February 28, 2011

Broken Schemes

I have mixed feelings in regard to the medical community. I appreciate them when they are needed. And am frustrated by their covert pricing structure, cover-my-butt "you need X procedure" so I don't get sued doctors, and personnel who refuse to acknowledge that hospital staff don't know everything...and they have bad days just like the rest of us...and they make mistakes...sometimes lethal ones. I have a fundamental belief that I know more about my body than anyone else. Can a doctor guide me? Yes. Do they always recommend the best treatment? No. Their actions are dictated by insurance companies, government medical reimbursements, FDA politics, drug companies, etc.

The OB in charge of Baby Girl's ultrasound read the Cardiologist's report from last Friday this morning and gave me a call. She's still concerned that I don't want to deliver in a hospital. To her credit, she did suggest a couple of hospitals that have both nurse-midwives and also a NICU. But still...I'd have to give up my midwife and birth center. And that disappoints me.

I talked to my midwife, Heike, this afternoon. I told her about my scheme to deliver at the birth center instead of at home. I had it all planned out. Maybe she thought it was a good plan...or not...but she did tell me why it wouldn't work. Knowing that Baby Girl has potential heart issues, the hospital would involve child protective services if we carried out my plan. Then I wouldn't be involved in any of the health decisions for Baby Girl. Tymon would be just as guilty. She mentioned another couple of problems...but this is the main one.

What I don't understand is why the same medical professionals who would support me if I decided to have an abortion (which I will never choose to do), would also condemn me for choosing to not deliver a child with a heart issue in a hospital. Huh? What do they care?

Heike presented a scenario that I think could work, though. We have some of the best medical care in the country in our own backyard. I think, if Baby Girl's branch arteries don't grow bigger, that I will deliver at the UW Medical Center. Heike would act as my doula. Baby's transfer to Children's Hospital will be easy. It's in the same neighborhood and the two hospitals are partners. I believe we're probably looking at a heart surgery soon after birth and Children's is the best in the region. So I think this could work.

After experiencing the absolute fabulous-ness of home births, I decided that if I could help it, I would never deliver anywhere else....unless it was necessary. Now I'm finding out how serious I was about that statement. It's so not needed for me. But it is for Baby Girl. And thus lie my broken schemes.

February 25, 2011


Ultrasound Thoughts

There's one thing I liked about my first ultrasound with Baby Girl. Mainly, it was the communication with the sonographer. She told us she couldn't get clear images of Baby's heart. Baby didn't care. She had her back to her. Sonographer #1 talked to the OB there and got Sonographer #2, who had more experience with hearts. Sonographer #2 got Sonographer #3, who also had more heart experience. Numbers 2 and 3 collaborated. In front of me. I knew what they were thinking and wondering. Yes, it was terrible to have my one hour appointment last 3.5. But not as terrible as not knowing anything.

Today I had a fetal echocardiogram at Children's Hospital in Seattle. They were a little more cryptic. As if I didn't already realize there was a problem. Um, that's why Tymon and I drove an hour in morning traffic to get there. Because we knew. Because we wanted more information. The debriefing was nice though. And the Fellow sitting in on the echo and debrief was helpful. Even if his diagram of a heart on the white board kind of looked like a lion's face. Yeah, I liked his demeanor best...though they were all nice.

The results: It looks as though Baby Girl has small branch pulmonary arteries. As in too small. As in, if they don't enlarge before she is born, she will need to have surgery after she's born. Like soon after she's born. And that's a little bit scary to me. But not near as scary as delivering in a hospital. So while the pediatric cardiologist was talking to me about potential outcomes I found myself asking quite a few questions. How much time after Baby is born does X medication need to be given? And then how long before Y would happen? Are we talking minutes? Hours? Days?

She assured me that I'd have some time to "bond" with Baby before they took her. Little does she know my main concern is that I'd rather NOT deliver in a hospital rather than how much time I get to bond with Baby. My midwife's birth center is literally 3 blocks from the hospital. I've quickly thrown together a plan where I would deliver there. We'd tell the neo-natal team to assemble when I was pushing. I'd labor and deliver there. Hold Baby. Midwife's assistant would clean her up and Tymon would take her to the hospital. It'd take 5 or 10 minutes...that would be plenty of time. I would deliver the afterbirth and get cleaned up. My mom would take me to the hospital. I'd be reunited with Baby in her room and she would be under the neo-natal team's watch. Yes. This can work. And be perfectly orchestrated.

I go back in May and we'll see what change there has been in the branches. And I'll re-evaluate my plan. I think we only need to see a millimeter or two (maybe 3) of growth. That's not a lot. Just a small miracle. Maybe I won't need my contingency plan after all and can deliver at home. Eh, who am I kidding? This won't be a home birth. Even though we now have the perfect tub to birth in and the bathroom is a great size for a birthing team. This is one of life's ironies. When you finally have the perfect setup, you no longer need it.

Emotionally, I'm okay. I've been through worse. A lot worse. And while we're looking at spending some quality time in a neo-natal intensive care unit, I'm pretty sure when all is said and done we're going to end up taking our Baby Girl home. We've got both faith and hope.

February 24, 2011

Sneaky Snow

Sometimes, I question the decision we made to cancel all of our driving classes and lessons. It snowed last night. All over Seattle and the metro area. Some places were hit hard. Some were not so bad. Every school district but one in the region cancelled school. There was supposed to be a bit more snow this afternoon.

Our house got a couple of inches. I'm now looking out the window at dry pavement. The forecast has abandoned the snow prediction. Um, yeah, so why did I insist on Tymon taking the 4-wheel drive family vehicle to work and school? Oh, it's because I believed the weatherman. And wanted Tymon to get home (up the hill) safely. And here's me at home with 4 children. Trapped. Can't go anywhere. And DRY pavement.

Dear Snow,
Quit being so sneaky.
Come if you say you're gonna.
Don't jerk me around.
If I knew this morning
What I know now
I'd have made different plans.

I wrote a poem today. (Not my letter above. A louder one.) I was remembering the slush that I purposefully drove through the other day...just to hear it under my wheels and see the spray fly out. Read it here: http://defensivedrivinghabits.blogspot.com/2011/02/slush-sounds.html.

If you'd like to enter our Safe Driving Fine Arts Contest, you've got a few more days before the deadline: http://www.facebook.com/photo.

February 22, 2011

New Widget

Some of you may or may not have noticed my new side-bar widget. Let me bring it to your attention. Baby Girl Johns is on her way. She's about the size of a banana and almost a pound. Her dreaming and sleep cycles are established. Wow. That makes her sound so mature. My nausea is nearly gone...as long as I eat something every couple of hours. (Don't ask Tymon about our trip to the post office a week or so ago. It's rained and snowed since then and I'm guessing the mess I left in the parking lot is gone by now.) And my pants are beginning to feel snug. So it's almost time to start wearing the next size up...luckily I have some on hand. Who knew when I lost 20 pounds last year that I'd end up finding them all (plus more) this year? Not me.

What's strange to me is that I still have this strong urge to adopt. Yeah. Weird, I know. I talked to our old social worker last fall to see about doing a home study. Then a week later I went to the dollar store and picked up a pregnancy test. Positive. So, I'm a little frugal....I don't really want to pay for a home study and then pay to update it (when Baby Girl is born). So an adoption is on hold. And that's okay.

I'm in a little bit of shock that Baby Girl will be coming. I thought for sure she would be "he". Mostly because Tymon wants to stop having children after we have two girls. After Evan died, I felt like there was another boy that would come to our family. I've never had any sort of feeling about who was coming to our family before. But that feeling was pretty strong. And I latched on to it. For two and a half years I've "known" that our next child would be a boy. His name is Quentin. It means the fifth. As in our fifth son. He's the place holder for his big brother. A way to remember the one who is gone.

My cousin said her second pregnancy was her last and she had twins. It's almost like God knows when you're serious. Luckily, He's got a healthy sense of humor. These twins are the ones that just sold us Girl Scout Cookies. They're fabulous. I'm sure my cousin can't imagine life without both of them. Tymon's sister just got pregnant. A surprise for her 40th birthday. Ha ha. My aunt had the same thing happen for her 40th birthday. Another couple examples of God's sense of humor...or wisdom.

Because Tymon wanted to be "done" with two girls, I was sure Quentin would be joining us this summer. That's how Heavenly Father would make sure he got Quentin into our family. And since that's not the way it's working, I'm left wondering if in fact we will have another boy. 

The questions race through my mind....Should we adopt? When? Who? Infant? Child? And from where? Sometimes, the prospect of a foreign adoption is appealing. Those children are a little bit older. Like not babies. Perhaps toddlers. And potty trained. Yes, potty trained. I like it. They also involve international travel. Did I mention I have 5 children? How can I travel for an indefinite amount of time to go through another country's legal system? Would I bring any of my children along? If we adopt domestically we'd be getting an infant (unless we did a foster to adopt program). Infants mean lots of crying and diapers. And it wouldn't be as "easy" as adopting Jett was. Maybe we should wait for another opportunity like that. It will come when we're not looking for it. But we'll be ready.

And even with the above thoughts, I'm excited about having a girl. About the possibility of not being pregnant again...until my 40th birthday. Ha ha ha.

February 20, 2011

The Next Level

This afternoon I taught the lesson for our women's organization at church. I usually always run out of time when teaching. Even when I think I'm not going to. But I get carried away and then there is a lot of participation and time slips away and before I know it, it's time to go. Today was no different...even though I had about 10 more minutes than usual. Instead of focusing on the lesson manual I really wanted to get involved with the scriptures and look at what the prophets have taught us through their experiences...and while I did take my understanding of fasting to a new spiritual level...I didn't even get to my discussion questions...let alone answer or process them. And I want to. I want to verbalize where I'm at. Then I'll be able to judge later how far I've come. I want the spiritual strength that comes from fasting for myself. 

What would it be like to call down the strength of heaven as Jesus did when he fasted for 40 days and nights? It was a miracle. He was spiritually fed. He buoyed his spiritual strength before his ministry.
To Be With God - Simon Dewey
And it's not just him. It was Moses, too. He fasted 40 days and nights while receiving writing out the Ten Commandments. And Ester asked her people to join her in fasting for 3 days. And so many others. I want to be like them.

1. How do you make fasting a joyful experience? I don't. I usually just go through the motions of fasting 24 hours without eating or drinking anything. Nothing terribly positive. Nothing terribly negative. I'd like to change this.

2. How does your attitude influence your experience when you fast? Not having a positive or negative attitude toward fasting makes it so I also have a bleh experience. I have seriously put stock into prayerfully fasting and then working to back it up maybe just one time. Don't get me wrong. I've fasted hundreds of times. Prayerfully. For many reasons. But this time I was fully invested. I was a missionary in Slovenia. Living in Celje. I'd been in the country about 6 months and my accent was unacceptable to me. I couldn't roll my "r"s. I really wanted this skill. I fasted and prayed for it. And the time was right. My companion was a linguistics major in college. She actually knew a couple of exercises that could help train the tongue to flip. As we walked from one appointment to another, she gave me the tools and I practiced. A lot. It was a matter of constant prayer not only during the actual fast but in the weeks that followed. I am now able to roll an "r" once. Not twice. Definitely not a whole string of them. But once. And once is enough to effectively communicate. 

3. How have you benefited from sharing your testimony in fast and testimony meeting? I don't do it often. But when I do, the truth of what I've said rings true to my heart.

4. How have you benefited from hearing others share their testimonies? I like hearing other people's experiences and thoughts and feelings about the gospel. Often, I connect with them on a deeper spiritual level. I especially like to hear about how others first found Christ and how their lives have changed for the better.

5. Why do you contribute to fast offerings? To whom much is given, much is required. My family has been blessed with so much. We need to share with those in more difficult circumstances than we are in. Someday it may be me on the receiving end.

6. What blessings can you receive when you fast properly? Special blessings - like the ability to roll an "r", Healing for the sick, Gaining testimony, Personal revelation, Conversion to truth, Comfort to a mourning and sorrowful heart, Sanctification of the soul, and Guidance are among the blessings.

7. How has fasting strengthened your character? I know that hard things don't last forever. I can control my body. I tell it what it will and won't do.

8. How has fasting given you spiritual power? I don't know. I'd like to put more effort into making it a joyful experience and increasing my spirituality.

If you would like to answer any of the questions or add your insights, please do. Keep the conversation going. I love your comments and want to gather additional insight.

    February 14, 2011

    True Love

    For Valentine's Day, Tymon and I celebrated by going to Teatro Zinzanni for their dinner theatre on Friday night.
    The meal was fabulous. Like as in some of the best courses I've ever had. It's too bad the portions weren't that big. I could have eaten so much more. The show was fun, a little bawdy and I laughed a lot. This photo was my favorite act. The maid pictured had on a straight face the entire night. She seemed to walk right out of a murder mystery show. She was hilarious and I kept expecting her to smile or laugh or break character. She never did. She was phenomenal.

    This morning, I gave Tymon a Valentine's Day present. Andes mints in a decorative heart box. (Don't even say my $2 gift was cheap...you don't know how much we spent at Teatro Zinzanni...a once in our lifetime experience.) But Tymon gave me an even better gift.

    The week before Thanksgiving, we got a lot of snow and ice. I drove home on Monday and didn't drive again until the following Monday. Somehow in that week of not keeping track of my keys every day, they disappeared. As in here it is almost 3 months later and they are nowhere to be seen. The worst part about using the spare key is that there is no remote entry on it. And unlocking all the doors at once is such a convenience with children and carseats and loading up the groceries. With no remote, I have to unlock the driver's side door (the only one that can be opened with a key), open it and then click the button to open the other doors or even to pop the trunk. I've suffered in silence mostly. About two weeks after the key was gone I asked Tymon for his. He only drives the car on Sundays. Nope. This is tough love baby. I had to find my keys.

    This morning, Tymon gave me his remote entry key. That's true love. Getting a new one made would probably cost about the same as an evening at Teatro Zinzanni.

    February 9, 2011


    I've been on a reading binge of late...reading 8 books since Christmas time...and before that the last one I read was in July. I'm not sure if I'm just wanting to avoid wasting time on Facebook so I'm reading, or if I've just been devoid of literature for so long that I'm really thirsty for it now.

    One of my friends loaned me The Help the other day and I devoured it in two sittings. I loved the perspective of the Negro maids in the 1960s as well as how the white women they served. I feel bad that so many were treated as lesser people. Not just the blacks but the whites who sympathized with them, as well.

    A couple of years ago when I was in Alabama I was able to visit some of the civil rights memorials, churches, and landmarks and learn more about Southern history. It was eye-opening and I was happy that my family/ancestors were Yankees and had no part (that I know of) in the brutality of others. 

    I like to think that racial tensions no longer exist in America. Because for me, they don't. But I know the prejudice against blacks, whites, reds, yellows and browns exists all over. And if you or your family are adversely affected by it, please accept my invitation to move to the greater Seattle area. We're nice here. 

    Growing Up

    My little girl (aka Baby Girl, Jocey, Schmocey, Jos, Sweets, Lovey) started a gymnastics preschool today. And yes, Baby came with her and stayed in her cubbie while she played. Jett is in the same school, which he attended last year.

    Jocelyn started potty training last week...only because she came into our home office while I was on the computer and climbed up onto my desk and stood in front of me wearing a pair of panties. Uh, that's dangerous considering she treats underwear like a diaper. She's making solid progress, though wears a pull up when we go out. And we didn't go out last week. But I get nervous when we leave the house. I look at her and she's just so big. Not a baby. So I give her extra hugs because she won't even be this little for much longer.

    February 1, 2011

    A Grief Observed

    A Grief Observed is the first book I've ever read by C.S. Lewis. I've heard about him plenty and also watched the first couple Chronicles of Narnia films. And to be quite frank, I hope the rest of his writings are nothing like this one. And I don't think they are. This book is a collection of ramblings from journals written by Lewis, deep in a pit of sadness after his wife dies. And don't think that I'm knocking him. I'm not. I understand the disjointed and sometimes disheartening thoughts of of the bereaved. And like him, I have discovered many truths in the wild ride called grief.

    My favorite passages:
    1. "You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you." I find so much truth in this. My belief in the afterlife truly took shape after Evan's death. "Apparently [my] faith...has seemed strong only because I have never really cared, not desperately, whether [it] existed or not. Yet I thought it did." This is so me. Perfectly.

    2. "God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn't." I truly believe that this is true for any challenge we have in life, not just when someone dies. 

    3. "The teacher moves you on." God is the teacher and I am the student. I understand this relationship best as a driving instructor. When I see a student has mastered or come close to mastering a skill, I direct them to do more difficult tasks. Often, when it comes to getting on the freeway for the first time, they do not think that they are ready for such a step. But they are. I made sure of that during previous practice. And I'm ready to help if their nervousness gets in the way of their safety. It is the same with Heavenly Father. He is there to help us along the path. And it is HE who moves us on.

    Helen Joy Davidman Lewis and C.S. Lewis
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