Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Wesleyann Sabbath



Fair warning, this is a long post.

Wesleyann’s birth story starts out at about noon on Monday, November 15th 2010. I was due on the 9th, so the doctors wanted to do a Bio Physical Profile (BPP). I’d had one with Makaya, and it didn’t end well, so I was stressing out. I sent a text message to our doula, Sabbath. She was the calm collected voice of reason I knew she would be, and she helped me relax and breathe until the appointment later that afternoon.

At the appointment, everything was great with the baby, except for fluid levels. They still gave me a high score, but because of the fluid levels, they suggested delivery as soon as possible. When this was relayed to the doctors in Iowa City, they didn’t seem to share the same sense of urgency. They just wanted me to wait it out and come in for a regular appointment the next day at 2 pm. This was unacceptable. With Makaya, the situation was very similar, there was no fluid, and she was already showing early signs of distress. I didn’t want that to happen to this baby too. After several calls back and forth between myself, Cosette (my midwife in Des Moines) and Sabbath, we all decided to just go.

So at 7 pm on Monday, November 15th, we made “The Calls.” We called Robert’s mom to come watch Makaya, and since she had a two hour drive, we dropped Makaya off at a friend’s house to wait while Robert and I got in the car and set out for Iowa City. We stopped for dinner before leaving town and Sabbath helped us relax, and also pumped us up mentally for what we were about to get ourselves into.

The drive to Iowa City wasn’t as relaxing as I would have planned. Robert had worked that morning, so he had been up since 3:30 that morning. He was falling asleep at the wheel, so I ended up having to drive.

When we got there, thankfully, they were expecting us. I have no idea what Cosette said to the people she talked to, but she certainly worked some magic. We waited for a short while in a family waiting room, I assume they were preparing a room and all the necessary paperwork.

I was anxious and excited. I don’t do well in hospitals, and I was about to start the longest day of my life to date.

Once we were in the room, they checked me so they had a “starting point,” and I was at a ‘fingertip’. This was great news for me because I was already ahead of the game as far as I was concerned. They hooked up the pitocin, I sent out some e-mails, and then we all settled in and waited for the ball to start rolling.

About 3 am, my water broke. The contractions started to pick up, and the roller coaster was moving at full speed.

By mid morning on Tuesday, labor was full on. The contractions were strong and quickly paced, but I was managing. We all thought that the pace I was moving at would give us a baby by dinner. Boy were we wrong.

By Tuesday afternoon, I was working with a nurse named Sun. She was a little Asian lady who was so calm and relaxed. I remember calling her my Zen Garden. She was just what I needed at that point in my labor. She was my anchor, and I appreciated her quiet presence. She would just drift in and out of the room, only bothering us when she really needed to. I remember I was using the birthing ball, and bouncing through contractions while Robert applied pressure to my hips and back. There was a time, two or three contractions maybe, where Sun just squatted in front of me, holding the monitor on my belly so she could get a reading of the baby’s heart on the strip, then once she had what she needed, she made a few notes on the computer, and quietly left the room.

Later, when I was recovering, Robert said when it came time for Sun’s shift to be over, she didn't want to leave. He said that she chased off the next nurse a few times before she reluctantly said good bye to me. This little bit of information makes me smile every time I think about it. She was so sweet, and I really enjoyed her presence and what she brought to my labor.

Labor continued to progress.

My overnight nurse Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning was Emily, and she brought new energy to the space. By this point I had been in labor for 20+ hours, and had been awake for more than 30 hours. I was wearing out, and Emily helped me hang in there. She was amazing, and did everything in her power to keep me from having to get an internal monitor. There was one point where I was on the bed, on hands and knees, and Emily was holding the monitor on my belly as I rocked and moved through several contractions.

Eventually, a wireless telemetry monitor became available, and Sabbath had me get in the tub for a while. It was awesome while the water was nice and hot, but it cooled off really quickly. I remember Sabbath leaving Robert and I alone in the bathroom for a while, and Robert sleeping in a chair while I drifted in that in-between state, not quite asleep not really awake, between contractions. I asked him at one point if I had bad breath. It had been forever since I had last brushed my teeth, and I had been breathing through the contractions (through my mouth) for a really long time. He told me no, but I think he was lying to spare my feelings.

When I couldn’t stand the water any longer, I got out and crawled back into bed.
I was so tired. I just wanted to sleep.

Emily’s shift was ending, but she was so confident that I was going to have a baby soon that she moved the baby warmer into the room, and she had found a little knitted hat for the baby to wear. We were sure that the baby was going to be a boy (no ultrasound, just a gut feeling from mom), so she found a cute little brown and blue hat for him.

It was around this time that I finally gave in and asked for something to take the edge off the contractions so I could rest a bit. They gave me an injection of something, but Robert kept waking me up with his snoring.

I may have thrown a pillow at him. 

It may have also been around this time that I told him to "please stop chewing his fucking gum."

It eventually became clear that an internal monitor was necessary, and after a second injection of pain meds, they placed the monitor.

By now, the morning shift change had happened, and I now had Rachel for my nurse. I remember when she came in for the first time, I looked over at her and said, "I've been doing this for a long time, and I've had a lot of nurses. How about if you're my last nurse, ok?"

By this time I had been in labor for more than 30 hours, and on pitocin the entire time as well. Aside from the few minutes where I dozed between contractions, I hadn't slept for more than 48 hours. I was beyond tired, and I was seriously worn out.

When the three new doctors walked into my room I knew it wasn't going to be good news. I didn't want to hear it, and I felt a deep sense of failure before they even said anything. I will forever remember them as a black cloud that rolled into my room, shooting lightning bolts from their eyes, and disdain from their mouths.

After they left, I broke down. I had failed again. 

Then a spur caught my brain and whispered in my ear, “You don’t have to accept this. Ask for another doctor. You have rights.”

And that’s just what we did, we got a second opinion.

Robert and I asked for a second opinion, and requested a doctor we had worked with earlier on Tuesday, Dr. Fairbanks.

She came up, and gave us her opinion. But then she asked us for ours as well. She talked to us, she listened to us, and she helped us make the best decision possible for everyone, not just the baby. In short, she respected us, and she was awesome and amazing all at one time.
Once the decision had been made, and plans were underway for the C-section, the atmosphere changed.

There was new energy in the room. There were people coming and going, everyone was busy with a task.

And I finally got to brush my teeth.

The staff at the hospital and our doctor in particular worked very hard to respect every request, every issue I had going into the surgery. They called in the head of anesthesiology because the anesthesiologist on call was a man, and I had asked specifically for no men to be present other than my husband.

While I was busy signing forms and getting into the SIHG (standard issue hospital gown), Rachel was busy doing the most important job of the day. She was finding a nurse just for the baby so she wouldn't be taken immediately to the nursery. 

This was huge. With Makaya, because of the circumstances surrounding her birth, it was hours before I got to see her. I didn’t want that to happen again.

I don't think I can ever thank her enough for that gift.

When everything was set, and everyone was in scrubs, we walked to the operating room. It was surreal. I was scared and nervous and excited all at once.

Once we were in there, they realized that my IV was bad, and that’s why it had been hurting me for so long (it wasn’t placed correctly, and for the past two days, it had been killing me. I started calling the hand it was in the “gorilla hand” because I couldn’t bend my hand back, I had to support my weight on my knuckles like a freaking silver backed gorilla.) They replaced my IV, and got the spinal going. I was glad they suggested a spinal instead of an epidural, I really didn’t like the idea of a needle sitting in my spine for a prolonged period of time. *shudder*

At 11:38 they started surgery. Because of the previous C-section, there was a lot of scar tissue to get through, and it was taking a long time.

One of the black cloud doctors suggested that because I had been in labor for so long, and hadn’t progressed any farther was because my uterus was rupturing. I disagreed. Loudly.

When Dr. Fairbanks finally got to my uterus, she announced that I was not in fact rupturing, confirming what I had already asserted earlier, despite the black cloud doctors prediction, and my previous incision was still perfectly intact. 

It took a long time to get through all the layers of scaring, and it was quiet in the room, just murmurs between the doctors and the nurses.

Finally at 11:58 am, Dr. Fairbanks announced, "I see baby!"

There was suddenly so much commotion. Everyone talking and it was so loud I yelled, "SHHHHHH! I can't hear my baby! I missed hearing my daughter; I don't want to miss this one!"

And everyone stopped talking all at once, and then I heard her.

I heard my baby's first cries.

They were beautiful, and I can still hear them when I close my eyes and think about that moment.

It took sooo long for them to bring her to me. It felt like it took longer to bring her to me than it took to cut through to her. In reality it was really about 7 minutes and then I got to see her. 

I got to touch her and hold her and smell her and kiss her, and I haven't stopped since.

I told Robert I wanted to name her Wesleyann to keep his family name, and Sabbath in honor of the person who was so instrumental in helping us have a better birth this time.
He agreed.

That's how our family grew one year ago today.

Happy Birthday Wesleyann Sabbath. I love you more than you will ever know.



...and then I got to see her. 
I got to touch her and hold her and smell her and kiss her, and I haven't stopped since.

Happy Birthday Wesleyann Sabbath.
I love you more than you will ever know.


In honor of what I was doing ALLL day last year, I used my "Birth" mug for my coffee on the 16th.




Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo Ate My Blog Post


Dear Little Blog,

I have forsaken you. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month nanowrimo.org) didn't really eat your posts, but it has eaten my time usually allotted to creating those posts. I haven't done Silent Sunday for two weeks, and I missed Wordless Wednesday too. Those two posts should happen no matter what, if for no other reason than because they are simply photos with tags. No writing involved. Just a few clicks and there you go blog updated. *Sigh* Well, I'm three days in now, and behind schedule (as usual) so I guess I should say it's ok for you to see other people. Well, only for the next 27 days (18 if I'm able to get my fingers moving and get those words out by my deadline) then it's back to just me and you.

And I promise not to make you read a hand written 18 page (front and back) letter. I'll just agree that we were on a break.

See you soon... I hope.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's Almost NaNoWriMo Time


The past two years I have been able to donate to the OLL, and have felt good about my helping bring the joy of creative expression through the written word to 100's of 1000's of people. This year, I am unable to find the money to donate to such a worthy cause. Our budget just doesn't have the room. That's where you come in. You can donate to the OLL for me. And, as an added bonus, you can encourage, harass, and poke me with a stick if I start to fall behind, since you are sponsoring me and my novel. Now doesn't that sound like fun?






Friday, September 16, 2011

I Must Be Crazy


If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything, is ready, we shall never begin.- Ivan Turgenev, novelist, poet, playwright

This quote spoke to me on a number of levels. As a writer, it reminded me that I need to just sit down and write, or I'll never get my stories out of my head. As a mother, it reminded that life isn't going to wait, it's going to carry on with or without me. 

Yesterday, I was cleaning out Danger Baby's closet, packing up the outfits she has finally out-grown, and getting some of the warmer clothes moved to the front to prepare for the shifting seasons. As I sifted through the tiny dresses hanging in her closet, I came across the one her sister wore home from the hospital more than seven years ago. 

A white and pink sleeveless dress with little tiny pink rosebuds embroidered on it. I remembered waiting in my hospital room for my husband to return from the store with something for our little girl to wear. His mother was concerned that I was letting him chose our daughter's outfit, but I had complete faith in him. He didn't let me down. The Angry Midget had her hospital mugshot taken in that dress, and wore it several times once she was home as well. Fast forward a few years, and I had another little girl to share that dress with. Danger Baby wore it a handful of times and looked just as cute in it as her sister did all those years before.

When I packed that dress up the first time, I was a little sad because my baby was growing up, but I carefully put it away with the intention of getting it back out in a few years for my next baby. When I folded up that little pink and white dress yesterday, it was with a much heavier heart. I didn't pack it away with the intention of seeing it again in a few years, I packed it away in a special box for long term storage. 

When The Angry Midget was little, every milestone was greeted with joy and excitement. I was a little sad that my baby was growing up, but I knew that there would be more babies, and that I would get to enjoy the stages that were being left behind all over again with another little person some day. After six years had passed, and we were still a one child home, I brought myself to terms with the fact that that was all the more we were ever going to have. Relief was among my primary emotions at this realization. The birth didn't go well, and I was, quite frankly, not looking forward to ever going through that again. 

I had a hard time with Midget's first day of Kindergarten. She really wasn't my baby any more. I had a pang of regret that I hadn't focused more on her milestones, and really enjoyed and reveled in them. I regretted my "First of Many" attitude. Even if we would have had more, each child is different.

Then in March of last year everything was turned on its ear. I was pregnant again, and I was less than thrilled about it. Eventually, I came around and now I have not one but two beautiful little girls that I talk about all the time. That pregnancy was the best worst thing that ever could have happened. It brought my husband and I closer together. It strengthened our relationship. It helped him realize that I needed him to step up his parenting game and help me out a lot more. 

The birth of my second daughter also helped heal some of my own wounds from my first daughter's birth. It wasn't perfect, and it wasn't exactly how I wanted it to be, but it was still wonderful and I'm glad I had the chance to try again. I'm also very sure that I don't ever want to go through that process again. So sure in fact, that R and I have been discussing permanent pregnancy prevention (I'm of the opinion that since I've had two surgeries, it's his turn, but he's not convinced yet.) 


At lest I thought I was sure.

Now that Danger Baby is growing up, and reaching all her milestones, I'm trying to just live in the moment and enjoy every stage as she masters it. Unlike last time, I know this time that she is our last baby, and I'm really sad about that. So sad, that I'm actually considering another baby. 


Yes, I think I may in fact be crazy. I'm considering another baby. But if we have another, I would want to wait about four more years. This poses a lot of problems. My age as well as R's age primarily. Four years from now I will be 37 and R will be 49. That's pretty old to be having a baby. Of course, it's probably just hormones making me think I want another baby, and who knows how I'll feel next month or next year, much less four years from now. 


For now, I'll just try to enjoy every moment with Danger Baby and The Angry Midget, because as I've already learned, you never really know where life is going to take you, or what it's going to give you along the way.



The Man, The Angry Midget and Danger Baby




Sunday, September 4, 2011

Review of My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software and Giveaway




Hello!

This week I have been test driving the My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software. I have posted a few "sneak peeks" of what the software can do throughout the week, and as promised, here is the review. Stay tuned because there is also a giveaway!

The primary function of the My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Software seems to be creating digital scrapbook pages, as the name would imply. However, the software has more to offer. You can add video to your pages. Have music playing in the background, thus creating a slideshow movie, and you can also have your pages professionally bound into a book or made into a calendar. You can also export your pages direct to DVD, to an iPod, as an interactive album, or make it into a movie. One thing to note, when you burn direct to DVD, any hot spot video or sound that you have added will be disabled.

I found working from the templates easier than trying to build completely from scratch. Unlike with traditional scrapbooking, I found it hard to get all the elements to line up and fit the way I wanted them to, so after a frustrating hour and having only one page to show for it, I went back to the ready-for-photos templates to create this last post.

I've chosen the movie option to share this album with you.


This is the video uploaded straight from my computer. Since not everyone has a blog, I also posted it to YouTube, so you could see just how easy it is to share your video album. You can go here to see what it looks like on YouTube. 

In this format, the video I added is still enabled, but I would recommend increasing the amount of time on each page from the default 5 seconds. This video was created using the computer quality option. It is kind of gritty and pixelated, and it's hard to see the images. There is also a web option, but that option states that it would be a medium quality (lower than this setting) smaller image playback.

I also created a second copy of the album still using the movie option, but I went with the DVD quality instead of the computer quality, and I increased the page view time to 10 seconds (the max. allowable time) to see if it made a difference when loading it to YouTube. You can see that version  here, or just watch it below.




The upload time was significantly longer for the DVD quality video as compared to the computer version, but well worth the wait.

To see the other album pages I created with the software, click here and here.

How do I see the My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software being used by the average person? Well, you can see how My Memories envisions it being used by watching their YouTube video here. It would be very handy for new moms wanting to show off the baby, family of service men and women who are stationed overseas, someone wanting to create a very personalized baby book, and anyone who has too many photos and not enough time or space to put them in a traditional scrapbook. The FastFill option would be especially helpful there. When you purchase the Digital Scrapbooking Software, it comes with a few templates already, but if you don't find what you're looking for in there don't worry. There are hundreds more available at the My Memories site, more than 65 are FREE and even more (over 200!) are less than one dollar.

A few things to keep in mind:
1.) When you download the Digital Scrapbooking Software, a dialogue box pops up and tells you to turn off sleep mode. I have no idea how to do this, so I just ignored the advice and moved on. I would not recommend that you do the same. I had planned to stay by my computer and make sure it didn't switch to sleep, but things didn't work out as planned. The download stopped at 73% and I had to start over.
2.) The download takes a while. we are using 1.5MB DSL and it took about an hour for it to download completely. Once it's downloaded, it installs really quickly, though.
3.) I had some issues with the text editor. Ok, I had a lot of issues with the text editor. Maybe it was just me, but I found it very frustrating. Mostly I had problems with the formatting portion of the text editor when trying to change the font or size of text, and it seemed that the more I used the "undo" feature, the worse it got. This might be because I'm using Windows 7, and it doesn't always like to play nice.

Now for the fun part!

My Memories is allowing me to give away a copy of their Digital Scrapbooking Software FREE!!

Here's how to enter:

Mandatory Entries:
First, you need to subscribe to my blog. It's real easy. Over on the right there are a few options (follow by e-mail, follow on Google Friend Connect, or subscribe to posts) chose one and leave me a comment telling me how you are following. Be sure to leave your e-mail so I can let you know if you win.

Second, go to the My Memories site and check out their neat kits. Leave me a comment telling me what your favorite kit/paper pack/template is, and you'll be entered again. Be sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment so I can contact you if you win.

Want more chances to win? Of course you do! For each of the following items, you get another entry into the drawing:

1.) Go to My Memories blog and subscribe or follow them. Leave me a comment letting me know how you are following.

2.) Like My Memories on Facebook. Leave me a comment with your Facebook name so I can find you.

3.) Follow My Memories on Twitter. Leave me a comment with your Twitter handle so I can find you.

4.) Follow me on Twitter. Leave me a comment with your Twitter handle so I know you're a real person and not a spambot.

So there you have it. Six possible tickets in the drawing if you take advantage of all the options.

Since this is my first giveaway, I'm not sure how long I should leave the entry window open for. How about a week? I'll allow entries until 9 am CST on Sunday, September 11, 2011. I'll draw a random winner from all eligible entries on Sunday, and post the winner's name on my blog as well as contacting them by e-mail.

Contest Extended!!
Drawing will be held on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011.

BONUS!

If you aren't patient enough to wait for the drawing to end, and you want to purchase the My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software now, you can save $10.00 when you use this coupon code:  STMMMS11009. Just copy and paste it into your cart at check-out.

Also, when you purchase the My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software, you get a coupon code in your receipt e-mail for $10.00 off anything on the My Memories site.

GOOD LUCK!!



Silent Sunday





What is Silent Sunday? Click the badge to find out.



Please note: the linky is down this week as Jay is on holiday, but you can still learn all about Silent Sunday, do your own Silent Sunday post, and join the fun when it's back up next week. Cheers!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Second Sneak Peek at My Memories

Hmmm...Well I hope I'll be able to get this up before midnight. I've been having some internet connectivity issues and I'm not sure how long the connection will hold for.

As promised yesterday, here is a page I made all by myself using the My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software. This was blank, and I filled it in with everything you see.


Doing it this way was much more difficult. There were so many options it was hard to chose, and it was hard to make it look just the way I wanted. This one page took longer than the four I did yesterday, and I'm still not 100% happy with it.

Tomorrow, I'll tackle the other features offered by the software, and of course, Saturday is the big reveal on the review and the giveaway.


http://www.mymemories.com/

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sneak Peek at My Memories

Well, here we are at Wednesday already. I thought I'd give you all a sneak peek at what I've been doing.

These four pages were made using My Memories template layouts. Everything was already on the page, all I had to do was drag and drop the pictures into the spaces provided and add any text I wanted.

There was a small learning curve, but once I figured out what I was doing, it was pretty easy.






Tomorrow, I'll post some pages that I made all by myself without a template.

Stay tuned for more feature previews, and a review with giveaway on Saturday!

http://www.mymemories.com/




Monday, August 29, 2011

A Foray Into Reviewing


Recently I was contacted by My Memories to test out their software and write a review on here. I was shocked to say the least. Someone out there is actually looking at my blog! So after thinking about it for a few days, I decided to give it a try.

I will be playing with and reviewing photo editing software made by My Memories. The program can do so much more though. According to the site I can make videos and scrapbook pages too.

As a bonus for my readers, My Memories is also allowing me to give one copy away to a lucky reader and they are also offering a coupon for $10 off a purchase of the software at their online store. Simply copy and paste this code: STMMMS11009 into your cart at check-out.

I've downloaded the software and will take it for a test drive this week, then I'll post my review on Saturday so you can see how hard I was working all week.

In the meantime, go check out My Memories (www.mymemories.com) and take a look at all they have to offer.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy Birthday

Today would have been my brother's 31st birthday.

He died nearly two and a half years ago, and I still miss him. I still get that horrible tightness in my chest and the, now familiar, sting in my eyes every time I see a picture of him or think about him.

I've stopped asking when that will go away. I don't think it ever will.

I can't change what happened. I can't go back in time and call him more often or take his keys away. So I do the only thing I can. I remember him.

Calvin with my oldest daughter (his niece) Makaya in August 2004

Calvin William Allen Skinner
August 11, 1980 - April 17, 2009

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Makaya Simone

Happy birthday my sweet baby girl!

Seven years ago, you took your first breath...


...And my world hasn't been the same since.

It seems like I blinked and you were already walking and talking.


Pretty soon, you were a year old.

As the years flew by, time seemed to pick up speed as if it were a ball rolling down a steep hill.

One...

Two...

Three...

Four...

Five...


Six...

Seven...



Oh...

Wow. It's a little hard to breathe, give me a minute.

My sweet baby girl is seven. The angriest of midgets, is almost a second grader. 

I am so proud of the person you are and I need to tell you that more often. You are so grown up and capable of so much. I see your endless energy and potential every time I look at you, and I see your vast ability to love everyone and everything every time I see you with your baby sister. You are my first baby and you will always be my sweet baby girl, no matter what you do, where you go, or how old you are.

I love you, Squnnie. All the way to the moon...and back.

Love,
Mama