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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

April 10, 2014 - Rebecca's Birth Story

The night before Rebecca was born, I was ready.

Ready to be done being so large and uncomfortable.  Ready to be able to sleep on my back again.  Ready to just be able to sleep.

Ready to meet her.  The one God sent us unexpectedly. The one we didn't plan.  The one that was supposed to finally complete our family.

The one that was most likely going to be taken away from us.

But I was ready.  We were ready.

We had prayed a thousand prayers along with saints and strangers. There was nothing more we could do.

On the morning of April 10, 2014, I got out bed around 5:30, before my alarm could even go off. I hopped in the shower and looked at my giant belly knowing that the next time I took a shower it wouldn't be as large.  I also knew that the next time I took a shower, everything would be different.

One way or another I would never be the same.

Our check-in time at the hospital was 7:30 and we were there  a few minutes early.  We checked in at the Women's Health and Wellness Center on the first floor of Forsyth Medical Center.  They told us to head up to the 4th floor waiting room.

The waiting room was deserted.  It looked like they had a busy night.  There were empty Styrofoam cups discarded on tables and several half-empty soda cans littering the tables as well.  The lights were dim and occasionally we could see the shadow of a nurse pass by the tempered glass of the waiting room doors.

I uttered some halfhearted prayers.  It  was all in God's hands at this point and he already knew what I wanted.

Finally, a nurse came and took us back to the surgery area.  I undressed and put on my hospital gown.  Dan took my clothes and put them in a plastic bag.  I laid down in one of the beds and the nurse took my blood pressure and my temperature and hooked me up to a monitor.

My doctor arrived along with the anesthesiologist and several other nurses.  They were all very busy but I'm not exactly sure what they were doing. Our priest arrived. And before I knew it, it was 9:00.

They wheeled me back into the operating room where I got an epidural.  It was more painful than I remembered with Peter and Sarah. I think it's because I hard a hard time bending over due to my size 45 week belly. 

The epidural began to take effect, my arms were strapped down, and the curtain was raised over my abdomen.

Dan came in the room wearing scrubs with his shoes covered and  his head covered.

The neonatologist came in, more doctors and more nurses came in, our priest came in.

I had a hard time seeing what was going on in the room because of the curtain.   The doctor made the incision and then I could feel some pressure as she was working to get to the baby.  And then I could feel some tugging as well.

At one point I could hear a gushing sound.  It was as if someone had taken a bucket of water and threw it on the floor.  I heard this sound three times.

The doctor told me that was all the amniotic fluid hitting the floor.  (Which I later learned was covered with tarps so it could be easily cleaned.)  Someone asked if the priest had shoe coverings on.  Luckily, he did.

The baby was breech so the doctor had to do some extra pulling and maneuvering to get her out, and finally, someone announced that she was out.

I held my breath waiting to hear her tiny cry.   And in just seconds I heard it.  With Peter and Sarah there had been more of a delay.  The kind where you hold your breath and pray hard.  But with Rebecca the cry came almost immediately.

I thanked God that she was here.  That she was alive.  That she was breathing.

We were going to get our miracle!

The doctor held her up so Dan could see her and then they took her to a small side table where they looked her over.  I was straining to see around the side of the curtain.  I wanted to know what was going on with my baby.

The neonatologist did a visual check and after seeing her small face, her strawberry shaped head and her crossed fingers, confirmed that she had Trisomy 18.

The quickly put some grease on her eyes and cleaned up her a bit.  Then they led Dan and our priest, Father Steve, over to her.  Father Steve baptized her and the nurses tried to whisk her away.  He held up his hand and said he wasn't done yet.  He then administered the anointing of the sick.

After that they wrapped her up and handed her to Dan, he brought her over to me.  I could finally see her beautiful tiny face. 

The anesthesiologist took pictures of us and the doctor began to sew up my incision. A few minutes later they took Rebecca down to the NICU for an echo cardiogram.  Dan stayed with me in the recovery room until they told him he could go to the NICU to be with her. 

I spent roughly an hour in the recovery room before they rolled me downstairs to my room on the NICU floor.  At some point, between the time I was being rolled out of recovery and towards my room, I finally got to hold Rebecca.

The transport team had her in a rolling incubator and were on their way to Brenner with her, but they made sure that I got to see her before they left the building. 

She was crying as they handed her to me but as soon as I got her in my arms and told her hello, she stopped crying.  I'll hold on to that memory forever.

I loved being able to hold her, but it was all very awkward.  The transport team was patiently waiting right beside us to take her to Brenner, the kids were hovering around us, I was sore and not really able to sit up, and we were in the middle of the hallway of the NICU. 

But I was glad we got those few moments together with her because the next time I would see her, she would be on a ventilator fighting for her life.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


At six weeks postpartum, I'm finally starting to feel more like my old self. 

I no longer feel like I'm wearing a lead coat of grief. Don't get me wrong, it's still there, but it's tucked away.  It doesn't take much to get it to bubble up either, but at least it's not at the forefront of every single thought.

So for the first time since finding out I was pregnant, I went for a run this morning.  And at 20 plus (oh, what the heck, almost 25) pounds heavier than I was the last time I went for a run, it was hard.

It was slow, and painful, and ugly.  But I did it. 

I only ran one mile and it took me twenty minutes to do it, but I did it!

And I'll be honest, it felt pretty good.  I'm not sure how long it will take me to get back to my daily 3 mile jaunts, but I'll get there. 


Friday, May 23, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Geese, dance, notes and more!

It's Friday and I realize that I haven't written anything since Tuesday.  Let's remedy that with 7 Quick Takes!

1.  This week, a gaggle of geese has been showing up every morning in our neighbor's back yard right about the time I get out of the shower.  This is a bad thing.  A very bad thing  Geese are mean old things and they leave poo where ever they go.  Lots and lots and lots of poo. And typically once they start visiting a certain place at a certain time, they make it one of their regular stops.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they don't make it over to our backyard because I know that Dan is going to request that I shoo them away every morning until they stop coming.  And like I said, I'm always right out of the shower when they arrive.  And nobody wants to see me chasing a bunch of geese in my bathrobe. Nobody.

2.  Several months ago Sarah begged me for dance lessons.  Actually, she has been begging me for dance lessons for several years now but I've always said no.  Dance lessons to me seems like a big money pit...lessons, shoes costumes, recitals.  Last year I told her I would pay for a summer session if she wanted to try it (hoping that she would hate it) and she was on board with that plan until she found out there would be no recital.  She was upset that she wouldn't get to be on stage and decided not to waste her time.  So, whew!  Dodged that bullet.

But a couple of months ago she was asking again but in between piano, homework, basketball and Girl Scouts, I told her there was no way.  (And I'm not letting her stop piano because I think that's a skill she might actually use one day - tap, not so much.) To get her off my back, I told her that maybe she could do something this summer.  As I was saying this, I was thinking, eh, she'll forget this in a couple of months and I'll be off the hook.

But, that girl knows me well so she made me sign this binding agreement and she hung it up:

3.  And because she knows me really well, she posted this on her Easter candy:

Are those HORNS???

4.  And because she knows me really, really well she posted this  her leftover milkshake...
(who in their right mind has any left over milkshake???)

5.  So, clearly, we have photographic evidence that not only do I not keep my word when I tell my kids I'll look into something for them, I also eat their candy and drink their leftover milkshakes.

Perhaps I should write a parenting how-to manual. 

6.  The pool opens this weekend and swim practice starts next week!  You know my favorite thing about swim practice?  I get to talk to my BFF (check out the cute pillows they just made) while the kids are practicing!  It reminds me of the times before she went back to work when we would spend hours together while our kids played.  Those were the good old days.  ...sigh...

7.  And Dan leaves for a business trip on Sunday afternoon. Yep. Sunday.  That means instead of spending Monday with us he will be in Ireland having meetings with a group of Chinese people.   Neither one of us are very excited about that prospect but that's just part of the job.

And with that, I'm off to scour the house to see if Sarah has left me any more notes!

Head over to Jen's place to read more Quick Takes.  (I just finished her book, Something Other Than God and I loved every minute of it.  Time for a sequel Jen!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Last night, when I went in to kiss Peter goodnight, he was already asleep.  I guess the long weekend camping and the knowledge he had to be at school at 6:30 this morning for a field trip were too much for him.  Normally he's still wide awake when I go to bed.

But tonight his eyes were closed in sleep and his mouth was parted ever so slightly.  His leg had worked it's way out from under the covers and was laying halfway down the side of the bed.

It took me by surprise, the length of that leg and the size of that foot. 

When did my baby get to be so long?  So big?  So old?

I don't know why it caught me off guard.  It's been coming for years.  Ever since he was born really.

I guess in the quiet it's more obvious.  In the darkness it's more clear.  

He's growing up. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Girls went one way, boys went the other.

Dan and Peter headed out on Friday night for a Boy Scout campout and to bike the Virginia Creeper Trail.  They weren't going to be home until Sunday afternoon so Sarah and I had a lot of time to fill.

Jennifer (the best BFF in the whole wide world!) invited us to her house.  Her 12 year old daughter cooked us a fabulous meal (it included jalapeno popper dip so I was a happy camper) and then we sat around and talked while the girls played.  Her husband and boys were also out of town too so the timing could not have been better.

Sarah keeps asking me when she can cook a whole meal like Caity.  And I keep telling her that she's got to help me in the kitchen before she can cook a whole meal by herself and since she's never interested in doing that it might be a while.

Santa even brought her a really nice cookbook for kids with simple meals that she has yet to use (or even look at for that matter.)  I should probably let her pick something from that cookbook to help me fix one night for dinner and see if that inspires her to help me. 

On Saturday we went to lunch with Jennifer and her girls  and then went into every shop in downtown Lexington - with the exception of the wig shop/beauty supply store.  And there were way more shops than I realized because browsing in all those shops took us over 3 hours!

We didn't make very many purchases but we did come out of The Candy Factory with some pretty full bags!  And I was a good girl - I managed to resist the homemade fudge. It was hard, but I did it.

Later that night we went to dinner with my parents and before I knew it, it was Sunday and the boys were home.

And because I'm a bad blogger and took absolutely no pictures when we were with Jennifer and her girls and every knows you need to have a picture with every post, here's a picture of Peter and his fellow scouts at the bottom of the trail.

Updated: The BFF comes to rescue once again with a picture that she took from Saturday!

Friday, May 16, 2014

7 Quick Takes. Some good news and me trying not to whine about my weight.

It's Friday.  7 Quick Takes time. 

1.  Congratulations goes to Kate!  She's the winner of the #SOTG giveaway.  Enjoy!

2.  Speaking of Something Other Than God, I'm about half way through the book and I'm really enjoying it!  I was hoping to get more of it read last Friday while waiting on my husband at his colonoscopy.  But that only took an hour and there was a distracting tv on in the waiting room and it's hard to concentrate with Kelly Ripa blabbing in the background..  Hopefully I'll be done in the next few days or so.

3.  And speaking of Dan's colonoscopy, it was fine.  There we no polyps and the doctor could see absolutely nothing wrong.  He said that Dan did a good cleanse and he was able to see everything very clearly. So he goes back in 5 years for a follow up.  I asked the doctor why he wasn't going back sooner based on his brother's diagnosis and was told that typically you repeat every ten years so going in 5 years was much sooner than the average person.  Makes me a little nervous considering his brother had a clear colonoscopy three years ago.

4.  When Dan was finished with the procedure, a nurse got me from the waiting room and brought me to an office. She told me Dan was getting dressed and would join me and then the doctor would come in to talk to us.  A few minutes later, Dan staggered into the room with a dopey grin on his face and declared, "That was FANTASTIC!"  I refrained from asking the doctor if I could get a little of what he was on.

5. None of my clothes fit.  None of them. And it's so depressing.  Being 44 and gaining 60 pounds with this pregnancy is a lot different than being 34 and gaining 40ish pounds like I did with Sarah.

Let's just say I'm regretting all of those BLT's heavy on the mayo with a side of fries I had the last nine months.

6.  I managed to find a few things on a recent Target/Kohls trip that fit me and didn't look too horrible.  And when I say "didn't look too horrible" I really mean, "didn't look very good at all but I can't go around naked because that does look horrible". Unfortunately the shorts  were 3 sizes bigger than I was wearing last year this time. THREE SIZES!  Yikes.

7.  So, that's why I had this bowl of horribleness for lunch yesterday...

Quinoa and brown rice.  It's about as tasty as you would think.  So, not very.

And with that, I'm off to Mass.  Sarah's class is leading the liturgy this morning and then I'm helping to set up the school book fair.

Enjoy your weekend and for more Quick Takes, head over to Jen's.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I'm fine.

Well, at least that's what I'll tell you if you ask me how I'm doing. And I'll usually say it with a tired smile.

And I guess on some level, I am fine.  I'm able to get up in the mornings, get the kids off to school, take care of all the errands that need to be done, get the kids to where they need to be after school, make sure their homework is done and get dinner on the table.

So, yes, I guess I'm fine.

But the entire time I'm doing all of these normal things- all things I did so easily, so lightly before Rebecca was born - with a huge weight on my chest.

I was on the verge of tears all day on Mother's Day.  What a horrible holiday to have to "celebrate" when your baby is in heaven.

I was standing in the kitchen on Sunday evening and I couldn't top the tears.  Dan was standing right behind me so I turned to him and told him that I was sad. So very sad.

As he hugged me, he told me that if I believe what I profess then I shouldn't be quite so sad.

I smiled at him and told him that I'm not sad for Rebecca like he thought.  I know where my baby girl is.  She's in heaven rejoicing with Jesus and that gives me great joy.

No.  I'm not sad for her.  I'm sad for me.  Those tears were selfish tears. I miss her terribly, with a dull slow ache that I can't even begin to accurately describe. 

As I was doing my devotions this morning, I came across this verse twice:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:6-7

And the words that seemed to jump off the page at me were that he may lift you up in due time.

In due time.

I know that eventually, in due time, he will lift me up and the sadness will lessen and the ache will subside.  I'm counting on it in fact.

But for now it's all still there.  And if you ask me how I'm doing.

I'll say, I'm fine.  Just fine.


Monday, May 12, 2014

The Track Meet.

After Dan's colonoscopy on Friday (which was all clear, Hallelujah!) we picked the kids up from school, grabbed some sandwiches from Subway, and headed over to Bishop McGuinness (the area Catholic high school) for the conference track meet.

6 area Catholic schools were competing in the final track meet of the season to see who could claim the title of conference champion.  Our school has lost the last two years to the same school (and maybe even more than that but this is only our third year at the school so I'm not sure about previous years) and our coach really wanted a victory.

And to be honest, so did the entire track team.  The school that we keep losing to has over 600 students while ours has only slightly more than 200.  We practice twice a week for almost two months to prepare for our two track meets and the final conference championship.  This other school practices only twice the entire "season" (not even sure you should call that a season) and they only participate in the conference championship.

We got to the track and began to set up right as the storms rolled in.  Everyone huddled under tents trying to stay dry until the storms passed.  They finally passed and we got the meet underway.

I was helping to make sure all of our athletes got to their events on time and to make sure that all the runners were in the correct lanes.  It was tiring but at least I got to see the start of all the races and could cheer for Peter and Sarah (and the other kids too, of course).

Peter only got to run in one race - the 400 meter relay.  Sarah got to run in 4 races - the 400 meter relay, the 50 meter dash, the 100 meter dash and the 200 meter dash.

My kids raced their hearts out.  Actually, our whole team raced their hearts out.

Sarah was running against 3 girls that were a lot taller than her and 2 that were her size.  She came in third in her individual events and was so dejected.  I tried to tell her that she ran as hard as she could and still got points for our school and that I was proud of her.  But she really wanted to win and could not be made to feel better.  Her relay team did place 2nd however and that seemed to pep her up a bit.

Peter ran as fast as I have ever seen him run and helped his relay team get a first place.  He was  excited.

And then more rain came.  We were almost done with the 400 meter relay when it started pouring rain again.  We still had two more events left to complete and news around the track was that our team was only behind by 20 points (and that didn't include the points for the 400 meter relay - which we were doing really well on).  The kids were getting excited that there was a chance that we might actually win this year.

But as the rain started, they called all the coaches and athletic directors to the tent to make a determination on whether or not to call the event or to proceed.  Our coach, a fierce competitor, fought to keep going because it wasn't lightening and the rain would most likely pass.  The other coaches wanted to call it.

So, they called it and we all went home wet and nnoyed that we didn't get a chance to finish.

And the next morning our coach sent an email saying that after they figured in all the points from the relay, our team lost...


Oh, it was heartbreaking. The coach was upset.  My kids were upset.

If only we had a chance to finish the whole meet, we might have won.  Or, we might have fallen even further behind.   Either way, at least we wouldn't feel like we got cheated.

I'm proud of my kids and I'm proud of the whole team.

And I'm glad track is over for the year because track meets are even more chaotic than swim meet - and that's saying a lot!.

And guess what starts in two short weeks?  That's right!  Swim season!

Friday, May 9, 2014

7 Quick Takes

I'm joining up with 7 Quick Takes because, it's Friday and that's what I do.  (Well, that's what I do if I've got anything to tell you about that wouldn't take up a whole post and I actually do today so, lucky you!)

1.  I'm giving away a copy of our hostesses book, "Something Other Than God"!  So head over to this post for your chance to win a copy or if you already have a copy, I'm giving away an Amazon gift card.

2. My copy of Something Other Than God arrived last Friday and I'm on Chapter 8. As a Catholic convert myself, I love to hear other people's conversion stories. 

3.  I plan to finish the rest this morning while I'm waiting on Dan to get his colonoscopy.   Dan is getting one before he turns 50  because of his brother's recent diagnosis of Stage 4 colon cancer.

4.  And speaking of his brother Bob, he is in the middle of his second round of chemo now and any and all prayers would be appreciated.  We are praying hard for complete healing!  St. Peregrine, pray for Bob. (And a prayer that Dan's colon looks good would also be appreciated.)

5.  Last week I had to take Gray Gray (one of our cats) to the vet.  He was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and a bacterial infection which was causing a hacking cough.  Now he's on a twice daily pill for the hyperthyroidism (which he will have to take for the rest of his life) and an antibiotic for his cough which he only takes for ten days.

Luckily they make little treats called Pill Pockets that you can hide the pills in.  And luckily he scarfs those up.  Otherwise, there is no way I could manage getting these pills into him. For the rest of his life. Twice a day.

6.  The kids have their conference track meet tonight.  I'm always excited for a new season/new sport to begin and I'm always equally excited when one ends.  Onward and upward to swim team! 

7.  May Crowning is taking place at the kid's school today and Sarah was very excited to be chosen to bring up the flowers for 4th grade.  "It's a big deal" according to her.  I think she's most excited because she gets to change out of her uniform into a "pretty dress" for the crowning.

Don't forget my giveaway and head over to Jen's for more quick takers.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A little redesign and a big giveaway!

I needed a little cheering up and decided to get a facelift.

But since I couldn't afford a facelift to tighten up the old crows feet and smooth out the laugh lines, I decided for the next best thing. 

I got a bloglift.

If you are viewing in a reader, come on over and check out the new space. 

The changes are subtle.  I told Danielle Burkleo, blog designer extraordinaire, that I wanted a lot of white space and I wanted it to look fresh and clean.  I think she did a fabulous job!

I also wanted a navigation bar.  The main reason for this was so that all the posts I've written about Rebecca will be in one place and will be easy to get to.  (I did this mostly for me but I hope it will be beneficial to others as well.)

And I finally have some spiffy social media icons.  So please feel free to like me all over the internets.

To celebrate my fresh new space, I'm giving away one copy of Jennifer Fulwiler's Something Other Than God

I finally got my copy and I plan to read it this Friday while I'm waiting on Dan to get a colonoscopy.

I would love to get a picture of Dan reading it while he's getting his colonoscopy because I'm sure that would win Jennifer's contest for "Most Epic Selfie While Reading #SOTG".  However, he will hopefully be out like a light and my husband doesn't do selfies.  And even if he did...

And if winner of  this little contest already has a copy of the book, I will give you a $20 gift card to Amazon instead.

Thanks for checking out the new blog design and for reading what I write here every day. 

Good luck!  The winner will be chosen randomly from all eligible entries on May 14th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 2, 2014

And there were leftovers!

I went to Mass at school this morning.

The Gospel reading was from John 6:1-15.  It's the story of Jesus feeding 5000 people with the 5 loaves and 2 fishes.

Since this was Mass at a Catholic school, the priest geared his homily toward the kids and focused on the little boy that brought the loaves and fishes.

He said the little boy might have been heading to the fields that morning to tend his sheep and his mom had packed him that lunch before he left for the day so he wouldn't be hungry.  But then he heard that Jesus was going to be nearby so he decided to follow the crowds and go hear him instead.

Around lunchtime Jesus asked the boy for his lunch.

And the boy said yes.

He didn't have to say yes to Jesus but he did.

And Jesus took the five loaves of bread and the two fish and fed over 5000 people - with leftovers!

As I was sitting in Mass listening to the priest tell the kids that all they have to do is say yes to Jesus and he will take care of the rest, I couldn't help but to think about Rebecca.

We said yes to an unplanned pregnancy.  We said yes to a baby that was deemed incompatible with life.  We said yes when it might have seemed easier to say no.

Jesus asked us to do something.

And we said yes.

We didn't have to say yes to Jesus but we did.

And Jesus will take our yes and turn it into a miracle - something bigger and more powerful and more beautiful than we could imagine.

I may not find out on this side of heaven, but whatever he does with our yes, will have been worth  the sacrifice, the sadness, the pain. 

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” - Mark 10:27