1 Day

Dear Grace,

I awoke this morning in a state of disbelief. You are here!

I wanted desperately to come see you. I am so groggy. I cannot shake off the medication that I am on enough to get out of bed.

Hours pass and I am still in a semi-vegetative state. "I want to wake up!" I tell your Dad, your Grandparents and everyone that enters the room. Still, I am so out of it.

Your doctor, Dr. L, came to visit me and update me on you. You are in the "incubator". You are breathing on your own since right after your birth, so you do not require oxygen. You are a little yellow, so they have put you under the light. I cannot wait to see you.

My nurse today is Vicky. She is just the kind of nurse that I need today. She gives me explicit instructions and I try my best to follow directions. Somehow, we got me out of bed and into the shower. Being clean feels so good.

Your Dad walked me very slowly and painfully to the NICU. I had forgotten how beautiful you are. You are so tiny. All the wires and monitors on you are painfully intimidating. I can see how strong you are, though.

You have peach fuzz all over your head. I cannot believe how much hair you have! Since your Dad & I were both bald babies, I am so surprised by that. Your fingers and toes are long. Actually, your whole body is long compared to your gestational age. If you had been full term, you would have been a large baby.

A small part of me is very sad that we had to take you early. It would have been so much easier for you if we could have waited. Now you will spend the first part of your life in the hospital. But, I would not trade these moments with you for anything.

The nurse put you in my arms. No one else is allowed to hold you yet. You are so tiny and fragile, but you are so strong.

I love you very much, my little angel. I love you more with each moment.

Love Forever,



31 Weeks, 5 Days

Dear Baby Girl,

This morning I ate a piece of toast for breakfast. And so begins the most frighteningly wonderful day of my life.

My blood pressure was still high today and my symptoms were still getting progressively worse. The night nurse got permission to replace my IV last night, and it took five different people (herself, an L&D nurse, another nurse on the floor, a NICU nurse & an oncology nurse) several tries each to run the IV. My veins have become extremely small with all the swelling. That is how we spent the entire night. We knew all of this meant that something would have to change. My condition has become dangerous to both of us.

Dr. B is the doctor on call today. He is a sweet older man with a cheery disposition that reminds me of Santa Claus. He came by first thing this morning. They do not advise doing the magnesium drip again until time for you to be born. So guess what? That will be today!!!

That little piece of toast came back to haunt me. We had to wait for it to digest before we could begin the emergency c-section.

Your Dad began making phone calls. Your Papa (my dad) has been staying with us the last couple of days to help with the dogs and sit with me during the day so your Dad can rest. He was the first to know you were coming. He called your Nana (my mom), and your Dad also called your Grandma (his mom). That began our family's mass exodus from their homes and workplaces to come to the hospital to be present for your birth.

I was moved back to L&D. Sometime during the morning I began to shake severely. My legs were jumping all over the bed and I could do nothing to stop it. I guess knowing you were coming and not having any idea how all of this would work out fried what was left of my nerves.

The nurse started the magnesium drip and the catheter again. This time, I was jumping around in the bed so much that I did not even notice the heat as much as I did before. The catheter seemed like second nature by now.

The NICU doctor came to talk to us. The hospital staff calls him the "Mr. Rogers" of the hospital. He is a really nice guy, and I know that he will be a good doctor to you. He explained what would happen from the point of your delivery to your transition into the NICU. You will spend your first few weeks there, until you get strong enough to come home.

The nurse made the rest of the appropriate calls to set everything up, and we were told that the surgery would be at 1:00PM. Just as we sent your aunt to the waiting room to give the time update, the attendant came to get me prepped for surgery! You would be here even sooner!

My heart pounded out of my chest as the attendant wheeled my bed to the OR. I could not see your Dad, but I found tremendous comfort in feeling his presence following my bed. On arrival, they sent us to a prep room with wall curtains. They began checking me, and they spirited your Dad away to hook him up with the appropriate OR attire. Unfortunately, they decided my IV needle was not big enough. They would have to readdress that in the ER.

The prep seemed to take forever. Dr. B met us there and we got to know the anesthesiologist. Another familiar voice popped around the curtain also - a family friend was working in the OR and stopped in to say Hi. Soon afterward, it was time. Your Dad had to wait outside the OR for a few minutes until they were ready for the surgery to begin.

The OR was not what I expected. (This was my first surgery.) The room was very white and there were lots of big machines. It could almost pass for an old James Bond set, just with more high-tech computer equipment. They moved me to a plank in the center of the room that had folding "boards" to hold my arms in the shape of a cross. Then, the anesthesiologist and another nurse/doctor/somebody took turns in each arm trying to insert the IV. Attempt after attempt failed, and then...

I am going to sidetrack from the story for a second here. When I was little, I got a huge gash on my wrist. I will not go into the details here, but it involves the underside of a car and my accident prone self. Anyway, I have a scar on my wrist. The area around this scar is deemed UNTOUCHABLE. I will not touch it. Your Dad cannot touch it.

So guess where the needle went and took? You guessed it. Right in the middle of my scar in the UNTOUCHABLE zone. And, honestly I did not even blink.

Next, it was time for the spinal. This was another scary thought for me. Dr. B held me up and hugged me. He whispered the play-by-play in my ear of what was happening and what would happen. He distracted me by swapping scar stories (I told him about the wrist) and making funny comments. I could not have asked for a better doctor to do this.

Spinal in place and verified, the surgery began. Your Dad entered the room after they pulled up a curtain to block my view. That curtain kept hitting me in the nose and mouth. The rest of the experience seemed almost out-of-body. It felt like my insides were Jello jiggling all over the place. There was lots of random chatting going on. Lots of beeping from monitors. And then, a sweetly beautiful cry.


The noise of the room faded and tears rose to my eyes. All I could hear was you.

The sound you were making sounded like a short series of "meh". It sounded like a breathtakingly beautiful symphony to me.

At some point, the chatter and beeping resumed in my ears. They called your Dad over with the video camera to capture your experience.

Then, they brought you to me.

I kissed you, and your eyes opened. You are so beautiful.

Then, they wheeled you away up to the NICU. They assured me that you were breathing normally. Your Dad and the video camera got to follow you. Your grandparents coincidentally saw you in the hall on your way to the NICU. The nurses put you on a C-PAT for just a little while. Then, because you were doing so well, they took it off. You are tiny, but you are perfect for your gestational age.

Meanwhile, the OR team finished up with me after an infinity. I went to the recovery area, where I was taken care of by a nurse named Max. (I remember this because of our dog Max.)

Sometime during the OR finish up and the recovery time, I began shaking again. This time, only my arms could shake because my legs were numb.

I waited, waited, waited. Finally, Max said I could go back to postpartum.

The nurse, or maybe it was the doctor, told me that I could not see you again today. My blood pressure was still really high, and I needed to be able to be at least in a wheelchair before I could go to the NICU. I took comfort in knowing that your Dad was with you, and he could take care of you. You had been in my belly for so many months and I had already bonded with you. Now it was his turn, or at least that is how I made peace with the fact that I would have to wait to see you again.

Various relatives began to come in my room to say hello or sit with me. I remember all of this, but I still felt like I was in a trance. I could not sleep, but I was very tired.

Tomorrow, my beautiful Grace, I will get to see you again.

Love forever,

Your Mom



31 Weeks, 4 Days, PM

Dear Baby Girl,

I am back in the postpartum wing now. I am much more comfortable now. The magnesium drip from last night helped, but my blood pressure is beginning to go back up a little tonight. My swelling has increased. Your Dad says my hands look like those of a 500-pound woman. The swelling is irritating the IV. The nurse will check with the doctor, and they may do something about that later tonight.

I now know that I will not be going home until you are born. We are back to the waiting game again! All the tests have shown such good results for you. My condition has not affected you, but I am not sure how long that will last. My body is failing me. I am sure it sounds very weak of me, but I cannot bear to know that my body is failing you, too. We will know more in the morning.

Love Forever,

Your Mom

31 Weeks, 4 Days, AM

Dear Baby Girl,

I want to give you an honest account of the events leading to your birth, so I will be truthful with you. Last night was the most miserable night of my life. It began with me being angry about staying at the hospital. Don't get me wrong here - I will do anything for you. All I mean is that the nurses were not doing anything that we could not do at home. But, the doctor said I had to stay on.

We have had a lot of visitors, and the doctor suggested that we have no more. I think that seeing people we love probably helped, but I know it was a lot of activity. Now only your Dad and your grandparents are allowed to see me.

My blood pressure would not go down. My arms are so swollen that every time the blood pressure cuff begins to move I grimace. I am sure that does not help the numbers. By the time that Dr. F came to examine me that evening, the top number was over 200 and the bottom number was over 100. So, we had to do a magnesium drip all night. I was moved back to a room in Labor & Delivery.

The ordeal began with a check of my cervix. I am so swollen that I gasped out in pain during the check.

The next step was the IV. I hate needles, and I have a history of passing out. (I hope you will be a lot braver than I am!) When I have had an IV in the past, they would put it on the underside of my elbow. I can semi-tolerate it there. No luck this time. The nurse said it had to go down on my hand. I truly hate IVs.

The magnesium drip is horrible. It gives the sensation of being sitting in a fire out in the midday sun. Plus, it requires a catheter. I had never had a catheter before. I spent several hours with the need to go to the bathroom that I just could not relieve.

Because I was so hot, I threw the covers and sheets off over and over. We had to adjust the room temperature as low as it would go. My skin felt like ice to the touch, but I was so, so hot. This made for a miserable night for your Dad. He is pretty cold-natured, and being in the room with me all night was not fun for him.

On the bright side, the technician came to the room last night and did a "long" ultrasound. You scored a 10/10. Your weight is estimated at 3 pounds, 12 ounces. They put the monitor on my belly to monitor your heart rate again, and it is the one soothing sound in my room.

This morning, we had another ultrasound, and you seemed to try to breathe. The technician had me hold my breath, and then we watched as your tiny lungs continued to work. This is a good sign - the steroid shot is working. You are an amazing little fighter. We will get through this.

It took a really long time for the volunteer to come and wheel me back upstairs after we saw you. So much of the hospital trip and even doctor's visits have been a waiting game. Your Dad was wonderful this morning. I know he was tired. He barely got any sleep with the cold room and the uncomfortable chair bed. He held my head up and I leaned against him throughout the long wait.

I have gone from feeling fine when I checked into the hospital to misery pretty quickly. We are trying to remain strong for you so that no matter what happens, you will be born healthy.

Love Forever,

Your Mom


31 Weeks, 3 Days

Dear Baby Girl,

Last night was pretty uneventful - at least for a night in the hospital. The doctor allowed me to be monitored every 3 hours instead of every 30 minutes, so I got a little rest. The nurses here have all been very nice. I have been drinking a lot of water, and I am continually asking them to get me some more. They joke with me about it. My blood pressure is still high, but it seems to have stabilized.

Your Dad came back to the hospital early this morning. I would not let him stay last night because I wanted him to rest (even though he told me today that he could not sleep with worry for you & I.), and nothing was happening. I am hoping that they will let me go home, and just be on bed rest until you make your grand entrance into the world.

We are still hoping that you will be able to wait as long as possible. I had the second steroid shot to jump start your lungs this morning.

We have had lots of visitors, phone calls and flowers. We are blessed with a supportive set of family and friends that I cannot wait for you to meet. But not yet, please!

Love forever,

Your Mom


31 Weeks, 2 Days

Dear Baby Girl,

Today began with an innocent doctor's appointment with an ultrasound. The ultrasound came first. We got to see your beautiful outline and watch your tiny heart beat. The technician offered for us to see you in 3-D and of course, your Dad and I could not resist. During the 3-D shots, you moved your foot in front of your face. I can already tell you are avoiding pictures. Just like your mama.

Next, it was time to see Dr. F. He is the doctor that helped us before you were able to be conceived. As we waited, we studied the print out of the ultrasounds that we just saw. We rejoiced in your good health. We laughed about your foot.

When Dr. F came into the room, we noted immediately how somber he was. He told us in a soft voice that we would need to leave now to go over to the hospital. He said we would be there a few hours so they could monitor me for a while. My blood pressure was very high (especially since it normally runs low) and I was displaying signs of a condition called pre-eclampsia. Urine tests found 3+protein, which is another sign. You were doing so well, and it turns out that I was not.

I began to panic. I had just started a new job, and it was a tough call to make to my manager that I would have to be out for an unknown amount of time. But, you were always the top priority. We would do anything that we could to keep you healthy.

When I think back now, I can see the signs that I thought were meaningless before, or just standard symptoms of pregnancy. I even wrote about a few of them here. According to Dr. F, if I do indeed have pre-eclampsia, we may have caught it early.

Ironically, I feel pretty good.

I walked into the ER with no idea of what to expect. I am not a fan of hospitals. I knew that you were coming, but I honestly had not thought about the delivery very much. I had concentrated so much on you in the present, that I did not really think about the process of you actually getting here.

The volunteer sat me in a wheelchair and wheeled me into Labor & Delivery. Dr. B, who I had met on the rotation, stopped by to talk to us. They began monitoring your heart rate, my blood pressure, reflexes, urine and temperature. The only "cure" for pre-eclampsia is delivery and since you are so very small, we want to keep you in my tummy as long as possible. The nurse gave me the first of two shots of a steroid that would jump start your lungs just in case you were to come early.

Dr. B broke the news to us that I would have to stay overnight. The next shot would need to be done tomorrow, and he wanted to continue to monitor my blood pressure, which would just not drop. My reflexes were on overdrive. (This is the test where they hit your knee and you kick. I was kicking so violently that they had to duck out of the way.) My body is just not co-operating with me anymore.

Your Dad stayed with me all day. Your grandparents also came. So many people love you already, and we all are praying hard that you remain unaffected by my condition.

I have never spent the night in a hospital before. They have given me a private room in the postpartum wing. They will continue to monitor my blood pressure throughout the night. I am scared for you, but we continue to pray to God. He gives me peace through prayer, and we trust Him that you will be alright.

Love Forever,

Your Mom


Sharing an Office

The best thing about my new job is that it is completely remote. So, I get to share an office with these guys. They are thrilled, as you can see.


The Dos And Don'ts Of Chocolate

Tonight, the women of the church had a Ladies' Night Out. The theme was all about Chocolate, one of my very favorite of the major food groups. I have been limiting my caffeine intake - which I hope my daughter appreciates - but I did allow myself to participate in the chocolate-taste-testing.

Our hostess consulted the chocolate connoisseur at the mall to put together a palette of chocolate that would fill our senses.

We began with a white chocolate. I love white chocolate. Unfortunately, the hostess bought white chocolate filled with coconut - which I do NOT like at all. So my verdict - DON'T.

Next was a milk chocolate. I also love milk chocolate. This was a definite DO.

Next was a dark chocolate, but it was a truffle, so I will forgive the darkness and go with DO again.

As we progressed down the tray of chocolate the percentage of cocoa increased in 5-10% increments. And some of it was just plain nasty. There is no other way to really describe it. One lady commented of the black-barred on the left - "It taste like bugs." Now, I have no way of knowing what bugs taste like, and I sincerely hope that I never found out. But, I am sure that she was right.

(By the way - the particular brand of chocolate shown on the left can be amazing - especially the truffles. I have wielded the black bar on this photo to protect their identity, so that you will not be prejudiced against their entire line of chocolates.)

The moral of our taste-test challenge? Well, I am not really sure that there was one. I just know that I will be sticking to the milk chocolate goodness that I know I adore.


Snow Driving

Monday it snowed. This has become an increasingly unusual event in my part of the state in the last few years.

Of course, it coincided with the day that I would start my new job. 4 1/2 hours away from home. In the mountains - where the snow is usually heavier than other areas. It did not snow while I was on the road, but it did start after I began my meetings on Monday morning.

My parents flipped. My mom left me a voice mail with the dangers of driving listed out bullet point by bullet point. She ended that recording with a lecture of how, being pregnant, I should never, ever attempt to drive on my own.

Well, sometimes driving is required, Mom.

I am not afraid of driving in the snow. In college, snow was a regular occurrence. I got used to it. I am a little afraid of other people driving in the snow, however. But, all of my driving efforts went extremely smoothly.

By the time I left for home this afternoon, the snow had stopped. Everywhere. My parents called me 4 times on the way home. At least once, I could hear my mom in the background after hearing about my progression down the road - "She's speeding!!!!!"

As I approached home, I found that our area - remember...it never snows here - got more snow than in the mountains. There was still snow on roads and on trees! And I missed it!


New Cars and OCD

Last night, after I checked into my hotel and settled down for the night, it occurred to me that I may not have locked my car door.

Now, I knew that I had locked my car door. I remembered doing so. And I remembered double-checking it. But, a little voice inside my head told me very convincingly - "It is your imagination. You definitely did not lock the car door."

So, I bundled back up again (it was snowing) and hauled myself back out to the car. Of course, it was locked.

While I was outside, however, I got the bright idea that I should take my GPS inside. As I leaned over to unfasten it, I hit the horn. Oops. The poor old gentleman in front of my car coming out of his room jumped with fear.

The worse part of that was that as I was unloading the car when I arrived at the hotel, I accidentally hit the horn then also. And the same poor old gentleman (along with his equally frail wife) happened to be outside then too. So I scared the poor guy. Twice.

Anyway, after securing my GPS inside, I got ready for bed again.

Then, the little voice started up again. "You did not lock the car..."


Rejoining the World of the Employed

I began my new job today with an orientation trip out of town.

I feel like I am rejoining the land of the living. My out-of-job experience has been really tough and super-scary, as I am sure that you have noticed if you have read my commentary over the last month.

I am so grateful to enter the working world again.


Missing Parts

Today I walked by a full-length mirror and recoiled with horror. I have lost my ankles.

Now, it may look cute on a baby (see left), but on me - oh, the horror!

My feet have been my one glory throughout my life. I was blessed with pleasing foot bone structure, and I have always taken great pride in showing off my feet in sandals, flip-flops, etc. while weather-appropriate. I am glad that it is cold, so my feet can go into hiding!

In the last probably two weeks, I have begun the uncomfortable portion of the pregnancy. My belly is now fully expanded. My belly button went missing first.

Now the swelling in my feet and ankles has begun.


Our Quest for a Sensible Vehicle

I drive a 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It has a lift package on it, so it has become more and more difficult for me to maneuver into it as my mobility decrease. Besides, it is not the most baby-friendly vehicle. We would have to put the baby in through the back, and that just would not work.

So, now that I finally received my unemployment check and I have a job offer that I plan to accept on the table, we decided to go look at vehicles.

J and I do not go look at vehicles. We go buy vehicles. We walk into the dealership with SUCKER written right on our foreheads. Of course, this was the last day of the huge sale with huge savings. But, we were determined. We were going to find a suitable used vehicle.

Well, it turns out that the suitable used vehicles cost just as much if not more than a suitable new vehicle. At least at this dealership.

Several hours later, we walked out with our suitable new Toyota Corolla:

(This is the dealer photo, I have not broken out the camera on it yet.)

This is not our dream car by any means, and it's just baseline. We really cannot afford bells and whistles. But, it drives well and it is baby friendly. Plus, we did successfully negotiate the dealer down on the price. Plus, we got him to throw in mudflaps. Success!


The Job Offer

Just when I was beginning to think that all hope was lost in finding a job in my area of expertise, one came along. Maybe.

A couple of weeks ago, a recruiter contacted me about a position which is completely teleworking. After our phone screening, she informed me that, in her assessment, my skillset was more "Senior" than what they were looking for. Great.

Anyway, two weeks ago, she called me back. They had seen my resume and liked what they saw. They might be willing to hire me after all. So, this week I did a phone interview and today I received an offer letter.

If all goes as planned I will start on Monday by doing some traveling to attend orientation. How's that for quick turnaround?

They also know I am pregnant, and unlike the other promising leads I have had, I did not hear the "You are great, but the timing just is not going to work out for hiring" or "our project timeline just will not fit" spill. Yes, I know that companies are not supposed to do that. But, times are tough and hiring someone just to have them out on maternity leave in the middle of a project is a tough sell.

Searching for a job has become my full time job of the last month. Putting out "feelers", sending my resume, arranging and answering phone calls - all has been physically exhausting. That's my excuse for my scanty posting. One of these days I will catch back up. Hopefully.

Hope. That's something that I have been lacking these days. Even if this does not work out, at least it has given me hope.


Wii Madness

J is sore. He just completely over-exerted himself this weekend trying to beat my 10-year-old niece at boxing. He may have won the match, but guess who will be paying the price tomorrow? Not her!

One day he will learn that sometimes it pays to just watch!


Bull's Eye

Well, I might not be able to find a job, but I can still whip up on J at darts!


Double Rainbow

I needed some encouragement today and I can tell you first hand that when you cry out to God for encouragement, He provides it. I sometimes miss the signs, but today's was unmistakable:


Thoughts on a New Year

New Years offers us the perfect opportunity to put a lid on the past year and begin the new year with a fresh start. 2008 has been a challenging year for me, and full of ups and downs. We finally, after 7 years, conceived a baby. We completed our new home. J & I have each other and our three precious dogs. Oh, and family and friends too! I spent many months thriving in my career. I have made new friends in a new area.

On the low side, my family has been plagued with health problems from my dad's stroke to my mom's lymphoedema to my grandmother's major descent into the final stages of Alzheimer's disease. Then of course, my job loss and the health of our little dog.

No matter what I have faced this past year, I know that there is a master plan in the works. I freely admit that I have been having trouble seeing it for the last month, and I have really struggled. The new year offers me the perfect opportunity to wipe the slate clean again. We have the birth of our miracle little baby to look forward to, and that gives me the hope that I need to keep going - one foot in front of the other.

I do not believe in resolutions, because I do not really have the personal discipline for that. I do believe in hope for the future. I believe in this hope not just for me and my family, but for the entire world. The world stage has been set for 2009 to become a year of great change. I hope this change will bring about new beginnings for everyone and the problems that we face as individuals and as a community.

May you and your family have a wonderful 2009!