Monday, September 07, 2015

The Day You Joined Us

On the day you joined us there was joy and terror.
I was too scared to scream.
I was too upset to cry.
I was too relieved to think.
Someday I'll be able to tell you that it matters that you were born safe and healthy
And it also matters that it didn't go as planned
And that I was scared out of my mind.
Someday I'll tell you how I grieve that I was asleep and didn't see you until you were clean and wrapped and had sat with Abba by my bed for hours.
Some day
I'll also tell you that when I gave you milk I felt that you were truly born at last
That I finally felt you mine.
Some time
I'll have the courage to tell you
I had pain and horror
You were the best medicine there was.
Someday you'll be old enough to understand why I won't read you On the Day You Were Born
But I'll read Love You Forever
And I'll mean it.
I'm still sorry for both of us
Your poor little body suffered too
I'll always regret that.
The day you joined us was among the most terrifying
Hardest things I've ever done
But I'd do it again to have you here.
I would die for you but that's not what you need.
Living is harder
But I'll do that too.
And some day I'll hold you
And tell you your story
And I hope I'll be able to help you understand
Though I never want you to have to live through it
No matter what it was worth it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It can't always be said in prose...

I've been feeling and thinking and processing a lot of things as I think about having another child next year or so (no we're not actively trying... but we'd like to fairly soon... maybe.)

There are things that are so hard to express just by writing through them... Sometimes giving them a meter, a pulse, helps me say things I couldn't otherwise.

And so, I subject you to my poetry again. Apologies in advance.


Male and Female He Created them; she birthed her children in sorrow.
In these words there is a song, it is the song of many ages,
It is the song of many women, it is the song of much travail,
And of the knowing that even in joy there is fear and sorrow.

When my first child grew in my womb I learned the song,
I almost lost the girl so small, I learned that she would fight for life,
And as I kept her safe inside, such joy,
And as she left, such awe and fear- that she could not be kept safe from everything anymore...

There were some almost-theres, faint flickers of hope,
Hope of a child that never was.
They are part of the song, my body singing the wrong notes,
They weren't quite mine, not quite in key.

There was another babe, she did not eat
She could not coordinate her mouth
To suck with joy the milk that sang from my breasts
And so her screaming joined the song.

She grew and learned to sing more sweetly with me. Another came,
She was not with me, and the song became desperate,
Where is my child? My body screamed,
But she was back with me soon, and I was scarred but whole.

I learned to sing again but just in time
For the sweetest melody I'd known to stop-
Breaking my heart as my body was broken,
Breaking my soul almost as I clung to the melody
The eternal litany
The sorrow and the joy entwined
Every mother of every child
Every father of every child
Every mother who never had a child
They all sang too...

And I was upside down and heard her song
And knew it was not lost.

And so I found the strength to sing again
This song so bright and fervent gave me hope
And though I felt I failed her as again I broke
She was so strong she sang despite it all.

And so I choose to sing again the song
This time in a much richer voice
Knowing that the dark and minor notes
Work only toward the whole though the discord
And atonal shriek may mar the song again
Still will I sing...

Some say that I should stop, some say my body can't
I say that through the ages women have in joy and sorrow sung
And I will sing until my song's complete.
And I will do it in this body,
This, twice-broken, much battered, too-big,
My voice shines through it,
And so because it is the instrument of my song
It is beautiful.

And once again it will let me sing
And even should it break again
And even if it cracks
in half
Even then
I will have my song.

And it is the song of ages.
It stretches forward to my children
And back and back and back
And it is the song of Ruth, and Rebekah, and Sarah, and Eve.
And it is still the song that is most beautiful of all to me
And full of joy
Even when it's full of sorrow.
It is mine.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The "Miller Mark"

I learned an interesting little piece of family history this week.

Katie Sue has a strawberry birthmark "stork bite" on the back of her head/neck. I have a few cafe au lait marks and several of my kids have them too, including one on the upper right quadrant of the back that my half-sister, my mom, my brother and I all have, but I think this is the first of our kids to have a strawberry birthmark, and definitely the first to have one on the back of the neck/lower head.

We were over at my mom's Monday (while Jeff got tax deadline work done) and my mom said, "Oh, she has a Miller Mark!" I said, "Yeah, she has a little birthmark; what's a Miller Mark?"

My mom explained that so many of the Millers (my maternal grandma's maiden name) had these strawberry birthmarks on the back of the head/neck that my great-grandpa always referred to them as "Miller Marks" and would remark on it when a baby in the family was born with one.

So there you go- she may not have the birthmark that many of the rest of us in my generation and my kids' generation share, but she has a Miller Mark. The funniest part is that this first child to have a Miller Mark is the one who is named after that particular great-grandma- the grandma who was a Miller is my grandma Katie! (Katie Sue- Katherine Susanna- is named after both my grandmas, who are Catherine Veronica and Mary Katherine, but the nickname Katie is after my Grandma Katie- both my grandmas go by nicknames of their middle names.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Emma's Baptism and Katie Sue's Blessing...

...were last weekend. I fail at blogging. *hangs head in shame* They were both very special, though. Emma's baptism was awesome, and she is taking it very seriously. What a special day! So many friends and family came, that was wonderful. A picture from before:
Family photo after:
And here's a picture of Katie Sue in the family christening gown:
All changed after:
The major points of her blessing were: -name by which she shall be known is Katherine Susanna -may she continue to grow both physically and spiritually -may she be married in the Temple to a worthy Priesthood holder -her Father in Heaven expects great things of her -may she turn to Him throughout her life for comfort and strength. It was very sweet and Jeff didn't seem at all nervous as he did the first few times, though apparently he teared up (I didn't really notice.) It was special, as always. :) And since we also had Thanksgiving this week, I'll just throw in a Thanksgiving photo of the girls:
And a family photo, also from Thanksgiving:
(Those never turn out with everyone smiling at the same time... We took three, that one has the good shots of the MOST people, though Emma's good shot was the one before. How it goes, I guess. Sigh.) Now, on we plug toward Christmas... My most stressful time of year.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

You Can't Always Get What You Want- But You Get What You Need

Or, the tale of Katie Sue's dramatic entry into the world.

I had planned, all along, on trying for a (unmedicated, Hypnobabies) VBAC this birth. My doctor is very supportive of this. He's pretty anti-intervention in general, happy to let things go. So when I went in on Wed., Sept. 19, and he began to tell me that he felt I needed an induction, I was surprised- but because this was not at all like him, I listened.

I'd been having fairly strong contractions, getting more frequent, since the previous Friday. However, things were only progressing very, very slowly. When I went in that Wed. to be monitored (because I felt her slow down- uh, turns out she just really likes long naps in the afternoon!) Katie Sue was doing fine, but my uterus was not. My contractions were frequent and strong enough, and had been going on long enough this way without doing anything, that my doctor told me he was worried about the risk of rupture. Basically, my uterus was hypertonic and if this continued for another week, I was at fairly high (relatively speaking) risk of rupture. He asked me to agree that if she was not born by Friday, we would start a gentle-as-possible induction. After his explaination, based on his experience (and knowing that he really doesn't suggest stuff like this unless he really, really thinks it's warranted) I agreed.

On Friday, we headed in (a bit late, but it turned out we had to wait anyway!) I was a little more progressed, but she was still very, very high. My doctor checked my cervix and found that I had a very tight band of scar tissue, so I asked him to stretch it out, which he did. She was so high, and her hand was above her head, that he asked me, instead of immediately rupturing the membranes to start, to consent to a very, very low dose of Pitocin to try to bring her down and get her hand back with her body. I agreed. I also agreed to an enema because I had some stool impeding the cervix a bit. I had the enema right away (and actually felt a lot better.) I was contracting some, so I spent quite a bit of time with my "light switch in the middle" enjoying the squeezing sensation without discomfort.

We waited quite a while in Triage, because all the rooms were full! Finally enough were cleared out that I was settled in a room (I got the isolation room, lol, because of my life-threatening allergy to rubbing alcohol.) Shortly after this, my (internet, but we've met before) friend Qarin arrived. I'd asked her to be labor support for me, because I had a feeling that this birth would bring up strong emotions for Jeff, and there might come a time when he needed to focus on himself and take care of himself but I would still need someone to be able to be there for me. Qarin was there for me.

At first I just laid mostly flat (a little on the side) because my back ached. Once the contractions began to get a little more frequent and intense, I got my body pillow and laid full over on my side and listened to a couple Hypnobabies tracks to get me really focused. After that, I felt so good that I got myself sitting up at the end of the bed, leaning forward, trying to get Katie to move down and turn anterior (she was posterior much of this time, but was still spinning around.) I felt great, light switch in the middle, and decided to watch a little tv. We saw a few shots of the Endeavor flying over San Fransisco, and I flipped through until I found The Price is Right (with Snoop... Lion is it now? as a celebrity guest.) I amused Jeff and Qarin with my bloodthirsty jeers hoping the lady would fail at Plinko. (She didn't, won quite a lot actually!) Shortly after it ended, my doctor came in to check and see if she was down and I was a bit more progressed. So we turned off the tv.

I was and she was! I'd gone from 3 cm and -3 station to 4 cm and -2 station- where he wanted me to be to rupture the membranes. So he had me go to the bathroom, so I'd be comfortable. I did, and while there, lost my mucous plug and had bloody show! The exclaimation point is because it was fascinating to me- I've lost small chunks of mucous before but never the whole thing at once or had bloody show. So we were all ready to go. The doctor came in with my nurse, an extra nurse, and a resident, and we prepared to get things going (as we thought.)

They put plenty of towels down, Qarin stood back, and Jeff went to watch. The doctor ruptured the membrane- and I heard him explain that there seemed to be two layers, a little pocket that had formed of water. Aha! this would explain why my nice strong contractions had been doing so little and she'd been unable to get her head down to progress me. Then he went to do it to the actual sac membrane- and that's where things got tricky. He said it was very thick. He asked Jeff to push down at the top of my fundus, to assist with some pressure- it was about four times as thick as a normal membrane would be, he said. Jeff did, he got it punctured, and all of a sudden the gushing was uncontrollable.

I'd been measured the previous day as the water being at 15.3. (10-20 is what they would consider normal range.) My doctor later told me I had far, far more, that measurement must have been inaccurate- I had what is known as polyhydramnios. It was so much and so forceful that it rushed out all over the floor, flooding the bed. And that's when things got scary.

All of a sudden, everything was happening at once. The doctor asked Jeff to stop pushing and stand back. The nurses rushed around and the resident began handing the doctor things I wasn't fully aware of what they were as he urgently requested them. The baby's heartrate dropped to 60. And I began to panic a bit. No. A lot. I'd heard that drop in heart rate before, and it was not a sound I wanted to be hearing. (In fact, it's one I'd like to never hear again!) The nurses first told me, "It's ok, this happens sometimes, it will usually come right back up." And then they stopped saying that.

About four more nurses rushed in. The doctor began to intervene to try to resucitate the baby somewhat. He had the nurses trying to manually push her up from the outside (like an external version, but lifting, not turning.) One gave me pure oxygen to make sure the baby got as much oxygen as possible. He called for saline bolus to do an amnioinfusion. I was scared and called for Qarin, because Jeff was obviously going into shock. She came and held my hand and looked me in the eye. She kept my focus on her, and we talked about inanities (like, what kind of tree would you be if you were a tree?) while the doctor forcefully stretched my cervix from 4 to about 6 (remember, I had no pain medication, only my hypnosis); I began to lose my hypnotic focus and it HURT. Qarin reminded me to center, breathe, go deeper into hypnosis. I had a hard time but tried and it didn't hurt quite so much as he shoved his entire hand up trying to push the cord back. He explained that the cord was basically prolapsing- it was trapped between the baby's body and the opening. He manipulated as he could, and then they pushed bolus after bolus of saline, trying to float the baby off the cord.

While he did this, Jeff stood stricken. I tried to talk to him but he was out of it. Qarin kept reassuring me, or trying to. She didn't say much but I could see in her eyes that she was willing it to be ok, that she was believing with all her heart that it WOULD be ok, and was willing me to believe the same thing. I asked Jeff for a blessing. He anointed me with oil but stopped, stumbling over words, not remembering the correct form of address. I said, "It's ok, just bless me. God will understand." He placed hands on my head and said from the bottom of his heart, "Dear Heavenly Father, by the power of the Melchizidek Priesthood, please, let Anne and the baby be ok. Let the baby get the air she needs. In Jesus' name amen." All the time the doctor watched the clock. When we hit the two minute mark without the heartrate going up at all, we began to move toward the door. I practically threw my glasses at Qarin. (I found out later that she had the presence of mind to make sure they made it into Jeff's pocket before he ran out the door after me. Thank you Qarin- you made sure I could see my baby when I woke!) As they ran, pushing my bed toward the operating room, they continued to push the saline to give as much room as possible between baby and cord, to let it function, let it give the baby air. I kept recieving oxygen. The anesthesiologist was annoying me with questions about my reactions to narcotics, suggesting I would need them because "You're going to be in a lot of pain!" Thanks a lot, lady. I informed her that I've done this before and would do FINE on toradol or ibuprofen, acetaminophen and Tramadol.

We entered the operating room and new people rushed in. I couldn't really see them but one of them came to stand by my head and told me her name (I, uh, don't remember, it was a blur) and that she was from the NICU. As nurses shaved me, swabbed me with betadine, put in a catheter, and the doctor scrubbed in, she talked to me. She held the oxygen for the anesthesiologist as the meds were prepped and she talked to me and looked me in the eye and held my hand. She told me that they were going to take care of my baby. About two minutes in, just before I recieved the anesthesia, she stopped talking to me, listened for a second and said, "Stop and listen. Hear that? The baby's heartate has gone up. She's going to be fine!" I listened and it was true. It still wasn't as fast as it should be but people began shouting to the doctor that it was up to 120. I felt peace come over me. We were going to make it in time.

The nurse from the NICU told me that they were going to give me the medicine to make me sleepy now. I asked her to count backward from 100 for me so I could focus on the numbers. She looked confused, I said, "Like, 100, 99..." She said, "Oh! Ok! 100, 99, 98..." She calmly counted down. At about 92, I stopped noticing the numbers. All of a sudden the paralytic agent took hold. I've had general anesthesia several times before and never had this happen- the paralytic hit before I was fully out. All of a sudden I couldn't breathe, couldn't move, couldn't TALK to tell them I couldn't breathe. All I could think of was "IF I CAN'T BREATHE THE BABY WON'T GET AIR!" But then I heard them moving to intubate me. I fell asleep with the knowledge that they wouldn't let the baby not get air, she would have the oxygen she needed.

(This next part is a report from Jeff, as I was unconscious.) Jeff had, meanwhile, been told by the NICU staff to get in sterile suit and cap. They didn't realize I'd be under general, so they came back out and told him he had to wait in the hall (but he kept the suit on because they would also need it if he had to run with the baby to the NICU.) So he waited. A minute later someone popped out to let him know her heart rate was coming up (so, right before I went under.) He stood and waited there because they told him they needed to know where to find him. He saw a chair and considered kneeling to pray- but he was a vet tech for many years and remembered that he needed to stay sterile. So he stood in the hall and prayed standing and waiting. Then he called my mom, who had the kids. He needed to call someone and he felt she needed to know. (Oddly, she told me that as he called in she was picking up the phone to dial his phone. She just knew she needed to call, just had a feeling.) She listened, and she told me later that her heart sank and if she hadn't been with the kids she would have begun crying. But she held it together for them, and for Jeff. She reassured him that what happened last time was NOT going to repeat. This was NOT the same circumstance. And it wasn't. As they talked, a nurse came out and told Jeff words that made him incredibly happy- "You can't come in but do you hear that crying? That's your baby." She was born, healthy and screaming, less than 6 minutes after I left the LDR room for the OR.

Jeff told my mom. My mom heard the cries over the phone. As soon as she heard, she told Jeff, "You need to tell Emma." Emma had been worrying for months about the baby dying. Well, the whole pregnancy really. She had come over when the phone rang and could see Grandma was worried. Jeff told Emma that the baby was born, alive and healthy. My mom told me later that as soon as she heard, Emma's body visibly relaxed, like a great weight was lifted from her shoulders.

Jeff then saw people coming out so he said he had to go. He asked two nurses what the APGAR was but they had been working on me, not Katie, and didn't know. Soon someone came to take him to recovery. He was able to find out that her APGAR had been 8 at 1 minute and 9 at 5 minutes- both excellent indicators of a healthy baby! He waited in Recovery and shortly they wheeled Katie Sue in. He managed to call Qarin, who was still in the room (she managed to see the space shuttle Endeavor fly by over Griffith Park out the window! Even took a picture!) and tell her what was going on shortly after they wheeled me in to wake up. (Apparently I assaulted the nurse when I came out... oops. But she forgave me. And I was a bit shaky and out of it, but was calm by the time they took me in.) He tells me that I asked "Is she ok?" at least four times. Then I wanted to see her. He brought her close but I couldn't see (I had no glasses on!) The nurse put my glasses on. I looked and asked to touch her. He brought her close to let me touch her cheek. I still don't remember this.

The first thing I remember is realizing that I was awake, and could see- and that Jeff was smiling and holding a baby in his arms. I asked (this time I remember) "Is she ok?" He said "Yes, she's perfect." And to his credit I had no clue from his voice that it wasn't the first time I asked.

Recovery got a little weird; I had an accidental rubbing alcohol exposure (but got my meds in time to prevent shock- thank you again, Qarin for realizing they'd be in my purse with my inhaler and giving it to the nurse!); I hallucinated a bit; I had an allergic reaction (localized) to the injected methergine; I had two infiltrated IVs (actually, I had one IN surgery, and they had to hastily shove one in my right wrist. Ouch.) Katie Sue took a while to latch on even though she was mouthing for milk because she was so knocked out by the general anesthesia. But really, these things were minor. I didn't care. My pain really wasn't as bad as I expected- possibly because I was flying emotionally high as a kite, looking at my adorable, beautiful, healthy and alive baby girl. My Katie Sue, my drama queen who can't seem to do anything the calm way- but that's ok because she's here to stay.

My recovery from there is going great. I'm doing well and will be released tomorrow. Katie Sue has such a healthy, full-term liver she is clearing her very slight jaundice on her own, and is unlikely to need phototherapy at any point. She nurses like a, well, like a really good nurser. ;) She's wonderful and beautiful and she's staying with us, no doubts about it.

Her birth wasn't what I planned or wanted as far as how she got here- but she got here and I wouldn't hesitate to make every choice the same because we did everything we could to keep her safe AND IT WORKED. And when the time comes, my doctor says we'll try again for a VBA2C, which he and the hospital are fine with- just had one the other day. I didn't get what I wanted in a birth experience. I'd like to never have that happen again, please! But I got a healthy baby- and that's what I needed most out of her birth, her.


Introducing Katherine Susanna, otherwise known as Katie Sue

September 21, 2012, 11:30 AM

8 lbs., 4 oz.

21 7/8" long

Dark brown hair, hazel-ish eyes (are we sure this one is mine? ;) )

An absolute delight and blessing, even if she is a drama queen.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day

Yeah, I'm not writing much lately. ;) Sorry, I suck like that.

I was just thinking how cool and different our Valentine's Day was this year. We went out (we're limited to places that a) can accomodate Maggie's allergies and b) are open late, this time of year) to Mel's Drive-In. It's really cool. I've never been there before but always wanted to go, and it did not disappoint! It was featured in American Graffiti; it's been around, well, forever. It's close to Jeff's work and while it's no longer a real drive-in, it's still a great diner with a 50s theme.

We sat at the counter, and had fantastic food (burgers for Jeff and me, mine with potato salad; mac and cheese for the Maggie, breakfast type stuff for the other two; cheesecake for me, sherbet for Maggie, and shakes for the others for dessert.) We had great fun, the staff was SO sweet and helpful (and even gave the kids paper cars, which are only supposed to come with some of the kids' meals, and not the ones they ordered), there are jukeboxes (though we only had two quarters so we decided to skip them this time) and all kinds of music loaded on them, fifties through eighties or nineties, and it's just a fun, happy, bright kind of place. It probably won't become a FREQUENT eating place for us, because that's not really in our budget or diet, but for every once in a while treats? You can bet we'll be back. :)

I also got some very sweet cards from the kids (who can be sweet- when they WANT to be. And who also are sometimes very odd. Emma told me tonight that I looked like "an angel. A dark angel. An angel of darkness." Ok... thanks? LOL!) Combined with our fun date last Saturday while my mom watched the kids and made cupcakes with them, and the great time we had on the 15th at Open Mic Night at Olde Towne Cafe... yeah Valentine's week-ish has been a win, so far. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

No, I haven't posted in a long time.

This is because I suck at blogging. :p

We had a very eventful Christmas (our next door neighbor's house burned.) I don't really want to write about it.

We had a very eventful week after Christmas (we went to Solvang, stayed in a cabin, and I cooked Jeff's birthday dinner in a cabin, with all the windows open, and a wet towel over the smoke detector to keep it from going off constantly. I don't really feel like writing about that either right now, though I may or may not upload pictures at some point and if I do I may or may not post them here or elsewhere. It was an overall good trip though.)

We've been sick on and off, as we usually are all winter, but also with allergies- man, ashes are baaaaaad for allergies. Can't even go outside in the back yard until they finish rebuilding the fence so there's a physical barrier between us and the ash- and I'm not sure about then, until they finish cleanup on the lot.

I want to be more active, but... haven't yet.

So basically, I'm still here, we all are, we're just... being right now. Doing stuff. Went to the Baby and Kidz Expo (wincing at the z there, but that's what it's called); had fun. Tax season, Jeff stays late; not as fun. It's life. We're living it. I have no deep thoughts right now, or anything I feel like I want to write about. But hey! I'm posting! Ha.