Monthly Archives: October 2008

The more things change…

Poetry.  At times, I still fear it;  there’s such a great deal of it that just seems to zoom over my too-literal head;  I feel I’m missing too much to actually appreciate it.

Then, I read something like this, and my emotions just get caught up with a resonance with the author and it makes me…  I don’t know.  Makes me feel like I could love being the author’s friend, if we share thoughts like that:

An Excuse for not Returning the Visit of a Friend

Do not be offended because
I am slow to go out. You know
Me too well for that. On my lap
I hold my little girl. At my
Knees stands my handsome little son.
One has just begun to talk.
The other chatters without
Stopping. They hang on my clothes
And follow my every step.
I can’t get any further
Than the door. I am afraid
I will never make it to your house.

Here’s the best part:  It was written about a thousand years ago.  A thousand years.  By a Chinese man.  Mei Yao-Ch’en (1002-1060).  The translation is by Kenneth Roxroth.  I found it on the blog of Unrelaxed Dad, who, with this post, reminds me why I so very often love reading his writings.

I did some Googling of Mei Yao-Ch’en, and came up with a number of beautiful poems, many of them heartbreaking, as they deal with the death of his first wife and at least two of his children.  Poetry that makes one gasp and feel the reality of deep sorrow, and shake one’s head and say, “There but for the grace of God go I…”  That’s powerful.

On the Death of a New Born Child

The flowers in bud on the trees
Are pure like this dead child.
The East wind will not let them last.
It will blow them into blossom,
And at last into the earth.
It is the same with this beautiful life
Which was so dear to me.
While his mother is weeping tears of blood
Her breasts are still filling with milk.

You can read more, here.

Baby Fiala’s scary 2nd day

On Thursday morning, 10/23, I had just gotten off the phone with my hubby.  I was feeling great, and looking forward to going home.  I was nursing my peaceful baby, when in walked the pediatrician.  Hm.  The pediatrician in my room?  Coming to see me?  The baby?  Hunting me down?  Her?  Didn’t seem like a good sign to me.  “Finish nursing your baby, then bring her back down to the nursery.  She needs to be put under UV lights because her bilirubin levels are very high.”

This particular doctor was from my pediatrician’s office, but not my kids’ doctor.  Before the previous day, I had never met her.  She was young… late 20s or early 30s, and seemed to me like she had a chip on her shoulder, like the motivation to prove she was a Real Doctor.  I had also already observed her “bedside manner” in action with another family… she left a lot to be desired on the comfort side of things.

Earlier the day before, I had witnessed something transpire between that doctor, three nurses, a baby, and the baby’s family.  The baby was breathing hard and heavy, but her pulse ox was low — around 90%.  She was also very pale and other than her quickly rising and falling chest, quite limp.  The doctor wanted to find out why she wasn’t receiving adequate oxygen, so ordered some blood tests, then a chest x-ray and an … oh, gosh, I can’t remember the name of the test, but it was to check out her heart.  I’m not a doctor, but it seemed obvious that the pediatrician wanted to see if the problem was in the baby’s blood, heart, or lungs.  The doctor left the room, and the nurses started talking.  I was the only mother in the room.  The nurses kept their voices down a bit, but it was clear to me that they thought the doctor was being overly cautious, and ordering too many tests for what seemed to them to be an extremely minor problem.  As they continued their critical assessment of the doctor’s orders, their backs to the back door, of course, in walked the doctor.  It took the nurses several seconds to realize that they were being listened to by the very person whom they were critiquing.  They zipped up and received a cold glare from the doc.

I think the doctor had just returned from the mother’s room, because shortly afterwards, a contingent of family came to the nursery door, begging for more information, saying that the mother was absolutely distraught and inconsolably worried.  The doctor matter-of-factly turned them away, saying that the tests couldn’t be interrupted and that she would let them know the results as soon as possible.

This episode, all of about 20 minutes total, stayed with me.  Later that day, when the baby was no longer in the nursery, I tried to find out what had happened to her.  I figured it was either really good — that the baby turned out all right and had been returned to her mother.  Or, really bad — that the baby had been transferred to a hospital with level 3 infant care.  I asked a nurse, with the understanding that she probably couldn’t tell me — doctor/patient privilege and all — and sure enough, she couldn’t.

Anyways, all of this — the possibly over-reacting doctor and her cold bedside manner — was in my head as she herself visited my room.

I grilled her for more info.  She said, speaking at a fast, no-nonsense clip, “We’ll keep her under lights for 12 hours, then test her blood for the levels.  If they’re still in the high-intermediate zone, we’ll keep her overnight.  You’re breastfeeding, which contributes to her being dehydrated, and since she’ll be under the lights, they’ll have to supplement feed her to keep her fluids up.”

I was totally taken aback.  I told her I could understand about the lights, but that I did NOT want her supplement-fed by formula, at all, for any reason.  The doctor conceded, “The only other option is to put an IV in her to keep her fluids up.”

“OK, then.  Put in the IV.”

“You can come in as often as you want to sit with her.  You can stay in the nursery the whole time, if you’d like.  If she’s distressed, you can nurse her every two hours.  If she’s doing OK, you can nurse her every three hours.”

The doctor left the room.  I knew then, and I know now, that my daughter was not in mortal danger.  But, here she was, barely 24 hours old, and the doctor was telling me that she would have to stay in the level 2 nursery, and I couldn’t have her for a minimum of 12 hours, and likely more.  That was really hard to swallow.  Really hard.

I called my husband, who was not pleased.  He told me to call our pediatrician for a second opinion.  Theoretically, I had no problem with that.  But I knew the way my ped’s office works:  You call in, leave a message for the triage nurse, who either answers the question herself, or asks a doctor, IF she deems it necessary, and she probably wouldn’t ask our own ped, but whichever doctor was the one answering triage questions for the day.

Sure enough, that’s what happened.  The triage nurse ended up calling my husband at home, repeating the same info that the doctor had told me, and that I’d already told him.  It did put him more at peace, but later, it made things a little tense between the doctor and myself, because she came to me saying, “If you wanted a second opinion, you should have asked me to contact your doctor directly, instead of going around behind my back.”  Ugh.  I knew the triage message would get back to her, and I knew it would appear that we were “going behind [her] back” but that wasn’t my real intention;  it’s just that we trust our ped, but didn’t know her from beans.

By 11:00 a.m., they had wee baby Fiala hooked up — right wrist immobilized and taped up with an IV needle, WeeSpecs on, under a warmer and two banks of UV phototherapy lights.

Even that little heart-shaped thingie was hard to look at for me.  It simply monitored Fiala’s skin temp and automatically adjusted the temp of the baby-warmer.  Still.  I just don’t like seeing cords hooked up, taped on, whatever, on my baby.  It didn’t seem right.

I do know now that the doctor was probably right to be cautious.  The thing that was of particular concern with Fiala is that her levels peaked so high within the first 24 hours of her life.  She was never in extreme danger, but because her levels were in the “high intermediate” zone, if no action was taken, it was likely that her bilirubin count would increase to a dangerous, health-threatening level.

All my kids had jaundice;  I’m not sure why, but I guess that’s an associated risk factor for jaundice that requires phototherapy.  We didn’t have any of the other risk factors in play…  And, I didn’t see any evidence of “our” doctor or any other doctor over-treating jaundice:  Out of the 30 or so babies in the hospital at the time, Fiala was the only one receiving treatment.  (The hospital where I was at usually only has 5-7 births a day, but there was a birth explosion for some reason;  22 babies were born the day before Fiala was born!  For that reason, my recovery room was in a corridor Martin and I had jokingly called The Dead Zone while I was making my pacing/walking rounds awaiting Fiala’s birth.  It was down a twisty path and hadn’t seen any updating/remodeling in probably 20+ years.  And, wouldn’t you know it?  That’s where they placed me.  In fact, they opened The Dead Zone just for me.  🙂  I was the first patient in that hall, and for about six hours, until more recovering mommies were brought in, the nurse who tended me said I was her only patient.  Hehehe.)

This was taken later, but here’s a close-up (taken by my 7yo, Wesley) of Fiala’s hand w/ the IV in it.  Makes me sad:

I did spend a lot of time in the nursery with Fiala.  And, I did nurse her every three hours.  The only thing that enabled me to not lose it entirely was the fact that she weathered this storm really spectacularly.  She didn’t seem all that bothered at all!  I’d leave the nursery and go back to my room and cry and pray, always remembering to thank God that Fiala didn’t seem to be traumatized by the whole thing.

At 9:00, they tested her again, and I got word at 10:00 that they would, indeed, be keeping her overnight.  I wept.  Talking with my dear husband, he said, “Well, at least since they’re taking care of her, you can get some good sleep.”  Theoretically, yes.  In practice, no.  I was SO tense and sad and missing my baby that I would lay down and NOT be able to sleep.  Then, I’d turn the TV on and watch SportsCenter.  Then, I’d try to sleep.  No go.  Then, I’d get up and go to the freezer down the hall for my pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra that a kind friend had brought for me.  Then try to sleep.  Nope.  Then, go down to the nursery and feed Fiala…  This went on all night.  Those first 48 hours, I got a grand total of about two hours of sleep.

They tested her again at about 9:00 a.m., and with the results that came a couple of hours later, they released Fiala to my room at 11:00 a.m.  I wheeled her back, sat on my bed, and wept again, tears of joy and relief.  My husband called just at that point, and of course, I couldn’t not answer, but of course, he was highly concerned to have his sobbing wife answer the phone.  I told him they were tears of joy.  🙂

They left the IV in, because they had to test her one more time just to make sure her levels were holding.  That test was at 4:00 p.m., and I got word at 6 p.m. that we could go home, that she was OK and down into the low risk category.  ~huge sigh~

So, Martin and the kids ate dinner at home while I finished packing up everything in the hospital, and getting the two of us ready to go…  (Fiala’s take-me-home outfit was given to us by my dear friend Shellie.  She made the bow.)

Martin had stayed with me the first night, while I was in labor, of course, and through the midafternoon of the next day.  Our four kids had visited three times, but this time, when Mom & Fiala actually got to go home, was by far the best.  😀

All told, I was in the hospital for about 45 minutes shy of 72 hours, which was the longest stay ever.  Paid by insurance, bless God.

Since Fiala really wasn’t in mega-serious danger, I still feel a little chagrined that it was SO hard on me to see her go through her hard 24 hours;  so many mothers and so many babies have weathered much more serious conditions for much longer than I did.  But, golly, it was just hard, and I’m so glad it’s over.

Seven random things meme…

I like being tagged, and was recently tagged with this meme by the always-interesting Daja, who I think would make a lovely neighbor.  However, I’m not so hot about applying all the instructions that go with rule-laden memes…  This is due to some semi-latent rebellion in me that says, “It’s ridiculous to submit to that sort of thing” like chain e-mails and the like.  I’m most likely to tag those who I think would appreciate being tagged, and I don’t know if that would total seven or not.  We’ll have to see at the end.

Here are my things…  (If I have already stated any of these before, I’m sorry!  I’m trying to be original, but my memory is really poor…)

  1. I have my nose pierced.  Or, at least, I used to.  I got it pierced when I was 18 at a shop in the French Quarter called Warlocks.  :roll eyes:  I was a student at Tulane.  I’d been planning on getting my nose pierced as soon as I turned 18, but didn’t quite have the courage until I was about 18 years and … 8 months or so, when my sister was with me to hold my hand.  VERY few people had their noses pierced 17 years ago, and I was totally unprepared — due to my youthful oblivion — to the negative assumptions people would make of me.  Cultural perceptions are much different now, and I’m sure if I put my nose ring back in, no one would look askance.  But I think I still carry some residual pain/surprise at the response I received for the three years or so that I wore my nose ring, and I would likely not wear one today.
  2. I am trend/fad-avoidant.  Unless blogging counts.  I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for about three years now.  Time flies.
  3. Our house is three years old and we have not ever had the carpets cleaned.  This is really bugging me.  Also bugging me is the fact that it costs a good $150+ to get them cleaned.  It seems there’s always some more important use for the $150 than getting our carpets done.  We have a really good vacuum, and each living area gets vacuumed twice a week, and each bedroom once a week, so it’s not like they’re filthy.  Still, I think about this just about every day, wondering what lurks in those dark fibers…  Ugh.
  4. At one point in our childhoods, my husband and I lived about four houses down the street from each other.  He’s 6.5 years older than me, and in kid-years, that’s a whole generation apart.  He was friends with the neighborhood thugs, to whom he lived next door.  “Rick and Bill?” he says, “Oh, they were harmless.”  They probably were — it’s more like they were simply the redneck sort to have four beaters up on concrete blocks in the front yard, who turned their 1970’s banana-seat bicycles into chopper-styles bikes decades before OCC was on TV, who sprouted mustaches at age 14, and who glared at little kids.  Still, we were all terrified.
  5. Several times, maybe five or six times, when I was in college, late at night, I scaled the underneath of this bridge over the Mississippi, and via the maintenance catwalks underneath, hung out on top of one of the concrete pylons (or whatever they’re called) and watched barges pass beneath, and saw the city lights of downtown New Orleans.  At the time, it seemed like exciting yet harmless fun, but now, looking back, I can’t believe I was that daring/stupid.
  6. I am not a collector of anything.  Except kids.  😉  I think, at the core, that has something to do with my extremely unsentimental side, the side that 99.95% of women have in droves, and which I (usually fruitlessly) try to cultivate, but which doesn’t come naturally at all.  (Did that make sense?)
  7. I am NOT a good phone conversationalist.  I’d so much rather talk in person.  Second choice would be written communication.  I pretty much talk on the phone because I have to, not because it’s any joy.  We have call waiting, which came for “free” with our phone package, but I never use it.  I usually don’t even glance at the caller ID to see who’s calling, until after the phone conversation I’m involved in is finished.

OK… whom to tag?

First, Melanie at Mundane Meanderings, who always says she “steals” my memes, but that’s probably because I just simply do memes and then don’t tag anyone, because I’m always afraid that they’ll be annoyed by it.  So… Melanie, you won’t be stealing this time, because I’m willingly “giving” you the meme, OK?

Then, Jamie at Looks Good in Polkadots, except she very recently did a non-meme post of a similar nature that I thought was fabulous.

And, Embejo, Etc., a Kiwi homeschooler who is also a compassionate woman of action (check out this post).

And, Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl, who is my favorite gluten-free recipe-poster.

And, Christy at Zimm’s Zoo, a midwestern homeschooling mom of soon-to-be six.  Check out this diaper bag she made.  I’m drooling over it.  Like a baby.  😀

Additionally, I tag anyone who has a blog who would like to join in, especially all of my LURKERS, who seem to be popping up, saying, “Oh, I’ve read your blog for a year!” and yet I’ve never heard from them until now!!

Lastly, I’d like to tag anyone who doesn’t have a blog.  Just leave your seven things as a comment, even if it’s a very long comment.  🙂

There.  That’s seven, with a little creativity.

I’ll have to notify everyone tomorrow, though, that they’ve been tagged, because my blog-time is up.

Fiala’s birth story (plus more pictures, because I can’t resist posting ’em)

Such a peaceful sweetie.

Such a peaceful sweetie.

First, many thanks to my husband, who, upon hearing that one of my goals for today was to go to Target, said, “Let me go tonight.  Make your list, and I’ll take one or two of the boys.”  Which, frees up time for blogging!  😀

I’m keeping a phrase in mind — “modest goals.”  I tend to try to do too much, too soon, and really, that isn’t wise.  Yesterday, other than Fiala’s first trip to the pediatrician’s office, I had the lone goal of cleaning out the microwave.  I got the inside done, but not the outside.  🙂  I didn’t even have to make dinner!  Blessedly, dear friends from church are all pitching in and have brought/are bringing dinner every night for a week.  I really had no expectation of that, because we grow increasingly more difficult to cook for.  It was bad enough being gluten-free, but now that two of my kids have to be 100% dairy-free, that really limits the options.  I pulled a bunch of recipes from All Recipes to give folks some ideas of what to make, and it’s been really, really lovely, truly a HUGE blessing to have safe, tasty, homemade food from people who love us, and whom we love.

Anyways…  Here’s the story.  It’s not… intimately graphic, but it is descriptively graphic, blood & guts type, so if you’ve not delivered a baby, you’ll probably not want to read.  Just scroll down and look at the cute pics.  😉

On Tuesday, 10/21, I had a doctor’s appointment early in the morning.  He checked me, said I was dilated to 4 cm, and said that in his opinion, I was in early labor.  I was skeptical, because I’d been having contractions for nearly two weeks that didn’t produce anything.  But, he said, “Go home, call your husband, get your childcare in order, and take a walk.”  So, I did.  We were going to do school, but instead, we all walked to the park, which was nice for a change.  And, sure enough, the contractions started coming almost-regularly, about 4-7 minutes apart.  My hubby came home around lunch time, which enabled me to just keep walking, just keep walking, just keep walking.  By the afternoon, the contractions were down to two minutes apart.  I talked with my mom (who would be staying with my kids), and decided that the whole thing was serious enough for her to come over, which she did, about 5:00 p.m.  She was quite insistent that I go to the hospital.  However, I remained skeptical about the whole thing because, even though I was dilated to at least 4 cm, and my contractions were — at most — five minutes apart, even when resting, they didn’t hurt at all.  In my history with the four other kids, I have waited until things start to get painful, as to me, that’s the real onset of labor.  However, my mom (and partially myself) was concerned that, especially since this was my fifth child, that if I waited until things started hurting, I’d end up birthing on the kitchen floor.  🙂  After dinner, my husband and I put our 2yo, Audrey, to bed, and took one more walk, then headed out for the hospital.  We arrived there about 8:00.

All five of my dear children

All five of my dear children

It was my concern that, once we got to the hospital, everything would shut down, and I’d just have to go home.  And, sure enough, there I was in OB triage, hooked up to the monitor to assess my contractions, and they slowed down to almost nothing — about one every 10-12 minutes.  But, the nurse checked me, and I was dilated to 5 cm.  So… guess what she suggested?  “Take a walk.”  Thus began the first of HOURS of trips around all the corridors of the hospital’s second floor.  That first walk did produce something though — it kicked the contractions back into almost-high gear.   After 45 minutes of walking with my dear husband, the nurse checked me again;  I was dilated to 6 cm.  We went back out walking.  The second walk produced something else:  pain.  That was actually encouraging to me, because it meant that, in all likelihood, this was real labor, and I’d really have a baby, sometime in the near future.  It was about 10 p.m. at that point, and the contractions were now fairly intense, but still somewhat sporadic, every 2-7 minutes apart.  The nurse called my doctor, who advised that I be admitted.  I was;  he came and checked me, confirming the nurse’s assessment.

Since things weren’t mega-consistent, I still harbored some concern that everything would grind to a halt, and I’d go home.  The nurse didn’t think that was likely:  “He’s not going to send you home dilated to six.”

I’m rather anti-inducement.  Totally anti-inducement, actually, and for a few reasons:  First, and simplest, is that it limits your options.  If the doctor breaks your water, and you’re in the hospital, you then get confined to bed, which means you can’t walk around, and there’s NO way they’ll send you home if the labor stalls out.  (Whereas, if labor stalls out because the baby just isn’t ready, if your water is intact, you can go home and just wait for the right time.)  If you are “simply” being induced with pitocin, it makes contractions VERY painful because there is no “building” to pitocin-induced contractions — they just peak immediately — PLUS, your body doesn’t release the endorphins that bring physical peace to a laboring mother and a sense of re-charging, which is what happens during naturally-produced oxytocin-triggered “normal” contractions.  So, with pitocin-induced contractions, it becomes a near-certainty that you’ll have to get pain meds, which I have always avoided, for safety reasons both for me and for my baby.  Also, the induction + pitocin + pain meds very often = a Caesarean-section delivery.  In other words, in my mind, induction means that you’re trying to MAKE the baby come out, instead of her coming out when the time is right.  I want the time to be right.  Plus, for me, after the water is broken, it hurts nonstop.  When I’m not contracting, it simply stings like the dickens;  there’s no respite.  I’d rather have labor be slower but more manageable, thankyouverymuch.

Big brother Ethan visits when Fiala is about 12 hours old

Big brother Ethan visits when Fiala is about 12 hours old

Anyways, after more walking, my doctor checked me at about 11:30 p.m.  I was at 7 cm.  From our previous conversations, he knew how I felt about any induction method, including breaking my water, so he didn’t even suggest it — just sent me out for more walking.  So, my dear hubby and I continued to roam the halls, becoming well-acquainted with each corridor, each nurses’ station, the nursery where it always breaks my heart to see brand new, bundled-up babies under warmers, instead of in their mothers’ arms…  By then, about midnight, the contractions were REALLY hard, and more regular, but still varying between 2-4 minutes apart.  Each time one would come, I would have to stop walking and chatting, hold Martin’s arm, lean hard against him, and breathe through it.

Our hourly pattern became about 45 minutes of walking, then 15 minutes in bed hooked up to the external monitors that gauged the contractions and the baby’s heartbeat.

The nurse checked me internally again at about 2:30 a.m.  I was still at 7 cm.

She checked me again at 4:30 a.m.  I was still at 7 cm.  She advised me to let her call in my doctor, saying, “I am convinced if you would have let him break your water the first time he checked you, you’d be nursing your baby right now.  For the second time.”  I told her, noncomittally, that I would talk with my hubby and we’d pray about it, and I’d let her know.

Martin was actually pro-water-breaking.  His reasoning (and it did make sense) was that my doctor went off-call at 7 a.m.  I really wanted HIM to be the doctor who delivered Fiala, not some random guy who happened to be on call.  Martin’s concern was that if they didn’t break my water, things wouldn’t progress quickly enough, and I’d be having that stranger-doctor deliver her.  My doctor knew my medical concerns, and I had developed trust with him, and I knew that our goals were the same for the actual delivery — no tearing, no episiotomy, as natural as possible.

Big brother Grant visits when Fiala is about 12 hours old

I was really conflicted.  Before we even went into the hospital, during one of my many walking trips around the neighborhood, I felt very strongly like God was telling me that I needed to trust my husband’s judgement, and allow myself to lean on him, both literally and figuratively, because during times of pain, I tend to isolate, shutting out even my husband.  I didn’t want to do that.  But, neither did I want to have my water broken.  We prayed together, and afterwards, I said, “Will you give me until 5:30?  If nothing has happened by then, let’s call in the doctor, and I’ll let him break my water.”

Honestly, though everyone else was anxious for the baby to come, I wasn’t particularly.  I wasn’t physically exhausted, even though I had surely walked at least seven or ten miles in the previous 24 hours, and had been contracting hard and painfully for more than six hours.  I still felt like she should/would come when the time was right, and even though I wanted my own doctor to deliver her, I felt like God would just make it all right if some other doctor did the duty.

At 5:15, the nurse came in again to check on our decision just as I was getting up for a potty break.  When I was in the bathroom, I just started praying simply, “Jesus, please either break my water, or send me into transition.”  Historically, once I go into transition, the baby comes really fast;  I knew everyone’s questions as to me progressing would be answered if I got to that point.  And, just like that I had four — BAM!! — huge contractions, right in a row.  I knew it was transition, because it hurt really badly, and I started shaking.  However, in the very brief breaks between contractions, I couldn’t help but grinning, because Jesus answered my prayer.  Still, because of the contractions, it took me a good 15 minutes to go to the bathroom.  I came out, grinning, and said, “I’m in transition.”  The nurse, given my expression, looked very doubtful, but I said, “You can call the doctor” so those are the orders she gave.

Audrey at home with Fiala, Saturday morning

That was at 5:31 by the big clock on the wall.

My doctor was there by 5:34.

As soon as I came out of the bathroom, I had gotten back into bed, and they hooked me back up to the monitors, which I started trying to take off, right away.  I don’t know what it is, but during transition and afterwards, I just don’t want anything to touch my belly;  it is beyond annoying, and only adds to my discomfort.  I could hear Martin laughing, and trying to explain to the nurses and doctor how it was a good sign that I didn’t want the monitors on.

At that point, it felt like time went really, really, really slowly.  Part of it is a blur, and part of it I remember distinctly.  I kept, as I always do, my eyes clamped closed tightly;  I always feel a need to concentrate completely, and I can’t keep them open, even though I realized, hazily, that with them closed, I couldn’t pull Fiala out with my last contraction, as my doctor had promised, and as I had been so looking forward to…

I remember begging for the monitors to be removed, and the doc gave the order for the nurses to do so.

I remember being surprised that they hadn’t broken the bottom part of the birthing bed off.

I remember them telling me to pull back on my knees, and I just couldn’t do it.

I remember my doctor telling me I could push, but for some reason, even though I had the urge, I kept breathing/humming through the pushes, so it wasn’t having full effect.

I remember it started stinging really badly, so my water must have broken, and I could feel Fiala in the birthing canal, which gave me immense hope, and I said twice, “She’s coming!”

I remember my doctor saying, “OK.  Hold your breath and bear down hard.”  For some reason, that cut through the fog, and I did it.

One push and her head came out.  Martin told me later that the cord was wrapped around her neck, but the doc was able to get a little slack, and with the next push just looped his pinkie around the cord and flipped it over her head.

Second push and she was out, up to her chest.

Third push, and she was out all the way.


I looked up, and by the clock on the wall, it was 5:43, just nine minutes after my doctor had arrived.  Nine, slow-motion minutes.  Nine very difficult, very focused, very painful minutes.  But, still, only nine minutes.  Nine minutes and three pushes.

Wesley at home with Fiala, Saturday morning

Wesley at home with Fiala, Saturday morning

I asked for her immediately, and the doc handed dear little Fiala to me, while he had Martin cut the cord, which I guess was really, really long.

At that point, I started bleeding quite badly.  The doc asked for a shot of something which went in my thigh, but that didn’t do the trick.  So, they hooked up my hep lock to the I.V. and pumped in some pitocin on a drip.  The nurse was very apologetic, “I know you don’t want any I.V. drugs…” and I almost laughed.  I so didn’t care about pitocin after the fact, and I knew I was bleeding badly;  it was necessary.

Also, some time around there — I don’t remember if it was before or after the I.V. — my doc started fishing around inside my uterus, and that hurt so badly, I started getting mad.  I don’t remember a doctor doing that before, and I was wondering if it was necessary.  But, Martin said that he got out three large pieces of placenta membrane, each a good six inches long or longer.  And, he broke up clots so that the blood didn’t get backed up inside the uterus.  I know the nurses were concerned about the amount of blood I was losing;  they were weighing what I’d lost, and I could hear them reporting to each other.  But, either the doctor’s efforts, or the pitocin, or the healing hand of God, or a combination of those, finally took effect, and I stopped gushing blood.

She was born at 5:43 by the clock on the wall, which by our mobile phones, was the right time.  However, the “official” time is kept track of by the hospital’s computers, which are apparently five minutes behind real time.  So, her official time of birth was 5:48 a.m.  She was 8 lbs 13 oz, 20 1/4″ long.

All told, it was close 20 hours in labor, though only 7 hours 48 minutes of it was painful.  Still, though, that’s my longest labor.  Going by the amount of time it hurt, Wesley was previously my longest at 5 1/2 hours.  The other three were about 3 or 3 1/2 hours.

My many thanks to all of you for your prayers, congratulatory comments, and general encouragement.  Sorry this took so long to post!!  I didn’t even check e-mail — a week’s worth — until yesterday.

Will try to post part 2 tomorrow, more about my dear baby herself.  🙂

Me, so happy to be at home with Fiala Gabrielle, Saturday morning.

Me, so happy to be at home with Fiala Gabrielle, Saturday morning.

She’s HERE!!!

First, a pictorial summary:

The initial, joy-filled 29 hours:

The next extremely anxious 24 hours:

The rest is all peace:

I’ll blog more soon with birth story, etc.  In short, though, she was born Wednesday, 10/22/08 at 5:48 a.m. after my longest labor ever.  She was tied for my smallest baby at 8 lbs 13 oz.

Life is good.  🙂

The Magical Peacemaker

We took the day off of school today.  I’m usually hyper-consistent about our school days;  not wanting to get into the habit of slacking off, I make certain we put in our complete 35 weeks of school per year, as mandated by the state of Arizona, come rain or shine or even sick tummies, even though no one ever checks up on us, nor ever will.

But, I’m getting antsy about getting all the things done that I want to get done before baby Fiala gets here.  (I’m due today, by the way.  I continue to have contractions, as I have for the last week and a half, but they never seem to go anywhere.  So, who knows?  It could be six hours from now, could be a week.  Hopefully, sooner than later.)

Being 40 weeks pregnant, I find that my energy lasts for about five hours, in the morning.  After that, I’m pretty much spent for the day, and spend the rest of the day dragging my feet through whatever’s necessary, and sitting down (or napping) as much as possible.  Since we do school in the morning, that becomes my energy-expenditure for the day, and try as I might, I just can’t will my body into doing anything productive in the afternoon, except make dinner, and even that’s a stretch many days.  And, I just didn’t get as much done over the weekend as I felt I needed to, so…  I decided to do all that stuff on my list — or as much as I could — this morning, in lieu of school.

So, this morning, the boys did their normal chores, plus one other extra “special project” and then watched Homeward Bound.  Audrey just tootled around.  I made a batch of rice milk, two loaves of bread, folded three loads of laundry, plus washed & folded three more loads, then started scrubbing baseboards, walls, doors and doorjambs in an attempt to fend off the neverending sludge that spontaneously emanates from the hands of boys.

After lunch, I read a book to Audrey and hung out with her for a bit, then put her down for a nap.  It was only 1:10, and the boys’ quiet time doesn’t usually start until 2:00.  I wanted to get as much work done as possible before I got completely worn out.  Every mother knows that constant interruptions are the bane of accomplishing actual housework.  Even though those “constant interruptions” could also be labelled “Actual Mothering,” and are important, too.  But, sometimes, there’s just an overriding need to get things done.  So, I sent the boys outside.  However, I didn’t “just” send them outside;  I sent them with some mandates:  “OK, here are your options:  You can play peacefully together, outside, until 2:00.  Or, you can stay inside with me and scrub baseboards.  If there is any fighting, you all come in for NAPS.  You may each come back inside ONCE for whatever — a drink, a toy, to go potty.  If you come in more than once, you may either take a nap, or you may help me scrub.  OK??”

And, just like magic, my three squabble-prone boys spent 50 minutes together in perfect peace, each coming in just once.  Voila!

My hubby tells me repeatedly to get the boys to help out around the house…  and they do.  Truly.  They each have daily chores, on a chart, and what they do is a rea. help to me.  But, sometimes, it’s even more helpful if they’re simply absent.  🙂

Thanks for the visits!

I’ve been keeping half an eye on my counter over there to the right.  This blog, over the weekend, officially passed the 200,000 visits mark.  Pretty mind-boggling to a blogger who started out, thrilled with 5-7 visits per day.

Of course, as pointed out to me by someone recently, a good portion of those visits probably aren’t visits at all — they’re from someone who has typed something into a search engine, clicks on a link to one of my pages, scans it quickly, and says, “Oh, this isn’t what I wanted at all!” and quickly leaves.  But then… sometimes, my blog really is a help and of interest to actual people…  like Janet, whose 2yo autistic son likes my rice milk recipe…  and like my neighbor Adam, who was looking for some info on Castle Hot Springs Road, so he could go rock-hounding, and while reading, said to himself, “Wait a minute.  I know these people!”  Hehehe.  He printed off some stuff from what I’d posted and had himself a nice trip.  🙂

So…  much of what I post probably isn’t of great interest to a great many people.  But, a few are interested, and a few find it helpful, and… I just enjoy writing.  So, whatever your reason is for being here, thanks for the visit(s)!

She said it better’n me

I am not a fan of the truly unfathomable $700 billion bailout.  It just seems wrong the for the government to step in and give basically free money to companies that are on the verge of going under due to mismanagement, and misuse of funds that should have been used to advance the cause of the company’s solidity, and of the investors, and the people paying their mortgages.  Didn’t anyone realize that the practice of execs to give themselves multimillion dollar pay packages, and multi-multi-multi-million dollar “golden parachute” exit packages was just not sound business practice??

I haven’t blogged about it (until now)… and, like most political things, I have found someone who has said something with which I fully agree, but says it a lot better than I ever could have.

Here’s an excerpt:

Essentially, the government (which should be safeguarding our economy) unlocked the doors to a candy store, invited everyone in, and is now acting appalled that people ate themselves sick.

Plus, as always, the Suburban Correspondent is far funnier and wittier than ever am.  And, I like her Truth-O-Meter widget, too…

Go check it out.

Dear Wesley

I don’t have a real reason for this post, other than that I never got around to writing about the part of our summer vacation where we went to Bryce Canyon National Park, in which I would have used the above picture of my son Wesley.  I adore this pic, and just wanted a reason to use it…  🙂  It just captures the precious heart of my son.

Of my four children, Wes is the one whom I least understand.  There are things about him that I just don’t get;  I don’t quite understand what makes him tick;  I don’t feel like I really know his heart.  But, he is so, so, so dear to me.

One thing I had a revelation about, regarding Wesley, a while back, is that he waits to be noticed.  He is in a family where… well, no one else waits.  Everyone else is clamoring for attention, for an open ear.  Wes just waits.  He likes to be drawn out, or maybe he needs it.  I have to be more alert to Wesley’s wants, needs, hurts and troubles, because he’ll quietly suffer instead of seeking help.

He likes to work with his hands.  He loves Legos and K’nex and Lincoln Logs, and can create very intricate, original structures.  He cares very little for sports.  He likes to be read to.  At 7 years old, he still can’t ride a bike.  He’s very hesitant to make relationships;  it takes a great deal for him to trust someone, though sometimes, he inexplicably chooses to spontaneously trust a particular person, lavishing his love upon them.  Wes has a favorite stuffed animal, a small dog he named “Puppy Boy” that my husband Martin gave him for Valentine’s Day four and a half years ago.  Puppy Boy is pretty ragged.  😀  Wesley loves dogs.  Our family dog, Tally, is pretty much his.  It’s just like he speaks the language of dogs;  everywhere we go, dogs love him.  There is a part of Wes that is very whimsical, and he creates detailed stories better than any of my other kids.

He can get deep insight into serious and complicated issues that even his oldest brother doesn’t get.  Last spring, I was reading A Wrinkle in Time to Wesley and Grant.  For most of the book, I was thinking that perhaps it was a bad choice;  the book seemed too complex for Wes, and I was afraid he wasn’t getting it.  But, there’s a part at the climax, near the end, where Meg, the main character, has a revelation of what she has that the nearly-all-powerful entity It doesn’t have.  It is trapping her brother, Charles Wallace, and this thing that Meg has, It doesn’t and it is the one thing that will save Charles Wallace.  Grant, who was eight at the time, had no idea.  I asked Ethan, who had read the book a year or so earlier, when he was 10, and Ethan hadn’t guessed it.  But Wes, who was six, piped up triumphantly, “It’s LOVE!!”  He knew it.  I almost cried.

Wes has some unique learning challenges, though maybe not as extreme as I used to fear.  Pretty much all of the things he finds difficult have to do, I believe, with the way he processes things, auditorily.  This leads to him having some rather cotton-mouthed pronunciations;  difficulty in understanding what is being said to him sometimes;  some rearranged sentence structures;  mild dyslexia;  inability to remember letters’ sounds;  serious difficulty in spelling.  I guess it’s the spelling part that is most challenging, as his teacher.  This is a child who read a 156-page book, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, in its entirety, during a simple outing to a store and back with my husband, about a 25 minute drive each way.  Yet, he had trouble a couple of days earlier spelling the word “mix.”  He got the m and the i, but that last sound completely stymied him.  He is in 2nd grade, and still on Explode the Code 1 1/2.  He is finally starting to remember the short vowel sounds, and to realize that each letter has its own sound, and that words are made out of letters that make sounds.  However, he very, very often forgets which letter makes which sound, and very often forgets how to form letters.  This is after 2+ years of phonics.  He has serious difficulty sounding out words.  It’s like his brain can’t separate them into the individual sounds and sound blends that form each word.  “Mix” is “mix,” not “mmm – iiii – x” in his mind.  Pretty much all of his reading is sight-reading;  when he gets to a word he doesn’t recognize, he just wings it, leading to some really garbled, unintelligible words if he then says the word out loud.

Wes also has some health problems — an autoimmune digestive disorder called celiac disease, as well as a severe, anaphylaxic allergy to peanuts, and a severe allergy to all dairy (it triggers an immediate asthma attack).  Perhaps for this reason, Wes is fairly small for his age, and seems to me to be somewhat fragile, physically.  Sometimes, fear will just wash over me, fear for Wesley’s health and future, and even his very life — this has happened since he was just an infant, before I even knew what his health problems were.  I really have to fight to take my thoughts captive, and to just pray, right then, for Wesley’s life and health, and confess to the Father that I do believe that Wesley is in His hands, and ask that the Father’s plans for Wes to prosper, and not the destructive plans of the enemy for Wes’ life.

Anyways.  I love my son.  I will continue to search out his heart, and get to know him better.  He’s a deep well.  And he’s awfully cute.  😀

Food in the hospital, and care from an unexpected source :)

The last time I stayed at a hospital was the last time I gave birth, 2.5 years ago.  The nutrition staff accommodated my gluten-free diet, but it was somewhat difficult getting it communicated to them (even when they visited my room) about what was safe, and what wasn’t.  We pretty much had to go by trial-and-error — like, they’d send something up, or bring it themselves, and I would say, “Um, no, an open-faced sandwich with gravy is not OK.”  Or, “Plain lunch meat and fruit is OK.”  (And, by the way, what is up with trying to feed celiacs open-faced sandwiches???  A woman on the Phoenix Celiacs Yahoo Group to which I belong had the same experience.  Taking away one of the slices doesn’t make the sandwich gluten-free.)

This time, before the birth of sweet baby #5, I decided to be a little more proactive, so I contacted the hospital in order to talk with the nutritionist in advance, to find out what their protocol is for feeding gluten-free patients.  I must admit, I get shocked at very little.  Perhaps I’m jaded.  I dunno.  But, I was totally shocked when she told me that she only gets one request every six MONTHS to accommodate a gluten-free diet!!

Thankfully, though, she seemed to be very aware of g.f. issues, partly from her own studies, and partly because she semi-recently had a g.f. patient who was extremely picky and demanding, who apparently gave her an “education” on gluten issues.  From the sounds of it, that other patient was rather rude about the whole thing, but apparently, the nutritionist benefited from it, because she was so well-informed, which makes it safer for me, and all celiacs!  She planned to do a special grocery-shop just for me.  I gave her tips on some products that would be worthwhile to buy, as well as where to find them, since the grocery store with which the hospital has an account has virtually NO g.f. items.  We had a good conversation, and I’m pleased with the outcome.  The plan seems to be that she’ll buy g.f. cereals, plus fruit, eggs & yogurt for breakfast… Lunch with sandwiches on g.f. bread with g.f.-labeled lunch meat (I suggested Hormel Natural Choice), and dinner of plain meat, plain veggies, and some sort of g.f. bread, probably by Kinnikinnick.  That sounds good to me!!  She was even aware of cross-contamination issues — so, her plan was to stick with prepackaged food that was labeled g.f., or foods that she knows are already g.f., with little-to-no risk of cross-contamination…   PLUS, I’m bringing my own food, just in case.

It made me wonder what all the other celiacs were doing during their hospital stays.

So, I sent an e-mail out to the Yahoo group, and got a wide variety of responses, all of them encouraging and helpful.  One response made tears spring to my eyes!!  It was from a woman who is a professional gluten-free chef, and who lives close to the hospital where I’ll be staying.  She offered to bring to me a free dinner!!  I couldn’t believe it.  It’s always a blessing to have others cook for me, on the rare occasions when that happens.  But, I always eat others’ offerings with some trepidation, because as loving and concerned and accommodating as they may be, they really aren’t used to cooking gluten-free, and anything could go wrong, from hidden ingredients to residue on a baking sheet.  So, to have an actual chef who has celiac disease prepare a meal…  for me??  Wow.

I don’t know what will become of it;  I wrote back to her to say that, while her offer would be a treat, it wasn’t necessary.  I just feel like to say, outright, “Yes!  Please do!!  I’m desperate!!” would be a lie, because I have over a week’s worth of food prepared here at home, in the freezer and fridge, with which to feed my own family when I’m gone or too tired to cook, or whatever…  Normally, my church’s kinship/Bible Study group’s members pitch in to provide meals for the family of a newborn, but our family is SO difficult to cook for, being both gluten- and dairy-free (well, only two of us are dairy-free, but that means that the whole meal has to be dairy-free).  I simply don’t expect anyone to bend over that far backwards to cook for our family.  So any of what I already prepared could be easily brought to me in the hospital, if it turns out that what they offer me is just not working, for one reason or another.


It made me feel very taken-care-of to have someone even offer to bring me dinner.  Warm and fuzzy…  🙂

Many thanks to Chef Elizabeth Edwards — may you be blessed with the same servanthood and thoughtfulness you’ve shown to me!!

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