Where Is Our Humanity?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

At the end of August, I posted the following on my Facebook page, in response to a photo and commentary I'd seen.
"We live in a country where immigration is a fairly large issue, with debates on both sides as to what is "right" and "moral". However, I'm always led back to one thought. Excluding those whose history actually lies within the country they reside (for example, my mother comes from tribal peoples in our country), the vast majority of the world immigrated somewhere... They displaced their families for better lives or religious freedom. They then displaced (and, in many cases ...discriminated against) the people they found in their "new" land. History is history; it can't be undone and, of course, in societies that are based on "law and order", there are methods for coming into countries as citizens. That being said, we are all human. People are fleeing places that have hardships that we cannot, in our "first world" even imagine. And, rather than trying to help them as fellow human beings, we would rather judge their language, their religion, their lack of legal status- anything to avoid looking at them as part of our body, as part of ourselves. Regardless of where people stand on immigration issues, we have to stand together as humanity. And this? This woman clinging to her baby in the middle of the raging sea while people look on and let her drown? This is not humanity."

The issues with refuges fleeing Africa and the Middle East wasn't even on my radar until I saw this article over the summer, in which a Greek soldier had single handedly saved nearly two dozen people after their boat was destroyed in the unforgiving sea.  I think I wrote some glib "wow, proud to say my kids share some of this hero's Greek heritage" on my Facebook link to the article.  I'd like to think that if we saw people dying in the water, trying to get to shore, Peter and I (and anyone we know, honestly) would jump in to help.  I mean, we're human; they are human.  Isn't that part of being part of the human race?

It's upsetting but what I saw today had my heart in my throat; I felt like I couldn't breathe, as though the air had been sucked out of the room.  The tears came and I couldn't stop them.  I scooped up Michael and just held him, holding him as tight as I could.    This photo is hard to see, but it is something we must see. 

That child cant be much older than Michael.  His family, fleeing hell on earth, and then plummeted into the sea.  I can imagine that poor little boy, struggling against the waves, as his body was thrown back and forth, until he took his final water laden breath and succumbed to, at last, some sort of peace that was denied him in this life.  I am heartbroken.  I am so deeply troubled.  And I am angry.

I am angry that we see borders and not people.  I am angry that we, as a global society, are allowing this to happen.  I am angry because, in that child, I see this face.

I see my son's face.  And I know that I would want- and pray behind measure- that someone would help my son if he was in need.

Where is the outrage?  Instead of helping these people who are fleeing things we dare not imagine, we have countries that are refusing to help them, that are leaving them to die in the water.  We have countries, in dire need themselves, doing more than their share to try and help.  What are we doing?  With the amount of money our governments will spend on war and weapons, are we so blind that we can't put our money where our morals should be? 

The European refugee crisis is like something out of a horror movie.  While we might be on the other side of the world, the other side of a sea, or a country across the border, we are all humans.  We all bleed red.  We all have feelings and emotions and needs.  I refuse to believe that ignoring the waves of those seeking a better life will make it go away; I refuse to believe that we can ignore it.  Can you ignore the image of a mother clinging to her infant?  The image of that little boy, dead on a beach?

Can you, for a moment, imagine if it were you or your child?

There has to be something we, as a global people, can do.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.  Pray for them.  Hold those who flee their homelands under the mantle of your protection and pray for their peace and safety.

My Special Needs Kids Trumps Your Special Needs Kid

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

This morning, I got slammed with a migraine so, as it wore off and I was coming back to the land of the living, I did what all good folks do: I checked Facebook on my phone.  An article that a friend commented on popped up and I decided to read it: 12 Reasons Why Peanut Free Schools Are Not Okay.  The article is okay; I've read better written things that don't seem to repeat the same idea over and over again, and I've read articles on the flip side.  But the comments on Facebook.... Now those were something to read.

"Entitled monster mommies who think little kids gasping for their last breath is LESS important than their little special snowflakes munching on a their FAVE PB&J getting peanut butter on their sleeve-- because let's face it, kids are messy little monsters-- and then brushing it on their severely allergic classmate's desk."

"There are other things in this world to eat besides nuts. Sheesh. Send them with cold hot dogs."

"It doesn't cost that much more to send them with a cheese sandwich. Or buy deli meat. Or buy ramen noodles for pennies & stick it in a little thermos."

"Its like peanut butter is the ONLY option for a kids lunch at school?? Oh sorry your kid died, mine HAD to have the only lunch I am wiling to make since I don't care enough to make anything else."

"That is so incredibly callous for her not to care about another child's safety.  "

"These selfish bitches need to grow up and look at alternatives."

The person who commented with this dissent:
"My kid's schools aren't peanut free, and I'm glad they aren't. I understand there are allergies, but taking healthy food away from the majority of kids instead of just taking precautions and paying attention isn't the answer."
Was told that "peanuts aren't healthy". "it's...cancer causing", "you really need to think about this", and "So you're perfectly fine killing my kid just so yours can have a peanut butter sandwich? Wow. What a great person you are!"
Another person who wrote "My son's health is just as important as your kid's." was met with "Your picky kid can eat when he gets home." and "teach your child compassion".

Peanut allergies are deadly and real; we have friends with them, and they are no joke.  Even a pan that was touched with peanut oil years ago and washed off could cause a reaction.  It's terrifying.  And I cannot even fathom being the parent of a child with that type of reaction to something.

I have allergies to opiates, latex, and penicillin; none of them will kill me, thankfully, but they will make my life miserable for a while.  When we were first trying to find out how best to help Bobby and we realized the role that diet played in his behaviors, we cut out dairy, wheat, phenalic foods, and foods with dyes.  Talk about life being hard.  Holy goodness.  It was rough.  But getting those foods wouldn't kill him.  We're now at the point where we know his only allergies tend to be artificial food dyes (try buying mainstream food with that fun one) and a sensitivity certain phenol containing foods.  We have to be careful but a slip up means that we'll have a week or two of horrendous behavior, not a run in with an epi pen or, worse, a trip to an ER that could be fatal.

But back to schools banning peanuts because of deadly allergies...  It seems to become a "my kid's life is more important than your kid's life".   With children battling a number of neurological issues that are "hidden", like ASD, SPD, and others, you have children who, while not allergic, have some serious food issues.  Johnny's mom says no peanuts because her kid is allergic; Jimmy's mom says he must have peanut butter because he won't eat anything else and will starve.  (Before someone flames me with "kids will eat when they are hungry enough", let me assure you that children with ASD and SPD are really exceptions to that rule.  They will go days and NOT eat because, neurologically, they can't.  Unless you have that type of special need in your life, then you have zero idea of how food can drastically impact a child with a spectrum disorder.)  So, who wins?  Clearly, we don't want Johnny to die; of course, we don't want Jimmy to starve either.  In almost every case I've ever heard of, the peanut allergy "special need" trumps the other needs.

So, let's expand it.  A friend of mine has an ASD child who struggles with allergies: deadly ones to dairy and fish, and not deadly but problematic to wheat and rice.  Should the school ban milk and fish?  That's only fair, right?  Little Tommy* (*not the child's name) could accidentally come into contact with milk or fish and DIE.  If we are banning nuts for Johnny, then we have to ban dairy and fish.  It's only fair; otherwise, you're saying that one child's deadly allergy trumps the mainstream's right/desire to eat what they want, but that another child's life isn't as important.

I commented this scenario on the FB post and was told that milk isn't "easily transferred" and that schools have to provide milk, so too bad for my friend and her child.  This, basically, was what she was told by the school: her child should make sure to practice good hand washing and avoid all dairy and fish.

According to the State School Heath Policy Database, a lot of what is allowed varies based on state.  That being said, "8 ounces of fluid milk must be offered with breakfast and lunch".  However, federal law stipulates that milk must be skim or 1%, which flies in the face of research that states only obese children over age 2 be offered lower fat cow's milk and that whole milk (and it's fat) are better for developing brains and bodies.   Do kids actually need to drink cow's milk?  "No, of course they don't," said Amy Lanou, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Most people in the world do not drink milk after they are weaned from breast milk, and yet still get adequate nutrition, she added.   What kids should and shouldn't have, milk included, is up for debate all over the U.S.  Looking at a school lunch law site, the following was listed:
"In a few highly publicized cases, parents and educators asked the question whether schools have the right to limit what students may bring to school to eat. On one hand, some argue that certain rules may interfere with their constitutional rights to raise their children according to their own values. On the other hand, some believe that states have an interest in keeping kids safe and healthy through publicly-funded lunch programs. Below are just some of the cases making national news headlines: In Chicago, a local school banned brownbag lunches from being served at all
A North Carolina student had her turkey sandwich taken away by a state inspector and was served cafeteria chicken nuggets in its place
National effort to ban ‘pink slime’ beef filler from USDA lunches
National Physicians Group petitioning to ban milk from school lunches
School districts across the country banning sugary drinks, like sodas and juices from menus
California and Massachusetts have considered banning chocolate and flavored milk because of its high sugar content."

FARE, an advocacy group for food allergies, links to the CDCs recommendations for schools and allergies.  Legally, "Food allergies may constitute a disability...Schools cannot exclude a child with food allergies."  "Federal discrimination law -- i.e., the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Air Carrier Access Act -- require covered programs to not discriminate against otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of their disability. More importantly for the purposes of peanut cases, these laws require reasonable accommodation. Reasonable accommodations are those that are not unduly burdensome either administratively or financially...Under the current interpretations of federal law, including the Supreme Court's decision in Abbott v. Bragdon, which applies the definition of disability broadly to cover a woman who was HIV positive but asymptomatic (see Bragdon v. Abbott -- Supreme Court Decision Addresses Application of Americans with Disabilities Act to Individuals with HIV, Bragdon -- The Unanswered Questions, and 118 S.Ct. 1206 (1998)), the courts are likely to find that at least those individuals with severe reactions to peanuts are substantially limited in the major life activity of breathing. It is less clear whether individuals with moderate reactions would be covered. The courts have distinguished between degrees of limitation in cases involving depression, mobility, and other impairments, so it is not impossible to imagine a program challenging the coverage of discrimination law to at least some individuals, although to do so might not be wise from a public relations perspective."  The CDC documents state that schools should avoid identified allergens and make reasonable food accommodations.  One of FARE's fact sheets states: "Children with food allergies need your support to ensure their safety and inclusion. From classroom parties, to school family nights, to after-school fundraisers, keep in mind that all students in the community should be able to participate safely."  But allergists don't recommend banning peanuts; since these are the doctors who have the most information on the topic, should their opinions weigh more heavily?

So... what to do?  If we ban peanuts, do we have to ban every single allergen?  Will we stop kids from eating things in their own homes, for fear they could make a classmate sick later at school?  If Bobby was in a traditional school setting, should we fight to make sure there is no opportunity for him to come into contact with food dye?  One school says yes...  In Canada, a mother claimed a human rights violation and sued the school on behalf of her daughter who is allergic to dairy and eggs.  The school agreed to stop those items from being in the child's class and asking the rest of the school to accommodate as well.  If you read some of the comments on this post, you can see parents really slamming the mother.  Would we do this if the allergy were peanuts?

No one wants to be the mom who misses an ingredient and puts her kid at risk, or (I hope) the parents who feel they have no choice but to protest a child with a peanut allergy (I honestly cant imagine being one of those folks...wow).  So, what do we do?  How far do we go?  Do we stop banning?  Do we ban everything?  Do we send kids back home for lunch?

I honestly don't have an answer.  Bobby has a limited diet and peanut butter plays role in one of the few things he will eat.  (Maya and Michael love PB as well).  That being said, knowing how food plays a role in Bs life, I wouldn't knowingly expose another child to a food that could harm or kill them.  I don't need a ban for that; the world doesn't come with bans.  It doesn't come with common sense either (like, don't give a kid who isn't yours food if you don't know them and know what is okay/what isn't okay).  Part of our job as parents is to teach our kids what is okay and what isn't.  But even that doesn't alleviate the issue of, say, food residue on a table.  Sitting kids with allergies apart can limit that problem (and teach compassion, as friends will choose to not eat offending foods to be with their buddies) but it doesn't stop airborne issues.  So, again, what do we do?  What is the right answer?

Does someone else's special needs child trump another's?



Monday, August 31, 2015

L-35 days!  In 5 weeks, I'll have this sweet little boy in my arms!

We've definitely dropped a bit!

I'm doing okay.  I'm tired and I can definitely feel more stretching/pulling/contracting these days than previously.  Whether it is because Lucas is on the bigger side or because my uterus just isn't giving as much, I don't know, but it's there!  It makes sleeping much more difficult and I haven't had a solid night's sleep in months.  I haven't had more than an hour or two stretch in weeks.  That's tough, especially with trying to homeschool and raise other kiddos at home when I'm just so tired.

I have been hit the dreaded pregnancy "c": constipation.  I actually bought some Colace yesterday because I just couldn't deal anymore.

I see Dr. B. in two weeks for my 36w appointment, then I have only my 38w appointment left.  That seems nuts.  2 more appointments over 4 weeks and then, we are done.  It's go time.  Wow.

Thankfully, my overactive mind has settled and I've not had nightmares for a while.  Which is nice.  They were getting really worrisome.

September is just about here!  The last month "pre" Lucas!  Our calendar is done and, just because of the amount of weeks on it, it finishes on Saturday, October 3rd with my ladies luncheon.  That is just insane to me.  How are we to the last calendar already?

Baby stuff is done.  Hospital bag is packed.  Diaper bag is packed.  There is really nothing left to do except put up the cosleeper (which is here and ready, just not up), and Peter normally does that the day we come home from hospital.  So... There really is nothing left.  And that seems... weird.   Could we really be, dare I say it, ready?  Like, all the way?

Overall, things are still good.  If one more stranger rubs my stomach or another person tells me that I look like I'm "having this baby next week", I might scream.  It's hard, too, because well meaning people are like "well, you could have him and he'd be fine".... I know that.  I know he would be fine.  But a NICU parent doesn't want to repeat that experience, regardless of how "fine" the baby would be.  It's hard when I keep hearing how I "wont make it to October" when that is where my mind is so focused.  October 5th is the day.  I'd be happy with October 1st, but I just have to cross that threshold.  At Oct 1, I'd be 38 1/2 weeks.  I really want 39w.  It's best for Lucas, since 40w+ is outside of the equation.  I just really am praying and hoping we see that big "39" on the calendar. :)

What changes!!


Friday, August 28, 2015

I've been up for the last 2 hours and I really wish I were still in bed.  This getting up every hour to use the bathroom, then being unable to settle back into a good sleep pattern is starting to weigh on me.  I'm so tired.

At least I seem to have moved beyond the nightmares and heavy dreaming.  (Although I suppose you really need to sleep in order to dream.)  I've spent the last few nights in bed without having to go to the couch to get comfortable, so that's nice.  But my sciatica is getting worse and sometimes just  standing up and walking seem to be the hardest thing ever.  Since we've got 37 more days to go (eek!), that part is really not cool!

Lucas dropped a bit last night.  My uterus is still high but there has definitely been a shift lower in the slope of my belly.  I can't say I'm too surprised; I actually had an interesting two hours of Braxton Hicks contractions mixed with real contractions yesterday afternoon. 

With a little more than five weeks to go, I'm finding that I just feel tired and sore.  The fact that I cant run or do yoga any longer is probably a fair part to blame.  I also feel like a lot of my poor eating habits have returned.  This morning, at 5am, I had two bowls of cereal.  I was hungry (or felt that I was) but now I just feel guilty for eating two bowls.  I know that I need to reign that crazy end or I'll just be back where I was after the twins were born.  There is definitely a physical component (I was really hungry) but there is also an emotional component and, as we get closer to delivery, I'm concerned that I might end up feeding the emotional beast more than the physical need.

Well, the kids are getting up and I have to prepare for a funeral this morning, so I suppose I should get back computer back to the desk before the peanuts attack!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I rarely get to talk to adults about current events, so I figured I'd write a few "adult" posts when I actually had some time.  Why not!  Also, I realize that, to each their own, a post that deals with animal cruelty and factory farming is going to piss people off.  This is my opinion.  You are also entitled to yours.

So, in case you don't watch American football or don't even know what the NFL is, apparently over the last 2 days, Quarterback Michael Vick (formerly a Philadelphia Eagle) has been signed to a one year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  This, if my Facebook feed is any indication, has ignited a firestorm of controversy.  (Funny enough, it seems more of my girlfriends are football fans... either than, or my guy friends just don't care to post about this!)

When Vick came to Philadelphia, there was also controversy.   From his Wikipedia bio: "In April 2007, Vick was implicated in an illegal interstate dog fighting ring that had operated for five years. A federal judge noted that he had promoted, funded, and facilitated a dog fighting ring on his property, and had engaged in hanging and drowning dogs who did not perform well. He also had failed to cooperate fully with police. In August 2007, Vick pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and served 21 months in prison, followed by two months in home confinement."  We're Giants fans in this house, so whether or not Philly had a criminal on their team (and let's be honest.... I'm betting all teams have some pretty nasty skeletons in their closets, the NYGs too) meant little to me.  We weren't rooting for them in general.  That being said, I didn't have any love for the guy.  As a former veg and animal rights activist for seven years (many of our prekid days), I thought he was a dirtbag and was "sorry" because he got caught.  But, truth be told, is that really my business?  He plead guilty; he served the time he was issued; he lost his finances and filed bankruptcy.  He lost public opinion and he's vilified wherever he goes. 

What he did was awful.  It was terrible.  But it is also a symptom of something else.  When asked about why he would engage is something so horrific, he talked about growing up and seeing similar.  While yes, as an adult, he knew it wasn't right, it was also a part of who he was.  We know the issues of children of abusers; they have a high rate of becoming abusers themselves.  Children who are molested... tend to become molesters.  It doesn't clear them of wrong doing and it certainly isn't an excuse; but it does tell us a lot about the human mind.  Even knowing that what he was doing was both wrong and illegal, Michael Vick continued to participate in an event that he had seen and had been raised around his entire life.  He is to blame for his adult decisions; but who is responsible for molding the mind of a small child to make them think that, on some level, that type of behavior is still somehow acceptable?  (On that note, Vick lobbied for H.R. 2492, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which would establish federal misdemeanor penalties for spectators of illegal animal fighting and make it a felony for adults to bring children to fights.)

As my Facebook feed filled up with "I'm no longer supporting the Steelers" and "this is terrible" and a feed of other things, I mentioned to Peter how interesting it was that, of all that's going on in the world, this is what people are really pissed about.  He raised an idea that, honestly, really resonates with me.

Excluding the legality of animal fights, what is the real difference between something like what Michael Vick did and factory farming?  (I'm choosing to link to a Wikipedia article verses the more pro-animal articles, but after the things I've watched and read, I do think that the Wiki article is far more lightweight than some of the data available- but that is my opinion.) 

As a society, we have chosen to value cheap meat.  For example: I can go to the grocery store and get a large, roasting chicken that has been raised in deplorable conditions, fed hormones, mistreated, scalded alive, and a battery of other details, for about $5; I can go to Whole Foods and buy one that is still farmed in not-awesome conditions but maybe not "abused" for about $10;  also, at WF, I can buy a free range, non hormone, better raised chicken for about $15; or, I can buy it from my local farmer, who lets his chicken run wild, slaughters only what he sells, and does so as humanely as possible, for about $22.  (I had to actually check the label to get an adequate cost; our farmer charges $5 a pound.)  Notwithstanding that the taste of all these things are different (and they really are), but we're talking about a $17 difference; the farmer clearly will sell less and the factory farm will sell more.  They sell so much more, in fact, that factory farming is a booming business.   Think it's just about meat?  Think about eggs.  I can pay $1.20 for a dozen of bleached white shelled eggs with yolks that look like a light yellow; or, I can pay $5 for dozen of multicolored, freshly picked eggs with yolks that are nearly as orange as a mandarin.  (In fairness, we get our eggs either from a farm where we do pay or, when we are lucky, from a friend who has an overage and shares the wealth with our family for no charge, and this latter helps our food budget since eggs play a large role.)

 In my area of PA, I can get drive by about a half dozen sites within 20 minutes; we see the big "meat" trucks on the road.  We've had to explain to our children what those "farms" are, when they are so used to the model of farms that we do purchase produce and meat from.  We can hear the animals screaming and crying; we can smell the animal on top of animal defecation.  All farms smell; that's the nature of the beast.  But it is a different smell.  An awful one.  One that makes you roll up the windows a mile in advance and put the air on recirculate until you get a mile beyond. 

What is it about dog fighting that really pisses us off?  Is it that we are a society that loves our puppies like our babies?  That we snuggle up to them and look into their eyes and see something close to human staring back?  I'm a 'dog person'; I still mourn my pup who died shortly into Peter and I's marriage. I long to be able to adopt a rescue and we've discussed bringing a service animal into our home for Bobby, but I cant add the additional responsibility of care right now.  I used to ride horses and I felt similar; I'd look into their face and see this empathy and understanding.  Eating a horse?  A dog?  Even a cat?  (I'm not a cat person... no offense to those who are but they are just not my bag of chips!).  Eek!  No!  In fact, no deer (Bambi!) or bunnies (Thumper!) either- they are just.too.cute.  Why would we eat them?  Yuck.  After all, we have chicken and turkey and fish- I mean, those things are kind of homely looking.  I'll eat them instead.

Well, we don't have to eat pet animals.  You're right- but who is to say who is a pet?  My mom had a pet rooster as a kid. ( And, eventually, he got eaten.  Broke her heart, but she still eats chicken.)  I fell in love with a cow at the Farm Sanctuary; she was beautiful and kind and let me just hug and snuggle her.  The baby pigs?  They were adorable too; a sow had just delivered and we were able to sit among her and her new babes and they were so tiny and pink!  Even the chicken and turkeys, running around and singing, their chicks playing together, had this happiness to them.  I didn't want to eat them; I mean, they were so... cute.

I've been on the 'don't eat meat' side; I came very close to taking a job with PETA in Virginia.  We had the bumper stickers and the t-shirts.  I've seen the videos and nearly puked from the atrocity that I've witnessed animals put through for the sake of cheap meat. 

And now, I do  eat meat.  We work hard to teach our kids where all our food comes from, how hard of work it is, and how we have a limited budget to make sure that our family eats well.  Since we choose to spend it on roasting chickens that cost $22 (for about 2 meals when I factor in leftovers for just our family) instead of 4 chickens that would make at least 2 meals and maybe 3 because they are bigger, it makes things take a hit.  It's impossible to feed a large family for free; when you are buying local and fresh, and you have to prep things because it's not as easy as processed, it takes your time and your money and it's hard.  We, as a society, force people to make a living from killing- and not just killing, but doing it in a terrible way.  We want to eat; we want to feed our children; we like our bacon and eggs and steaks and, when we have a budget- be it $100 or $300- we fit those wants and needs into that and, for many, that means cheaper, processed foods and factory farmed meat.  I grew up that way (well, a combo... my mom grew a garden, we shopped at the farmer's market, my grandparents grew and canned, and we bought meat by the animal when we could, but she also scoured supermarket specials to make sure that there was dinner on the table.) 

But, as we grow up, we decide where these things rank in our priorities.  Can we eat whatever we want, with whatever consequence- be it animal welfare or the environment or farmers making livable wage- and be okay with it?  Many people can.  For many, it is a have or have not situation.  For us, it is the same, but we choose the not.  Peter grew up with meat at every meal; it's not that way anymore.  We spend a fair amount of our budget on food and that means meat at about 3-4 dinners a week; he has leftovers for lunch and the kids and I are usually meat free for lunch.  Breakfast is typically meat free, with bacon when we have it, because it's a huge hit here.  We still have our not-so-awesome choices  (Bobby loves hotdogs) but we try to do our best to put our ethics where we purchase.  When we run out of fruit or veggies or milk or eggs, the kids don't expect that I'll go to the store and pick up more; they know we wait for the farm day.  We are nowhere near where I'd love to be, but such is life.

(And, on another note, it ticks me off that people who are struggling and desperate to eat well are near forced to eat overly processed food because you can buy a cart of processed stuff for $50 and barely a bag of whole foods for that same amount.  That's another post I need time for...)

But how does this compare to animal fighting?  Eating meat and killing animals for sport are two different things. 

They are.  But both come from a common place: placing your want or desire over the well being of something else.  Yes, you could take that argument all the way to the "don't eat meat at all" side.  I think we all figure out where we land.  For some people, eating meat is just that: eating.  They don't really put much more into that.  But trying for a moment to look at both animal fighting (and it's more than dogs, and it is far more reaching when you add in things like cock fighting, bull fights, sport hunting, etc) and animal eating in that same vein.  It's not altogether comfortable.

Are you okay with an animal being electrocuted or drowned to death?
Are you okay with an animal being beaten and punched?
Are you okay with people yelling at and cheering around animals being executed?

These things happen in both animal fights and factory farming.  (You can easily find pictures and videos for both... I'll spare you the images on here.)

Before we throw rocks at Michael Vick (who did serve his time and pay his fines), it seems we should think about the glass houses we live in.  I know I have plenty of my own problems that are signs of the excesses of my culture and my desires.  While I can continue to not root for certain teams or put my money elsewhere when it comes to players I don't care for, it seems completely unfair to throw Vick under the bus for this issue while we continue to let countless other players get away with murder (sometimes literally).

It's Potty Time!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This morning, while we snuggled on the couch, Michael told me that he wants to wear underwear and use the potty.  I'm not sure if this is his way of telling me he is physically ready to try or if it is because the poor child is desperate to be like his big brother and sister.  I thought we'd work on it after vacation, as he approached his third birthday- NOT when he was shy of 26 months old!  Maya only took days to train (both day and night).  Bobby took years to mostly day train (we still have issues) and we haven't tackled night time, although we are definitely getting close to it, as he wakes up to go to the bathroom now at night.  Our pediatrician's recommendation is work on it until boys are around 8 years (day) to 10 years (night) before becoming concerned about an issue and, with Bobby's neurological issues, we are actually ahead of many families I know, so I'm not worried.  But having a 2 year old boy ready?  That terrifies me!

He's sat down twice; once he peed in the toilet and once he had just lightly wet his pants (maybe dripped?)  But it's not even 9am.  It's a long day for day 1!  I figure we'll go with three accidents, then a diaper and start again tomorrow.  I'm not really big on the whole potty training thing, so I don't know.  Physiologically, I have a hard time believing a 2 year old is ready (although I know plenty of trained 2 year olds!) so it's hard for me to feel like I'm fully committing.  But if he wants to try, then try we will!  Nothing says 8+months pregnant like running around after a kid trying to use the toilet! :)  On a good note, if he manages to train in the next month, I only will have Lucas in diapers!  Wow!

But, for now, I'm kind of mourning my baby who became who toddler who now wants desperately to be a little kid.  Where's my bambino!!

33 weeks

Monday, August 24, 2015

41 days, people! 
Only one week left of August and then we are really in the last of the haul.  As with running, I tend to drop long things into short "goals".  For me, I've been focusing on birthstones in my mother's ring.  I know that sounds a bit crazy, but it helps me work through the months.  Right now, we are at peridot, which is Peter's birthstone (our stones start my ring); I already have one of those!  And I have 2 sapphires (one each for Bobby and Maya), so I definitely don't need one of those!  So, little Lucas, you, you have to give us at least 36 days, LOL.  And, since I'm super busy with a Girl Scout meeting on the 1st, my last girls hurrah luncheon on the 3rd, an a GS Daisy meeting on the 4th, I'm thinking the 5th would still be the best bet.  :)  (If only babies listened to reason, right!)

Things are okay.  The rash is clearing up.  I'm tired and, especially with the humidity and heat we've been having, I've been contracting more (mostly BH but some real ones, too).  Again with the humidity, my feet will start to swell by the end of the day, which sucks.  Bending down is no longer convenient and getting comfortable... well, there's a pipe dream!  Lucas is still awfully high, which makes eating a bit of a challenge because both sitting down and actually eating are just not compatible some moments.  But, he's a mover and a shaker, and all in all, while I'm slowing down and just really exhausted all the time, it's still a good pregnancy.

I've been having some pretty crazy dreams.  With the other kiddos, I had fairly "dirty" dreams; for the last two weeks, I've had the same delivery dream.  Last night, I had a full blow, God-awful nightmare that had me sobbing and in a panic attack when I woke up.  I'll probably blog it at some point, but I cant do it now.  Just trying to explain it to Peter had me crying again and I couldn't get through it.  It was horrific and took me a while upon waking to realize that it wasn't real.  Needless to say, sleeping is getting more and more difficult.

I feel pretty darn lucky to have a husband with a job that is flexible enough that when I get blasted with little sleep and a migraine (like this morning), he can stay home to get the kids fed and dressed and then, doubly blessed, that my in-laws are five minutes away and that my MIL will come and be the doting grandma to kids who adore her for the morning so that I can just sleep said migraine off for a few hours.  I give a lot of props to single parents and folks who live far from family and friends; mornings like these, I'm eternally grateful for these blessings in our lives.

But, all in all, it's still good.  I still cant believe I only carried Michael for around 4 more weeks and then he was here, but I'm looking for my 2 extras!  (Especially with Papa Francis here during that time!) 

6 more weeks to go... We've totally got this! :)

Ending the Week (homeschooling stuff)

Friday, August 21, 2015

It's been one of those weeks as I've dealt with this pregnancy rash and just wanting to sleep all the time!  My patience has been at an all time low as well, since the steroids I'm on until Monday are making me C-R-A-Z-Y.  I'll be honest.... Weeks like this one make me really jealous of my friends who are counting down the days to their kids going back to traditional schooling.  I just want some quiet!  But, that being said, each day has its moments.  Like, when I was really having a rough morning and Bobby sat down at the living room table and drew me a picture, then brought it to me in bed and gave it to me with a kiss.  Or this morning, when he sat himself on the pass through (a no no!) and when I walked by, grabbed me into an embrace that he wasn't ending with the words "I love you, Mommy" and just burying himself against me.  Or, with Maya, who laid in bed with me in the dark the other night, praying the Litany of the Saints and the nightly Rosary for the intentions of women in a homeschool group I'm part of, telling me at the end of it that it was her favorite part of the day.  (Mine, too, sweetheart).  Or Michael, with his wide smile and infectious laugh, jumping into my lap and kissing Lucas in my belly, then grabbing my face and planting wet kiss after wet kiss on me.  You can't buy those moments and, no matter how crappy other moments of the day are (did I mention I have ZERO patience????), those moments make it a bit better.

Today, we kept it lowkey, with our more "formal" religious work in an actual workbook.  We do this one-on-one because it is easier to discuss the concepts with them and talk about it at the level each of the kids is on, verses some sort of group lesson.  Today, we discussed God the Father, why when we use ASL, there is a difference between signing "father" and "Father" (as in God the Father), and about the difference between St. Joseph being Jesus's father in his life and God being Jesus's Father.  Then, the kids answered some questions and drew (or, in Bobby's case, wrote) some pictures.  Michael also gets in on the action with his religion coloring book, including a short video clip where he is reciting the letters.  I didn't get it on camera, but he said "praise" the first time.  You can hear Maya ask him to say "praise" in the clip I got, but he is already starting to sound out words.  It's amazing!

There's never a dull moment, though.  We saw my MIL for lunch and playtime, then after I put Michael to nap, the twins "tried" but opted not to.  Until, of course, this happened.

Poor kid was so tired, he couldn't even get the lollipop stick out of his mouth.  I guess that "hard" religion lesson was just too much!  (That, and his 5:45am wake up!)

Platelets Are Good!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dr. B. just called me to check in on the rash and to give me the news that my platelets are stable!  They went from 122K to 123K.  Not great in the "they should be above 150K to be normal" world, but awesome in mine!  We had discussed that, since my last blood draw was a month before, it was possible we would be in the teens if the supplementation with papaya leaf was working (and, if it wasn't, then we would see the teens and know that, most likely, I'd need a pharmaceutical option or the IVIG infusion later on).  So this is great news!  Not only "stable" but an extra thousand!  I might not hit 150K, but if I stay around this level, then there's no worry for the spinal/epidural and delivery.  Woo Hoo!!


For the last two weeks, I've been having this recurring dream that ends as a nightmare.  While I believe dreams can be a gateway into future events, I also believe that they can simply be a mishmash of what is going on in our lives or a creation of our thoughts and fears.  I'm not sure what the deal is, honestly...  I tend to think it is a fear of mine coming to life in my mind, but I have no clue.

As a childbirth educator and doula, I'm aware of what can happen with repeat cesareans.  I'm on my fourth surgery: Bobby and Maya were a (thankfully, well done) emergency c/s; then I had my TAC (which is completed like a c/s with Dr. H and counts towards my "total"); then Michael, and now, of course, we are prepping for our next surgery for Lucas's delivery.  I trust Dr. B.  We've discussed his methods for a surgical delivery at length; I was comfortable enough with it with Michael and I still have no doubts.  But more cesareans mean a higher chance that something might go wrong.  There is, of course, a higher risk of maternal death (it is surgery, of course, so that's no big shock).  Charts like this one make me question whether shooting for 39 weeks is within a safe window, or if we should petition the hospital for a 38 week exception.  (This article gives a well rounded, I think view, of choosing early delivery and makes me still comfortable with our 10/5 goal.)   Michael came around 37 weeks; babies come when they come.  While my hope is that October 5th 39 week mark, I'm not holding my breath and I'm just living life and making plans.  But, I get that there are statistics and they aren't always on my side.  (Let's be honest... you can find stats for anything....  Searching positive things for repeat c/s brings up link after link, too.)

But anyway.... My Dreamares....  The dream starts the same.  I see myself getting into the car to go to the hospital.  We drop the kids off at my in-laws with an overnight bag just in case.  Peter has reorganized their guest room to make it a kid room (this hasn't happened in real life although it is a discussion).  The kids are excited.  We tell them they can come to the hospital later to meet their new baby brother on the outside. There are hugs and kisses.  Peter and I drive to the hospital.  There's no traffic and we are happily talking about adding a new baby to the house.  The car seat sits waiting in the back seat next to the hospital bag.  All is well.

We get to the hospital and check in.  I change clothes, contractions and heart tones are seen with the TOCO, and I'm prepped for anesthesia once I'm in the surgical room.  Peter comes in.  Dr. B. comes in.  The surgery starts and everything goes according to plan.  Lucas is born, he cries, he's healthy.  We're all relieved.  Peter leaves with Lucas to go to the nursery for the assessment.  I'm alone but it's okay.  We've done this song and dance before. 

But then we haven't.  I feel more than cold and tired.  The warm blanket isn't working.  The machines that were easy beeps before start to chime.  There's a forced calm and an undertone of panic in the now flurry of voices of medical people.  There's bleeding.  A call for more blood.  An order of general anesthesia.  The world goes black but I don't know because I'm already cold and oh so tired.

But then, my eyes open.  And we're okay.  I've given them a scare, they say.  There was a lot of excess bleeding but it's alright.  They think they've stopped the hemorrhaging.  There will be no more children- they are sorry, but that couldn't be helped.  Dr. B. will be in to talk to me soon.  Would I like to see my son?  Peter comes in with a wrapped up package of beautiful.  He looks worse for wear, like he's been through hell.  We touch heads and just hold our newest miracle, smelling in his newness and perfectness. 

This is where the dreamare changes.  Sometimes, Peter is still there.  Sometimes he goes to get something to eat and it's someone else: Sarah, godparents, friends.  Someone else comes and is holding Lucas.  I feel the cold come back and start to slip back against the pillow.  The Nurse Call is rang.  There is blood.  How does one person have so much blood?  More sounds.  It's so loud but it sounds so far away.  Like there is a deep echo in my head. 

I wake up.  There's no conclusion to the dream, just that deeply rooted fear that this time, something might not go according to plan.

I've worked through the fears of loss with moms who are pregnant post infertility and loss, and I know that the fear of the possibility can be debilitating at times.  These moms constantly worry about the day when their babies die.  Talking through it can help but in most cases, they have to acknowledge the possibility that yes, their baby might die, and then move on from the thought, visualizing the better and best case pregnancy and delivery scenarios.  I feel lucky in that I've come to a place of peace about my children in utero.  I do my best; their lives have their own journey ahead of them.  I can only play my role, for however long that lasts.  I do feel much more comfortable with my own pregnancies and the possibility of loss because of that feeling and belief.

With Michael, I didn't really feel concerned about the delivery and complications; there were no dreams.  We chatted about the possibilities, but overall, we felt positive in the outcome.  After all, it wasn't as though a VBAC were even possible.  With this pregnancy, while we haven't really discussed it much, it feels like we're old hats at this c/s delivery thing.

Until the last two weeks when these images have plagued me more nights than not.  Maybe it's the steroids or the antihistamines.  Maybe it is the stress of another homeschool year.  Maybe it is nothing. 

I know it is a fear I need to work through and release.  But with what time?  We have 45 days to go time.  Can I find enough "spare" time to actually process this?