Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Kind of World Do You Want

This video was created by the fifth grade Academic and Creative Talents class at Mason Intermediate. It is completely produced and directed by 5th graders. Every time the video is opened, it generates revenue for Autism Speaks. The video is about the kids' vision for our world.

"Each time this video is viewed on the website, revenue will be created for Autism Speaks. Corporations and charities have pledged money to support this project which was started in 2007 by John Ondrasik, of the band Five for Fighting."

Thanks to my friend Donita for sending this to me. Now, pass it on.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stuffy stuff

I have had more sleep last night and this morning than in the past few days combined. It feels pretty good. I'd be a liar if I said having a beautiful newborn was all peaches and cream. However, I plan to keep the complaining online to a minimum, maybe.

Alexander has demonstrated some regressive and attention seeking behaviors. He's "accidentally" dumping every single glass of water he's given on himself and demands a change of clothes. He's also not making it to the potty on time quite a bit. Other than that and dealing with a virus affecting his little guts, he's taking this new baby sister thing in stride. He actually asked to hold her for the first time last night, so we put the three kids in the rocker recliner and took some shots (pics coming soon). He loves to "tickle, tickle" his baby sister and says that he loves her and that she's cool.

Sophie had 1-2 days of high fever followed by a head to toe outbreak of a rash. The urgent care doctors said it wasn't Roseola as it was only 1-2 days of fever and not 4. I'm no medical person, but I suspect that may be BS. The rapid strep test came back negative and I've not heard yet about the full culture. She's had rotten sleep and has large dark bags under her eyes. She's doing better today and the fever is gone. She's coming around about Helena and is showing more and more curiosity. When Helena is down low on her level, such as in her bouncy seat or car seat, Sophie is right there to touch, pat, and poke her sister (often aiming for her eyes). Helena's crying doesn't make Sophie cry or bury her head anymore, so I think we're all moving in the right direction.

Mark is Superman, basically handling the 2 oldest kids needs, which is no small feat. His semester is done and he doesn't teach again until mid-June. We often wonder aloud just what in the heck we're doing.

I'm so very thankful for the many meals provided to us over the past week. Just when I'm getting used to this, it'll all be over. It's been wonderful to not have to make dinner or clean up pans. Shows like Jon and Kate Plus 8 (esp last night - so sad) the Real Housewives of New Jersey, and Cake Boss have entertained me in the night. Red raspberry leaf tea has also helped quite a bit. I wish I knew about this with the other two kids for postpartum issues. It has been so much better this go 'round. I also have enjoyed plenty of ice cream and the occasional glass of wine, which brings me to the picture.
I was at the drug store today when I spotted this product. It's about stinking time that they came out with something like this. On the side of the box it says, "Because every mother is unique! Naturally, the way our bodies process alcohol depends on several factors including: body weight, type of alcohol consumed, food intake. With milkscreen, there is one simple and accurate method to let Mom know if her milk contains a level of alcohol that may negatively impact baby." I have heard that it can take 1-2 hours to metabolize 1 drink. Now, I'm not advocating downing a fifth of vodka and then nursing your baby. However, this way I will know and not just be guessing when I have a glass or 2. Plus, I plan to start pumping soon so that Mark can feed her too. He was joking that we could date it and put the proof on each bottle.

Helena is her own little person. Alexander and Sophie looked identical at birth. Seriously. Helena doesn't look like either of them or really, anyone that we can think of, at least as a baby. She has these extra long fingers and toes, not like mine or Mark's. However, Mark's mom thinks she gets them from her. So, maybe this little one will grow to be tall and thin and perhaps be an artist like her grandma. She nurses like she's been doing it for 20 years and has a powerful suck, quite unlike Sophie did. Her days and nights are still mixed up, but it's getting better. She has the most beautiful clear skin and perfectly round head. She knows what she wants and has quite the lungs to voice her needs. She is a goddess.

Its hard, to be sure, but it is worth it. Now, ice cream or wine?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Our 1st 24 Hours as a Family of 5

It was a good 1st day. The Duchess Helena could teach a nursing class, which is quite different from my first two and is such a blessing. She's an eater to be sure. She is done with labs and passed her hearing screening. Her little right foot was jammed outward in utero, and still looks that way some what today. The ped who was on rounds said he believes it will be fine and won't require anything to be done to correct it.

We spent the day together as a family of 5 watching movies, eating lots of junk food, and taking naps. Alexander fell in love at first sight, but my sweet Sophie is not so sure. When her baby sister cries, Sophie buries her head and cries along with her.

As they were only able to get one round of two antibiotics in me before her birth for the Group B Strep, they want us to hang out nearly the whole 48 hours to observe her. This means we'll be going home tomorrow night at bedtime.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the day.

Helena: A First Glimpse

She's Here

Baby Helena made her entrance one hour after I got to the hospital at 10:04 pm weighing in at a whopping 8 lbs. 8 ounces. She's 21 inches long with 34" head and 35" chest. She has a nice head of dark black hair and very long beautiful fingers. She's a goddess, if I do say so myself. As I was positive for group b strep and they only had time for one round of antibiotics, they've taken her to get a full check up. I'll be moving to my actual room fairly soon. Had the little girl with no meds, thank you very much. OK, they're here to move me, so I'll post pictures as soon as I can. Thanks for the prayers everyone! My gorgeous girl is here!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"The Dutchess is Coming"

In the delivery room. It is kinda surreal to be posting on my wife's blog while my wife is in labor next to me. She is such a trooper! We got here at 9:00, Jen is at 6cm and 100% effaced, and the contractions are coming fairly rapidly now.

PS--Backstory on "the Dutchess": between contractions, a nurse asked whether we had a name picked out, and Jen said "Helena." Wanting to ask Jen about the title for this post, I asked "do you have a title in mind? Thinking I meant something about the baby and not the blog, she said "How about 'the Dutchess'? I've always liked that."

Jen says I have to stop writing this novel and get over there. Wish us luck!


An hour and a half of close contractions that are getting to be whoppers. Will twitter as able. (seen on sidebar of blog)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Prenatal Today

I went in for an ultrasound and biophysical profile at 8:30 with my doula. Helena scored 6 of 8, missing points in the breathing category. She was in a deep sleep and would not move much at all, even when they used the buzz wand to wake her up. That was followed by a beautiful NST (non-stress test) where she was up and doing gymnastics. Little stinker. Lastly, was the appointment with the midwife. I was checked and am still about the same as Monday. She took notice of the 6 out of 8 on the bio and isn't overly concerned, but doesn't want to let this pregnancy go on much longer. I asked for a Tuesday induction. They had every day open except Tuesday, so Monday it is. I'll head in Sunday night (as long as there is a bed) for an application of prostiglandins, which would be great if that alone could kick of this labor, and a plan to stay overnight. If not, the dreaded pitocin would likely start around 6ish am on Monday. I'm thinking it's almost time for a castor oil cocktail as I would really prefer to avoid the 'P' word. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, it's Culvers for lunch and then off to bed as contractions have, again, all but stopped.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An Opportunity

OK, a nap certainly helps with the bucking up, especially after a night of insomnia. Amy reminded me of a quote last week that's been ringing in my ears. In March of 2007, we were given Sophie's prenatal diagnosis of DS and duodenal atresia. Mark and I were in full grief mode and decided to head to the theaters to see a comedy, Evan Almighty. There was a line in the film about praying for patience that I was sure was meant for me. I even discussed it with our pastor as patience had been a part of my nightly prayers and frankly, I didn't want an opportunity to be patient or courageous, I just wanted the skill. The way I pray has changed since then, as this lesson affected me that much. I know I've learned quite a bit about patience in the past couple of years, but something tells me I've not yet completed this course as it appears that I've been given yet another opportunity. You'll find the line at about a minute into the clip. Bucking up now.


Things NOT to say to a pregnant woman, especially after she's past her due date, even when fully joking, unless you're really in need of a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick:

OMG, you're STILL pregnant?! huh?
Better you than me. why, thanks!
Boy are you gonna have your hands full. thanks for noticing
You really don't look that big. My sister is about as far along as you and she's huge. ok?
You're huge! Thanks. I appreciate it.
You should wait to go into labor til (X date). That's my birthday, day off, etc. uh, no
WHOA! come here and I'll show you whoa
You should really try; (red raspberry leaf tea, Evening Primrose oil capsules, walking - a lot, sex, reflexology/acupressure, pedicure/massage, nipple stim, birthing balls, hands and knees position, drinking castor oil, relaxing, sleeping). trust me, I know
When do you think you'll have the baby? (dirty look)
Quit faking it. You know I love ya, but it's good we're on the phone
And my favorite, It'll be like having 2 babies (referring to Sophie having DS). (silence)

Thankfully I've heard MANY wonderful and supportive things and have appreciated it very much. Mostly I've laughed this stuff off, well maybe the ones said with good intention or clearly as a joke anyway. But, Darc, if she waits until Lane's birthday (and Janet's too) I'm coming for ya. Katie, if she doesn't come till your weekend off, I'm going in the record books and then I'm coming for ya.

So here's the ask, I really don't want to induce or drink castor oil (yet). So if everyone could send a tidal wave of good thoughts, prayers, vibes, etc. and concentrate specifically on today, maybe we can kick this party into gear. How bout it? I'm off to take a nap.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Week 41

Day 1 of Week 41

My due date has come and gone, and already Helena is showing us who's boss. At my prenatal today I saw the only midwife of the 6 that make up the team that I haven't previously seen. She's not big into numbers. I am. All I could get out of her was that I'm pretty much the same as last week and probably won't change until I go into labor. We had the 'what's involved to induce labor' talk. As of now, I'm still not interested. I go back this week on Friday for a non-stress test and sono to measure amniotic fluid levels. She guesses the levels are good. This would be my first NST for this pregnancy as well as a sono just for a fluid check. With Sophie, I had twice weekly NSTs and once weekly sonos for fluid in the last couple months. Its not a nice feeling to be back in this place, even though circumstances are different.

My horoscope for today is as follows: You might be feeling very confident today about what you intend to do, only to be thwarted by circumstances beyond your control. You have already made commitments that you cannot break, giving you precious little time to accomplish your goals. Your optimism wanes and you could become discouraged as you compare your plans to your calendar. But this is no time to play the role of a victim. Do as much as you can and save the rest for tomorrow.

Tomorrow my favorite midwife is on call. Tomorrow would be a very good day indeed. So now I am working on putting my very big girl pants on and bucking up.

Belly Shot Week 41


Bare belly shots below complete with unedited stretch marks and gall bladder surgery scars. Can't handle it? X out now.

I finished my belly cast in the van Gogh Starry Night theme. Not to shabby for someone who's never painted anything before. As always, click any picture to enlarge.

Week 41 Belly shot

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother of the Year, Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all you Mothers of the Year. This is well worth watching more than once and then rewatching just to read the ticker. Click here to go to the site that allows you to email this video with a specific mother's name customized and used throughout the video. Very cool. If you haven't checked out before, please do as they are an amazing organization.

Original Mother's Day Proclamation 1870 (post Civil War)

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:"We will not have questions answered by
irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy
and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
"Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate
the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
(reposted from last year)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Girl Date

After dropping Bubba off at preschool, Sophie and I headed to a locally owned bookstore. I was saddened to see that its doors were locked tight. Another victim of the economy after 20 years. Undeterred, we headed to a large chain bookstore to have our girl date.

In the past few years I have begun to appreciate the sweet bitterness of dark chocolate, so I opted for a hot dark chocolate with the works. Whipped cream and white chocolate chips sprinkled on top, a dark chocolate straw that slowly melted to the bottom for one last tasty treat. I even splurged on a piece of peach raspberry cobbler. The barista's attitude was rough around the edges, contributing quite nicely to the coffee house atmosphere.

We took a table by the window and began enjoying our breakfast together. As I fed Sophie her yogurt, she said as clear as a bell, "Thank you." in spoken words. Not just words, but two words strung together which form a sentence. She recognized that she was given something and that she should show her appreciation and manners. We have NOT been working on this with her, yet she's been saying this soul bursting sentence more and more over the past week. That means that she's listening to us as we communicate with each other at home. Listening and learning. She said it in front of both her OT and DT this Wednesday and is saying it clearly and in appropriate settings. She's also taken to saying 'up' and 'down,' again, clearly and correctly. When will my heart stop swelling? I don't really want it to.

None of the other patrons had a clue to the miracle I had just witnessed. We took our time, enjoying our treats. Each time Soph ran out of Cheerios she would say baabaa and sign 'more' telling me exactly what she needed. I gave it to her in small amounts so that I could see her talk over and over. Though she has signed 'more' in the past, just recently she seems to have understood its meaning and enjoys her ability to communicate her needs.

Taking our time, we wandered through the books picking up Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott) and a beautifully intricate pop up on magical garden fairies. It was gently raining and Soph easily drifted to sleep on our ride home. Just two girls out on a date where soon there will be three. I can already see my first born daughter in her role as big sister, teaching Helena everything she has come to know.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Advocacy Never Rests

Once you put on your advocacy hat, it never comes off. Ever. It's stapled on, even when the last thing on your mind is education and you let your guard down.

At my pedicure this afternoon, (the 2nd I've had in my life) my pedicurist and I made small chit chat. As expected, the topic was about pregnancy and babies. She had given a pedi to a woman earlier today who was 2 weeks past her due date. I took it as a good sign. She asked if I had ever seen the tv show "I Didn't Know I was Pregnant." She wondered how it is possible that the women didn't know that they were pregnant. "I mean, what are they, retarded?"

I took a deep breath and righted my shoulders. I touched my Trillium pendant and Sophie's beautiful face flashed in my mind. My advocacy hat doesn't come off, not even for pedicures.

I explained how I have a daughter with special needs and she had just used a very cruel word. She apologized and said she knew better. She has a granddaughter with a developmental disability ("officially not diagnosed with anything, she's just slow") who received EI 4 times per week, who didn't walk or make sounds by age 2, who is now in the 3rd grade but is more like a kindergartner. They say it isn't autism and she's doing better, probably because she had so much EI. Maybe she is outgrowing it, she explained.

My mind racing, I had to ask how, as a grandmother to a child with developmental disabilities could she still use that word? How does she feel when others say it around her? She said she doesn't mean it like the "N" word. She means it like... [super long pause that I left hanging in the air like passed gas] Like what, I thought, knowing she probably meant someone just like Sophie. I let her find her own words. Just, you know, stupid. I explained that it is similar to the "N" word in that no matter how it may change over time, you can't take away the history and you never know who you're going to hurt when you use it. For many people, it doesn't just mean stupid. She apologized again and said she really didn't wish to offend me.

Then she went on to blast people from Madison, WI (where she just moved from) for being offended by "anything." I moved here from Madison after living there for years and I loved it there, I told her. She stumbled around saying how neat it was that as a college town you can have so many lefties and righties. Really? Madison?

My toes are a beautiful shade of pink. I bought snickerdoodles on the way home. I'm thinking she'll think twice before dropping the "R" bomb again, or maybe not.

Oh, and I was wearing one of my Buddy Walk shirts today. Sophie's up from her nap and I need her sweet hugs.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Week 40

Week 40, Day 1
-Helena is due upon the completion of this week on Mother's Day, May 10th

Mothers. Mother's Day. Child birth. Labor. Nesting. Battling fear and anxiety demons. Looking for and finding creative outlets. Trying desperately to keep my head right and the kids' schedules as close to normal as possible. Waiting. Limbo.

Blessings. Little blessings and overwhelmingly gargantuan ones like my mother in law, who has been more of a mother to me for years. A mother who interrupts her life altering plans, like moving and packing for an out of country trip to come help us. To come scrub our toilet, change dirty diapers, clean the house, feed us body and soul.

Walks alone or with Mark to our beautiful neighborhood park at twilight. My favorite time that is not quite day, not quite night. Where shadows and the lighting make everything seem more magical and mysterious. Letting go and swinging on the swings. Taking it all in and quieting my mind.

Thoughts of my grandma who passed away on May 5, 2006. Knowing that if my baby is born tomorrow, I won't think it morbid, but a celebration and honor of her life. I miss her. (previous post)

Friends who step up and offer to be called in the middle of the day or night. People I've met in real life and those who I've not met in person who have sent good vibes, thoughts, and prayers. New friends who enrich my life and are helping me to grow.

My doula who is priceless. Long gone are the days of child birth in a red tent on bricks surrounded by the strength and knowledge of women's hands. There is something quite powerful, earthy, primitive, and timeless about doulas and midwives. With Trish, I know peace and regain my trust.

I'm progressing and am now at -1 with Helena's head fully engaged during my prenatal today. 75% effaced or, as my midwife put it, complete mush. Dilated to 2cm. Could still be a while, or not. Specific thoughts to send my way this week are: No stalling of labor once it begins, a quick labor (but not so quick that we don't make it to the hospital - again), get through the afternoon tomorrow (Tues, May 5th) so that Mark can finish his classes and I can treat myself to a pedicure, peace and a calm mind.

Belly Shot Week 40


Bare belly shots below complete with unedited stretch marks and gall bladder surgery scars. Can't handle it? X out now.

I've been inspired to paint the belly cast in a Van Gogh, Starry Night theme. I've just started, but here's what I've got so far. It's been a very relaxing and creative outlet.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Birth, Interrupted

46 recorded contractions beginning at midnight. This doesn't count the first hour and 20 minutes when I wasn't writing them down, nor does it include the last hour or so when they were stalling out. These were not the 'Braxton Hicks somewhat painful, but not real labor' type pains. There were definitive starts, peaks and ends. They wrapped around my back. I had to bring out my deep breathing techniques and rock on my birth ball. Counter pressure on my low back was needed. They got really quite intense. No, not like Braxton Hicks at all.

Mark showered to get ready to make a trip into the hospital. Contractions had been 4 minutes apart for a while. I showered too as we figured it would either stall it out if it wasn't going to proceed, or perhaps get it moving. It stalled out. After a few more that were no big deal, we decided I'd take a Benadryl to help me sleep. That was around 6:30. Thankfully I did get some much needed sleep.

Now that I'm up, I am weary. My state of mind, not the best. With Alexander's birth, once it started, it never stopped until he was born nearly 30 hours later. With Sophie, this start and stall business happened for a full week. We were sent home twice when it stalled out in the hospital. I had figured it had something to do with having low amniotic fluid (despite her duodenal atresia) or even her DS. Now it appears that this just may be the way I'm going to do this and it sucks.

This could very well drag on for some time. It could happen again tonight or later today or next week. I've got no crystal ball, but I do have a doula, which I suppose is the next best thing. Though I'd really like to deliver this baby, I won't be induced unless I'm really over due. We've done most of the home remedies, except drinking castor oil. So far the only thing going on right now is that Helena appears to have the hiccups and I can't keep my lunch down.

If I saw Mother Nature on the street right now, things would get ugly and fast.

Mark snapped this shot last night before this all began. Good vibes, thoughts and prayers are much appreciated.