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Gracie’s First Birthday

  • Posted on May 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Gracie’s first birthday was Wednesday.  I took the day off of work to spend with my family.  We celebrated her birthday by taking her to have her 1 year pictures done.  They were the best set of pictures she’s taken so far.  She’s a little ham, most definitely.

The day was very bittersweet.  It has been a very trying, interesting, wonderful, and scary year.  The loss of Benjamin has been difficult for us, but watching Gracie grow into a little person has tempered that loss to more of a dull ache.  Still, there were not many people who mentioned Benjamin on Wednesday.  I guess people just assume we’ve moved on and what’s the use in talking about a dead baby?  Not only that, but it’s an uncomfortable topic and most people don’t know what to say.

We had lunch after Gracie’s pictures and then drove to the cemetery.  I wanted to place sunflowers at his marker for him, especially since the last time we were there, I wasn’t able to (the florist in the parking lot of the memorial park was closed). I went into the florist and asked for a bouquet of 4 sunflowers and one bouquet of one sunflower. I bought two pinwheels, one for Benjamin and one to take home for Gracie’s birthday. I placed the 4 sunflowers, representing the four of us, at his side and Michael put the pinwheel in so it would stay and blow in the wind. I cried. I looked up at the deep blue shade of the sky and wished things were different. It’s not fair that I have to place flowers at the foot of my son’s grave instead of getting to know him and wondering how different or similar he would have been to Gracie.

I never realized it would hurt this much.  The week leading up to Gracie’s birthday has left me feeling “off.”  I know why.  It wasn’t until about a week before I went into labor that I finally started to feel Benjamin move around.   I also was able to hear his heart beat every day.  I listened attentively to it, looking for any indication that his heartbeat was deteriorating.  We were told by a pediatric cardiologist that Benjamin would not make it to full term, due to Ebstein’s anomaly (a tricuspid valve defect).  So, every time I heard his heart beating, I knew he was OK inside me.  Inside me, he was alive and thriving.  I also knew that when the time came, he would either perish inside me, or he would perish outside.  I refused to think about it.  I didn’t want to even consider a name for him.  It wasn’t until about three days before I went into labor that we chose a name.  Benjamin Kristian.  We didn’t even come up with a girl’s name.  I think we just knew he was a boy.

All the time I had been able to feel Gracie kick and move jab me with her foot, I never could feel Benjamin.  But, when I did, it was mostly bittersweet.  I knew his movement wouldn’t last forever and I knew I would never be able to watch him grow up.

It’s been a year now.  Gracie has started babbling and is now able to say “Da Da.”  She’s crawling, pulling herself up on everything, and giving us her opinion when she doesn’t like something.  For every milestone Gracie accomplishes, Benjamin’s memory is right beside her.

To help keep his memory alive, I’ve found happiness in painting memory boxes for the hospital, as well as making jewelery.  Maybe someday, Gracie can help me make things in honor of Benjamin’s memory, too.

We have her big birthday party coming up next weekend.  It’s a bit late this year because of her bout with pneumonia, but that’s OK.  Thankfully, the weather looks like it will cooperate. (not too hot, and not too cold).


  • Posted on May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Two weeks from today, Gracie will be one year old.  A year ago today, I was on strict bedrest in the hospital, hoping I’d make it all the way to at least 30 weeks or more.  I didn’t, and here we are.

I’ve been very hesitant to post pictures of Gracie on this site because I’ve never understood why some “mommy bloggers” expose their children for the world to see.  However, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it and the way I see it now is I can’t keep our daughter in a bubble for the rest of her life.  I can share her experiences with the few people who do read this blog.  I will draw the line about posting things that are private and should be treated as such.

Every day is a new parenting adventure for me.  I’m not quite sure what I’m doing and I haven’t even read any books about what to expect her first year or any of that stuff.  In fact, the only parenting books we bought were books dedicated to the raising of a preemie, which have since been collecting dust in our office.  Even so, I’ve managed to detect two major illnesses in Gracie – both requiring hospital stays/interventions.  Not knowing what I’m doing, but instinctively, I know enough.

So, without further ado, here’s Gracie, feeling better in the hospital.

It’s hard to see, but her right hand is obscured by a ton of cotton, tape, and an evil IV line.  The first IV went into her left hand and she didn’t protest much, which is indicative to how bad she was feeling.  That second IV line?  The one in her right hand?  It took two nurses over 30 minutes to get it in place, with her screaming and crying and blubbering the entire time.  It was awful.  It was so awful, in fact, she began to associate the hospital crib with DANGER! DANGER! and it became quite an experience every time we needed to change her or try to get her to nap.

I got smart, though.  On Friday morning, I changed her where I had slept the night before.   She didn’t fuss at all and was content to smile and laugh at me while I sang to her.

I really wish I had spent more of this year writing about what it’s like to be her mama.  I never knew what it was like to be a mom until she was born.  She had such a precarious beginning and it’s made me scared, paranoid, and terrified every day.  But, I look forward to seeing her smiling face in the morning and I look forward to seeing her smiling face when I get home from work.

Last night was extra special to me.  Even though I was tired from swim practice and the general business of the last two days, I sat on the couch with my husband and we quietly played with Gracie on his lap.  She giggled and pulled my hair, pulled my glasses off, tried to put my necklace in her mouth, and laid her head on my chest.  It was a joy to have her so close to me.

Small Pleasures – Day 6

  • Posted on April 3, 2011 at 10:39 am

1.  Early morning

I’m not normally an early riser, but ever since Gracie was born, I’ve had to be up pretty early to nurse her.  There’s something about the light in the morning that softens everything.  There’s also something about knowing the whole day is stretched out in front of me.

2.  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Izzy

This song is very special to me.  It’s the song Michael and I chose as our “first dance” at our wedding.  It just warms my heart when I hear it.  It’s also what I have playing on my iPod when the alarm goes off in the mornings.  What a nice way to start the day.  🙂

3.  Gracie’s laughter

The sound of Gracie’s giggles is almost beyond description.  What is it about a baby’s giggles?  Especially Gracie’s.  When she giggles, her little eyes crinkle up and she laughs from her belly.  It’s contagious, too.

Small Pleasures – Day 5

  • Posted on April 2, 2011 at 9:03 pm

1.  Homemade orange gelato

We recently bought an ice cream maker attachment to our mixer with a gift card we had, and since we have plenty of oranges, Michael made orange gelato.  It’s very tasty.  I’ve never had homemade ice cream or gelato before and it didn’t disappoint!

2.  New brakes

Silly, I know.  But, I’m very happy to have new brakes on my car and that it was just the brake pads that were squeaking and making such a terrible noise.  It was getting almost embarrassing to drive my car.

3.  Beading

I have been creating new jewelry for a couple of weeks now.  I have put my bookmarks up for sale at my Etsy shop, but nothing of the bracelet/necklace variety as of yet.  Making jewelry makes me happy and it’s something I used to do, but fell out of it for awhile.  I stopped creating anything after we lost our son, but one day, after stumbling across “Hope is the The Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson, I have been creating new things almost every day.  If I’m not actually making something, I’m creating whole pieces in my head.

Small Pleasures – Day 4

  • Posted on April 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm

1.  Holiday from work

Today, my school district gave us Friday off for Cesar Chavez Day.  I’m not complaining, as it gave me a wonderful day off to spend with my husband and Gracie.

2.  Blooming orange trees

Our backyard has two orange trees, both of which are blooming like mad.  The evenings smell strongly of orange blossoms and it reminds me of spring.

3.  Swimming

I can only swim on Tuesdays, and as much as I don’t want to go to practice because I’d rather be home doing other things, I enjoy it.  The feeling of pulling myself through the water and swimming other strokes besides freestyle makes me happy.  I haven’t competed in over a year, though.  I miss it.  Once Gracie gets a little older, I might be able to go to early morning practices and practice more than once a week.  Then, it’s on to competing again. Boy, I miss it!

Small Pleasures – Day 1

  • Posted on March 28, 2011 at 10:00 pm

As a part of an “assignment” I was given, for the next two weeks, I am to recall three small pleasures  I have experienced throughout the day.

Here is Day 1:

1.  Gracie’s morning smiles.

One of my favorite times of the day is when I go in and wake Gracie up to feed her.  She hardly ever fusses and always has a smile on her face.  Her smile brightens my day, even if I’m running late, am tired and cranky, or just generally down.

2.  Hummingbird feeder.

Hummingbirds have a lot of meaning for me.  We chose a hummingbird to go on our son’s grave marker.  It was the only marker that stood out to us as something we thought would represent Benjamin the best.  Since he was so small when he was born (1lb. 15 oz.), and hummingbirds are also incredibly small, we thought the choice fitting.  The feeder is an endless source of joy for me.  The hummingbird who has taken up residence with our feeder (they’re very territorial birds, after all) allows us to get rather close–close enough to almost reach out and touch.

3.  More daylight in the day.

As much as I hate Daylight Savings time in the spring (we lose an hour of sleep!), I do enjoy the extra hour of daylight in the afternoons.  It’s nice to come home and have more time to spend outside.  Once my foot heals (I bashed my toe into Gracie’s swing), we’ll start taking walks in the evening.

A Hill of Pacifiers

  • Posted on March 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I’m an English teacher to almost 180 10th grade students.  We’re starting a new unit on “Night,” a book written by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor.  Over the years, I’ve taught this book, and while it’s awful and terrible and horrific what happened to him and 6 million others, I’ve kept the sadness at arms-length.

Until now.

While my students were completing a pre-reading activity, I read an article that was printed at the back of one of the teacher-copy books I have.  In it, a woman was describing how she and her sister were forced to search the clothing for valuables of those who were sent to the gas chambers and sort everything into piles, including a heartbreaking hill of pacifiers.

I cannot bend my mind around this.  I have been struggling with the loss of my son for ten months now.  Through no fault of my own or his own, Benjamin didn’t survive more than 20 minutes.  His life was very brief, but meaningful to me just the same.  But, to purposefully snatch away the lives of innocent children, men, and women?  I just can’t understand the hatred behind it all.

I know my life has been completely altered by the experience of losing a child.  So, I suppose reading about children dying senselessly sends me into a tailspin.  I also saw video footage of a little child running toward his/her mother, but being held back by the SS.  The little one was determined to get to his/her mother, but kept getting held back and eventually fell over.  How could those SS officers be so cruel?  My heart ached when I saw that footage.

As my daughter continues to grow, I grow more and more protective of her.  What did that mother do, seeing her child be pushed away and kept from her?  I suppose it’s easy to say what I would have done in that situation because it’s easier to say something rather than doing it/experiencing it.  How difficult it must have been for that mother, watching with helpless fury as her child was kept from her.

I went home from school that day and hugged Grace a little tighter.  All I can hope is that the mother and child I saw on the video didn’t suffer, but in reality, I’m sure they did.  And that’s what I just can’t stand.  All the horror and brutality at the hands of people.  People who acted like animals.

Being Creative

  • Posted on January 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Oh, the beginning of January was fun.  My daughter got sick, then my husband got sick, then I got sick.  I finally dragged myself to the doctor’s office last week to get antibiotics, since the sinus infection I had been fighting would not go away.  I’m feeling much better, but I still have a nagging cough.

Then, just when I was starting to feel better, the largest cold sore I’ve ever had parked itself on my bottom lip.  Despite my doctor-prescribed medication, it was painful and embarrassing.  I hate cold sores.  Every time I get one, I grumble about my ex, who didn’t feel it was necessary to be careful when HE had one.  I guess I thought it was OK to kiss him while his cold sore was still active, because the next thing I knew, I had one and it spread down my throat.  But, I digress.

I keep reminding myself to write on my blog, but other things take up my time, like work, taking care of our daughter, trying to stay on top of the dishes in the sink, etc.  Our dining room table is a disaster with stuff piled all over it, but I’ve got creative projects going and I don’t want to move anything.  Speaking of being creative, I was rifling through my teacher stuff the other day and came across a poem by Emily Dickinson that I use when I teach “Of Mice and Men,”  “Hope is the Thing with Feathers.”  It got stuck in my head and wouldn’t come out.  I envisioned a pendant with the poem behind glass and a little saying about my son on the back.  I worked furiously on them for a week, trying to find a way to spiral the text.

As with anything I create, I always wonder if it’s truly something that someone would like.  I was hesitant to show them at my support group, but my purpose of making them was to send a piece of Benjamin out into the world.  I wanted to make something for Benjamin that I could donate to other mothers and families at the hospital, to let them know that some day, hope can return.

Even though we have our daughter, we lost our son.  I miss him every day.  A part of me died after he passed away and my hope for his future passed away along with him.  I don’t know that I can say hope has fully returned to me, yet.  I sit here and feel incredibly guilty because I have only gone to visit his grave once since we buried him.  I haven’t even been able to bring myself to pick up his death certificate.  That death certificate makes his passing final.  I told the mortuary services at the memorial park he buried in that I would come and pick it up this weekend.  I want to go and visit him.

Every time our daughter hits a milestone, I feel happy/sad.  It’s a strange emotion.  I’m so happy that Gracie has reached an important milestone in her development, but at the same time, I’m so sad Benjamin isn’t there to reach it, too.  I just miss him.  I wonder a lot about what he would have been.

Working on the pendants and the necklaces has given me a sense of peace for the first time since before we found out he wasn’t going to survive.  It’s a little piece of him I work on and give to others.  I like that.

2010 Year in Review Meme

  • Posted on January 2, 2011 at 10:22 pm

My End of the Year 2010 Meme… in January.  Nice.

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
Spent 3 1/2 weeks in the hospital on forced bedrest, followed by a C-Section, followed by the birth of my twins.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I did and so did my sister-in-law.  Our children are 15 days apart.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

My son.  He lived for 20 minutes.

4. What places did you visit?

Not the most exciting places in the world, but we did go up to Apple Valley a couple of times and then to Phoenix at the end of the year to visit my family.  Even if they weren’t the most exciting, the visits to Apple Valley were refreshing and nice.  It was a bit of a mini-vacation for us before my hectic work schedule started back up.

5. What would you like to have in the next year that you lacked this year?

Boring-ness, definitely.  Oh, and I would love to have a bike again.  My cute beach cruiser, complete with a basket and a bell, got stolen from the apartment complex we lived in.  I haven’t really looked for a bike, but will soon.  It will have to be able to pull one of those little trailers behind it when Gracie’s old enough to ride in it.  You bet it will have a basket and a bell again.  🙂

6. What date from this year will remain etched upon your memory?

There are two dates, actually:  March 23, 2010 and May 25th, 2010.  On March 23rd, my husband and I were excited to find out the gender(s) of our twins and I remember waiting impatiently in the reception area for us to be called in to have the ultrasound done.  Everything was going smoothly while the doctor checked Baby A (Baby A was Gracie), but when they got to Baby B (Benjamin), the doctor got quiet and took what seemed like forever to take measurements.  I asked him what he saw and he said he was concerned because there was low amniotic fluid in the baby’s sac.  Benjamin was diagnosed with having Potter’s Syndrome and Ebstein’s Anomaly and both were fatal conditions on their own.  May 25th, my babies were born.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Learning how to be a mom.  It’s the most difficult job I’ve ever had, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

8. What was your biggest failure of the year?

This was a difficult one to answer because I really couldn’t think of anything I truly failed at that was something I had control over.  I can’t consider my pregnancy a failure, even though I only made it to 27 weeks.  I suppose the only thing I consider myself failing at this year was not swimming consistently enough and I didn’t get my check-off challenge patch.  It would have been my 5th year.  I did make an effort on occasion to swim and in fact, considered competing in a swim meet.  But, my heart rate skyrocketed so high when I swam, it was impossible for me to even do basic freestyle without taking the chance of putting my babies at risk.

9. What was your biggest surprise?

I’d have to say I was truly surprised at the actions of someone I considered a very close friend.  When you lose a child, you really discover who your friends are.  At this moment, I haven’t seen her in a year and haven’t talked to her in over 3 months. That is NOT a friendship.  And, this surprises me because I considered her such a close friend, I asked her to stand up for me at my wedding.  Now, I look at my wedding pictures and can’t help but feel sadness.  Bah.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A shortened cervix put me in the hospital at my 24th week of pregnancy.  I managed to stay pregnant for another 3 weeks.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I bought my husband a bright red dutch oven for Christmas.  I can’t wait until he cooks something tasty in it.  🙂

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My perinatologist, Dr. M.  If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if Gracie would be alive today.  Not only her, but the awesome NICU nurses and doctors who took care of Gracie and saw her through her bout of metabolic acidosis, as well as other preemie-related conditions.  Looking at our fourteen and a half pound baby, it’s hard to imagine her weighing below a pound (she dropped below her birth weight of 2 lbs 3 oz).

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

I’d have to say as a whole, the majority of my tenth grade students’ behavior appalled me.  I was teaching a satellite class from a different SLC (Small Learning Community, no emphasis on the Learning… let me tell you!) and those kids were crazy.  I couldn’t believe the comments that came out of their mouths, the behavior they exhibited, and the amount of time I had to spend each day trying to get them to settle down and learn something.  I’m used to establishing routines and procedures in my classroom each day.  These kids fought it every day they were in my class.  It was the first time in 8 years I had to keep the entire class after the bell because they wasted my time.  There wasn’t a whole lot of maturity in that group.  Of the two groups of 10th grade I had, a handful of the students were respectful and wanted to do something with their future.  It’s usually the other way around:  a handful of my students could give a shit about their future and think money grows on trees.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Not working for six months, I didn’t make much of anything for it to go anywhere.  And, the money I did have went towards bills and our daughter.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

This one’s an easy question.  Gracie!  All she has to do is smile.  😀

16. What song/album will always remind you of this year?

Song:  “You Are My Sunshine” – I sang it to Gracie every day she was in the NICU and every day those first months she was home.

Album:  I’d have to say U2’s “No Line on the Horizon.”  Even though I didn’t like all the songs on it, there were a few that were favorites and I played them a lot when I got the chance.  I also discovered a “new” band (new for me, anyway).  Phoenix’s song “1901” was used a lot in the background of a car commercial and I finally figured out who they were and downloaded their music.  It’s just my type:  pop-y, techno-sounding stuff.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
A) Happier or sadder?
Last year at this time, I was newly pregnant and terrified most of the pregnancy.  I was afraid I would lose the pregnancy at any moment.  I am extremely happy that Gracie is here and consider myself lucky to be her mom.  However, I do suffer from a lot of sadness at the loss of our son.  It’s hard to watch Gracie grow and now wonder what Benjamin would be doing right now had he been given the chance.  I think I will always have some measure of sadness in my heart for my son.  I miss him and I miss what he could have been.

B) Thinner or fatter?
I’m thinner now, since I’m no longer on hormone drugs that made me blow up like a balloon.  I do want to get back into the pool and swim and get some more of this baby weight off.  I’ve lost about 30 lbs since Gracie and Benjamin were born, but since I’m not pumping/nursing Gracie 8 times a day, I’ve gained 10 lbs back.  Boo!

C) Richer or poorer?
Richer in family, poorer in finances, but that’s because I didn’t work for 12 weeks when work started in the fall.  I took a bonding leave to take care of Gracie.   I’m not complaining, though.  I enjoyed the 12 weeks I had with her and wish I could stay home with her until she starts school herself.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel, but it was kind of impossible, considering my condition.  We actually were going to take a short trip up to Solvang over Memorial Day weekend as a last “hurrah” before I couldn’t travel anymore, but didn’t want to take the risk of something happening to me and us being out of town.  I’m so glad we didn’t, since I ended up in the hospital anyway.  I also wish I’d stayed pregnant longer.  It would have been nice to have been pregnant for 2 more months, rather than going into labor at 27 weeks.  That was definitely scary.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Spent time in the hospital.  Although, I do have to say that being in the hospital was better than dealing with the awful students I had!  I can’t stand pumping, probably because I had to do so much of it when Gracie was in the NICU.  I hated being tethered to that thing 8 times a day.  Now, I’m down to pumping once a day while I’m home from school and will have to pump once when at school.  I still hate it, even if it’s only once or twice a day.

20. How did you spend  Christmas?

We spent the day before Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Eve?) at my dad’s house.  We then spent Christmas Eve at my sister-in-law’s with my husband’s side of the family.  It was a bit rushed and I was a bit frazzled, though.  We had to pack for Phoenix, even though we weren’t leaving for Phoenix until Monday the 27th.  We didn’t get out of the house until over an hour from when I had anticipated and as a result of the rushing and feeling frazzled, I forgot Gracie’s iron and poly-vitamins.  So, after Christmas Eve dinner (which I ate cold and by myself, because Gracie decided to have a meltdown right when dinner was being served and the only thing that would settle her down was my boob), on our way up to Apple Valley to spend Christmas with the in-laws, we had to find a 24-hour pharmacy.  I called ahead to see about getting the iron and poly-vitamins, but the pharmacist said there was a no-refill policy on the meds and the doctor would have to call it in.  Nice.  I had to call Gracie’s doctor at 10:00 PM on Christmas Eve.  Thankfully, the doctor on call was understanding and she called it in.  At first, she didn’t think it would be an issue for Gracie to go without the iron and PV for the 9 days we would be out of town, but when I explained that Gracie was a preemie and still needed to be checked for anemia, she said it probably would be best for her to continue taking it until she was tested.  There is no way our daughter is anemic, but just to be safe, her prescriptions were filled and we were on our way to my mother-in-law’s house.  And, what a relief that was.  Other than the fact that my husband can’t sleep in a bed with a foot board, it was nice to finally be able to relax for a few days.

21. Who did you spend the most time communicating with?

This is kind of silly.  I talk to my husband every day.  I suppose he’s the one I spent the most time in 2010 communicating with.  It would make sense.  I should also say that I’m very happy to have someone like him to talk to on a daily basis.  🙂

22. What was your favourite TV program?

We were very much into the last season of “Lost.”  Lost holds much significance for us, since the last three episodes I watched while in the hospital.  In fact, it was right after the Lost finale on Sunday night, May 23rd, that I started to go into labor and was whisked to Labor & Delivery at 1:30 in the morning.  I also enjoyed watching “Bones,” “Glee,” “House,” and kinda-sorta enjoyed watching “The Biggest Loser,” with the exception of the over-use of product placement, blatant advertisements, and spreading a 1 hour show over 2 hours.  I don’t know if I’ll watch future seasons of it.  It’s starting to bug me.  I find myself watching it, just to rag on the show and how annoying the host Alison is with all her running commentary during challenges.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t say I hate anyone.  I dislike some people because of their dumb actions and even dumber behavior, but I don’t hate them.

24. What was the best book(s) you read?

My husband and I joined a book club with our friends.  The best book of the ones we read was, hands down “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  I also enjoyed “Sarah’s Key” (very haunting and sad) and “The Glass Castle” (the father in this book made my dad look like a saint).

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Probably Phoenix.  I didn’t even know who they were until I finally saw one of their videos at the mall, of all places.

26. What did you want and get?

Gracie.  Without a doubt.

27. What did you want and not get?

Benjamin to live.

28. What were your favourite films of this year?

Probably Toy Story 3.  I also loved Despicable Me and Red.  It’s hard for us to get out to see movies!

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My dad and his wife Karen met my mother-in-law and her husband Mike at our house the day before and we all went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant.  Even though my dad chose it, I still enjoyed it because I got to have sushi for the first time since before I got pregnant and we got Gracie’s doctor’s permission to allow her out in public.  Then, for my actual birthday, we went for Indian food, taking Gracie out for the first time as just us.   Gracie did really well.  She slept most of the time.  I turned 37.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not losing our son.  Other than losing Benjamin, the latter part of this year has been one amazing experience, with having Gracie as a part of our lives and a part of our family.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?

I have spent the better part of May through the end of the year in sleep shorts and a spaghetti strap sleep shirt (easier to pull down to nurse).  When I do go out, I wear jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops.  Stacey London would be appalled by my choice of clothing.  I’m definitely a very drab mama.

32. What kept you sane?

My support group.  Since going in August, I have had to miss two meetings, one of which was right after Christmas.  I wish I could have gone, but we were traveling and there was no way I could see to fit it into my schedule before heading out of town.  It’s been my saving grace these past several months.  I still have a few meltdowns, the latest one being on Christmas Eve, but I’m feeling better bit by little bit.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

The stupid Proposition 8 in California.  It disgusts me that there are people out there who are so extremely homophobic that they feel it’s their right to refuse human beings the right to marry, regardless if it doesn’t fit into their cookie-cutter idea of marriage.

34. Who did you miss?

I missed my mom a lot.  I don’t get to see her very often and when I do, it’s only for short periods of time.  The good thing is, she’s now become a snow bird for the winter months and is “wintering” in Arizona.  We are within driving distance (not as easy to drive there with an infant, though!) so we’ll be able to see her more than once a year now.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Sharon, the chaplain at the hospital I delivered the twins at.  If it wasn’t for her, I truly don’t know where I would be emotionally.  I am so glad I met her.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.

I cannot change the past.  All I can do is remember it and keep the small memories close to my heart.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

I was born, I was born
To be with you in this space and time
After that and ever after
I haven’t had a clue only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue, oh, oh

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

“Magnificent” ~U2


  • Posted on November 10, 2010 at 10:03 pm

I was admitted into the hospital on May 4th because my cervix had shortened and I was dilated 2 cm. This is not good for someone who is only 24 weeks! I was admitted into high risk Labor and Delivery because it looked like I would actually deliver that night, but they managed to get my contractions under control and eventually, I was transferred to the Women’s Ward for the long-term to be monitored and given medication to control the contractions I was having every day. My doctor was able to give me two rounds of steroids – one at 24 weeks and one at 26 weeks – to help with lung and brain development.

At 25 weeks, I was checked again and my cervix was still holding at 2 cm. My cervix looked to have shortened more, so I was kept in the hospital for the duration of my pregnancy. Once the cervix shortens, nothing can be done to fix it, other than strict bedrest and lots of hoping for the best.

I also was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, which was a pain because my diet was strictly monitored and I had to be poked for blood sugar checks at certain times of the day and night. I got over the control of my diet, until the food department started messing with my food tray. One morning, after getting my insulin shot (you’re supposed to eat 30 minutes after the shot), I lifted the lid of my food tray, only to find a plate with 3 strips of bacon and nothing else. I usually ordered the egg and cheese burrito because it was the only thing worth eating. Because I had already had my insulin, the lack of food on my plate could have had some very bad negative effects. I was PISSED at the food services. I was diligent in finding out exactly how many carbs I was allowed per meal and I even asked what each meal’s carb total amounted to so that when I ordered, I didn’t have to keep asking. The lady who took my order every day told me I was allowed a certain number of carbs. Well, apparently, the idiots in the food service had a different number for me, so when my food order was placed, the techs would look at my plate and then pull food randomly because according to their number, I was over my carb allowance. It got to the point where the person in charge of food services was going to have a big meeting to get to the bottom of the issues I was having. Every day, they messed up on my food. And, one of my nurses said it best: When you’re stuck in the hospital and on a restricted diet, the only thing you really have to look forward to is your meal. So, when they mess up on it, it becomes a huge problem. Not only that, but I was on a higher number calorie diet, due to the twins. The pharmacist who was working with food services told me that she didn’t think I was getting enough calories based on what I was eating every day. It was just a huge mess. 🙁 And, through all of it, all I wanted was a chocolate chip cookie.

For the three weeks I was there, the days were the same: I’d have contractions (very minor ones) in the afternoon from around 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Then, they’d go away. I got pretty complacent, thinking I would make it to 32, 34 weeks.  A few days into my 27th week, I started to feel Baby B kicking.  I didn’t know what to think.  I wanted to feel my Baby B kick, but feeling the baby kick would just make everything so much more difficult when I went into labor.  The baby kicking made him or her real, and no longer something I could ignore.

On Sunday, May 23rd, while watching the final episode of “Lost,” I noticed my contractions were a little stronger than they had ever been. Earlier in the day, when I was hooked up to the monitor for the day shift, I had 10 contractions in an hour (which was more than normal for me) but the doctor said it was OK. So, I paged my nurse (who was beyond awesome) and she put me back on the monitor. Sure enough, the contractions were stronger and she contacted the doctor on call. The next thing I know, the doctor is coming in and checking my cervix. I had dilated to 4-5 cm. At 1:30 in the morning, I was being whisked down the hallway to labor and delivery, terrified out of my mind. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I so desperately wanted to make it to at least 29 weeks. That’s what the NICU doctor said they were most comfortable with when it came to preemies – 29 weeks or higher. But, considering that I’d held off delivering for 3 weeks, it was better than delivering at 24 weeks.  Much, much better.

The following day was misery. I was pumped full of magnesium to try and stop the contractions. I was on it for 12 hours and boy, that stuff hurts going in! Then, it was a waiting game. Since I had to be flat on my back and my back was starting to really, really hurt (like bringing me to tears, hurting), I asked for my bed in my room. They brought it and that gave me some relief.

The main source of my pain, though, was the catheter they put in. Since I was flat on my back and not allowed to get up, I was told I could use a bedpan. I used it once, but then about an hour later, I had to go again, even though I had postponed it as long as I could. Mostly, I held it because I knew I’d have to use the bedpan again.  I tried and tried, but couldn’t do it. I started crying, I was so miserable. My back hurt, my arm hurt where the magnesium was going in, and my bladder hurt, but I couldn’t go. So, the nurse said I could get a catheter. She made several attempts to put it in, but couldn’t, so got another nurse to do it. That nurse shoved something that felt like a tree up my urethra. I was told it would burn at first, but then the pain would go away and I wouldn’t even feel it. Ha ha. Right. Every time I moved, I felt that thing. It burned and hurt, all day long. 🙁

To make matters even more interesting,at about 1:00 in the afternoon, one of my nurses came in and told me that my doctor would be in at 5:00. I stared at that clock for 4 hours, willing the time to go by faster. It didn’t. I tried to sleep, but the catheter burned every time I moved. All I wanted was to go back to “my room.”

At 5:00, my doctor didn’t arrive. At 6:00, my doctor didn’t arrive. I asked the nurse about it and she said that my doctor was there, but that she was doing her rounds and she’d get to me as soon as she could. She also said that whoever told me my doctor would see me at 5:00 probably shouldn’t have told me that. All it did was make the wait longer. My doctor finally arrived around 7:30 or so. It was a very long day.

She checked my cervix and noted that I hadn’t dilated more and was holding at 4 cm. She asked me what I wanted and it went something like this, “please take the catheter out.” Done. I can have a bedside commode brought to you… wait, the bathroom’s another foot away. I don’t see why you can’t use the bathroom. Just don’t stand for very long. “I’d like to take a shower.” Done – but no more than 5 minutes. “I’d like to eat.” Done. Anything else? “No, just the catheter.” She went to take it out and commented after the vile thing was removed that it was the WRONG SIZE. She said, “don’t they have one that’s smaller?” I was so mad at that evil nurse who shoved that thing up there. And, because of the too-big size catheter and the other catheter that was put in, I ended up with a UTI. What is wrong with some people???

After I took my shower, I noticed I had a contraction that was stronger than normal, but thought it might have been because I was standing. I was hoping that the contractions were gone because once I was off the magnesium, the nursing staff was monitoring me. If I didn’t have any contractions in the next 12 or so hours, I’d most likely not be going into labor and I’d be able to go back to my room. So, having a contraction here and there was not a good sign, but I was hoping it was nothing.

I sent my husband home around midnight to get some sleep and I was confident I’d be going back to my room on Tuesday morning. About 3:00 AM, I was awakened by a rather strong contraction. I thought it might have been because my bladder was full. I went to the bathroom, and for the first time since the week before I was admitted into the hospital, I found I was spotting. I alerted the nurse. She told me not to worry, they’d let the doctor know, but it was probably nothing.

Nothing? I haven’t had ANY spotting while in the hospital and every day, when the doctors do their rounds, they ask me if I’ve had any spotting or bleeding. So, I was a bit worried.

Sure enough, by 4:00 AM, the contractions started in earnest and they were like nothing I’d ever felt before. The doctor checked my cervix at 4:30 and I was dilated to 7 cm.  The doctor who examined me was startled because right when she checked my cervix, my daughter kicked her hand.  My placenta and my daughter’s foot were bulging through my cervix.  I had progressed so quickly into full labor, the nurses didn’t have very much time to prep me for the OR.  My doctor was actually a little peeved that it took so long.

I kept asking when I should call my husband and at 5:00 AM they told me to go ahead and call him and tell him what was going on. I called again at 5:20 to let him know I was being prepped for the OR and for him to hurry. Not to worry – he was already on his way when I called the second time and had just enough time to put on the scrubs and hold my hand as we rolled down the hall to the OR. I didn’t know what to do. The contractions were so painful, I was tensing up with each one. In the 2 minutes it took for me to get from the Labor and Delivery room to the OR, I counted 5 or 6 contractions. They were right on top of each other. My doctor was starting to wonder what was taking the nursing staff so long to get me to the OR and called to see where I was.

I am so thankful my own doctor was at the hospital that night and into the morning. I did say something funny to her when I saw her again. The night before when she was granting me my wishes, she said before she left, “Dana, the next time I see you, I just want it to be a social visit, OK?” When I saw her again, I said, “Dr. M, I thought you said the next time you saw me it would only be a social visit!” She laughed.  At least there was some humor that morning.

She was also a bit upset that the nurses took so long to prep me because of the danger of having my water break before the surgery. I was even having a rather nasty contraction while the anesthesiologist was trying to do my spinal, which caused me to not sit straight on the table, and I was sitting on the new catheter line they put in (this one was MUCH more comfortable – I couldn’t feel it at all!). Dr. M asked me if I was having a contraction while sitting on the table and all I could do was nod my head. She said, “This is why I wanted her here earlier!”

While they were prepping me, I laid there on the table and stared up at all the lights and saw all the people around me, working on me. I said, “there’s no modesty in the OR, is there?” The anesthesiologist leaned over me and said, “Nope.”

After lots of pulling and tugging, Grace Kayleigh was born at 6:27 AM and Benjamin Kristian was born at 6:28 AM on May 25th, 2010. Grace weighed 2 lbs. 3 oz., 14 1/2″ long, and Benjamin weighed 1 lb. 15 oz., 12 1/4″ long. Benjamin lived for about 20 minutes and then passed away.

I had many people in the course of the three weeks I was on bedrest in the hospital tell me how lucky I was.  We were lucky my doctor caught my shortened cervix and saw to it to check.  Otherwise, I would have gone into labor at 24 or 25 weeks and there would have been nothing anyone could do to prevent the birth of our twins.

Lucky.  I do feel lucky to have been able to spend the short time I did have with my son.  But, with that luck, I feel an incredible amount of sadness.