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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

It's a Girl?!

A parenthetical part of life between the births of Adam and Ingrid was the loss of a baby through miscarriage at 10 weeks gestation. I still don't know the cause, but it was very sad. On the other hand, it was God's good pleasure to instead give us Ingrid!

My OB thought he could control the size of my babies by putting me on the diabetic exchange diet -- or perhaps get me to take up smoking, but I wouldn't go for it. Consequently, I had a very healthy diet during my pregnancy, but still gained 42 pounds. Still no ill effects of blood pressure, blood sugar, etc. Just the normal achies, nausea, and sciatica.

This was the first of the three births where my own mother was going to be visiting us and helping with the boys. They had been out of the state and the country for the other births, and Mom came back from Germany this time; in fact, a week early, since no one exactly can predict a birth date.

This baby was due January 20, which came ... and went. My OB was convinced that this baby would be smaller (how could they get much bigger?). In fact, he was willing to bet that I could get by without an episiotomy this time.

On the evening of January 23, we all went to bed as normal, but I was awakened at about 1:15 a.m. with contractions -- and vomiting and diarrhea. Nothing like a few good contractions to clear out your digestive tract. My previous experience was enough to convince me that we should probably get to the hospital. I woke up Mom to tell her we would be leaving.

When we got to the hospital (Mark was a veteran now and I could count on him to go into delivery with me, even though we hadn't taken Lamaze this time -- we figured we could wing it), I was still feeling nauseated, and the doctor checked me and ruptured my membranes in the process. Contractions began in earnest then, and within a short period of time I felt like perhaps I needed to use the restroom. Wrong! As I reached the bathroom to sit down, I could feel a pressure that was all too familiar. It was a baby!

I quickly called for Mark to tell the doctor. Being the middle of the night, the doctor had to be called (the nurse didn't believe I could be ready that soon) and in the meantime, the nurse called the emergency room doctor to come upstairs. He did NOT want to deliver a baby. Upon entering the delivery room, the ER doctor was checking in to make sure my own doctor had arrived. I had to push by then, and there was no time to see whether an episiotomy would be necessary or not. Too late, and I ripped. Not that I was noticing. My doctor (actually, his associate -- again!) arrived just in time to catch the baby.

Mark was very interested in who this little one was. At 3:16 a.m. on January 24, he yelled, "it's a girl!" and I couldn't believe it. She was a healthy 10 pounds and 2 ounces, and 22 inches long. Not as small as the doctor had predicted. I cried, I shook (but not as much as with Adam), and I talked to her as she was placed on me and the doctor tried to patch up the "chopped meat"... thanks so much. It was Super Bowl Sunday, so while Ingrid and I bonded and slept, Mr. Dad watched the game. The next morning on the radio he dedicated a song to our newest little one, our little miss pris... Isn't She Lovely?

And now our baby is having a baby. Generations are flying by, and I feel like I'm going through this all over again. But this time I get to be the encourager, the care-giver, and the doula. Just call me "Nana."

One - Adam - 12

Between the birth of Marshall and Adam, there was a TV show referencing police work. The constant throughout the show was the line "one-adam-twelve." Not being in police work myself, I couldn't tell you what this code means, but it came to mean something quite personal to our family!

When Marshall was about 18 months old, I started having baby hunger again. Within two cycles, my desire was granted ...

We had moved to a small community and I was getting to know my OB. Home pregnancy tests were not as sensitive as they are today, and I had to wait for two weeks "late" before getting an accurate reading. As I was waiting, I went to get my hair cut, and the hairdresser asked if I was pregnant. I looked at her incredulously because I knew I hadn't said anything about our intentions. I said, "Well, I'm waiting to find out" to which she replied, "Don't bother; you are!" She could tell just by the way the hormones had changed my hair texture already. The doctor sent me to the hospital for a blood test. Positive! How exciting! Here we go again.

We thought we were pretty fresh from the last birth, but decided to take a refresher course on Lamaze. A bit concerned that Mark might weasel out on me again, my friend Sharon went with us to class.

I was mostly staying home with Marshall, although I needed to supplement our meager income and worked on a part time basis right next door to our home. So I kept poring over materials from the last time, and occasionally practiced my breathing and relaxation.

The months went by, rather uneventfully, other than the fact that I was expanding at an extraordinary rate. With Marshall, I had gained 32 pounds (and had started at a young and slender weight). This time I gained 37 pounds, but my ribs were really giving me grief, my sciatica came and went frequently, my skin at my navel felt like it was ripping (stretch marks -- what a lovely color of magenta/silver), and I was getting kicked and pushed in all directions. Also, I learned that with subsequent births, the cartilage in the front of the pelvis is more stretchy and gets very achy. Boy, did it! The doctor checked the heartbeat to make sure there was not more than one jumping bean in there. Given the fact that Marshall had been over 10 pounds, the doctor said that this would probably be a large baby as well. THAT was an understatement!

Old wives' tales abound as to how to tell the gender of the baby (without the benefit of ultrasound). One that I decided to try was the Drano test. I don't recommend it. You are to mix equal parts liquid Drano and urine. Supposedly the hormones react differently based on male/female and the color of the Drano is supposed to change accordingly. May I just say "harumph!" I dutifully mixed as required and -- stand back -- the mixture exploded! Overflowing into the sink (at least I was that prepared). That should have been a warning.

My due date was February 7. It came. It went. Every day past an arbitrary due date seems to drag on because the suspense is killing you. Will it be now? Was that it? On the morning of February 13, I decided to go get my hair done. Everyone was concerned that I may go into labor right then and there. Beautifully coiffed, I headed home to make lunch, play with Marshall, and various and sundry home routines.

My friend was on call for me, and didn't live far away. At about 4:30 p.m. I felt the unmistakable cramping sensations of beginning labor. I thought maybe I'd try to lie down and rest, and called Sharon to make sure she was available. I called Mark, and he came right home. We took Marshall to the neighbors across the street.

The time we left for the hospital is a bit fuzzy to me. I do remember feeling nauseous when Mark and Sharon decided that they needed to eat something and brought their McDonald's food into the labor room. Yuck! Somewhere around 7 p.m. I was dilated enough to go to the delivery room. Both Mark and Sharon followed me across the hall -- this was a short jaunt compared to the previous trip to the delivery room. Again my own doctor was out of town and his associate arrived in time to make the trip from labor into delivery.

Between Sharon and Mark, pictures were taken, breathing went well, and when the doctor had the episiotomy done and said "push" I was glad to accommodate him. But wait -- this kid was getting hung up somewhere between point A and the outside world. They didn't want to use forceps (thank you!) nor did they want to break his shoulders (again, thank you!) but they weren't prepared for how big this kid would be. The delivery room nurse was pushing on my abdomen, I was pushing, the doctor was pulling, and finally -- looking like he'd been through 8 rounds in the boxing ring -- Adam arrived at 7:37! All 12 pounds and 4 ounces of him. And 24 inches long! No wonder my ribs were aching. The ordeal of the pushing and the entire process caused my muscles to quake almost uncontrollably. I later found out that this is normal, especially on subsequent births.

The afterbirth went well. One drawback was that Adam was noticeably jaundiced. This again is not unusual, but his size may have been a contributing factor. He had to stay under the bili lights well after I was released from the hospital. I made the trips back and forth to feed him. Those who came by the nursery would comment -- oh, the poor baby... how long has he been here? At only a few hours old, the doctor quipped that we should give him a bicycle so that he could ride home!

So, there you have it. Another blessing! Next?

The story of Mah-so

The early months of pregnancy are somewhat of a blur, but I did have "morning" sickness. Funny -- it was actually in the evening. I struggled with indigestion frequently. Even water caused me queasiness. But as I've learned, that is a good thing. It means my HcG had kicked in and was doing its job. Just so you know -- and I'm taking a risk here -- I did have some alcohol during those first three months. In retrospect, I'm wondering whether that has caused any type of metabolic problem. It certainly didn't impair Marshall's brain!

I remember lying in bed one time, in our lovely townhome in Sacramento, and staring at my 8-month-gestational girth. Lo and behold, my entire abdomen shifted from top to bottom (or perhaps the other way around). I had just witnessed the turning head-down of my little one. How exciting! Because I just loved getting kicks and prods, and thought it was so fun to poke my side and get a response.

I never had any sonograms, as they were not routinely done unless there was a problem. No gestational diabetes, no thyroid problem, no high blood pressure (as a matter of fact, it was normal to low). My main complaints were sciatica and indigestion. Little did I know that I was not supposed to lie on my back (I learned that during my second pregnancy). When I would lie on my back and then try to get up, an excruciating pain would attack my left hip and leg. Also, if I stood cockeyed, that same hip would act up. It became the hallmark of my pregnancies.

A couple of weeks before my due date, I was visiting Mark at the radio station where he worked, and as I was using the ladies' room, there was indication that I had lost my mucous plug. I knew enough to know that birth wasn't imminent, but that this was a first sign of things to come. I was also suffering from a cold, and really worried that I would not be able to put my breathing techniques into practice.

I was working at an elementary school as the principal's secretary (now there is a defunct word). The fiscal year was due to end on June 30, and I was due with the baby on July 7 (I thought). Perfect timing, right? So I worked through the end of the 30th, collected my paycheck and said goodbye.

We had friends nearby with whom we would occasionally get pie at Marie Callenders. On the night of July 1, we bought a strawberry pie (ymmmm, they are so good from MC's) and headed for their house to share it. The previous day I had been at a women's luncheon and had been subjected to (maybe that's a bit harsh) everyone's birth story. It is a fact that when women get together and see a pregnant woman, EVERYONE wants to share their story. Call it a learning experience. I called it torture, because this was my first pregnancy, not sure what to expect, and scared that I would make a fool of myself.

Sidenote: Starting in approximately my 6th month, we took a Lamaze prepared childbirth class. Best thing you can do! Relaxation, birth options, bonding, baby care, etc. So I kinda sorta had an idea of what to expect. But there were just a few things that hadn't come up, or that I hadn't paid attention to. Like what does labor feel like, huh? How will I know? "Oh, you'll know!" hmmmm

Back to the front. I was so scared by the time these women had shared all their horror stories that I cried and cried and told Mark that I was afraid to go through it. And then came the pie. So, we headed for home and sometime during the night I woke up thinking that the pie wasn't agreeing with my intestines. Bathroom trip after bathroom trip, nothing. Oh, well, back to sleep.

At about 6:30 a.m. I woke up. It was a Saturday morning, and I think the weather was probably pretty clear, but I really don't remember much about that part. I stood up and - whoosh - my water broke onto the bedroom floor. Oh! Mark! I do believe it's time to head to the hospital, because of all the possible indicators of labor, that one is not to be ignored. So we picked up our previously packed suitcase, took one last look at the cute wallpaper I had hung in the second bedroom (Winnie the Pooh!), and got into the car.

By this time, I was using my first stage of breathing and the contractions seemed to be coming very close. Blur. When I got to the hospital and was wheeled up to a labor room (shared with a screaming woman...) the doctor did his initial check. By the way, my doctor was out of town, and his associate had to be called. This, too, was a teaching hospital, so parades of students thought it was great to get to check on all the labor and delivery patients. By that time -- who cares?

The doctor stated that when I arrived at approximately 7 a.m. I was dilated to 2 centimeters. He noted that I would "probably be there all day." Did I want to hear that? NO! I was focusing on some design on the wall and lying on my left side. I was using my second stage of breathing since the contractions were getting longer, stronger and closer together. No, make that, there was no break! The nurse asked me to tell her when there was a break in the contractions and I breathed out that there was none. She very kindly (perhaps) gave me a shot in the right hip (that continued to sting for four years thereafter) to slow me down. Now there is a change of events. Most women get shots to speed them up or to take the edge off of pain, but this nurse wanted to slow me down.

That wasn't going to happen. By about 8 a.m. I was really needing to pant and blow and feeling the urge to push. The doctor was not persuaded that I should be at that stage, and checked me again. I had gone from 2 to 10 centimeters (full blown transition stage) in one hour! They asked Mark if he would be gowning up and following us to the delivery room. He got weak kneed, walked beside the gurney to the delivery room and kissed me over to the doctor. Off he went to watch cartoons while I went to work.

The nurse was wonderfully trained in Lamaze, knew how to coach my breathing and pushing, and after an episiotomy, Marshall made his appearance at 8:39 a.m. Outside of that first hip shot and local for the episiotomy, the birth was totally drug free. He weighed in at 10 pounds 8 ounces (and was 5 days before his due date!) and 22 inches long. Very light and feathery blond hair. And of course I cried.

Mark was there right after Marshall was washed up and I was wheeled back to the recovery room. We all bonded and Marshall nursed well. The doctor came in to check on us and said, "next time could you camp out on the hospital doorstep?" Ah, music to a mother's ears. Like I was made to be one. That was encouraging.

Life goes on, generation after generation. It still amazes me that the gene pool from which this baby came had been handed down since the dawn of time! Wow! And God allowed us to be a part of it.


Baby, baby!

Please don't read this if you a) think "birth stories" are sappy or b) have dastardly intentions of where to post it.

A few short weeks ago, our youngest-born, Ingrid (known to the family as Pee-Wee), called me. This is not unusual. She and I enjoy chatting. As a matter of fact, we come from a long line of mother-daughter chatters. But I digress. She was concerned because she was "late" and this was not an expected event. I asked her about symptoms, and sure enough they sounded like an early pregnancy. She left for the local discount store to stock up on twin-pink-stripe tests and upon her return called me again.


Okay, try again. Tears, sobbing. I was a bit concerned, not knowing where her emotions were headed, so I asked (duh!) "What's wrong?" Her reply was heard between the sobs and deserves to be "inked" for the baby: I'm just so happy!

I, the now beaming grandma (oh, wow!)-to-be, became an instant research machine. Oh, yes, I was pregnant and gave birth to three healthy children, but was there anything new these days? Bodies and babies haven't changed. But philosophies and birthing centers have. Hold on, because this is going to be a long blog ...

Now headed into her 15/16th weeks, Ingrid and Andy have already seen that little baby kicking via two ultrasounds. First time moms are often afraid of every little twinge and pain, and there was the complication of hypothyroid condition, so the doctor complied and everyone is ecstatic. Within the next few weeks, they intend to have the "let's see who and what you are" ultrasound. Ingrid is adamant about dressing and decorating gender-appropriately. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the surprise each time a new little cry greeted me. Both work well, I can see.

This is where the tree will branch. I have orally given my kids their birth stories, because I think it is special to know that your mom thinks your birth was special. (and you all are, by the way!!!) In content, this will be nothing new for you guys, but thought you might want it in writing. Especially Ingrid. And I apologize in advance, because I'm going to assume we are all adults and can handle the rigors of the birthing experience.

Why especially Ingrid? Because she is the first one to give birth, and also because she will have inherited some of my birthing experience, quite literally. I was reading on one of the pregnancy websites that if a soon-to-deliver mom wants the best indication of what her labor will be like, ask her own birth mother. My own mother had fairly short labors: out of three births, longest was five hours; and mine were even shorter: my longest active labor was three hours. The reason I mention "active" labor is because that is when I realized I was in labor. There is the possibility, quite likely, that I was in labor before that, but hey, if you don't even know you're in labor, that doesn't count, right?

From here, you (meaning Marshall, Adam and Ingrid) can go directly to your own birthing stories, if you like. I won't put them all in this long, drawn out blog. Aren't I considerate? Next?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Would you like cheese with that whine?

Can anyone tell me when I'll quit worrying about my children? Okay, I know that "worry" is not what Christians are about. It is to be "concern" followed by prayer; but it may just be semantics. So, to make myself and you, Dear Reader, feel better, I'll use the word "concern."

I'm concerned about my children's marriages, their health, their spiritual discipline(s), and their futures. I try to remind myself that all of these things are in the hands of God, Who loves them infinitely more than I ever could, and also has the power to do something about it. But then I'm reminded of the quotable quote of a little boy in Sunday School: I need someone with skin on. And yes, I know that Jesus is that person, but frankly, He doesn't visit me in the flesh (not that I know of).

When Mark (hubby) and I took spiritual gift inventories years ago, Mark scored way HIGH on faith, and I scored abysmally LOW. That was helpful to me, because I think my faith quotient really has increased over the years, and yet I still worry (yes, I said worry).

If nothing else, these worries sure have increased my prayer time. I can't say that I have a prayer closet, or even a set aside prayer time each day. But I pray OFTEN throughout the day, in any and every spare moment. If you're reading this, would you please pray for me, too?

Someone please pass the cheese ...

Friday, September 17, 2004

Move me

On my semi-long commute in to downtown Chicago, I listen to the morning show without fail. This morning I heard the song by Greg Long, entitled "Fifteen." I found myself weeping. It caused me to consider what types of things move me to tears. As I think of more, I'll add them ...
  • perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds
  • an underdog crossing the finish line
  • a child's "ah-ha" moment of learning
  • the mental picture of me crawling into the lap of the Father to tell Him my cares
  • the brokenness of one who realizes his/her sin
  • praying for the crushing needs of another
  • love prevailing
  • the grace and mercy of God's forgiveness compared to the weight of my sin
  • a handmade gift
  • the birth of a baby
  • the legacy of a loved one

When a piano string resonates with a note, it is a wonderful thing to hear. When tears resonate with the heart, it is a wonderful thing to bear.

Monday, September 13, 2004


There is really nothing new under the sun. When my family was getting set to leave the country in 1967 (no, we weren't escaping the Viet Nam era. My dad was assigned to Japan.), we stopped in San Francisco to visit my uncle. He was attending Berkeley for his doctoral program. Yes, the heyday of Berkeley. While we were in San Francisco, we took a side tour through Haight-Ashbury. During a stop, I picked up a free Haight-Ashbury newspaper. Well, "newspaper" in a loose sense. Very loose.

Stream of consciousness, anything goes, question everything, don't tell me what to do or what not to do. And so went the sixties. What goes around comes around, and the children of the children of the sixties are now reliving our experiences -- in the blogging world. The main difference is that now anyone with a computer can choose to read the stream of consciousness, anything goes, question everything, don't tell me ...

So my dilemma is this: do I put brakes on or not when it comes to venting via the Internet? Frankly, I'm constantly second guessing myself as to who might be reading it. What if a total stranger is reading this? How much do I want them to know? What if my kids are reading this? How much do I want THEM to know? Do I run the risk of hurting anyone's feelings? Should I care?

When it comes right down to it, I do have a few healthy inhibitions. And one of those is "choosing my words carefully. " Communication via the spoken, written, and electronically-enhanced word is a gift of the human mind. I can share mine with you, but also realize that I have a quasi-responsibility to you not to patently offend.

In the meantime, I DO intend to use this blog to ramble about things that are affecting me -- things like my job (oops) or my kids (eeek) or my stage of life (hold on to your inner tube), or my memories and dreams. I will be careful when I choose from all those random thoughts bouncing around inside the gray matter. Because not all of them are worth sharing.

And now, Amanda, I'm going back to work.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Press 9-1-1

A cloud hangs over this day. Just say the date and certain feelings begin to rumble around inside. Like knowing where I was when JFK was shot; like the feeling one gets on the first day of school as an elementary student; like smells that automatically trigger nausea; that is what this day is like.

I was sitting at my computer in my previous office. Alternately staring out the window and paying attention to my work on the screen. Listening to WMBI online (funny how we can only hear a Chicago station on our computers in downtown Chicago). I heard Dave (news) punctuate the air with the news that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. "What a horrible accident," I thought. Tuned to the online news service at the same time for any updates, when Dave came back on saying a second plane had hit. This was no accident. The office was buzzing by now. The TV in the conference room was pushed into service as several of us took turns watching the news. Then when one went into the Pentagon, I finally broke down. I have two brothers who work within ear-shot of the Pentagon.

But the place I work is unique -- not so unique that others weren't doing the same thing, but as a business ministry, we rallied for prayer. Some sobbing, but most laying out their fears and requests before the loving, just, all-powerful, gracious and merciful Heavenly Father, Who we know to be the true Creator.

That was just our office. But the entire campus was called into action as we held hands and totally circled three city blocks in alternate prayer and silence.

Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord. We hope to see it this side of heaven, but we may not. And we are not to wish anyone's demise, although frankly I would like to see all the perpetrators wiped out. Instead, we are supposed to pray for their salvation. Oh, this is a hard hard thing to do. I don't want to do it.

As soon as I realize that to God we are ALL sinners, then I can appreciate the fact that He has saved me, so why not other sinners? God is just. But God is also merciful and gracious. AND He has the power to accomplish whatever it takes to show those attributes. I don't.

The nagging sense of dread comes and goes. But the raw wound is healing. If it weren't for the fact that our privacy, our safety, and our complacency were at stake, I'd say we were on the way to a complete recovery. But no. Life will never be the same. If for no other reason than we have come face to face with those who HATE us, and claim that their god sanctions it. What a terrible god to be a slave to.

So, make this note: ask me if I've prayed for a terrorist today. And not that he/she would be killed, but that he/she would know truth, and that the truth would set them free.

I'm a bit fuzzy around the edges, but there's a solid core. Posted by Hello

Even the pain of a frap brain freeze won't stop some addicts! Posted by Hello


It is my contention that, as members of the human race, we are ALL addicted to something. We long for connectedness, and addiction is a modified form of connection. So ... I'm "connected" to coffee! It must flow through my veins. Complete with steamed nonfat milk, of course. I do enjoy it a "latte."

You may have already noticed that I am also "connected" to puns. It is my creative outlet, that part of my brain that just loves to use items (or words) for purposes other than their original intention. So if you have any wonderful creations -- words or crafts or foods -- that extend beyond their blase borders, let me know!

Just got back from my morning coffee and I'm now ready for the rest of the day -- connected to it, in fact.

Friday, September 10, 2004

R vacation

Horsetail Falls with a Rhonda "sign" in front. Posted by Hello

GORGEous scenery, don't you think? Posted by Hello

Easier said than done ...

Okay, so I just read Britany's post regarding the fact that she can't finish anything. Well, I start things, finish them, and then let them lie there forever, never to be renewed. Therefore, I have a family webpage that rarely gets updated, pictures that sit in their original cardboard frames (no lovely matting or framing), etc. Is this just another something that I will begin and not return to? No, please (or is it, no, thank you).

Maybe this will fulfill my need to empty my brain at the end of the day. But someone will have to "blog" my memory, or it won't get done. Some people have memories like steel traps. I have a memory like a steel sieve, give or take a few facts.

I'm looking forward to this, especially since my kids seem to be enjoying theirs. Ssssh, don't tell them that the parental units are actually technologically savvy. Until the next time I remember to jump off a blog ...