Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's Been a Year

It was a year ago today that Mary died. I’ve been wanting to sit down for a few hours and just write about it, just process the whole idea of this being the anniversary of the tragedy, but it was not to be. I can say this, though: since Mary died, I don’t think a single day has gone by that I haven’t thought of her. Her death was tragic and a great loss, and it should never have happened, at least not then, and not the way it did. She should still be here with us, coming to work every day, living in Hayesville, married to Tony, making purses, and hiking on the weekends, with a good 50 or more years of life ahead of her.

We are still grieving her here at work. A plaque was made in her memory, one with several pictures of her on it, so we get to see and remember her smile every day.

The plaque, and her smile, are so quiet, though. So still. The Mary I remember was talking, laughing, walking across the street to the coffee shop for a chai latte, wearing her little backpack that she made, discussing books we’d read and wanted to read, going to the yarn store to see what she could find. That's the Mary I miss.

Today at work, we had an informal little service outside in Mary's memory. My friend Carla spoke, and she communicated some things that I really needed to hear: "Rather than make her death an event of sadness, loneliness, and loss, let's remember the joy Mary embraced life with."

Thank you, Carla, for saying that! Even though my life has seen blessing upon blessing showered on it lately, I've been so tired, so overwhelmed, that I've had trouble remembering the joy. By sharing with us those things about Mary that brought her--and us--joy, you made my memory of her today more meaningful, more soul-filling, not nearly so dark.



We miss you, Mary.

Friday, March 19, 2010

How They Get Here

So, it's a slow day. Here are some of the Google searches that led to my blog ...

buckskin bill, baton rouge
Ah, yes ... Buckskin Bill is a fond memory for just about any kid who grew up in the Baton Rouge area in the 60s and 70s. I still sometimes hum the "Monday Morning March" tune.

You may not be the brightest crayon in the box MEANS
Ummm, if you have to ask ... you're probably Raw Umber.

Standchen, leise flehen ... lyrics english
This is one of the most common searches that lead to my blog. "Standchen," a Liszt piece based on a Schubert song, is something I worked on a few years ago. I loved the piece and wrote about it a LOT. So a search of just about anything "standchen" is likely to lead you to my blog.

bach is the supreme genius of music
'Tis true, 'tis true.

day 22 of pregnancy
Day 22? I don't know if I remember Day 22. I was probably still in the denial phase at the time.

maybe tomorrow jay little
I know nothing about the book Maybe Tomorrow other than that it's by an author who is known for being gay. Why did it lead to my blog? Because I had a post titled "Maybe Tomorrow," where I was wondering when Little Scout would be born. And my favorite pundit Jay Nordlinger's name was in my RSS feed.

signs of infection after giving birth to stillborn
This one just made me so sad. :(

contractions for "scout will"
I think that would be "Scout'll." Ahh, word-contractions are so much less painful than the Scout contractions I experienced last December 12.

what to say about my birthday
That's an easy one ... "Happy Birthday!"

sherwin williams lantern light
"Lantern Light" is my favorite paint color ever. It's the color I painted my "Writing Wall" at our old house, and it's the color we used for Anne's nursery.

ordinal linguistic personification
Next to the "Standchen" posts, my 4 + 5 = Green. Naturally. post is probably the one that gets googled most.

contrary motion scale
I miss playing piano all the time, but I do not miss the contrary motion scales!

AT Hiker Blog

Last week, we hosted a couple of hikers Hubster met when he was on the Pacific Crest Trail back in 2008. One of them was "Cuppa Joe," who is currently on a section-hike of the Appalachian Trail. You can read about his latest adventures here.

Millenial Quiz

I scored a 22 on the Pew Research site's "How Millenial Are You?" quiz. Which means I'm more millenial than my grandparents, but not so much as my fellow Gen X-ers.



Since several of the questions asked about what you did in the last 24 hours, I think my score would have been slightly higher if I hadn't left my cell phone at home yesterday. :)

What about you? What was your score?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Oh, my! Has it been a week already? I’m tempted not to write a daybook for this week because I’ve been in low spirits and am generally feeling sorry for myself, but I’ll write it anyway.

Outside my window... I hear the weather is nice. I wouldn’t know. Stuck inside all day.

I am thankful for... a healthy child and a loving husband (who, by the way, just had a birthday).

I am wearing... jeans, running shoes, and a black turtleneck. I started the day with a navy V-neck shirt, but Anne pooped after I nursed her at the sitter’s. It was all juicy and went up her back, through her onesie, and through my shirt. So I had to go home and change (and rinse out my shirt and her onesie) before going to work.

I am remembering... the good old days when I had time to read, write, and study.

I am going... to try to read, write, and/or study tonight, but I’m not counting on it.

I am reading... the same books as last time. I haven’t had a chance to read anything in a week, much less write or study.

I am creating... nothing. No time. And if I do get time, I have no energy.

Noticing that... I get panicky if I don’t get time to myself. And I haven’t had any time to myself for months. So I’m feeling panicky.

Pondering these words...

“Aaaaa-AA! Aah.” (This is what Anne says. It’s so cute.)

Around the house... the dust bunnies continue to collect. It’s depressing.

One of my favorite things... reading, writing, and studying. OK, so that’s three things, but I like to do all three as one activity.

From my picture journal... A cool picture of Anne that always makes me smile. I bought the shades in Myrtle Beach and got a matching pair for Ella. Anne and Ella will be some cool cousins!



Something cool I noticed, by the way: If you put Anne's and Ella's names together, they make an infinity of double E's, L'S, A's, and N's:

E-L-L-A-A-N-N-E-E-L-L-A-A-N-N-E, etc.

Pretty cool, huh?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Daybook for Today

Outside my window... it’s overcast, but not cold!

I am thankful for... quiet morning moments with my sweet daughter.

I am wearing... jeans, running shoes, and an LSU t-shirt.

I am remembering... life in Haywood County, and thinking of how much I miss Lake Junaluska (where I used to run) and Panacea (where I drank coffee and wrote).

I am going... to edit a new manual at work over the next few days.

I am reading... Mayflower (still), and the Psalm 140’s.

I am praying... lots of “thank you” prayers.

I am creating... an outline for a writing course.

Noticing that... if I stretch for a good, long time before and after I run, my back doesn’t hurt so much the next morning.

Pondering these words...

LORD, what is man that you regard him,
or the son of man that you think of him?
Man is like a breath;
his days are like a passing shadow.

Around the house... the dust bunnies are collecting. It’s time for spring cleaning, though we won’t have a good Saturday for it until the first weekend of April.

One of my favorite things... cool, humid mornings. They remind me of Louisiana, and of mornings on the Appalachian Trail.

From my picture journal... Hubster loving his little girl. My hope is that Anne is always as fond of her daddy as I am of mine.



Read daybook entries from other bloggers via The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Birth Story

December 11, 2009. It was one week after Scout’s due date, and I was still pregnant. I wasn’t worried; it’s perfectly normal for babies, particularly first babies, to come a week or two past their due date. Still, I went to the OBGYN’s office that morning to check on the baby’s health and discuss, as necessary, induction options.

Ever since I learned I was pregnant, I’d wanted to have a natural (i.e., no drugs, and no artificial induction if possible) childbirth. If there was an issue with Scout’s health, I would be open to inducing labor. Otherwise, I wanted Scout to remain on his/her own schedule.

They checked the baby’s heartbeat at the OBGYN’s office that morning. It was its usual 140. They did an ultrasound and checked the amount of amniotic fluid available; everything looked good. As far as they could tell, the baby was healthy and thriving.

Then it was time to talk to the doctor.

I don’t remember the details of the conversation. I do know that I expressed my desire to let Scout pick his or her own birthday, and not to induce unless medically necessary.

But at some point, she mentioned “stillbirth”—something about how, as the pregnancy goes further past term, the chance of stillbirth increases.

I imagined giving birth to a stillborn child. I was horrified. She wanted to talk about induction. With the word "stillbirth" echoing in my mind, I listened.

Somehow, when we left the doctor’s office that morning, I’d agreed to check into the hospital the following morning so they could break my water and get my labor started. I had a bad feeling about it; this was exactly what I didn’t want. But then, I would get the image of that stillborn child …

No, I told myself. My baby is healthy; the heartbeat is fine, and the ultrasound showed that everything is normal. The baby isn’t even too big, even though it’s a week past due. Scout is fine, and I don’t need to force him/her out before he/she is ready.

I went to work that day. There was a lot to be done at work, so I didn’t think much about the decision we’d made that morning. But when I got home that evening, I thought back to the morning’s appointment. Had I really agreed to let them induce labor? What if the water breaking didn’t work? Would they then need to give me pitocin? And if they did, wouldn’t an epidural be next? And what if there were complications with the epidural? What if I couldn’t push, or my blood pressure shot through the roof? Wouldn’t a C-section naturally follow?

I agonized. I cried. I talked to Hubster. Everything felt wrong. I honestly felt like I was doing something morally wrong by inducing labor when it wasn’t medically necessary. Not only that, I felt like I was being unfair to Scout. So Scout wasn’t ready to be born yet; who was I to force him or her?

I tried to sleep. I couldn’t. The tears just kept coming. I couldn’t do this. The appointment had been made at the hospital, and they would be waiting for me that morning, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let them induce labor.

But then there was that image of the stillborn child being taken from my womb.

I woke up the Hubster. I cried. We talked for a couple of hours. We finally agreed that we would call the hospital in the morning and tell them that I wouldn’t be coming in. We would wait for Scout to come on his/her own, even if it meant waiting another week or more.

December 12, 2009. Around 2:30 a.m., exhausted from the tears and emotional stress (following what had been a full day at work), I finally fell asleep.

I woke up at 3:30. As had become typical throughout my pregnancy, my bladder was on the point of bursting, and I needed to maneuver myself out of the bed and race to the bathroom before I peed all over myself. So far, I hadn't had any accidents. But this time, when I got to the bathroom, I thought, “Oh, no. I think I finally did it. I finally peed all over myself."

But (and I know this is TMI), it didn't smell like pee. So I thought, “Is it possible that my water broke?”

I woke up the Hubster. “I think my water broke. Maybe.”

Hubster and I decided that we’d go to the hospital for our scheduled time, to check and see if my water had broken. If it hadn’t, we would come home. We spent the next few hours wide awake, waiting, timing the contractions that had begun.

At 6:30 that morning, we were on our way to the hospital. I was having regular contractions, maybe five minutes apart. They weren’t very painful. I still wasn’t sure if my water had broken, since I’d been having regular contractions, on and off, for a couple of weeks. I wasn’t particularly excited; I knew this might be another false alarm.

At the hospital, we learned that my water had indeed broken. Labor had begun.

One of my original “birth plan” components was that I wanted most of my labor to occur at home. Since we were already at the hospital, we decided to stay there. We had no way of knowing how many (or how few) hours of labor were ahead of us. We were going to stay put.

My parents got to the hospital later that morning, then my sister. I ate a donut. The contractions weren’t bad. The nurse was surprised at my relative lack of pain, considering how close together the contractions were. “Some people just don’t have a lot of pain,” she said. “Maybe you’re one of them.” I could only hope.

I didn’t wear any kind of a monitor. I didn’t have an IV. I wasn’t planning on using pitocin or getting an epidural, so neither of these were necessary. These were all part of my desire to have a natural childbirth. I also had a room with a large birthing tub. I planned to use the birthing tub for pain management, and possibly for a water birth. We also had a birthing ball, which I also planned to use to help manage the pain.

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was very little pain at all?

I was exhausted. I tried to sleep for an hour or so, but I’ve never been one who could sleep during the day. Glenn Gould played the Goldberg Variations on the CD player, but it didn’t do the trick. I wasn’t going to sleep.

I drank lots of water. I walked. I waited.

The contractions were getting longer and more painful. I don’t know when they went from being mildly painful to moderately painful, or from moderately painful to very painful. It was mid-afternoon when I said, “OK, I’m ready for the tub.” I’d read that hot baths are excellent for pain management during labor.

They ran the water and filled the tub. The water was cold.

They emptied the tub and filled it with hot water. The water was brown.

Turns out they were doing something with the fire hydrants in the area, and the water wasn’t fit for birthing. They were going to need to run the hot water for a long time to get all the impurities out of it.

Meanwhile, I was on the birth ball, groaning. The real pain had begun. I don’t know how many centimeters dilated I was at the time. But I was hurting. The birth ball helped. But I was a long way from pain-free.

At one point, Hubster said, "One step at a time. Just one step at a time. It's just like the AT."

"No!" I yelled. "This is not anything like the AT!"

At another point my mom came in and asked if I was having fun yet. I exercised great self-control and simply said, "Be quiet."

Come to think of it, I was pretty polite thoughout the whole ordeal.

Finally, the tub was ready. Ahhhh. What a relief. It felt so good. The warm water felt wonderful and allowed me to forget about the pain … until the next contraction, which was just as painful as the previous one had been. I moaned. I groaned. I held Hubster’s hand. I bit down on a washcloth.

“Breathe through the contractions. Relax. Don’t tense up your belly muscles.” All the mantras and good advice were right there in my head, but I couldn’t relax. I was so exhausted. I tried very hard to relax, to breathe deeply. It would work for a contraction, or part of one, but then the exhaustion kept clouding things up.

I got out of the tub and back onto the ball.

Dan had come to me an hour or so earlier. “I just talked to the nurse. She said that, if you want to consider an epidural, you need to let her know. The anesthesiologist is a good half-hour away. Do you want us to contact--”

“No,” I said. “I don’t want an epidural.”

I was on the ball, swaying my hips, trying to breathe into the contractions. Then another contraction came and I saw little silver slivers clouding my vision. I felt myself losing my balance, then gaining it again immediately.

I’d never seen little silver slivers due to pain. Or if I had, it had been a long time.

I got back into the tub. It was at that point, probably around 5:30 p.m., that Dan came to me again and asked if I wanted them to call the anesthesiologist.

"Last chance," he said.

I paused. This wasn’t what I wanted. But I was exhausted. I was spent.

“I can’t take this anymore,” I murmured.

“So you want them to call the anesthesiologist?”

“Yes.”

Weeks before, I’d asked myself the question, “Under what circumstances would I agree to an epidural?” And my answer had been, “If I’m in labor for 24 hours and so exhausted I can’t go on.”

Well, I’d only been in labor for 14 hours so far. But I also hadn’t slept the night before because I’d been crying so hard. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I didn’t have any more fight in me.

I got into the bed to wait for the anesthesiologist. I was 8 cm dilated. My sister was in the room with me, as was the Hubster. I asked my sister, “Would you like to be in the room for the delivery?” Her eyes got big and she smiled. “I would love to.”

Once the epidural kicked in, around 7 p.m., I could breathe easy again. But I didn’t get to relax for long. At 8:00, it was time to push.

And I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. They set up a mirror so I could see the progress. It took forever to get it situated just so. But that was OK, because I had to push forever.

In reality, I only had to push for about an hour. The baby got stuck in the crowning position for about ten minutes; called “supercrowning,” she never went back in whenever I stopped pushing. She just stayed there. Stretching me.

“It hurts,” I said. “It really hurts.” The epidural wasn’t doing anything for the pain of the crowning.

“Just push through the pain,” said the midwife. “Just keep pushing.”

So I pushed. And pushed. And pushed.

And finally, at 8:51 p.m., the baby was born. I can remember seeing Dan help “catch” the baby, and then Amanda, the midwife, expertly maneuvering it out. They placed it on my belly, and I took it into my arms.

Oh, how that baby cried! “Don’t cry, baby,” I said through my own tears. “It’s okay. Don’t cry, baby.”

“What is it? What is it?” Somewhere in the haze of my emotions, I could hear my sister asking the question. It was a boy. Of course it was a boy. I looked between the little baby’s legs, searching for the telltale sign.

“Where is it?” I thought. “Where is it?”

Then it struck me. It wasn’t supposed to be there. This was a little girl!

“It’s a girl! Oh my God, it’s a girl!”

“Little Anne Megan,” I said. “Little Anne Megan Rogers.”

I took her to my breast and she immediately started nursing—and stopped crying. At some point shortly after, Dan cut the umbilical cord.

Remember all that pain I was feeling? That was my skin tearing. I had second-degree tears. Apparently, they were pretty bad, and I had to get stitches in several places. At some point, they weighed and measured the baby, who was 7 pounds, 10 ounces, and 19.5 inches long.

Once I was stitched up, my parents came into the room to meet their little granddaughter. And that’s when the pictures began.

So, that is my birth story. Not everything turned out the way I’d hoped, but some things did. Some unplanned things—like having my sister in the delivery room—made the experience infinitely more meaningful. I’m so glad we didn’t find out the sex before Anne was born; it was such a wonderful surprise to find that our baby, who we just knew was going to be a boy, was actually a little girl.

I am so thankful we had a healthy pregnancy and a complication-free delivery. I’m so thankful for my wonderful husband, my sister, and my parents, and the fact that they could be there to welcome little Anne into the world. And I’m thankful for Amanda, who was such a calming presence for me during the delivery. I’m thankful for the nurses, even though I was ready to use one of them as a punching bag when the contractions got really bad.

Most of all, I’m thankful for my sweet little Anne. Nine months of pregnancy and sixteen hours of labor was a small price to pay for this amazing gift.

As I re-read this post, I realize that I've forgotten to include a lot of things: how I typed Facebook updates to help distract me from the pain, how my mom found me biting the plastic side of the bed during one contraction, how I lost all sense of modesty somewhere that afternoon ... but I've written most of the important things.


~ The End ~

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spirit of the Pig

Janet and I are training for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half-Marathon again this year, and we're writing about it at our Spirit of the Pig blog. Please visit us there, and feel free to leave encouraging comments!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Anne's Turn



Today it’s Anne’s turn to be under the weather. Fortunately, my day of rest yesterday, along with a chiropractic treatment for my immune system, seemed to help, and I’m feeling good enough today to work from home. Anne, meanwhile, is coughing, and coughing, and coughing some more. Poor little thing. Yesterday, it was just two or three coughs every few minutes. Now, she’ll cough ten or eleven times before she stops. So I called the pediatrician.

I called the chiropractor, too. She worked magic in treating Anne’s colic, and she’s worked magic on several problems I’ve had that wouldn’t seem to fall under the “chiropractic” heading. So I’m trusting she’ll work magic on Anne’s cough today.

Just to make sure I have all the bases covered, we have an appointment with the pediatrician later this afternoon. Am I overdoing this as a mom? Possibly. My instinct and experience say that the chiropractor is my best bet, but my common sense (or something like that) says to go to the pediatrician, even though it will mean waiting up to an hour in a waiting room filled with sick children for a five-minute appointment, where they’re likely to tell me we just need to wait it out..

At least Hubster has been pronounced well, which is a relief. It looks like he, of the three of us, was the only one to get knocked flat by this cold. It was very frustrating for him, since he rarely gets sick.

In fact, neither Hubster nor I get sick very often. I don’t remember the last time I had a cold. I guess he and I are both pretty worn down. Some wandering virus saw my stressed, sleep-deprived Hubster, and thought, “HOME!” And the rest is history.

Lunch break is over. Back to work.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sick



Hubster came down with a cold last week that had him in bed for several days. Meanwhile, Anne and I developed scratchy throats and coughs, but not quite what I would call "colds."

I hate hearing my little baby cough. It breaks my heart. The pediatrician said to "bring her in" if she gets fever or her coughs starts sounding raspy and rattly. So far, she seems to be her happy, sweet self. She even slept through the night two nights a row, so it isn't keeping her from sleeping. She just coughs her little dry cough every few minutes.

Still, I hate hearing her cough.

Last night, I was feeling feverish, so I took my temperature to find that I was at 100 degrees. It's down to 99 today. I decided to stay home from work and rest. It's not like me to stay home from work unless I'm deathly ill. But my body is clearly fighting against this. I want to give it all the energy it needs, and I do not want to be in bed for almost a week like Hubster was. So I'm here at home, and Anne is at the sitter's, where Hubster took her on his way to work.

My brain is so full of to-do lists. Since I'm at home, with no baby to look after, I'm suddenly thinking of all the things I need to do: go to the grocery store, K-Mart, the health food store, the children's consignment store. Walk or run, whichever my aching back will allow me to do. Write thank-you notes. And wouldn't it be nice for Hubster to come home to a slow-cooked roast and a homemade loaf of bread?

Then I think, "Maybe I would get more rest if I were at work."

I'm making a real effort not to be productive today, and I've mostly succeeded. I've lain in bed most of the morning, alternately sleeping and reading. I've checked e-mail only a couple of times. I'm washing clothes, but that's hardly "work." Part of me really wants to attack this house with a broom, a mop, a gallon of Clorox, and a bottle of Lysol. Then a persistent little voice in my head is of course crying, "Write! Play piano! Now that you have time!" And that roast and homemade bread would be so nice ...

But, no. I need to rest. Drink my Breathe Easy tea, sleep, read my Mayflower book, sleep, listen to the clothes going round and round in the dryer, sleep. JUST REST. That's all I need to do today. And hopefully I'll be back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Daybook

I read a post at Upsidedown Bee today, which led me to The Simple Woman's Daybook. So here's my "daybook" entry for March 2, 2010:

Tuesday, March 2nd

Outside my window... the snow is falling hard. I’m hoping this is the last snow of the season, and that Franklin will once again get just enough snow to be pleasant, but not so much that it’s inconvenient.

I am thinking... about seasons of life, and feeling both excited and intimidated at beginning a new season—motherhood—at 40. I’m also thinking of my two creative passions (writing and music) and how they are beginning to integrate themselves into this new life.

I am thankful for … the fact that I live in a free country, and that I can pretty much say whatever I want, do whatever I want, and go wherever I want, whenever I want. It’s a pretty good life, living here.

I am also thankful for... being adopted by patient parents. The other night, Hubster and I were talking about my past, and all the pain I put my parents through, particularly during my late teens and early twenties. It amazes me that they didn’t just try to send me back, even though I’m sure it was well past the expiration date. :)

From the kitchen... Work-week clutter has already taken over. I’m already missing the weekend smells of cookies baking and beef stew simmering.

I am wearing... my uniform: jeans and a long-sleeved running t-shirt. This is actually my second long-sleeved running t-shirt of the day. When I was nursing Anne at the sitter’s, she spit up all over my first one, so I had to go home and change before going to work.

I am creating... nothing right now. But I can tell the wheels are turning in my brain. Who knows how the creativity will manifest itself? Writing? Piano? Something new I haven’t discovered yet? I'll wait and see.

I am going... to update the index to one of our company’s manuals today. Painstaking drudgery for some, but an endlessly fascinating puzzle for me. Work starts at 9:00, and I’m looking forward to it.

I am reading... Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick. I bought this book a year or so ago and am kicking myself for not having started it sooner. It’s rare that a nonfiction book (much less a history book) can suck me in and have me thinking about it all day, looking forward to when I can get home and continue reading it. But this book, much like the same author's In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, has had that effect on me.

I am also reading… The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It’s books like these that really make me appreciate the happy accident of living in a free country.

I am hoping... that Hubster’s meeting tonight is cancelled due to the snow, and that he can come home early.

I am hearing... the sound of the heater at work, and the sound of my own typing. Other than that, it's pretty quiet.

Around the house... Beau the Cat alternately sleeps and patrols in our absence.

One of my favorite things... nursing my baby, with a cup of hot herbal tea nearby and Bach playing on the CD player.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Finishing up the supplements to the manual at work. Bonding with my little daughter and continuing to develop a sleep schedule for her. Enjoying my husband now that he isn’t sick anymore. Thanking God for health and a good life.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing... My little daughter, "wearing" her towel. This picture was taken by my friend Robbie, who has been kind enough to take this and many other photos of Baby Anne. (Thanks, Robbie!)