next two nights I couldn't sleep either.  Once I got home I slept some, but couldn't sit still.  I was becoming dead tired, but this nervous energy kept me up and on my feet.  It prevented me from napping with the baby.  I started experiencing vivid memories/flashbacks throughout the day.  Any time I had a quiet moment to think, that's where I went back to.  Over and over and over.  I couldn't stop it.  My heart would race, my senses quicken, the place where I was would fade and I could see the bright lights of the delivery room once again.  The ripples of blood, the inscrutable eyes of my doctor over his mask, the crushing pressure and the 2 liter pitcher filled with what looked to be pulpy tomato juice but was actually my own blood.

Those memories led to remembering the loss of Micah.  Blood and helplessness was what tied it all together in my mind.

As the months went on I became more withdrawn.  Spending more time staring off into space.  Less involved with my husband or children.  By April I didn't have hardly any emotions left.  I felt blank.  And I knew that should scare me.  Throughout the summer I continued a dizzying rollercoaster of ups and downs.  When I was up I would tear the house apart and stay up cleaning until 2 in the morning.  When I was down I could scarcely get out of bed.  By August I had reached the end of my rope.  I knew I needed help.  I did NOT want to take anti-depressants.  The very idea scared me to death.  But living like this scared me even more.  I did not trust my primary care physician to be sympathetic to my phobia of prescription drugs.  So I switched to a different doctor.  One I knew to be more natural in his approach.  His P.A. was very understanding.  She recommended that I try a supplement, SAM-e, first and if that didn't work we could try something else.  I did my research, and could not find one bad review, news article or complaint about it.  So I bought a box.  Best decision of my life!  It's possible that the improvement came from the "placebo effect".  I don't care.  Placebo or not, I felt better with no side effects and no fear of what was getting into my breast milk.  It wasn't the complete answer, but it helped me get to the place where I could help myself.  (or rather recognize what it was that God was doing in my life.) 

Just like a numbed foot coming back to feeling, long-numbed emotions will hurt!  It takes awhile to get used to feeling again.  There was a lot of crying and feeling helpless and hopeless.  A lot of saying thoughtless things and hurting other people and feeling incredibly guilty.  A lot of fear that I would never be normal again.  But I knew what I wanted.  I wrote it out and put it on the refrigerator.  I wanted to be free.
Free to live.
Free to love.
Free to serve.

  One evening I was huddled on the bathroom floor, crying my heart out for no particular reason.  Robert put his arm around me and asked if I wanted to seek counseling.

It was just the permission I needed.

I called the ladies at Grace Bible Church and set up my first visit.  These ladies have been trained by the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) to give Biblical counsel, advice and hope.  They gave me love and compassion.  They listened and prayed with me.  There was no condemnation of me as being a baby or a drama queen or unspiritual because I let myself get down.  The first thing they did was give me scriptures to explore why God allows suffering.  There is never such a thing as random or senseless acts of suffering.  God loves me.  He is refining me.  I cannot become the person He wants me to be without walking this path.  He will show me the next step.  One day I came in complaining of how hard the week had been.  Rhoda simply asked, "How did God help you through this?"  That stopped me short.  I couldn't think of anything offhand.  If God's mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great, is it possible I had huffed right past and missed out on those blessings?  Like a rushed meal that gives precious little benefit to either the taste buds or the digestion.   My view of my past experiences gradually began to shift.  On the two year anniversary of Micah's loss I also had one of my worst periods ever.   I'm talking blood all over the toilet, my clothes and the floor.  Which of course triggered a vicious flashback.  In that moment I determined that I would not fight it, I would let myself experience the whole thing, but from a different point of view.  Instead of feeling like a victim and remembering everything that went wrong, I was going to remember all the little blessings that God sent my way.  I was able to watch Josiah's soccer game and he won!  God gave us free pizza by spinning their promotional wheel at Hideaway Pizza.  There were people praying, people coming by the ER to visit, people bringing food to the house.  There were kind nurses and doctors.  I've never had a serious flashback since.

There was one telling incident that also happened about that time.  It's a little humorous now.  Just a little.  But it showed me a lot of what was going on in my heart.  I am a control freak.  It all started with me wanting to understand every aspect of what happened to me.  What causes PPH, how is it treated, is it preventable?  Which led to wanting to understand what makes doctors tick.  How do you become a doctor?  What sort of person even wants to be a doctor?  Do they still enjoy it?  I started reading blogs and biographies.  One particular book caught my interest.  Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs: The Making Of A Surgeon by Michael Collins.  And it's companion, Hot Lights, Cold Steel:Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Year.  Exactly what I wanted to read!  Other than cussing like an Irish construction worker, (which is what he was until his mid twenties) he is a most engaging writer.  I was completely caught up in all the challenges of overcoming his lack of education and putting himself through medical school.  When he and his wife were expecting their first baby, I couldn't wait to see it through his medical eyes.  He briefly mentioned that his wife might have had a blood clot and they decided to take Heparin as a precaution.  4 chapters later his first child was born.  He rushed out to phone his family.  When he returned to her room it looked like a murder scene.  His wife had hemorrhaged very badly as a result of the blood thinner she had  been on and nearly died.  I felt like I had been punched.  This was too much.  I hadn't seen it coming.  And it made me mad!  I should have known.  All the clues were there.  I should have foreseen what was going to happen and been prepared so that I would not feel so shaken now.  Crazy, huh?  It took awhile, but as I began to process what I felt and why it dawned on me: I want to be in control.  And short of that, I at least want to be prepared for every eventuality.  I'm trusting myself to get me through any emergency.  Not God.  Not God guiding my doctor.  Just me.  No wonder I panicked!  And I still struggle with this.

  I'm about to get a lot more practice in trusting.

I'm pregnant again.  

"Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy grace I'm come.
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Elle. My Baby Belle

I have been putting off writing this for some time.  But, it needs to be written so I can move on to more current events.  And, I want to tell about what God has done for me.  So, buckle up.  It may be a bumpy ride.  It might not be written as smoothly as I would like.  It still needs to be told.

In early February we had the Infamous Blizzards of ’11.  I actually enjoyed being snowed in, (despite my 18 month toddler being very ill with RSV)  My emotions seemed to be evening out a bit.  I was slowly coming back to life.  And I was desperate to get pregnant again.  That has always seemed to fix my problems.  The blizzard was the perfect opportunity .

Two weeks later found me in Walmart’s bathroom, quivering with joy.  I wasn’t about to wait to get home and take my $1 pregnancy test.  So I snagged a cup from the McDonald’s inside Walmart and headed straight for the bathroom.  Watching two pink lines come into focus never gets old.  Not even if it’s the eighth time.  I was cautiously optimistic.  My last experience had  taught me to never take anything for granted.  I didn’t know if this baby would make it or not, but if it didn’t, I wanted to be under a Doctor’s care.  I wanted answers.   Losing my last baby after hearing a heartbeat really unnerved me.  I regretted not having the body tested to see what went wrong.  This time would be different.  When I started spotting around 10 weeks, I panicked.  Bleeding has always been a harbinger of doom.  But, praise the Lord! The ultrasound revealed a healthy, normal baby.  I was so thankful.  It was time to start packing for our first trip to Brazil. 

 We had planned on going in October, the year before, but losing Micah put a stop to that.  Our hostess had sent a very kind but frank letter telling us that I needed to stay home and recover before heading to a 3rd world country.  I was disappointed, but accepted that to be good advice.  This time I was fully ready!  We left for Brazil in late May and came back in early June. 10 whole days of tropical adventure!  I was in heaven.  Really, that was about as close to heaven as you can get on this earth.  We had such good fellowship with our Brazilian family in the Lord.  My energy held out and we had no end of fun.  I celebrated my 20th week of pregnancy with our good friends, the Gardner family in Presidente Prudente, Brazil.  It was a time of real refreshment.  

Once we got back home, however, my health started falling apart.  Our maybe my depression and anxiety caught up with me.  Maybe I just became a big, fat, drama queen…  Out of nowhere, my heart started racing,  I developed excruciating superficial blood clots and regular Braxton Hicks contractions.  I realize that I am usually as healthy as a horse.  And I give thanks for that.  But the last half of this pregnancy was marked by an uncharacteristic obsession with my health and fears that something was wrong.  Dr Silver. sent me to a cardiologist, who told me that yes, my heart was racing, but there was nothing wrong with it.  I remained skeptical and would compulsively check my pulse and blood pressure several times a day.  Dr Silver. also referred me to a general surgeon to monitor the blood clots in my legs.  I knew that they were superficial and not dangerous, but since I kept complaining of tightness in my chest and shortness of breath, Dr Gee. ordered a CAT scan.  It came back normal, of course.  Dr Silver. looked at me kind of funny when he read the report.  I lost my mucous plug around 24 weeks and continued regular Braxton Hicks contractions.  That worried me quite a bit.  I wound up at St Francis to be evaluated for pre-term labor once or twice.  And of course, I was just fine.  I even asked Dr Silver.’s nurse to round up a pulse oximeter to make sure I was breathing all right.  Which I’m sure was pretty hilarious to her.  Or maybe it was just pretty annoying… Dire intuitions notwithstanding, I progressed through this pregnancy fairly well.  I was a basket case, but maybe I had earned a right to be.  I just didn’t want to ignore any danger signs that would put my baby at risk.  All this time, my interest in natural birth had been steadily increasing.  I read books and blogs and watched youtube videos.  I checked out Rikki Lake’s The Business Of Being Born from the library.  It was awesome!  I loved all the beautiful births captured on film.  There was this one particularly tranquil water birth.  I nearly cried, it was so gorgeous and dignified.  I asked Robert to come watch the movie with me a second time.  He was most impressed with the statistics and history they presented.  By the end of the movie he was a home birth enthusiast.  In fact, he wanted me to jump ship at 8 months and try for a home birth again!  I loved the idea of a home birth in theory, but something told me that now was not the time.

What I did want was to go into labor naturally (no inductions) and to not have an epidural and to make my hospital experience as close to a home experience as possible.  As the weeks counted down, I steadily dilated.   2,4,6 cm by the time of my 40 week exam.  On that last day, my due date, I was very anxious for something to happen.  Not only were my feet so swollen I couldn't get them into flip flops, but two of my brothers were leaving for Afghanistan the very next day.  I wanted them to see their first niece.

So,  I hied me hence to Dr Silver's office.  He remarked, gravely, that I was so far dilated that when things did start happening she could be born on the side of the road in 15 minutes.  I asked him to strip my membranes.  He did.  Then, somehow, I asked if I could just head on over to the hospital and get things going.  I'm sure it totally messed with his schedule...But he said to go ahead and he would be by on his lunch break to do the amniotomy.  I was secretly hoping that things would be progressed far enough that wouldn't be necessary.  Foolish...

Robert took the kids and their clothes over to my sweet friend, Sherry's  house.  I took my pillow (with a book stuffed inside) and my insurance card to the hospital.  In my excitement I chose the wrong floor on the elevator.  The Cardiac floor nurse took one look at my bursting belly and pointed down.  Ok, down one floor.  I was at Labor and Delivery, Saint Francis South, my very favorite hospital.  Time to get the ball rolling.  But first we had to get it inflated...

  Robert arrived about an hour later with all of my stuff.  He practically had to rent a U Haul to get it all there.  My CD player with relaxing worship music.  My bottle of lavender oil.  My "birthing" ball that said Gold's Gym on the side.  He got out the deflated red disk and attached the blue rubber hose with a foot pump and started pumping.  Squeak-a, wheeze-a, squeak-a, wheeze-a... The door open and a nurse stuck her head in.  "Is everything alright?"  
"Oh, yeah, we're just inflating my rubber ball.  Wanting a natural birth you know."
"Oh.  That's great.  We were just wondering what that weird noise was."
 Maybe she was really wondering about that weird couple...( (I must stop and express how much I love the Saint Francis nurses.  They let me have Elle, skin-to-skin immediately, and in every way during my whole stay were so helpful and supportive of my decision to birth as natural as possible.  They made the whole experience {well, most of my experience} a pleasure)

Once the ball was inflated I was ready to sit.  By this time my water had been broken for about an hour and a half.  I was oozing mushy fluid every couple of minutes.  The IV was making it's presence known.  And the Doctor had just ordered a "whiff" of pitocin.  Which I really didn't want.  There is a lot of noise about birth plans and choices and informed consent.  But really, once you are in the hospital, there aren't any real choices.  I have yet to find a way to tell a Doctor no.  And, how do you know whether that is really the best thing or not?  You have to trust.  And if you can't trust your doctor, what do you do?  I wanted to trust Dr Silver.  So, I went ahead and had the "whiff".  Hindsight hasn't made things any clearer for me.  Whether that was right or not.  But that is a topic for another post.  

By this time my back is killing me.  So I plop down on my ball.  What was this supposed to do again?  There is no relief for this crushing feeling in my spine.  One more contraction on the ball and I'm done.  That is not helping.  Next to try is the slow dance.  I drape my arms around Robert's neck and relax.  Or facsimile thereof.  That isn't working either.  I sit on a birthing stool a.k.a. the toilet, only to discover light meconium in the fluid.  That concerns me.  Is my baby in distress?  The nurse wasn't freaked out, which was very comforting.  She did make sure she could get a good reading on the monitors of the baby's heart.  Keeping the monitor in place was difficult.  Keeping myself in place was even more difficult.  In between contractions the pressure on my back kept increasing.  There was no break, no rest, just a barely contained panic.  I wanted to jump up and run away.  I have never felt like that before.  Mom kept trying to get me to do the Lamaze patterned breathing crap.  I have never had much success with that.  I much prefer the Bradley method of quietly lying on my side and breathing in a calm and controlled manner.  Except that I was finding that quiet impossible.

At this time my instincts took over.  I needed to move.  I needed to breathe.  The only way I could tie my movements to my breaths was to rock on my hands and knees in the bed.  Except "rocking" does not get close to what it was.  It was push ups.  Hand and knee push ups.  Go down, breathe in.  Push up and back, breathe out.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  When I'm in labor my consciousness tends to divide into two distinct points.   One point is saying out loud, "I want an epidural"  The other point is philosophically reflecting, "Calling for an epidural, are you?  You must be close.  Way to go on your hands and knees.  She must be turned wrong, you are doing just the right thing to turn her.  This is going to be a very funny story in about 4 hours..."

Suddenly I found myself pushing through the next contraction.  No one told me I was ready to push.  In fact, you aren't "supposed" to push without "permission".  But it felt absolutely delightful in a rebellious sort of way.  Alarmed, my mom ran to get the nurse.  Sure enough, I was complete!  And oddly enough, my pain was completely gone.  I lay on back, after the exam, too tired to turn back over.  I idly wished I could have stayed on my knees to push.  It had felt right.  But it never occured to me to ask for help to get back over.  I just rested until Dr Silver came in.  It was about 5 o'clock.  

Once he got there, I must have indicated that I didn't want to push in stirrups.  I remember him saying something to the effect of  "well, I don't mind trying something new.  I'll just sit on the side here."  I really appreciated that.  I pushed a few times, to no great effect.  Then they suggested just trying the stirrups.  I hated to admit that I really could push more effectively that way...  But, it's the truth.  I could.  Call me a NCB heretic, if you wish.  I pushed several more times before I realized that I was holding back.  Not in the strength of my push, but I was literally kegeling the baby in. (Kegel is the name of an excercise where you squeeze to stop the flow of urine)  The rational part of me told myself to relax my inner thighs while I pushed.  And with one terrific grunt, out she slid.

Elle.  My baby belle.  This was the most ecstatic birth I have ever had.  I had never experienced quite like this.  I reached out and pulled her to my chest in one fluid motion.  All I could say was, "My baby, my baby.  I love you so much.  I always wanted you."  It was breathless, breathtaking love at first sight.  Nothing else mattered.  No one else existed.  My mom had handed me my glasses right away.  I rubbed and smelled Elle's sweet vernixy skin.  I inhaled her fluffy, golden hair.  I put her to my breast to try to get her to latch on and start nursing.

"Would you like to hand her to the nurse for a minute?'  It was my mom.
"No!  She needs to eat."  Had my mom lost her mind?
"I know, sweetheart.  But the doctor has a little more work he needs to do.  Maybe you should put the baby down for just a minute."

As I handed Elle over to the nurse, the room came into sharp focus.  I heard the doctor say something about blood loss, vitamin K shots and Cytotec suppositories.  Cytotec!  Didn't Rikki Lake say that was what cause uterine rupture and death?  But, if I understood the situation correctly,  I was hemorrhaging already.  So, I guessed I didn't have anything to lose.  Bring it!

I have no idea how much time elapsed after that.  Time ceased to exist.  I could do nothing but hang on.  Literally.  I about crushed my mom's hand.  There were several shots, one of Demerol for pain relief.  I have no idea if it worked or not.  I would say not.  A Bakri balloon was attempted several times.  I think the idea came from India (where they sometimes use an inflated condom) to put pressure against the source of blood loss.  Well, in my case that didn't work.  But it did hurt.  I think there was a suction hose that malfunctioned, clogged by a blood clot.  I remember the doctor reaching in and up all the way into my uterus.  Pushing a baby out is a lot easier than pushing a fist or two in.  My eyes clenched tight, the only thing I could think of was whether Dr Silver was getting blood all over his arm.  I tried to remember if his scrubs were long sleeved or short sleeved.  I'm still not certain what all he was doing up there, but I believe he was first checking for Trauma, a tear or some injury internally.  Next was probably a sweep to rule out Tissue, such as an errant piece of placenta which would prevent the uterus from clamping down fully.  I'm pretty sure he also checked for blood clots.   When he withdrew his arm, I took the opportunity to glance down at his sleeve.  It was long and the blood did not go all the way to his elbow like I would have expected.  Bright red only extended halfway past his wrist.  "There!  That wasn't so bad ," I fibbed to myself.  He had to go back in.  "Yes it was"  I replied.  This time, I think he was evaluating for Tone.  Or the lack thereof.  I think that is what is called Bi-manual compression.  With one hand pushing from inside and one on the outside you compress the gaping arteries.  During this time mom and Robert have been turning various shades of pale and green.  At one point my mom ran out of the room to start the prayer chain.  The Doctor queried aloud whether she was squeamish at the sight of blood.  Robert definitely was.  I later heard it described as "water hose" bleeding.  I can believe it.  I remember seeing the doctor push the blood out of the way.  It rippled with small waves, just like a swimming pool or bath tub.  I knew things were pretty dicey at this point.  Robert was on the verge of tears.  I wanted to reassure him.  "I'm okay.  Really, it doesn't hurt that bad.  It's just uncomfortable."  He didn't buy it.  Elle was crying, alone and abandoned in the corner.  I couldn't stand that.  I begged Rob to go hold her.  Let her know she wasn't forgotten.  For myself, I was curious.  Not scared, just curious.  The first time I hemorrhaged, the solution was simple.  Go to the hospital, they can fix it.  But I was already here.  I had a terrific doctor working down the checklist in his head of all the right things to do.  My question was, how many options do we have left?  I knew we were running out of options and we were running out of time.  But two things comforted me.  He hadn't called for units of blood yet.  There was no way he would let me die without trying a blood transfusion first.  The last effort would be a hysterectomy.  That had not been mentioned yet.  
 "Call for two units of blood and have the OR prepped."
I had mentioned that my lips were numb.  The nurse replied that is was probably a side effect of the Demerol.  A likely story.
At that moment the blood pressure cuff started inflating.  The room fell silent.  You could have heard the proverbial pin drop.  90/50  I knew that I had been worse off before.  I recalled the 80/40 reading I had in the ER the year before.  I turned my attention to Dr Silver's face.  Or rather his eyes.  Most of his face was covered by his mask.  What was he thinking?  How concerned should I be?  We all held our breaths.  He glanced up at the ceiling, sighed and said, "Let's head to surgery."  I pondered for the second time in my life if this might just be my last day.  That didn't scare or bother me.  I felt at peace.  My times are in God's hands.  One of these days will be my last.  I've always been curious what it will be like when I do realize I've come to that day.  I guess I still don't know.  But I thank God for the peace He has given me when I needed it most.  Christ faced the pain and fear of death and judgement so that I don't have to.  I have nothing to fear.  I am accepted.  To live is Christ and to die is gain.  So, the only thing I felt was, ready.

At that moment something changed.  "It's stopped."  Once again the room fell silent and Doctor Silver held up his hands for just a moment.  Almost as if afraid that the slightest  touch would start the cascade again.  We all breathed a sigh of relief.  The doctor picked up his needle and thread and proceeded to repair the small perineal tear as if nothing out of the ordinary had ever happened.  Feeling that a joke was in order, I piped up.  "Glad I didn't have a home birth."   
Poor Doctor Silver.  He about lost it.  "If you had had a home birth, you would have died!" he snapped.
(Okay, maybe it wasn't that funny.  I will blame it on the Demerol)
At this point Robert felt like finally he could do something for me.  He could defend home birth for me.  So he said something about how nice it was for the doctor to kick me while I was down.  I did not hear that comment.  It wasn't until weeks later that I found out he had said that.  It made me feel sad at first.  It seemed like a somewhat rude thing to say to the guy that just saved my life.  But then again, we all needed to blow off steam.  And I really appreciated Robert speaking up for me at a time when I was pretty much out of my mind.  I will have to say this,  Dealing with Dr Silver has been interesting.  He and I may disagree on whether managed care or "natural, trusting your body to do it's thing" is best.  But I discovered I do trust him.  At least in an emergency.  And I'm working on the rest.  There is a lot more to say, but the Present is calling me back.  I have kids to take care of and a life to live for today.  And I'm thankful for it.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Beano Thanks And There'll Beano Peace

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Col 3:15

I was cleaning out a cabinet and found an old, wrinkled sheet of paper in an equally wrinkled sheet protector.  Festooned with butterfly stickers and handwritten scriptures, this was my "labor page".  I had written out a series of verses and reminders for my husband to read and encourage me with during the birth of our first child.

I don't think it ever left the suitcase...

But!  God's Word never returns empty-handed.  As I pulled it out of the dust and cobwebs, a smile pulled at the corners of my mouth.  I knew just the person who needed this.

Sherry was very polite and accepted my "gift" with a straight face.  I have no idea if my verses were a blessing to her or not.  She returned the sheet several months later.  I stashed it in a corner of my laundry room.

As I stood in that very room a couple of weeks later, fighting the panic bubbling up through the pit of my stomach, I decided that for my peace of mind I should clean off that counter.  And I found my verses.

I put this sheet up on my refrigerator.  Now I can look at it many times a day.  Whenever I am lacking peace I can look at the "solution".  Yet the key to this verse often eludes me, even when staring me in the face.

"Let the peace of God rule in your hearts...and be ye THANKFUL.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, SINGING with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS to God and the Father by him." Col 3:15-17

There can be no peace without thankfulness.  

I was just the person who needed this.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Maniacal Monday, Truculent Tuesday

I used to call my Mondays "Manic Monday".  Partly because it's the name of a song, partly because I like alliterations.  But mostly because that's what it  was.  After a day of forced rest on Sunday, (Thou Shalt Take An Hour Long Nap On Sundays...) the kids and I would be rarin' to go on Monday.  I would frantically dismantle the house, clean it within an inch of it's dusty life and go to bed exhausted, yet triumphant.

Then we started karate class on Monday nights.

No biggie, I would plan an easy dinner, go light on school and still could clean the house before we left the house at 5:30.

Then came the opportunity to start piano lessons.

OK.  I can do this.  I'll soak the beans in the morning, throw them in the crockpot at noon.  Practice the piano like a maniac after breakfast.  Print off our math lessons and tie the kids to their chairs until they get done.  Wash three loads of laundry.  Only dry two of them.  Do my workout so I can retain a tenuous grasp on my sanity.  Have we actually eaten breakfast yet?  Oh well, it's almost 11, so we can have a brunch.  I need a nap.  I wonder what's going on on Facebook.  No!  Must. resist. computer.  Clean the bathroom instead...  Is Glenn Beck saying anything interesting?  Oh my goodness!!  It's 2:30!  I still haven't practiced the piano!!  Is Cy's gi dry yet?  Everyone find your shoes!  No, you may not wear snow boots, it's 130 degrees outside.  Where are your library reading logs?  Where is my phone?  Where is the baby?  

We leave the house, 10 minutes late.  But that's OK.  I'm still 5 minutes early for my lesson.  Time for some girl talk.  I'm so engrossed in visiting with my friend that I don't realize her son finished his lesson 5 minutes ago.  I am now 5 minutes late for my lesson.

Once my lesson is over we have 15 minutes to kill until time to leave for karate.  I just want to bask in the sun.  Aaack!  We need to leave in 3 minutes!  Cy, go change into your gi. Don't worry, your ambient heat will dry it in no time.  Dee, get your shoes on.  Dee, get your shoes on.  Dee!!! Forget your shoes, just get in the van.

I skid into the library parking lot.  Bail out of the moving van, roll on the pavement and sprint through the electric doors.  Scanning the field, I spot my book on Homer on the reserve shelf.  I nab it, maneuver through the checkout line and make a timely egress.  Elapsed time, 00:03:34  SEAL Team Six would have been jealous.

Cy makes his karate lesson, only 3 minutes and 34 seconds late.  Not bad.

An hour later we are ready to wend our way homeward.  After I go to the bank and the gas station.

8:00, home at last!  Time for supper.  Lucky, organized me has dinner hot and ready in the crockpot.  Ha! Ha!

The beans are still tough...

I pull out the frozen pizza.

8:30, Rob walks in the door.  I inform him I am taking my pizza and my book and getting in the tub.  I am officially off duty.

9:00,  I hear the water running in the kitchen, he must be doing the dishes.  I have the best husband in the world!

9:15  Well, at least the dishes are rinsed and neatly spread all over the cabinet now.  He's still a pretty good husband.

9:16  I wonder what's going on on Facebook?

9:17  No! Must. Resist. Computer.

9:20 Set the timer for 10 minutes.  You can do anything for 10 minutes.  And in 10 minutes I:
Placed two pieces of foil over pizza and put pizza in the fridge
Dipped out a mess of beans for Rob's lunch tomorrow
Unloaded the dishwasher
Loaded only the dishes that are in the sink
Shined my sink!

10:00  Go to bed and read a little more.  The kids have long since been sent to bed, whiny, sticky and overtired.

Which leads me to Truculent Tuesday.  Here is a dictionary definition: 
Eager or quick to argue or fight; aggressively defiant.

That's why at 10:08 a.m. I am still in my pajamas, blogging.  I am aggressively defiant to the idea of getting anything done today.