Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Blank Canvas

We've had a stream of visitors in our home this week. Well-meaning friends and neighbors dropping by to offer a hand, a meal, or a nonchalant decorating hint such as "if you need some things to put on your walls, I could give you some ideas."


Yes, our living room walls are bare, but for a clock next to the door. It was never my plan to have them this way this long, but I have rearranged the furniture in this room three times since we moved in. And each time I move the furniture, it changes the look of the room and the possibilities for wall adornment.

So they are still bare.

Which is fine with me. I'm obviously not in a really big hurry to get 'em dressed.

But really, that was just my lame-o way of working into a giveaway entry.

Kimba, over at A Soft Place to Land, one of my favorite home decor and general rambliness blogs, is hosting a giveaway by Brittany Hughes of Lewa's Designs -- cute and clever vinyl wall decals that are all the rage right now.

Because I'm blogging about Lewa's Designs, I'm going to receive this cute little guy for free:

I'm gonna get him in tangerine orange and put him on the mirror in Seth's room.

And then I'll probably go back and order more stuff for the walls in my other rooms, because, holy cow, her prices are seriously reasonable, and I love her designs, and apparently the nakedness of my living room walls is appalling to all who enter my home. Who knew?

But, really, go check out Lewa's Designs. I'd love to hear what you like!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Futile obedience

This is what I'm doing today. And tomorrow. And the next couple days after that.

Those are my desperate-for-a-pedicure toes and my laptop. In bed. Which is where I'm resting. Because that's what you do when you are on bedrest.

Yep, bedrest.

Thursday, I went to the obgyn's office for a routine postpartum check-up. Except nothing obstetrical or gynecological is ever "routine" with me.

Oh, before I go any farther, did I mention that I was in the hospital (back home in Nashville) Saturday and Sunday? I didn't? Oh. I was in the hospital Saturday and Sunday. That's kind of a crucial detail to the story.

When we returned from Ohio Saturday afternoon, I felt okay. But by bedtime, I had an excruciating headache and blood pressure readings of 177/114 and 185/119. Jim insisted on calling Dr. Morgan's office, and after speaking with the obgyn on call, we were instructed to go to Labor & Delivery. Wow! Twice in one week; fun times!

So, off we trek at 10:30 Saturday night. And I'm monitored, and told to lay on my left side, and about 5:00 am, I'm admitted and moved to a antepartum room. I was given some blood pressure meds and told to wait for the doctor.

And when she came in, she was full of "pertinent" questions ("do you think you might be depressed?") and "helpful" information ("your lab work appears fine and your BP is down") and her pet peeves ("I don't appreciate it when patients take their own BP readings at home").


So, discouraged and exhausted, we returned home with no answers and a prescription for continued BP medication.

And because she got under my skin with the at-home-BP-readings comment, I returned our borrowed digital BP cuff to our neighbors, dutifully took my hydrocortothalazide (or whatever it is, I'm rattling that off from memory, I think), and tried to pretend that my head still didn't feel like it would explode if I kept breathing.

And Thursday, when I had my BP taken at the ob's office, and it was up, I just smiled apologetically to the doctor who was seeing me in Dr. Morgan's vacation absence. I was out of ideas; now it was time for them to start doing their jobs and figure out what was going on.

Apparently, the medicine I'd started on Sunday should have been enough to return my BP to normal. And the fact that it hadn't had the doctor concerned.

So, back to Labor & Delivery I go. Again. For more labwork, more urinalysis, more monitoring. And after a few hours, my nurse came in with discharge papers and the news that I was on the tail end of preeclampsia.


Pre-e. Well, that would have been nice to know, oh, say, two weeks ago.

And, yes, I say that with a hint of bitterness, but mostly sadness. Sadness, because I know that even if I'd been diagnosed with pre-e two weeks ago, we would have most likely still lost Duncan. 24 weeks is just too little to survive, especially if he'd been in fetal distress for a month.

It's just....

Well, you can imagine just what it is.

So, for the next several days, I'm off my feet and in bed and staying hydrated. The combo of rest and water should be enough to get the brain swelling (headache) to subside and to get my kidneys back to normal.

And that's that.

Bedrest isn't fun, ever. But I can tell you it's a lot less fun when there is no hope of a healthy baby boy on the other end, which is what I was working toward the last time I did this.

Hence the post title.

I don't have a death wish; I know I need to rest to get better so that I can enjoy Jim and Seth. But right now, I'm just wishing that this effort meant something for Duncan, too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

4 minutes, 8 seconds

In case you ever need to know, it only takes 4 minutes and 8 seconds to complete an over-the-phone order for an infant urn.

I feel like it should have been a much more involved process, but I'm finding that there are a lot of formalities surrounding the death of a child that are pretty straightforward. The hospital release, the health permit form at the funeral home, the urn. Sign here, here, and here.

And just like that, I'm relieved from any duty as Duncan's mommy. No field trip permission forms or report cards to sign. No baseball uniforms to purchase or trumpet lessons to arrange. No late-night-Christmas-Eve assembling parties or last minute dashes to the supply store for...well, for whatever it is he would have wanted for his fifth birthday party.

Just a few drops of ink and rattling off a credit card number, and it's done. So quick, and so final.

And that is SO hard.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Good Day

I'm writing this Monday to autopost on Tuesday because I want to avoid the self-imposed pressure to write an "it's been a week since Duncan was born" post.

I am writing the story of Duncan's birth, from my first inclinations that something was wrong on Friday the 15th through saying goodbye on Wednesday the 20th. I'm taking my time, and I don't know how much of it will ever be published here on Writer Chic. Maybe not until next May? I dunno.

But I want to remember, Tuesday when I read this with the rest of you, and weeks from now when I'm having a not-so-great day. I want to remember that today, Memorial Day 2009, was a good day.

My entire family slept in until after 9, it's a not-rainy 77 degrees, KLOVE is playing songs I like, Seth is watching Jim so yard work and playing with dominoes, and really good friends are coming over for a cookout.

Yes, it's been a week since I was induced. Yes, I wish I were still pregnant and that Duncan were still alive in my womb. Yes, it hurts. A lot.

But today is a good day, and I'm happy and blessed.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

When it mattered the most

MB, I know you're thinking, "why is there a picture of me on Monica's blog?!" Humor me. ;)

The picture you're seeing is of me and my matron of honor on my wedding day. Her name is MaryBeth, and she is as complicated and complex a woman as I. That fact both cements and fractures our relationship. (How's that for a dichotomy?)

MB and I share memories that are more than nostalgic and fleeting. She was my matron of honor; I hosted her baby shower. I was one of the first people to hold her daughter; she was the first person who knew about my inaugural miscarriage.

Over the past year and a half, we have drifted apart. It would be easy to blame the distance on our respective spouse's jobs for causing the distance, but it would be dishonest. Geographically, sure. But emotionally? It was a mutual, conscious separation.

Oh, we're Facebook friends, and each other's phone numbers are still programmed into our phone books. So we've kept tabs on each other, and I think we were both ambivalently comfortable with the way things were. Ironically enough, we had spoken for the first time in many months just a few weeks ago.

As I waited for Duncan's arrival last Tuesday, chapters and stories from my life scrolled through my mind like movie trailers, and I realized that MaryBeth needed to know what what going on with our family before the emailing detailing Duncan's birth went out en masse.
So I called her, and got her voice mail. I hesitated as I listened to her greeting; should I leave a detailed message, or just tell her to call me? I knew the likelihood of triggering a vicious round of phone tag was pretty high, so I quickly blurted out my news:

MaryBeth, it's Monica. There isn't really an easy way to tell you this, and I'm sorry to leave a voice mail, but I wanted you to know before you got an email. I'm in labor. We lost the baby. If you want to call me back, I've got some time to kill..."

Or something like that. Honestly, I don't have a clue what I said to her machine. But she got the gist, because she called me back.

And for almost two hours, all the complications and complexities of our relationship fell away, and she was just there for me. She let me tell Duncan's story, she offered her opinion about my non-working epidural. We talked about Alyssa's pacifier farewell, and about what babies men can be when they are sick. We sat through the silences that fell at times, and when we finally said goodbye, I knew that 200 miles away, her heart was breaking along with mine.

And 8 hours later when she received my text -- Duncan Thomas, 5/19/09, 8:14 PM -- she texted back "I love you." Even in the grief of the moments surrounding me, my heart filled with thankfulness for a friend who stood by me when it mattered the most.

MB, thank you for taking "duty" those two hours on Tuesday. You don't know how much it meant. And I love you, too.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Why he is "Duncan"

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind is a memory of Jim telling me that our last name had been "Americanized" several generations ago. I thought this was so tragic -- I would have been proud to carry an "obviously" Scottish name!

I mentioned this to my mother-in-law at lunch on Thursday, and she looked surprised. Hmm. Maybe Jim had wrong information, or, being the dramatic romantic that I am, I'd made the whole thing up.

Either way, Irish- and Scottish-sounding names like Ian, Owen, Collin, Aidan and the like had long been on my list of beloved baby names. Only recently did I add Duncan to a very short list that I had running for Itty Bitty; I'd not yet even mentioned the name to Jim.

Saturday afternoon, as we were in triage, we thumbed through a baby name book loaned to us by the obstetrical staff. I'm not sure why I thought we could concentrate, even under the looming deadline of needing to name him NOW. So much information had just been thrown at us -- insurance, legal, medical care for me, cause and diagnosis for our unborn son. Our heads were spinning.

One of the hardest pieces of news to receive was that although Duncan's heart had only recently stopped, he had been in fetal distress for sometime -- most likely from about 20 weeks (mid-April), given his measurements and size. Oh, how proud I was to be his mommy at that moment, knowing that he was so valiant to survive in the shadow of death!

As I unseeingly flipped through the alphabet of names, I thought to look up the meaning of Duncan.

As Jim looked over my shoulder, our eyes landed on the description "fighter."

And just that easily, he was named.

There are some comic details about how we came to the decision of a middle name of Thomas, and maybe I'll share those in a future post. But for now, I realized that as you all are reading the news of our son and offering up your sympathies and condolences to our family, you needed to know more about Duncan than his stats.

I need the world to know that my little boy was strong and mighty. He fought for his life for a month, and although he eventually lost his battle, Jim and I are SO ridiculously proud to call him our son.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Duncan Thomas

With heavy hearts, we announce the birth and death of our second son, Duncan Thomas.

We learned on Saturday that Duncan's heart had stopped, and I was induced Monday afternoon. Duncan was born into our family at 8:14 pm Tuesday, May 19, and went directly into the joy of heaven. He weighed 1 lb., 1 oz, was 11" long, and had Seth's nose and HUGE feet! =)

We were able to spend time with him, hold him, photograph him, and introduce him to his grandparents. We feel blessed for the six months he was with us, and choose to rejoice in his life, though we don't understand its brevity.

We covet your prayers as we grieve and heal, and as I recover from delivery.

I'm sure more posts about our experience and about our time with Duncan will follow, but for now ... thank you for your love and support.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And we've always blamed the dryer

You know, the birthplace of the single sock.

All these years, dryers have gotten such a bad rap about eating socks. Who knew it really wasn't the dryer's fault?

See this adorable little guy?

See his adorable shirt? His brand-new-from-Gymboree-only-worn-once shirt?

My washing machine ATE IT.

I swear, I thought the Whirlpool customer service lady was going to tell me that I'd lost my mind and that there was no way that my almost-as-brand-new-as-the-shirt Cabrio washer had eaten Seth's tee. I did my best to convince her that I KNEW I'd put it in the washer, and that I KNEW it didn't come out with the rest of the clothes. I was sure when she listened in silence, and then politely asked me to "hold for just one moment" that she'd come back on the line to tell me to search the baskets again.

But instead, she apologetically informed me that the Part and Service Department had confirmed that, yes, my beloved Cabrio did indeed have the potential to suck up my garmets between the basket and the frame.

Well, shoot.

So, I have no cute yellow tee to go with those equally cute bermuda shorts. And I have no workable washing machine (at least until the service guy can come on the 26th). And I have no more hard feelings towards the sock-eating dryer. Because now I have proof that it's not his fault.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mother's Day Gift

I was actually given my Mother's Day gift early this year, and I feel really badly that I've had it for almost six weeks, and haven't even used it yet.

Granted, April was an insane month for us, and my culinary skills were some of the first things to suffer. I can't tell you the number of nights we had pizza, cereal, noodles, or bagels for dinner. It was basically a "whatever is handy and a carbohydrate" practice.
May isn't looking much more promising, just due to our schedules, but I will eventually get around to using my new dutch oven. I love it -- almost as much as I love my three boys who gifted me with it.
Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Look, Ma, (almost) no hands!

When our company was in town last weekend, one of our stops was the Bass Pro Shop at Opry Mills. Jim wasted no time in getting Seth acquainted with the four wheelers. I know it's only a matter of time.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I didn't know it would be the last time


We did it on a whim, really. I mean, we had talked about it. We knew it was coming sooner than later -- definitely in the next month or two. We knew Seth was showing definite signs of being ready.

But I didn't know that when we put Seth to bed on Saturday night, it would be the last time we lifted him over the railings of his crib.

** Sniff**

Sunday afternoon, the front of the crib came off, a low railing went on, a baby laid down on the mattress for his nap, and two hours later, a little independent boy got up.

It was a ridiculously smooth transition. Ridiculous. He plays on his bed when he's awake -- jumping, running from end to end -- but will stay put on his belly, little butt up in the air, when it's time to sleep. He didn't budge during his nap, but I had my concerns about making it through a twelve-hour night.

We placed a baby gate in front of his open door when we went to bed in hopes that we'd hear him if he woke up in the middle of the night and started wandering around his room. Even though I barely slept, keeping one ear tuned for sounds of Seth.....nothing.

Well, until Jim's alarm went off at 5:15. I got up to shut Seth's door so that Jim wouldn't wake him, and he was still sound asleep, blanket all tangled in his the middle of the floor.

He must have rolled out of bed at some point in the night, but apparently, he never woke, and slept soundly until his usual 8 a.m.


We will be getting a new toddler bed for Seth, so the front will go back on the crib in plenty of time for the new baby. So it's not like the crib will be out of sight for long. But still.

I didn't know it would be the last time.


Monday, May 4, 2009

The best $24.99 I've ever spent on something that I'm not going to use

In mid-March, Jim traveled north to visit Jerry for the annual guys' March Madness basketball weekend, and my dad decided to head south to keep me company.

The weather was really crummy, so we spent Saturday merely driving around downtown and window shopping at one of the malls in town. On a whim, I ducked into Pottery Barn Kids, just to get some ideas for nursery decor in the event that Itty Bitty was indeed a girl, as my mother's intuition was indicating.

I spotted the cutest bumper on display -- one I'd not noticed before either online or in the catalog. I picked it up off the rack, and asked a sales associate if it was a new design. It wasn't; in fact, it was a discontinued design.


Or so I thought.

See, it was exactly what I'd been keeping an eye out for, because I knew I wanted something pink and orange (to match our nursery rocker) and that would coordinate with green (the paint color in the nursery). This bumper fit the bill to a tee.

But even though I knew there would be no additional pieces that I'd be tempted to purchase other than the bumper, I also knew that Jim would never go for a $79.99 price tag, even if it was perfect.

(And in case you've forgotten the time frame of this event, keep in mind that we didn't even know the baby's gender at this point. Just humor me.)

As it turned out, there was only one bumper left in the store, and PBK was unable to hold it for me until we received our gender determination. (Oh, come on? What's with not honoring a four-week hold?) I figured that I could always buy it, and in the event that Itty Bitty was a boy, I could return it to the store.

Until they told me that clearance priced items were final sale.

Huh? Clearance priced? You mean it wasn't $79.99?

Nope. $24.99! For Pottery Barn bedding! Jackpot!!!

So, I bought it. Yes, fully aware that there was only a 50/50 chance that I'd get to use it.

Isn't it pretty?

Of course, we now know that our little one is a boy, and that he will share a room and bedding with Seth. So, my lovely pink and orange bumper now sits in Seth's toy box, waiting. Maybe I'll hang on to it for a couple years, just in case; maybe I'll try to make some money off it at a consignment sale/store. (After all, it's still in the packaging and it still has the original $79.99 price tag on it....) Either way, it felt really great and really sweet to score a great deal for my baby.

Have you ever made an impulse buy that ended up being a "bad decision" that you just couldn't bring yourself to regret?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Shot through the heart

I'm not sure there is a worse sound in the world than your child crying the "mom, why did you let that lady stick that awful needle in my thigh?!" cry after well-baby shots.

Thursday, we had Seth's fifteen-month check up. He is still a lil peanut. 21 lbs., 4 oz. and 31.5" tall. He is well on track developmentally; advanced, even. (So apparently, my grandmother can rest well; she was concerned Seth wasn't talking enough, but according to the pediatrician, his vocabulary of spoken words is greater than expected.)

I knew long before Seth was born that an attempt to keep a traditional baby book would only set me up for failure, so I'm going to use this post to document where he is at right now.

Favorite things: wresting with Daddy, being outdoors, pushing his toy lawnmower, Tonka trucks, going for car rides, and playing with his friend Maddox.

Snacks: taking a break from cheese, animal crackers, and peaches for pretzel sticks, granola bars, and freezer pops.

Words: truck, bath, go, duck, diaper, banana, Daddy, Mama, Nonna, juice, noodle

He is learning something new, it seems, each day. He loves to help me unload the dishwasher, load the dryer, pick out his clothes, brush my hair, open the garage door, and most recently help with his car seat buckle!

And since he has also become a gem in the nap department, I need to take advantage of the current peace and quiet and get to changing sheets and towels for Doug and Sara's brood!