Tuesday, August 7, 2012

(My) Birth Story

I wanted to write down Alex's birth story so it will always be out here...floating around on the world wide web.  Some of you have not heard this story.  Some of you have.  If you have, I hope you will enjoy hearing it again.  And it's a long one, but a good one.  :)

Chuck and I had wanted a baby for quite some time.  We started trying in 2006.  It took us 8 long months before I got pregnant.  I know that in the scheme of things, that really wasn't a long time, but to see a negative pregnancy test for the first month, then the second month, the third month, the fourth month...and so on - it WAS a long time for us.  

Then the day came when that test...it had 2 pink lines.  It was such a great moment.  I was alone at home, except for our dog Mattie, so she was getting an earful.  Chuck finally got home from work and it was all I could do not to trample him when he walked through the door.  I told him the good news and it slowly started to sink in that we would soon be a family of 3, rather than 2.

Fast forward to December of 2007.  My due date was December 3rd.  I had a doctor's appointment that day and I was planning to tell my doctor (Dr. Collins from Holly's birth story!) that I was ready to wait it out another week if necessary.  I had not progressed AT ALL so I just figured that Alex wasn't ready to come out yet.  Well, Dr. Collins had a different plan.  She let me tell her my plan (see above) and then proceeded to tell me that she wanted to induce me.  That.  Very.  Evening.  Talk about a total shock!  I had no idea that she was planning to do this.  She said that she wanted to go this route because Alex had been measuring just a little bit small.  (She had already sent me to the high risk doctors to have a look at him via ultrasound.)  She had also already called the high risk doctors to ask about her decision to induce and they seemed to think it was a good one.  I guess I was the only one who didn't think so, but who was I to argue with my doctor?  I mean, Chuck and I had planned to go to dinner and a movie after this appointment, so saying that we weren't prepared for this was just a little bit of an understatement.  

Next, total chaos ensues.  Phone call after phone call to family and friends, letting everyone know what was going on. Heading home to finish packing our bags for the hospital.  Making sure the house and the dog are OK before we leave.  Making sure the car seat is installed.  

We did go eat afterwards, but I was too nervous and emotional for this last meal.  We also ate Mexican food, which I am pretty sure is not a great idea if you are about to give birth.  

We got to the hospital around 6:00 that evening.  Chuck and I were taken to a room and I put on the gown, ready to get down to business.  I knew that my experience would depend a lot on the nurse that I got.  "If you have a great nurse, you will have a great experience."  This kept running through my mind.  I would bet anyone that MY nurse that night had just walked out of the doors of nursing school. She had a hard time with my IV, which was worse for me than her as I was the one she was stabbing with a needle.  She also made me cry when she placed the Cervidil, as she obviously had NO IDEA what she was doing. (If you know what that is, then you will understand the pain I felt.  If you don't know, look it up.  Seriously.)

By the next morning, I had not progressed very much.  Dr. Collins wanted to break my water, but it was just too painful for me as I had not dilated.  She went ahead and let me get an epidural, and then broke my water.  I don't remember much of this day.  I slept quite a bit off and on.  I do remember waking up late in the evening and not feeling well at all.  I was having contractions and starting to feel them, so I was able to get another epidural.  I still had only progressed to maybe 5 centimeters and it had been almost 24 hours since everything started.  I was feeling pretty sick and I had a fever.  Right about the time that the nurse discovered I had a fever, Alex's heart rate started to go up.  170s.  180s.  190s.  The nurse called Dr. Collins and it seemed like she was there in my room in minutes.  The nurses had been tossing and turning me to try to get Alex's heart rate down and it wasn't working.  It was just making him angrier and the heart rate was up, up, up.  (He still has this trait as of this day.)  I remember Dr. Collins telling me that they were going to do a C-section and I felt relieved.  I was exhausted and sick.  Then, she explained to me that it would be "urgent."  It was at that point that probably 10 nurses crowded around my hospital bed, along with Dr. Collins, and whisked me out of the room.  I didn't get to tell Chuck good-bye.  I remember that he had just called his mom to tell her I was having an emergency c-section.  I didn't get to put on my glasses so I could only see blurs.  My brother and mother were outside when I was wheeled by.  They told me everything would be OK.  I wanted to believe them.  I knew they were only saying it for my benefit.  I was crying and crying and praying to God to please let my baby be OK.  I prayed for us both to be OK.  I didn't want to die without ever meeting my son.  

On the way to the operating room, I asked Dr. Collins of Chuck would get to come in the room.  She told me that he might, as long as she didn't have to put me under.  We got into the operating room and Dr. Collins was ready to get started.  She asked the anesthesiologist if she could start cutting and he said he needed to get some more medication into my epidural line first.  I told her I could feel my feet.  I was scared to death she was going to cut me open and I would feel all of it.  I never felt a thing.  It was at this point that I started to feel like I could not breathe.  There was an oxygen mask on my face - it had been on there in the hospital room - but now there was no oxygen coming into it.  I felt sick and claustrophobic.  I told the anesthesiologist that I couldn't breathe and pulled off the mask, but he put it back on and told me it was to help the baby.  I don't think he realized that the oxygen was not hooked to it at the time.  Then, as if things weren't bad enough already, I threw up.  All over myself.  Oh, but I felt so much better.  Then, the sweet anesthesiologist cut off my gown and cleaned me up - as much as he could from my shoulders up.  I turned my head to see someone sit down next to me and I saw eyes that I would know anywhere.  Chuck had finally gotten to come in.  We were ready to see our baby come into the world.  It was right after this, at 11:49 p.m. on December 4th, that Dr. Collins pulled Alex out of my belly.  He cried a quick cry right away.  I remember the anesthesiologist telling me that was a really good sign.  The nurses took him over to clean him up and make sure that he was OK.  Chuck told me later on that they had to suction blood out of his belly.  My blood.  Thank God, after all of this, he was OK.

Chuck was able to go over to where the nurses were getting Alex cleaned up and see him and hold him.  He held him up for me to see, but, since I did not have my glasses on, I could only see a blur.  I finally got to hold my son about 30 minutes later.  What a surreal moment.  I had a baby.  He was ours. He was in my arms and no longer inside of my stomach.  Wow.  Chuck and I spent some quiet time with him until we were able to go back to our room.  It was full of family and friends.  They were so proud of me and so happy to see Alex.  What a wonderful moment.  I will never forget the way I felt at that time.  It was cold outside, but that room was so warm.  

Now here we are, almost 5 years later.  Alex will be 5 this December the 4th.  How has all this time passed already?  How do I stop it?  I felt, for a time, that I didn't really get to bond with Alex like other mothers who have better birth experiences do.  I didn't get to hold him or nurse him right away, and all the books and journals tell you that is the key to a mother bonding with her baby.  What I have finally realized - and it took me awhile - is that he and I share a different kind of bond.  We went through a lot together.  Just me and him.  And what we went through was the beginning of a long, and strong, bond that can never be broken.  For that much, I will always be thankful. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Losing It

I have lost many things over the course of my lifetime - lost baby teeth, lost pets, lost homework, lost friends, lost loved ones, even lost my sanity at times.  But, the one thing I had never lost in all of my life was a job.  Well, that was about to change as of a few months ago.  At the end of February, I was told I no longer had a job.  And I really liked my job.  I was doing what I had always wanted to do.  I was heartbroken.  This was one of the most utterly depressing things that had ever happened to me.  Some of you who have been through this know this feeling.  Sickness.  Disgust.  Anger.  Sadness.  Crying.  Worry.  Shock.  On that day in February, my life was changed forever.  I was never going to drive to this place to work again.  Ever.  I would never be working with my friends at this place ever again.  I would never sit at this desk ever again.  I would never have that same routine ever again.  I was mad.  What if we lost our house?  What if I couldn't find another job?  What if we had to file bankruptcy?  The one thing I was not was THANKFUL.  Who could be at a time like this, right?  Little did I know...

As it turns out, God knew that I needed to leave that place.  He knew it was the best thing for me, although I would not see that for months.  What I wasn't seeing was an opportunity for me.  An opportunity to take some time for myself and my family.  I had time off now, as crazy as that sounds.  I had time to do things that I never had time to do while I was working.  Of course, I was looking for another job, but I was also spending lots of time with my husband and kids.  Going to Rock City.  Going to the zoo.  I was sewing...during the day!  I could take my kids to school and pick them up without having to worry about being late for work or being late to get them.  Until I lost my job, I didn't realize how much stress I was under.  While I was working, I was always anxious and on edge.  I yelled at Alex to "Hurry up and get ready!!  I have to get you to school so I can get to work on time!"  I was short with Chuck and with the kids.  It wasn't a good way to be.  And now, thanks to losing my job, I was able to figure that out.  I just needed God to show me.  

I know I sound insane, but this is my story.  I know there are many worse stories out there, but I wanted to make the best out of my situation.  I had many, many sleepless and tearful nights.  It took time to get past my resentment and anger.  I was very depressed for weeks.  I still have moments of anger that surface.  But, I got through it with the help of my family and my friends.  I hope others in the same boat are as lucky as I was to have such a good support system.  And, God is always there as well.

I was finally able to find another job.  I am able to work from home now and I love it.  No more driving an hour a half each day to get to work and back.  No more fighting with crazy rush hour traffic - and crazy drivers - to get home.  No more paying $60 a week in gas.  No more stress.  No more anxiety.  I am so very thankful for the job I now have.  I think it was just pure luck that I was in the right place at the right time...or was it? 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Whatever Happened to Strangers?

A month??  It's been over a month since I was here!  Where has the time gone?  Well, there was no competing with Holly's birth story post, so I just decided to let it "sit" for a while.  Yeah, that's it.

Anyway...here I am again.  And I am here today to talk about a few things that irritate me.  Yes, it's random, but I feel I need to get these things out in the open for fear I will combust at some point if I don't. 

OK, so the family and I were at the park tonight, enjoying this weird and random nice February weather.  We decided to take our little dog, Mattie, with us.  Poor thing rarely gets walked, so she was long overdue.  The kids wanted to swing, so I leave Chuck with the job of pushing them decided to walk Mattie around the track so she can do her business.  We walk around once and head back to the play set/slide thing when I am suddenly "attacked" by two random kids.  Now, I am used to kids wanting to pet Mattie because, well, she is irresistible, but these particular kids - a girl and a boy - had their eyes on the leash in my hand.  Now, the girl (who is on my right side) proceeds to TELL me that she wants to walk Mattie and literally tries to remove the leash from my hand.  I fend her off and the boy (who is on my left side and basically drooling and staring at the leash in my hand) says, "Can I take her for a walk?"  I fend him off and get the heck out of there.  So, the point of the story is...whatever happened to strangers??  More importantly, whatever happened to NOT TALKING TO STRANGERS?  Where were these kids parents while this random lady (me) was being attacked?  All I had to do was tell one or both of them that yeah, sure you can walk my little dog, but she's hungry and I need you to help me get her some food out of my van and BAM! I've kidnapped a couple of kids.  Seriously?  What happened to the good old days where you were told to not talk to people you don't know?  I was - and still am - leery of vans because of the things I was told when I was a kid.  Now, I say all of this in the hopes that my kids don't ever make a fool out of me and do something crazy like this, but I can only hope that I can scare them enough that they won't.  That's my plan anyway.

Now, on to a few other random things that just plain get on my nerves:

-People that text and drive.  Yes, we all know we are not supposed to do it, but we do.  Now, I am guilty of having done it, but I do my best to only do it if I am stopped at a red light or in traffic - both of which, as you know, are rarities here in Chattanooga.  (Sense the sarcasm?)  I am talking about the people that full-on do it while they are driving.  On the freeway.  In the rain.  Phone up in front of their face so they can "hold the steering wheel" people - or down in their laps "I don't give a crap about causing a wreck" people.  I have had at least one near side swipe by some guy who was texting and I doubt if he heard my horn for the full solid minute that I held it down.  Idiot.

-People that post responses to statuses on Facebook and ask stupid questions. For example, I saw a status update tonight from a shoe company who posted that their spring shoes would go on sale online tonight at 12:00 midnight (Eastern time).  The status actually said Eastern time IN IT.  Of course, as if on cue, the first response was something like "Can't wait!  What time?"  Really?  Are we too busy to read the entire thing and get all the information before we post something?  Man, that stuff drives me nuts!

-Speaking of Facebook, I try not to post things unless I think they might be of some kind of value to the people reading it.  I find it really annoying when people post so much that you can tell they have nothing else to do.  "Just got up and took a shower.  Ready to start the day!" (12 hours ago)....Posts picture of breakfast with the caption that reads "My breakfast today. Yum!" (11 hours ago)...."Lunch at Chili's - with Sally Jones and 2 others." (8 hours ago)...."Think I may be getting sick.  Uh-oh.  Not feeling good and feel kind of clammy and feverish." (7 hours ago)...."Could this day be any slower?" (6 hours ago)....Random not-really-inspirational post/quote (4 hours ago)...____  just posted a pin to Pinterest! (3 hours ago)...."I just made a doctor's appointment for tomorrow at 9 am." (3 hours ago)...____ added 3 photos to the album Mobile Uploads (pictures of clammy hands, inside of "sore" throat & thermometer showing 100.4 degrees on it) (2 hours ago)...."Time for bed.  I hope I feel better after going to the doctor tomorrow.  Ugh.  Night night!" (2 hours ago)....  You get the idea.

And, last but certainly not least, on the list of my annoyances: whiny kids.  My kids LOVE to whine.  I think it is their passion, like playing piano or acting.  Alex is especially good at it.  I truly think that becoming a skilled whiner can only come with age and experience.  I am actually hoping that it will decrease with age as well, but from what I have been told by parents before me, it only gets worse.  Great.  Now what do I have to look forward to?  (Kidding, of course.  There's still the teenage years.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

(Not My) Birth Story

I have a story to tell you.  It's not actually my story, so I won't give ALL the details, but I do want to talk about what happened this past Tuesday evening, January 10th. 

Let me preface... 

Our sweet friends, Holly & Eric, were expecting.  Expecting twins, to be exact.  A little boy and a little girl.  Graham & Evie Claire.  How much more perfect could it get? 

Holly's pregnancy had been a pretty smooth one.  The babies were doing great and I don't think she could have asked for a much better "twin" pregnancy.  Graham was being a bit stubborn and had decided to turn himself around backwards - feet first - so Holly's doctor (my doctor, too!) had scheduled a C-section on January 25th, just in case Graham decided not to flip back around.

Holly had asked me if I wanted to take photos during her birth and I happily accepted.  Nothing was set in stone yet, but that was the "loose" plan, if you will.  Now, we get to the 10th.  I get a phone call around lunch time from Holly.  She'd been to the doctor and the doctor had decided to take the babies THAT NIGHT due to Holly's high blood pressure.  She was understandably unnerved and also did not know for sure if I would be able to take pictures or if she even wanted anyone in the room besides Eric.  I just told her to let me know what she wanted me to do and I would be there. 

Later in the afternoon, I get a text from Eric letting me know that I would be allowed to take pictures and I should get there about half an hour before the scheduled C-section at 6:00.  He also told me that I could even come into the operating room and take photos during the birth.  I was thrilled!  I had never witnessed a birth.  I mean, yes, I've had two kids, but giving birth and watching a birth are two totally different things.  Could I even compare it to, say, being up to bat versus watching from the stands?  Not really, but you get the idea. 

5:30 could not come fast enough.  I got to the hospital and all of Holly & Eric's family and friends were there waiting.  I got into Holly's labor room and we all waited for the doctor - Dr. Collins - to arrive.  Finally, Dr. Collins came in to let Holly know it was time to get the show on the road.  I think Holly was relieved actually.  She was very uncomfortable by this point, although I think she had been uncomfortable for the past six months, in all actuality.  :)

Holly walked to the operating room and Eric and I "suited up" in our fashionable hospital garb - hair net, blue paper booties, H1N1 face mask and some type of beekeeper's outfit with a zipper up the front.  We looked good!  We stood in that hallway FOREVER.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  We danced for all the family and friends in the waiting room when the doors would open.  More waiting.  We prayed together while we waited.  It was a wonderful moment.  Then, it was show time.

A nurse, or somebody else (I don't even remember if it was a man or woman at this point) brought us into the operating room.  (I would shorten it to OR, but I don't want to sound like I stepped out of Grey's Anatomy.)  There was Holly, with her lovely hair net on might I add, ready to bring her babies into the world.  They sat Eric and me down on little stools next to Holly.  I was bordering on the edge of the curtain, which hides all of the "goings on" and was trying to make sure I did not peek around it for fear of getting kicked out.  It was very laid back in that room, which was not something I was used to.  I had an emergency C-section with Alex and this was the total and complete opposite of that.  I can say that, if there were elevator music playing in that room, it would have seemed appropriate. 

Then, out came Evie Claire.  And she was beautiful.  And so little.  And so perfect.  One minute later, Graham came into the world.  He was Holly's dad, Butch, made over.  What a blessing to have that.  Holly lost her dad to cancer almost four years ago and to have her son look so much like her dad...she couldn't have asked for a better gift from God. 

The room came alive after that.  Lots of babies crying and nurses shuffling and weighing and patting and checking and yelling out stats and laughing.  There was lots and lots of joy in that room. 

Eric and I just stood there.  Amazed.  His babies were in front of him now and what a miracle they were.  He touched Evie Claire's little hand and she grabbed his finger.  She was laid back and relaxed.  So beautiful and pink.  Lovely.  I was taking pictures like a crazy person.  Graham was crying and the nurses told Eric he was jealous because he hadn't paid him any attention yet.  Eric moved over to Graham and he stopped crying and calmed down.  More pictures. 

The nurses laid the babies next to each other and I took pictures of them.  Brother and sister.  Minutes old. 

Then it was time for Eric to hold both of them together - or so he was told by one of the nurses.  We went back over to Holly's side and the nurse handed Eric his children.  They were now a family of four.  I took their first "family photo" and, oh, what a moment it was!

I held Graham while he put Evie Claire up to Holly's face so they could meet for the first time and feel each other's skin.  Then I held Graham up to her for his introductions.  There is something Heavenly about a mother meeting her children for the first time.  How did I get so lucky to witness it? 

Then, it was time to take the babies out to the nursery.  That waiting room was probably about to combust at this point.  I couldn't go into the nursery with Eric, so I was going to run out into the waiting room, beat Eric to the nursery, and yell to everyone that he was coming with the babies.  My plan would have gone down flawlessly if whoever at the nurses' station that was supposed to be opening the automatic doors to enter into the waiting room was paying attention.  I was running towards those open doors to go into that waiting room and they, ever so slowly, shut in my face while the family and friends are looking at me.  Anyway...the doors FINALLY open and I run out in time to answer the question, "Where are they?!!" with, "They're coming!!" and pointing towards the nursery.

Everyone crowded around the nursery windows to see those babies and the tears flowed.  And flowed.  It was so beautiful.  People hugging each other.  Holding each others' hands.  Lots of tears and lots of joy and laughter.  I will never forget it. 

Now, my story ends there.  I know Holly & Eric will each have their own stories, if they want to share them.  I just wanted to share mine for them, so they will know just how much I appreciated them allowing me to be there for the birth of Graham & Evie Claire.  It was something that I will never, ever forget as long as I live.  I love them and I was honored to take those pictures.  I know they will always cherish them.  The same way I will always cherish seeing both of those babies come into this world.  What a blessing.

Thank you so much, Holly & Eric.  I love you all.

Holly, Evie Claire & I (Not pictured - Eric & Graham)

Friday, January 6, 2012

We Live

To piggyback off of my post from yesterday, I found a song that I thought was fitting...


I hope you listen to the words and enjoy it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Who's Afraid of Death?

Don't let the post title mislead you.  I am not asking in a macho way by any means: "Who's afraid of death? NOT ME!"  If you took that way, I guess I mislead you.

I am asking as in, who ELSE is afraid of death?  Something you may not know about me is that I am someone who IS afraid of death.  In a big way.  I have anxiety about it.  I fear it - when it will strike, but more importantly, who it may strike.  I am afraid for my husband to die.  I am afraid for my kids to die.  I shudder at the thought of it.  What would I do?  How would I handle it? 

Now, I know I sound a bit morbid, but I don't even like to talk about life insurance and everything that entails, much less the subject of death.  So why am I bringing it up then?  I guess, like in therapy, we need to talk about the things that bother us.  For some reason, I felt like I needed to talk about death. 

I had never had to deal with death of someone close to me - really close to me - until the year before last.  My grandmother died in May of 2010.  Now, I know you hear about someone's grandparent passing away and you normally just don't get as sad for them as you would if, say, it was their parent or child that had passed away, right?  I mean, not that you don't feel for them, but for most people, grandparent relationships are usually not as close as parent/child relationships.  But, my relationship with my grandmother was different.  I had grown up and lived with she and my grandfather for most of my life.  My mother and brother, too - all of us together.  My grandparents adopted me and my grandmother, literally, was my second mother.  I could talk to her about anything and she was like a best friend to me.  She loved Jesus and she made sure that we all went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night.  She also loved every person she met and she gave anyone a chance.  She genuinely cared and she showed it.  She would cook meals for the needy and take me with her to deliver them.  She was the kindest and smartest person that I have ever known in my life.  And her laugh...it was contagious.

She died because she smoked cigarettes.  Over the years, the COPD slowly stole the air from her lungs.  It wasn't an unexpected death, but I was still in denial until I got the phone call from my brother early one morning telling me that she was gone.  I can hear his voice like it was yesterday. 

I had been to see her several days before she died.  I just sat with her in her room and watched her sleep.  I looked through old photo albums and remembered all of the times from the past.  I touched her hair and face and held her hands.  I told her over and over that I loved her.  The last words she spoke to me were, "I love you, too, Jillbo.  Very much.  I love you just as much as I could have loved anybody.  Don't you ever forget it."  I have never forgotten and I never will. 

So, when I start to worry about death, I think of her and how she would have told me not to worry.  How she would have told me that I shouldn't have to worry because Jesus is there for us.  Even in death.  I wish my kids could have known her better, but I know she is watching over them.  Watching over all of us.  And, knowing that she is up there makes me feel just a little bit better about the whole concept of death.

I guess my whole point in writing this post is to let you know that you should not live afraid of what is to come, such as death, but live in the moment and be thankful for today.  It sounds so cliche, but it's true.  This is going to be my New Year's resolution - for this year and the years to come. 

And, every night, while I am rocking Mallory before bed I tell her, "I love you, Mallory.  Very much."  I'm not going to ever let her forget it.  I won't let any of them forget it. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Eve With Kids

So, here is all that's left from our New Year's Eve celebration...

We were invited over to a neighbor's house for the evening, kids and all.  There were lots of other neighbors and friends there with kids and it was a beautiful time.  But, I just knew from the beginning that we would NOT be staying until midnight because I knew my two couldn't possibly stay up that late.  If you know me, you know I am pretty uptight, especially when it comes to my kids.  We try to stick to the same nap times and bed times.  Bed time in our house is around 8:30, which is obviously nowhere near midnight.  Anyhow...the night wore on and the kids played and played and played.  They - along with the hubby and I - were having a great time!  There were a few times when I told Chuck we were going to have to head out because Mallory was going downhill, but then she would perk back up and we continued to stay. 

And then, before I knew it, it was down to the very last minute of 2011.  We grabbed the kids, dragged them in front of Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve, handed out shot glasses filled with orange juice (kid friendly, of course) and started to count down from 10. 

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2...ONE!!!!!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

The kids absolutely loved it!  They drank their OJ and toasted with each other and the grown ups and said "Cheers!"  It was a magical thing. 

Do I feel guilty about keeping my kids up until after midnight?  A little.  Am I glad that I did?  Very much so.  This was something that I had never experienced with my kids and I am so glad that we did not head home those few times I thought we needed to and put them in the bed.  I am glad they got to take part in something as special as transitioning - literally - from one year to the next. 

Who knows? Maybe we will we do it all over again with them next year.

Maybe.  :)