Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We interrupt this long-drawn out birth story to celebrate the birth of The One who came down from Heaven to save us.  Thank you Jesus... and Happy Birthday!

In a good year, I have difficulty decorating for Christmas.  It's not that I don't love Christmas, it's just that I don't always have space for... "Christmas".  This year with Ramona and all of Ramona's stuff added to the household (and me, not having the where-with-all to get it organized on time) it seems even tighter.  The acquisition of this idea has put an end to that problem... introducing the half-tree!  For the last few years I have been using this technique to save space (and my sanity).  An artificial tree with only half the branches put on, slid it up tight to the wall (or bookshelf).  We only brought up on box of "Christmas" too.  As you can see, the ornaments are sparse but our hearts are full.

I usually delight in composing my annual Christmas letter, picking a color scheme, and working on the layout.  This year was no different...  I happen to LOVE the black and white/simple paragraph style.  E-mail me if you would like the template... As you can see, the format is sparse, but our hearts are full.

Click to enlarge.

Merry Christmas to all! and to all... a good night!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Losing Focus

That was a disappointment.  This dose of Nubain wasn't working AT. ALL.

I was losing focus pretty quickly.  I felt like a flailing baby, alone... falling... out of control.  Matt could not help, Hailey could not help (really anyway, what could they do? How could they know what I needed if I couldn't tell them?) I turned to the nurse for support and asked her what to do next because I had used up all my tricks.

She sweetly suggested an epidural.

With modern monitors and medication do nurses even know how to take care of laboring women anymore?  Or are they just there to interpret the information the machine spits out and administer the medication that takes care of the pain so you don't have to?  Is that why they insisted I remain in bed... to be monitored?  Would this nurse have had any idea how to help and support me through a tough labor had it not been near the end?  Have they lost the art because no one requires it of them anymore?  It never dawned on my that I should have added "a intuitive/caring nurse" to the list of prayers I had been reciting for the last few weeks.  I know having more support wouldn't have changed the outcome, it's pretty black and white:  All pregnant women eventually end up delivering.  A healthy baby and mom are the main objectives but the avenues taken to get to that end... do they matter?  I still think so.  I believe I am in the minority.


"Let's just check you and see where you're at."


Because I know how my body labors, I knew this was it....  Soon I'd have a baby!

I voiced "It can't be long now"  because I knew...

I knew it darn-it! 

This is why the drugs weren't working... This was transition for me...  I knew it...

Replaying each of my experiences with this phase I always dubbed as my "don't remember time",  I knew it was almost time for "call the doctor", "set the stage" and "BAM! 7-8-9-10 -Baby".

I will never forget the look on the nurse's face as she replied to my statement of "It can't be long now".

The words, not so much, but the look... annoyance, irritation, pretentiousness...

"Well, I don't know about that."


Gone was my focus.  Every thing I knew, I didn't know anymore.  I lost all confidence and felt completely overwhelmed... I cried.  She had somehow, with that one look, undone all I had in me...

Defeated, I gave in... I caved... I went against all I knew about myself and my stamina.  I requested an epidural.

She checked me again... 8.  Too late for an epidural.

I wish I could report that with that news I mustered my fortitude and pressed on.  But I didn't.  I went on because I had no choice. 

I told her I was going to turn over and push.  She checked me again... 10. 

 I knew it darn-it!

I opened my eyes expecting to see the doctor and more nurses or at least the spotlights on.  Nothing.  No one.

I remember asking "Where is everybody?"  I don't know if anyone answered.

Next time I opened my eyes the stage was set...  the doctor appeared... I was pretzel-ed and pushing.  No one was talking (or cheering) I had no idea if I was making any progress.  I remember asking how I was doing and calling for some encouragement...

If there is a next time... I'm bringing the pep-band.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Climbing the Mountain

Nubain can only be given once every two hours.  I had a half an hour to go.

The feeling of being split in two was hitting me like a jack-hammer again but as the nurse checked me and said I was at 4ish I began to focus on my breathing and what has gotten me through most of my other labors.

It's a little trick I learned before Griffin was born and has always been useful to me.

Picture, if you will, a contraction as a line on a graph.  As the line rises the pain increases, and each contraction is like a mountain.  While in the valley, you are pain free.  On the way up the mountain the pain increases, but is usually tolerable... up to a point... the peak.  Only as you reach the summit does the contraction feel all consuming.  The second you start the descent, the torturous feeling gives way to cramping, the cramping lessens to aching and then, when you reach the valley, you can once again relax.

The trick is to convince yourself that, during this whole "mountaineering" process, only the few seconds at the pinnacle hurt.  The rest can be labeled "increasingly uncomfortable" or "steadily decreasing on the pain scale".  So actually, even when your contractions are lasting 1.5 minutes and they are 3 minutes apart, only a fraction of that is excruciating, the rest is a piece of cake!

On the fetal monitoring machine there is also a number associated with where on the mountain you are currently.  Matt's job has always been to watch that number and tell me the instant it decreases.  I don't think he understood why that was important to me.  Either I never explained it to him, or he wasn't listening when I gave that particular instruction, (or maybe he didn't care one iota about me and was actually in cahoots with that evil nurse)  because he was saying things like

"Well, that was a biggie" and

"whoa, it keeps going up"

or holding out on telling me when the number went down because he was waiting to see if it would go back up,

instead of just saying "it's going down"  which was all I wanted to hear.

There was no time to explain it now.  If I could just make it to 9:30 pm, I could have another shot of Nubain and all would be well with the world.

As I watched the hands on the clock move in slow motion, I, in my most convincing tone, requested, ever so sweetly, that the nurse have the drugs ready to administer immediately as the second hand reached the appropriate location.  I saw her go through the motions, but I don't think she ever went through with it.  (and I think I saw her head spin around)

I waited for that euphoric sensation, the giggling... the relief never came...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pain Management

... so yeah, I cried...

Every time (but the first time because I had no idea what was going to happen) the rupturing of the membranes caused me to rethink the whole idea of having a baby.  No matter how much I had hoped it would happen or no matter how much I had begged the doctor to "induce me today, I've cleared my calendar... I promise... I'll make it quick"

I've cried and I've told everyone I changed my mind and I'm going home.  Being pregnant isn't that bad... and this time was no exception.

By now things were quite intense and I was pretty sure that someone was methodically sawing me in half with a dull butcher knife while systematically trying to open a hydraulically powered automatic beach umbrella in my hooha.  Add to that the fact that I was only at 3ish cm, strapped to the bed by the automatic blood pressure cuff, the IV lines, the fetal monitors and the paralysis of back labor,  I'm not surprised that I, for the first time ever, considered an epidural for pain management.  The new shift nurse asked me if I wanted anything.  I told her no but to come back in 20 minutes for my final answer.

An hour later when she appeared I had lost all respect for her, and everyone else for that matter,  and asked for Nubain.  I had to clear it with Hailey first as she was all up in my face and reminding me that I had done it before without any medication... I saw her head spin around at that moment, I just know it.

(Or maybe it was mine)

Then, I'm pretty sure I told her to shove it because she backed off and the nurse administered the medication.

Immediately, I started to giggle. 

For about an hour I felt great, dreamily saying things like "Ooooooo...That one hurted" or "Heeeeyyyyy you guys... "  or so they tell me.

Then, it wore off...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ramona Caroline is Here

3 Weeks already?  Oh my, how the time has flown.

We welcomed Ramona Caroline into the world Tuesday, October 5, 2010.  She was 8 pounds 5 ounces and 21 inches long.  Born at 22:22 with much pain and agony.

Seriously, I think this was the most painful of all my births... it could have had to do with the fact that I was tired and worn out from labor... or it could have had to do with the fact that because I was tired and worn out and had lost my focus, I demanded pain medication.  It wore off right about the time I hit transition.  My biggest fear realized... Really, that's why I opted out of pain medication for all my other deliveries.  Now I know. 

It all started on Monday night with a dose of Cervidil to ripen my cervix.  With my 38 week pregnant belly measuring 43 weeks gestation, I settled in for the night with my Ambien while Matt and Hailey tried to get comfortable on the crappy hospital furniture sans medication.  8 am Tuesday morning brought no results so the Pitocin was started.

I've been induced for 4 out of the 6 times I've delivered babies and even the ones whose labor started naturally a definite pattern has been detected.  It takes FOR.EV.ER. to get things started.  I could walk around for a few weeks dilated to 3 and then even after labor starts things are very slow moving until about 6 cm.  Then BAM! 7-8-9-10-BABY in less than an hour.  I know this about myself.  I told the nurses who were with me all day that this was my normal pattern, so I wasn't too worried at noon when I was only dilated about 1 cm, the same as I was the week before at the doctor's office.  I was having contractions and they were regular but they were not being overly productive.

We Skyped with the boys who were waiting at home, we watched a marathon of Billy the Exterminator on TV, and Matt and Hailey ate breakfast, lunch and dinner before things started to look promising.  The contractions were wrapping around into my back... oh, the wonderful back labor that I am so familiar with.

For some reason they would not allow me to roam.  Just getting them to allow me to be upright in a chair was a fight.  By 4pm  I was adamant that they let me get up and walk around.  They agreed as long as I promised to come back every 15 minutes to be monitored... The first 10 minutes I was out and about I had 7 contractions.  WaHooo!

My 2nd attempt didn't get me past the nurses station when my water started to break.  Funny way to word that I know... but it took about an hour for me to gush out all the fluid that was hanging out in there!  I soaked through towel after towel, chucks pad after chuck pad...  2 changes of bed sheets and a few mop ups of the floor before it slowed down enough to consider it done.  "Copious amounts" one nurse commented.  I had set some kind of record in her mind and 33 years experience in Labor and Delivery. 

Without all that extra pressure my uterus relaxed a bit and contractions slowed.  I knew this was where the rubber meets the road, the real fun stuff was going to happen... and like every other time I had gotten to this point... I started to cry...

To be continued

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Married and Pregnant

I fished my wedding ring out of the drawer yesterday.  I parked it there a couple of months ago thinking it the smart thing to do in case my fingers started to swell.

Last week I was still under the weight from my first appointment so I decided it was safe to put back on.  It feels good to be married and pregnant again.

I've been gaining and losing the same 5 pounds since I first visited the doctor in February...  Mainly due to my pre-pregancy size being a bit more on the - ahem - solid side. My metabolism LOVES being pregnant, I have never gained more than 16 pounds with any of my pregnancies (even when I wasn't as solid as I am now) and as long as I don't have ketones in my urine, my doctor is fine with it.

ANYWAY, wouldn't ya know that over this past week, I gained 3 pounds. 

Oh well, the rest of the visit went well.

My blood pressure was down a bit from last week and my glucose levels, which had been high over the weekend, are now under control and there was no mention of insulin.  My NST went well once the baby woke up and "he" seems to have moved to a head down position!

Extra bonus... I had my complimentary massage this afternoon.  

We're still plugging along one week at a time and I am fine with it. 

Today anyway, we'll see what tomorrow brings...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Here's Baby 6 at 33 weeks/1day. 

Weighing in at 6 pounds, 6 ounces "he" has been very consistent with weight gain since my very first appointment... always 3 weeks ahead of schedule.

Throughout my pregnancy my blood pressure has been managed with medication and my glucose levels have been steady (also with the help of medication and a careful watch of my carbs).

At today's appointment we added some new words to my previous status as a advanced geriatric, grand multi-para,  gestational diabetic, pre-hypertensive  patient.  Packing on the terms as well as the pounds it seems.

This week's ultrasound revealed a transverse baby and a low lying placenta, while the blood pressure monitor displayed numbers creeping higher than the week before.  My glucose register remains consistently "good" but not ideal. 

Today we talked about taking it week by week and probably an early baby with possible C-section.  I guess it's time to get out the bassinet and wash up some baby clothes!

On the up side, I have no swelling and "very nice ankles", the nurse commented! (I've decided I love her.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

On Farmer Sam's daily rounds of the neighborhood's gardens he found a mouse in one of their bird feeders. (And probably weeds that needed to be picked, vegetables that needed harvesting and fences that needed to be mended.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wish Me Well...

I'm taking off in the bus today!  Me, the kids and 2 of their friends... Matt has to work but he'll be joining us on Friday.

The big kids and I had a lesson of the inner workings of the electrical system of the bus, I took meticulous notes and then subsequently lost them.  It's okay though, because, since then, most of the things changed.

The main inverter blew and Matt replaced it with a smaller one we had laying around.  (That always makes me chuckle... the things we have as "extra" that most people don't even have one of!)

I laid awake last night not being able to remember... When the generator is powering the bus, which plug goes where?  When I'm driving, do I leave the main inverter switch on?  This is important because we are camping in a field with no power, a fridge full of food, and a pregnant woman who's going to need a fan.  The forecast is for high to mid 80's, thunderstorms and high humidity for most of the 5 day event.  I got my answers this morning before Matt left for work.

Ahhhhh.  Lifest. Again.

Once I get there and get settled, all will be well.

In other news, the pregnancy is going... well?  I'm tired, but not sick anymore, which is HUGE.  The baby is growing ... well?  According to my latest ultrasound Baby B is HUGE. (Doctor's exact wording)  I'm slow moving and sleep a lot... quite like a sloth.  I'm pretty sure I failed my glucose test yesterday because when I got home from the grocery store there was a message on my machine to call the office this morning. 

Wish me well!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

1 Down 5 To Go

Hailey graduated a couple of weeks ago.  Our oldest, our only girl (so far).  We got together with 9 other  GBACH families and planned the ceremony.  It was truly a success.

Being the emotional person that I am, I knew I wouldn't make it through the without crying but I didn't expect to start at Pomp and Circumstance.  I have a picture of me on my graduation day doing the crunchie face cry as I walked in the auditorium... I'd show you, but I'm too lazy to plod upstairs to dig through the photo albums to find it.

Afterwards we had a party at our house and celebrated her graduation, Hayden's and my nephew's birthdays.

1 down...5 to go.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


And this is what we found in the pool today!  We thought he was dead (like all the other bats we've found there) but upon closer inspection, we noticed he was shivering.  We scooped him out with the skimmer and put him in the shed to do whatever-it-is-that-bats-need-to-do-after-spending-a-night-clinging-to-a-flotation-device.

He reminded me of Rose from the movie Titanic.  I was going to post a YouTube video of the movie scene, but I cried so much watching them that I decided to watch the movie instead.  It's been that kind of week.

Within an hour he had dried off, warmed up and left.  At least I hope he left, just to be safe, I'm not going in the shed for a few days.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Last week snow.  This week swimming.

Summer's coming, I just know it!

The boys have thicker skin than I.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Who Says You Can't Buy Anything For a Penny?

The other day, while on the way to prom decorating, the kids noticed the van acting funny.  "It's shaking really bad, and it stinks!"


It's hard enough for me to deal with our schedule down a vehicle.  Now add to the mix 2 kids with a job, a social life, and the prom only days away.


Somehow we made it through yesterday with one car, two jobs (drop off and pick up), a grocery trip, a stop at Auto Zone for a computer analysis, updo and make up appointments, pre-prom parties, pre-prom pictures, and prom. 

Today, Matt's first and foremost responsibility was to get  that car working.  When I took it in to get checked at Auto Zone, the diagnosis was "Tune up required"  "Probably just plugs and wires" the employee stated.

This morning, upon inspection by the resident Master Mechanic (have I ever mentioned that Matt can fix ANYTHING?  He's amazing!),  it was found that one spark plug wire that had been draped over the exhaust manifold was damaged.  (Causing cylinder 2 to misfire~ I feel like such a smarty pants when I talk like that)

Get this... When he went to pick up the new wire... It rang up as $.01...  ONE PENNY! 

... And I was worried that this repair was going to cut into my Book Budget for next year.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

If you don't believe in miracles...

How do you explain...


I've been reading Jenni's blog for several years.  Truly an inspirational woman.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Con and Pro and Con

Just about everything about traveling in the bus is glorious.  The space, the ability to use the potty if needed, the access to refrigerated food, and did I mention the space?

The gas mileage is a con.  Although, when you figure in being able to stretch out to sleep without setting up a tent while you're traveling, I can overlook that.  Or the price of a hotel for the night... We wouldn't be able to travel that way.

We discovered a new con this trip.  Short term transportation.  We didn't want to drive the bus around town or to the beach, so we rented cars.  Yes, two.  They were out of large vehicles and really, it turned out to be the same(ish) price for 2 compact cars.  We were upgraded to the next level and got a PT Cruiser and a Dodge Caliber.

But the pro?  It's kind of fun driving a little car.  I don't remember the last time I've driven a car that seats less than 7.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day Two of the Quest For Tranquility

While I love the frugality of parking at truck stops to sleep, the activity level, even in the middle of the night, it high.  After a restless night for me, and luckily a restful night for Matt, we embarked on the second leg of our journey.

I've made it no secret that I find Indiana the most boring state to travel through.  I thank my facebook friends for humoring me through it yesterday. ( I can do that on my cell phone) You can follow along too, if you'd like via Twitter on my sidebar.  The kids, on the other hand, had a great time playing their Gameboys.  We keep them in the bus and the rule is that they only come out while the bus is moving.  

It was rainy and dreary but that enabled us to find the leak in our windshield that was causing our instrument panel to cut out!  

 We stuffed rags around the leak  and caught the drips before they could do more damage.  Eventually the wires dried and the speedometer started working again.

After Indianapolis (and a nap for me) things started to look a little better.  Green grass, budding trees... dare I say, it was pleasant!

At fuel stop the boys ran around outside and picked me some flowers.  They also asked if I would pay for these.

Kentucky and Tennessee passed by without incident and as we reached the Alabama border my fatigue was getting the better of me.  100 more miles I kept telling myself... I just wanted to lay down and go to sleep!

Birmingham arrival: 9:30pm
Miles traveled: 610
MPG: 9 (!)  Best yet!
Internet: Paid for 24 hour of WiFi

275 Miles to go!

Cya there!  

Journey to the Redneck Riviera - First leg

Packing took a little longer than usually due to my sickly state (and a 24 hour bug that plagued some of my most helpful workers) but all was accomplished by 6pm. 
We departed at 7:30, drove without incident through Milwaukee, Chicago and parked 18 miles south of Gary at our favorite truck stop, the Flying J.
Travel time 5 hours
Miles 268
MPG 8.26
State of the bus: still relatively orderly
State of mind: still sane
Now my least favorite part of the journey: INDIANA.  

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympic Schedule Wreaks Havoc On Children

Thanks a lot Olympics.  Because of you were low on sleep, crabby, weepy,  defiant,  disheveled, and unaccomplished.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Super Bowl IX

Way back in January of 1997 the Packers made an appearance in the Super Bowl.  I had no doubt in my mind that they would win.  It had been 29 years since they had earned the right to participate.  The early years for the Packers had been full of opportunities, winning the NFL Championships in 1961, 1962 and 1965 and then the first two Super Bowls in 1967 and 1968.  Some might say success seemed to come easy for the team then and in that season, they were smoking!

I remember like it was yesterday...the excitement and anticipation of returning the Lombardi Trophy to the city whose coach had been memorialized forever in the name.

I was pregnant for the 5th time but we hadn't told anyone yet.  We had suffered through 2 miscarriages the year before, one at 8 weeks and the second, after a heartbeat and 11 weeks.  We were undergoing progesterone treatments to try to increase my levels.  When the conventional methods were proving to be unsuccessful and injections from the doctors office were not frequent enough, we started daily injections at home.

I remember like it was yesterday...the excitement and anticipation of having another baby to hold.  And, simultaneously, the fear that, once again, we might not.

The Packers won the Super Bowl and our pregnancy was successful.  It was a great year.

The next season when the Packers entered the arena once again,  the excitement was dampened by the realization that we might not win.  Back to back victories were rare happening only 3 times in the last 31 years.

That year, after we lost, I formulated an opinion that I still hold today:

It's easier to not make it to the Super Bowl at all, than to make it...and lose.

The disappointment is so much greater.

What are you talking about?


Our "glory years" have been followed by a long, disappointing losing streak and, reproductively speaking,  we've made it to the Super Bowl for the 9th time...

...we've done all we can do in preparation, the coin has been tossed, the ball is on the field, the game has begun...

...and I'm afraid to lose.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Sunday was Hailey's birthday.  My first born is 18.  It seems like just yesterday that she was a wiggly newborn and I was a brand spankin' new Mommy without a clue.

I've learned a lot in the time that has past between then and now. 

How to properly burp, change and feed an unwilling infant.  How to safely buckle, curb and constrain an unruly toddler.  How to successfully guide, teach and counsel a crushed teen.  Sometimes all in the same day.

I've also learned compassion, patience, and unconditional love.  I've learned about heartache, rebellion and unbridled joy.

I've practiced the 5 second rule with nookies, noodles and nectarines.   I've tackled mountains of laundry,  traveled miles in carpools and participated in unnumbered discoveries.

Countless times over, the lessons have played out in our home for all to see my success as well as failures.

I am so humbled by God's blessings.

So to commemorate this momentous occasion of 18 years of parenthood, we decided to give Hailey a gift she had been begging for.

And the rest was a blur...

Need a closer look?

We'd appreciate prayers for a keeper if you wouldn't mind.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Road Trip In The Works

We just decided to take a trip in the bus this spring.

South. 9 days.

I'm so excited!

Things to complete before we roll.

1) Bike rack that doesn't look like this

2) Lettering. Remember my plan?

3) Functioning high power WiFi antennae.

4) Door for the current under bus storage area (next to the door on the above picture) and maybe some new complete storage boxes.

5) More inside lighting.

6) More small storage spaces in the bunk area for books, glasses, cell-phones, flashlights...

7) Utilize bathroom space for more than toilet. More storage.

Can there ever be too much storage? I don't think so.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter Knitting

Look what I made!

My first pair of color-work mittens.

A felted mohawk hat for Hayden.

and one for Griffin that I couldn't felt because it knitted up so much smaller because of the pattern. But that's ok, he still likes it.

And a spider.

I was a little worried about Spidey that first night...

but, see? He's already found a safe spot.

On my needles now? An octopus. I think he'll fit right in.