14w6d

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

12 comments
It's a.......

BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Little Michael was a happy, bouncing kiddo with a huge smile and a lot of thumb sucking.

14w5d

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

7 comments
Ending down the 14th week with a bang... or Chef Boyardee.  Yeah, that's more precise.  PB&J and canned pasta.  The first, not so bad (super crunch, French apricot preserves, locally baked bread); the second, gross.  Canned pasta?  Unless it was on sale, I never even remember eating that as a kid.  Today?  2 cans... One at 3:45am, another just a short while ago.

Baby H, you are taking me down some funky food road!  You dont want lamb chops (Wwwaaaaa!!!!) but you want canned godknowswhat ravioli...  I mean, I could make ravioli, but no... That does not fill the brief.  It MUST be CHEF BOYARDEE.  Which meant, I paid 12 cents more a can for 10 cans.  (And it's gross, but man is it exactly what I've wanted today, so that makes it delicious.)

I still cant believe the difference in pregnancies.  I'm still running, still doing yoga, still doing housework.  I'm tired (all the time, but especially the late afternoons/evenings), and yet, I wake up at some awful early hour (usually somewhere in the 2 or 3 am hours), having to eat, and then toss and turn on the couch (because I cant get comfy in my bed).  It's so strange.  I spent so much of Bobby and Maya's pregnancy in my bed and now, I'm relegated to the living room couch because the bed just doesnt feel right. 

And the whole "Zen" thing is starting to freak me out.  I mean, at some point, I'm going to crack, right?  Whether around Nicholas and Sophia's birthdays, or at the 15w5d/17w/18w marks of this pregnancy, or while Peter is in Holland... Something has got to give.  But now?

Oh, you are having a bit of pressure?  Normal... Have a drink of tea.
Let's go run a few miles! (Okay, honestly, it's down to jogging, but I'm still out there.)
Sure, let's play "Toss the 40 Pound Preschooler in the Air!". 
Why yes I can balance Maya on a hip and carry a full basket of laundry through the house.
An extra bloodtest? Dont mind if I do...  Here's my arm.
Oh, you need to extend your trip to Holland for a day?  Sure thing.

I mean, come on.  At some point, the whole "Zen" thing is going to fly away... Or not.  There is such a peace, such a "whatever will be, will be", that I cannot put my finger on it.  Nothing, pregnancy wise, seems to really phase me.  I have my moments with other things, but this seems to be just... I dont know... the way it is

Very strange, especially for me.  As Peter said when I commented on it last night, "It's not like you couldn't use a little more Zen in your life."

True that... 

On another note, we see Dr. B. tomorrow, and, fingers crossed, there will be a gender known by the time I blog again!  So- are you on Team Peter (baby boy) or Team Maya (baby girl).  Bobby and I are on "Team It's-A-Baby" because we have no clue. :)

14w2d

Saturday, January 26, 2013

0 comments
...and I'm sick again.

Thanks, Bobby and Maya.  I love the kisses- really, I absolutely LOVE them.  The germs that come with them?  Those happy little creatures your friends at school share with you?  Not so much.

Not at all.

Now, mind you, the kids were sick for all of a day.  Me?  This is day 2, and my head wants to explode.  Not to mention, I can't breathe because I'm so stuffed up.  This blows (or rather, doesn't blow if I'm literal).  Yuck, yuck, yuck.

So here's to another few nights of sleeping on the couch, not because I cant get comfortable or because I have to pee every 90 minutes, but because apparently the arm of Peter's favorite couch is the proper height to allow at least one of my nostrils to breath.

***
So, who else was up at 2 am this morning, rifling through their kitchen and trying not to wake up their sleeping family?  Oh.... Just me...  Yeah...  This kiddo, like Nicholas and Sophia, apparently likes to wake up at way-the-hell-early a.m. and eat.  This began around 12 or so weeks with them, and it started around 13 weeks with this little one.  The last few nights, I've been up.  I ate a cold chicken breast (yum, rotisserie chicken!) one night, fruit another, a Luna bar another... Today's early treat?  PB&J.  And let me tell you, there is nothing like an extra crunchy peanut butter and French apricot preserve sandwich on oat bread... except when it is washed down by farm fresh chocolate milk (from chocolate cows! really!) :)

I slept through lunch today (thank you, Peter... the nap was really lovely) so maybe I'll hit up the kitchen in the sunlight for another PB&J...  I wonder how long this love will last.  (Please, Baby H, let it last a long time...  That way, I can avoid gross things like a desire for cheesesteaks...)

Summer School

Friday, January 25, 2013

6 comments
Originally posted here

Going back to preschool after winter break was tough for Bobby. Both he and Maya missed it (and begged for it) for the two weeks that we were off, but when they went back, Bobby had a very difficult readjustment period. His teacher told us recently, after several weeks of class, that he's finally back to his pre-Christmas self.

In chatting with her about the transition from Preschool to PreK, one of the biggest concerns is summer break. School ends in mid-June, and doesn't begin until mid-September. So, what to do... We hadn't initially planned (or budgeted) for a summer school or camp, but realized very quickly that if we want Bobby's PreK year to begin better than his Preschool year did, and if we want both kids to have both a fun and educationl summer experience, we will have to figure something out. We wont know if Bobby will qualify for an aide over the summer (that will come to pass by the spring) so it was important for us to find a school that would be able to give him the support he needs with or without a one-to-one while also meeting Maya's educational and social needs.

I filled out the application and scholarship applications for one of the Play and Learn locations. This locally based childcare organization has 11 locations, and some of the schools are actually Montessori in nature. After speaking with a friend whose son goes there, I called and made an appointment. We weren't disappointed.

The director and assistant director were very welcoming, and I was impressed by their video security, both outside and inside the school. It seemed like a location that would both protect the kids from unwanted outside visitors but also keep the kids safely inside. We visited the preschool class which, based on their age, Bobby and Maya would remain in through the summer (if they turned 4 prior to June, they would be in the PreK class). The teacher is degreed in early childhood and special ed, as well as being a trainer on autism awareness. So, a very good fit in that regard. Bobby was in the thick of things right away (they have a large calendar on the wall) and Maya sat down on the carpet for circle time and the story that followed.

During the summer, each week has a theme and they bring in all sorts of things to the facility (like horses, water play, etc) so that the kids get to experience field trips in their own backyard, basically. Looking over the schedule, I think I want to go to summer camp!

They were very willing to answer all of our questions, and their informational talk covered much of what we were interested in. It seems like a good fit. While we 100% think Bobby will have the best experience if he qualifies for an aide, it seems like they would be able to accomodate his needs if he doesnt have someone with him, which is nice to know. The kids would go three mornings a week (to help prepare them for 5 morning a week preschool) and both really seemed to like it. (Maya informed us that yes, she wants to go there for the summer).

We plan to have the kids home for 2 weeks, then summer school/camp for 2 months, then home for 2 weeks, then back to school. Since the new baby is due in July, this would give us some mornings to try and square away the whole 'new baby' experience (for its good and bad) while still giving the kids fun activities and giving us full family time in the afternoon and evenings.

Financially, it's a stretch. The kids go to preschool for 8 hours a week right now; the cost, for both, is $340; for 9 hours a week, that cost will double. (And this school isnt outrageous from what I've looked out). The biggest difference is that the summer program will supply snack, but still. It's a huge increase (and one we didnt plan on). Of course, PreK in the fall will be a price increase (we should know tuition when we register on Sunday) but that is something we knew was coming down the pike. So, we'll see. Play and Learn does offer scholarships, so I filled out the form for the kids, and we'll see if our family qualifies. If so, great; if not, then it will be something we'll have to consider really hard and see if we can swing. But the fact that they offer that is great, and I was pleasantly suprised that, because we are applying for the scholarship, they didnt require us to pay the registration fee, as it would be prorated based on any scholarship funds they give the kids. So, that's another load off my (financial) mind.

But, all in all, it was a good experience, and I was pleased with what we saw. It's hard to trust your kids to strangers; last summer was a rough time for me as I came to terms with the kids going to preschool. Even though it's our parish school and it had a great reputation, these are my itty bitty babies... My sweet little ones... How could I just release them to strangers? But Miss M and the rest of the teachers and administrators we've come into contact with have been great; Bobby's BSC and therapists are wonderful. This really was the right choice for us and for both kids. Both of them have grown so much, and I'm grateful that we opted to try.

Hopefully, this will be another of those great experiences!

Review: Purely Elizabeth Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Thursday, January 24, 2013

0 comments
Previously posted here

Back when we were pretty much gluten free/dairy free to see if that diet would help Bobby, we stocked up on a variety of different items and brands. While we didnt care for the Purely Elizabeth pancake/waffle mix at all, and the oatmeal cookies were more of a success with people outside our household, I decided today to try the box of chocolate chip cookie mix. Gluten free and vegan, I thought I'd compare it to my own recipe. I love mine waaayyy more, but these cookies weren't bad.

I followed the directions (1/2c oil, 1/4c applesauce, 1tbsp vanilla) and baked them at 350 for 12 minutes. After cooling for 1 minute, I put them on wax paper to cool.

Because I'm me, I snuck a bite before they were cool and, honestly, I think the just-hot-enough-but-not-mouth-burning cookie tasted better than the cooled one, which had more of an earthy taste and less of the sweet, cookie taste you think of when you think chocolate chip cookie.

In general, they weren't overly sweet and with their ingredients (millet and almond and garbanzo bean flours, and chia seeds), they are treats you can feel good about eating. But if I wanted a chocolate chip cookie, I'd probably cook up a batch of my own. If I just wanted a lightly sweet cookie that had the texture of an oatmeal cookie but the hint of chocolate chip, I'd bake these up again. They are definitely something to share with the GF, vegan crowd in my life.

B+

(I was not compensated for this review, nor did I recieve any free products of any sort in return for this review.)

14w

3 comments
How the heck did that happen?  14 weeks?  I wasn't sure I'd ever see a "4 week" in  pregnancy timeline, let alone 14!    But the little gut I'm sporting and my tight-around-the-midsection running wear is definitely a sign that the 2nd trimester is swinging itself in gear.  Still taking Zofran every couple of days because sometimes the nausea is awful, but for the most part, even that is going away.

What decided it's here to stay?  Yeah.. That awful constipation.  I thought I'd fixed it with the prune juice/yogurt/pear juice/colace cocktail.  Apparently not.  To the point that I had a chat with Dr. B. today.  He's recommending Milk of Magnesia or Miralex, and if they dont work, moving on to Ducolax.  If that doesnt work, we'll have to talk about it.

Fun times.

So, I've upped the prune juice (NASTY) to a full 8oz before meals, in the hopes that will help, but if I'm still like this by the weekend, The MoM it is...  Yeah, like I said, fun times.

But, I do love Dr. B.  What a great guy.  He called me to chat about a few things, and from his personality to the way he words things, I just really feel like we have a really awesome OB.  I'm nervous about Peter's trip to Holland more for Bobby and Maya; I know if something happens that Dr. B. and his staff have my back.  It makes me sad when I hear other moms talking about a love-hate relationship (or worse, indifference) with their care providers.  We lucked out and I thank my lucky stars that my midwife recommended him 5+ years ago.

So, after my run on Tuesday, in 19 degree weather, I'm thinking I'm either going to have to find a cheap treadmill or switch to the eliptical.  That's just too cold.  I was miserable for the entire 2 miles and I just wanted to come home.  So, not sure how that's going to work out, but something has got to give.  I have a hard time regulating my temp when I'm pregnant and when I get cold, I'm COLD.  Like teeth chattering cold.  And it takes forever to warm up.  Peter usually puts a blanket in the dryer to drape over me when I'm sitting in a 72 degree house, with the fire going, and my teeth clicking together like I'm in Alaska in winter.    But I think I'm done with cold weather running for this pregnancy.  Which makes me sad, but hey... What can you do?  Any locals want to find a new home for their treadmill? :)

Maya keeps telling me how great of a big sister she's going to be.  It's amazing to hear her make up these convaluted tales of life after baby.  For Bobby's part, his appropriate play with the baby doll has taken off since we've started talking about the baby coming, etc, which I think is his nonverbal way of starting to prepare.  Every now and again, he'll come up to me and touch my stomach and look up at me with those big brown eyes.  So sweet.

I have an inpromptu blood test tomorrow afternoon, and an appointment with good old Dr. B. next Wednesday, but otherwise not too much on the pregnancy calendar.  It's hard to believe that I'll be 15w1d on Nicholas's 5th birthday, and the realization that he was born 5 days later in that gestation is quite something to wrap my head around.  I look at his picture and, getting an idea of what this little one looks like... Amazing.  Just amazing.

14 more weeks and we'll be 28w- the farthest I've ever been in pregnancy, and the start of the 3rd trimester!  Woo Hoo!  May 2nd, here we come! :)

Response

7 comments
This is a follow-up to my last post.

Let me be frank: whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, you are welcome in this space.  But, that being said, it's my space.  A place for my beliefs and thoughts, and that is what you get.  If you don't like it and you want to never come back, have a great journey.  If you don't like it (or you do) and you want to stick around, it's great to see you back.  But, I'm not responsible for you or your beliefs- I'm only responsible for my own and how I choose to articualate them (or not).

I actually consider myself quite tolerant.  I don't judge people for their beliefs or choices; explaining or sharing my thoughts, arguing for the causes I support, and standing up in support of popular or unpopular issues are on me.  They have nothing to do with not loving those on the other side of those issues.  As it relates to abortion, I actually know quite a number of women who have had them.  Do I love them? Yes.  I always will.  One of the women is actually very close to me, and I love her completely.  Do I support her decision?  No.  Regardless of the reasons (and I know, there are some that really, really pull at the heart), I don't.  They know this.  They know me.  But I'm not responsible for their decisions, good or bad, any more than they are responsible for mine.  We each make choices and we are each, cosmicly and Divinely, accountable.  Right or wrong, they aren't held guilty for my life, and I'm not held for theirs.  Love doesn't mean 100% agreement; tolerance isn't joining into an activity that you find deplorable (or supporting that activity).

I realize that my views on abortion, especially in the infertility community, aren't typical.  It is not uncommon to have multiples aborted in the hopes of carrying a singleton or twins (selective reduction).  It is not uncommon to abort babies who aren't typical; according to a genetic counselor I recently talked to, the current U.S. statistic on aborting babies with Down syndrome is 95%. (That's not a typo; she explained that 95 out of 100 parents abort a child when Down's is confirmed).  With increased fertility assistance, comes the risk of increased abortion and, while many view it as a "I-have-higher-order-multiples-and-the-health-risk-is-too-great" or "my-child-isn't-normal-and-I-cant-emotionally-take-it" or "my-child-wont-survive-post-birth-so-I'm-going-to-end-the-pregnancy-now", there are simply those who abort because they only want one child.   Jenny, a mother of twins who aborted one, is a mother who never doubted that she would only have 1 child from her ART, according to a NY Times article, "The idea of managing two infants at this point in her life terrified her."  She went on to say.  "“If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.”

The article also quotes Dr. Naomi Bloomfield, an obstetrician: "“I couldn’t have imagined reducing twins for nonmedical reasons,” she said, “but I had an amnio and would have had an abortion if I found out that one of the babies had an anomaly, even if it wasn’t life-threatening. I didn’t want to raise a handicapped child. Some people would call that selfish, but I wouldn’t. Parents who abort for an anomaly just don’t want that life for themselves, and it’s their prerogative to fashion their lives how they want. Is terminating two to one really any different morally?” "

And, while not as common in the U.S., abortions for sex-selection are, in my opinion, one of the worst uses of "women's rights" when the majority of the babies being aborted are girls.  In 1994, the UN called to stop "discrimination against the girl child", including abortion.  This quote, among others, is quoted in the World Health Organization's report on preventing sex-selected abortions.  (WHO is a pro-choice organization.)  Of course, sex-based abortions aren't just outside the U.S. Again, citing the above NYT article, "Consider the choice of which fetus to eliminate: if both appear healthy (which is typical with twins), doctors aim for whichever one is easier to reach. If both are equally accessible, the decision of who lives and who dies is random. To the relief of patients, it’s the doctor who chooses — with one exception. If the fetuses are different sexes, some doctors ask the parents which one they want to keep."

Here's where I find the largest issue, though (my personal opinions aside).  You can't have it both ways.  Don't congratulate me on my pregnancy on one hand, but then tell me that my inconvenience can be gotten rid of.  Don't buy a shower gift, celebrate the life growing within me, or ask me about prospective names, when you believe that what I carry isn't a person with dignity but a possible mistake or error of genetics that I should get rid of.  We can't have it both ways.  It's a person or it isn't.

Science tells us that the "it" is a "he" or "she" and that, indeed, the life growing within is a unique person.  So, if that is the case, then it becomes about choice. 

Mary Elizabeth Williams, a pro-choice advocate and writer, sums it up best, I think, in her article So What If Abortion Ends Life? .  She believes that life, indeed, begins at conception, but what does that matter?  When talking about her own pregnancies, she says, "I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me. I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life. And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice."  I think, however, that she hits the nail of the movement on the head when she states, unequivocably, that: "All life is not equal."

Isn't that the crux of the abortion argument?  All life isn't equal.  We weigh and judge, and somehow, somewhere, one (or more in some cases) of the people involved are found to come out on top.  It's an ugly truth, no doubt, but still a truth, I think. 

"I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn’t the same? Fetuses aren’t selective like that. They don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born."  Amen, Mary Elizabeth.  You're right.   And, along that, if we want a world where abortion is legal and 100% acceptable to the end, then we have to consider the logic.  If I dont want my baby, then it's an abortion we can celebrate but, if I do, then it is a death we mourn.  The logic doesnt quite fit for me, any more than the belief that infanticide in the first few months of life should be considered just another sort of late term abortion.

The Salon.com article ends with this warm and fuzzy thought: "...The fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing." 

A life worth sacrificing...  That phrase haunts me this morning. How many groups used that same ideology?  Do you think slave owners thought that?  Those committing the murder of countless Jews in Europe during the early 20th century?  The genocides that wage throughout Africa?  Or, what about in our back yard...  When someone is killed in an armed robbery.... when a woman is raped... when a serial killer satisfies his inhumane urge- were those lives that were changed forever (and the lives of those who loved them forever marked), were those lives worth sacrificing?  Is it simply a matter of the weak being destroyed by the strong?

From an evolutionary stance, I suppose someone is saying "YES!  Exactly!"  But does that make it right?  Because I was unable to escape from my rape almost 20 years ago, does that mean that it was okay?  Because the attacker was stronger than I was?  If I kill the baby that is growing inside of me for any reason- my convenience, feeling busy and overwhelmed, finances, the baby being ill- is that different than me, in a way, becoming like that rapist, exerting my free will over someone else, who has no defense?

A life worth sacrificing implies that there is a life worth saving, that one life is more that another.  In the case of an ectopic pregnancy or a life threatening illness where a child is delivered too young too save to save the mother, these are valid arguments and, in such a case, we aren't talking about selective abortion and more than a miscarriage would be.  In a situation where an action is taken to save a life that results in the death of a life, we have tragedy.  We have pain and sorrow.  We have the sacrifice of one for the saving of another.  One of my dearest friends faced 2 ectopic pregnancies, and each of those babies is mourned (just like her miscarriage) and all 3 are loved as is her born daughter.  There was no choice; there was a medical procedure to save her life that resulted in the death of her baby.  Just as a mother may choose cancer treatments that result in the life of her preborn child in order to save her life (or, on the flip side, may refuse them to save her baby at the loss of her own life), it's true: we judge and weigh, and that ultimate sacrifice of one results in the salvation of another.

But in looking at selective abortion, we throw in a new element: motive.

If someone breaks into my house and I kill them to protect my family, I've still killed someone.  I've committed homocide.  I've taken the life of another human being.  Our society views this as justifiable... I was protecting my own life- had I not killed that person, my life would have been ended.  I was protecting the life of my family- had I not killed that person, the lives of my family would have been snuffed out.  Justifiable.  A sacrifice that is outweighed by the saving of another.

If someone breaks into my house and they kill me to steal my stereo, they've committed homocide and have taken the life of another human being.  Our society views this as murder.  Their motive was not considered admirable, rather it was selfish.  They took a life for their own needs and purpose.  They ended the life of another because of their wants.  Maybe they needed that stereo so that they could sell it to feed their family.  Maybe they didnt, deep down, want to kill me, but they really needed what they needed and felt that they just had to do it.  It's still murder... Perhaps there are circumstances that we'll consider at their sentencing, but it's still murder... It's still wrong... A sacrifice that is not outweighed by their view of saving.

If I walk into a Planned Parenthood today, at 14 weeks pregnant, and say that I'm done... I don't want to be pregnant anymore, I'd pay my fee, my baby would be killed, and I'd walk away.  If I go outside, and through an act of violence, my baby dies, that perpetrator can be charged with first degree murder.  (I live in Pennsylvania, although 38 states have on-the-books, fetal homocide laws.  In PA, the Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. tit. 18 § 106 and § 1102 define classes of offenses, including crimes against an unborn child and provide penalties. § 1102 was amended in 2008 to provide for the sentence of the first degree murder and second degree murder or an unborn child (2008 HB 1845). Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. tit. 18. § 2601 et seq. define crimes again an unborn child, including criminal homicide, murder, voluntary manslaughter, and aggravated assault of an unborn child. Unborn child is defined as in § 3203, to mean an individual organism of the species Homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.)  (For more state laws on fetal homocide, click here.)

This isnt an issue that can be settled in a day.  It is a topic that will always inspire passionate feelings on both side of the aisle.  Sadly, like many of the issues of the developing world, it is also an issue that will also inspire people on both sides who are willing to be nasty and inhumane in how they argue and fight.  I hope that's not where we have to be.  I hope that's not where arguments have to reside, in some hell of anger and hatred against one another.  Rather, I'd hope that nonviolence and love- on both sides of the issue- would prevail and we'd be able to sit together and converse, like the humans we claim to be and (both sides) claim to be fighting for.  I hope that we'd be able to see our battles as ones that we fight because, morally, we have no choice in matter: we must stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

The pro-abortion folks I know truly believe they are fighting for women's rights and for a group that is marginalized; the pro-life folks feel the exact same way. 

One of my heros, as I mentioned earlier this week, was Martin Luther King, Jr.  His message of love over hate, and of nonviolence at all costs, are ones that continue to inspire me today.  As we debate and advocate, his words, more than any other, I think can guide us in seeing the humanity and worth in those we disagree with.  "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

Perhaps, however, this quote is the one that marks my feelings on speaking out about this issue, in spite of the negative comments or disagreement.  "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."  This is something that matters to me, on so many fronts.  Agree or disagree, my silence would guilt my own heart.

Because We All Know

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

14 comments
Today is the day that, as faithful Catholics, we fast and pray in remembrance and honor of the unborn.  The fact that it is January 22nd is no accident; today marks the annivesary of the legislation that, in the U.S., made abortion on demand completely legal.  For many, Catholic and not, this is a day where we contemplate and remember, mourn and pray, and hope for a future where even the smallest among us are treated with dignity.  It goes without saying that it is a day that is tough for me to swallow as the mother of babies who have died and miscarried babies that I would have given anything to bring home with me.  It goes without saying that as a child whose birth mother tried to abort, this day is a tough one because it makes me wonder how different the world I know would be if I wasn't in it. 

A Facebook friend shared this article and, honestly, I can't say it better, so, with permission, I'm sharing it instead.  Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, we all know what we are doing.  Regardless of the reasons why we stand on the side we do, we all know.

(Just as a note, I dont know John Piper and I dont know his beliefs, so in sharing this, I'm just discussing this single article and the positions he presents therein.)

***
We Know They Are Killing Children-All Of Us Know
by John Piper

One biblical principle of justice is that the more knowledge we have that our action is wrong, the more guilty we are, and the more deserving of punishment (Luke 12:47–48). The point of this blog post is that we know what we are doing — all America knows. We are killing children. Pro-choice and Pro-life people both know this.
But before I show that, let’s clarify what the Supreme Court did forty years ago today. In Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court in effect made abortion on demand untouchable by law. The way this was done was with two steps.
One step was to say, laws may not prevent abortion, even during the full nine months, if the abortion is “to preserve the life or health of the mother.” The other step was to define “health” as “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age — relevant to the well-being of the patient.”
For forty years this has meant that any perceived stress is a legal ground for eliminating the child. We have killed fifty million babies. And what increases our guilt as a nation is that we know what we are doing. Here’s the evidence that we know we are killing children.

1. Anecdotally, abortionists will admit they are killing children.

Many simply say it is the lesser of two evils. I took an abortionist out to lunch once, prepared to give him ten reasons why the unborn are human beings. He stopped me, and said, “I know that. We are killing children.” I was stunned. He said, “It’s simply a matter of justice for women. It would be a greater evil to deny women the equal right of reproductive freedom.” Which means women should be no more encumbered by the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy than men. That equal freedom from the burden of bearing unwanted children is the basis for abortion that President Obama refers to again and again when he talks about equal rights for women. We know we are killing children.

2. States treat the killing of the unborn as a homicide.

We know what we are doing because 38 States (including Minnesota) treat the killing of an unborn child as a form of homicide. They have what are called “fetal homicide laws.”
It is illegal to take the life of the unborn if the mother wants the baby, but it is legal to take the life of the unborn if she doesn’t. In the first case the law treats the fetus as a human with rights; in the second case the law treats the fetus as non-human with no rights.
Humanness is defined by the desire of the strong. Might makes right. We reject this right to define personhood in the case of Nazi anti-Semitism, Confederate race-based slavery, and Soviet Gulags. When we define the humanness of the unborn by the will of the powerful we know what we are doing.

3. Fetal surgery treats the unborn as children and patients.

High risk pregnancy specialist, Dr. Steve Calvin, in a letter some years ago to the Arizona Daily Star, wrote, “There is inescapable schizophrenia in aborting a perfectly normal 22 week fetus while at the same hospital, performing intra-uterine surgery on its cousin.” When the unborn are wanted, they are treated as children and patients. When they are not wanted, they are not children. We know what we are doing.

4. Being small does not disqualify personhood.

The five-foot-eight frame of a teenage son guarantees him no more right to life than the 23-inch frame of his little sister in her mother's arms. Size is morally irrelevant. One inch, 23 inches, 68 inches — does not matter. It is morally irrelevant in deciding who should be protected. We know what we are doing in killing the smallest.

5. Not having developed reasoning does not disqualify personhood.

A one-month-old infant, nursing at his mother's breast, does not have reasoning powers. But only a few dare argue that infanticide is therefore acceptable. Most know better. Outside and inside the womb the infant cannot yet reason, but is a human person. We know what we are doing.

6. Being in the womb does not disqualify human personhood.

Location or environment does not determine a right to life. Scott Klusendorf asks, “How does a simple journey of seven inches down the birth canal suddenly transform the essential nature of the fetus from non-person to person?” We know what we are doing.

7. Being dependent on mommy does not disqualify personhood.

We consider persons on respirators or dialysis to be human beings. The unborn cannot be disqualified from human personhood because they are dependent on their mother for food and oxygen. In fact, we operate on the exact opposite principle: The more dependent a little one is on us, the more responsibility we feel to protect him, not the less. We know what we are doing.
(Those last four observations, #4-7, were summed up by Scott Klusendorf under the acronym SLED: Size, Level of development, Environment, Degree of dependence — none is morally relevant for the definition of human life.)

8. The genetic make up of humans is unique.

The genetic make up of a human is different from all other creatures from the moment of conception. The human code is complete and unique from the start. Once that was not known. Now we know.

9. All the organs are present at eight weeks of gestation.

At eight weeks of gestation all the organs are present. The brain is functioning, the heart pumping, the liver making blood cells, the kidney cleaning the fluids, the finger has a print. Yet almost all abortions happen later than this date. We know what we are doing.

10. We have seen the photographs.

The marvel of ultrasound has given a stunning window into the womb that shows the unborn, for example, at 8 weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. Watch this four-minute video of the developing unborn child. We know that they are children.

11. When two rights conflict, the higher value should be protected.

We know the principle of justice that when two legitimate rights conflict, the right that protects the higher value should prevail. We deny the right to drive at 100 miles per hour because the value of life is greater than the value of being on time or getting thrills. The right of the unborn not to be killed and the right of a woman not to be pregnant may be at odds. But they are not equal rights. Staying alive is more precious and more basic than not being pregnant. We know what we are doing when we kill a child.


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Unarmed Truth and Unconditional Love

Monday, January 21, 2013

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Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the states.  It's a holiday and the idea is that you'll use this day off (if you indeed have it off) to volunteer and do something for others.

I have to admit: since childhood, MLKjr has been one of my heros.  Without 2 of my primary school teachers, that might not have been the case.  But now, 22 years since having those teachers, I still can remember and hearing Dr. King's voice still brings chills.

Part of 5th grade (I was 10) in Mrs. Churchwell's class meant the memorization of key things in American History.  Up until this point, I dont remember too much of history being taught in primary school, but in this grade alone I memorized (and still remember) the Declaration of Rights (from the Declaration of Independence), the Preamble to the Constitution, and Martin Luther King, Jr's speech I Have a Dream.  Even now, his haunting words are something that I know I'll never forget and they speak of a world that I want my children to live in.

(You can read his entire speech here, although I highly recommend that you take the time to really hear it.  There is nothing like watching the old black and white footage of him speaking.)

Yesterday, Bobby asked me if we could make cupcakes.  I told him yes, but that we would make them tomorrow, in honor of a very special man who wanted to make the world a better place by loving others and by not hurting people.

"St. Francis?" Peter inquired.

"Martin Luther King, Jr." I answered.  He smiled, probably wondering why our 3 year old deserved a history lesson when all the poor kid wanted was cupcakes. 

We made the cupcakes this morning (a nice mingle of vanilla cake with chocolate frosting) and I talked a little bit about MLKjr while we did so.  Was he a saint? No.  He had extramarital affairs and even plagurized part of his doctoral thesis.  Was he a hero?  I'd say yes.  Human though he was with plenty of human errors (just like the rest of us), he believed in love and peace and he never gave up the hope that one day, regardless of the colors of our skin, we could live together in harmony.  He saw a world where my children are just children- not olive skinned or pale skinned, not brown eyed or blue, not typical or atypical but just people perfect by their humanity-, a world where they could love without bounds and dream without reason.

Every day, we need that message.  Today, some times we need it more than ever.

13w4d

1 comments
I should call this post "Smoother Moving".  Sorry, that was gross.

We'll start on the TMI front: I'm feeling so much better.  A thank you to all the people who commented, texted, FBed, and emailed me their stories and advice.  I opted for an Activia yogurt in the morning before breakfast, 4oz of prune juice 3x a day (before each meal), 6oz of pear juice with dinner, and I'm keeping the 100mg of Colace 3x a day.  I started this yesterday (sort of) with an Activia, one 4oz shot of prune juice, and the pear juice (plus my typical 300mg of Colace).  And today?  2 successes!  YAY!!!  I've never been so happy for nasty prune juice.

And while people told me, it's not so bad.  What are you drinking???  It looks like dirty water and tastes like what I imagine that would!  I hold my breath and chase it with water (good thing- more water, I think!).  Someone recommended cutting it with plum juice.  While prunes are dried plums, the juices are actually different.  Plum juice is sweeter since the prunes have been dried first and the juice is made from the dried end product. Think the difference in taste between grapes and raisins, sun dried tomatoes and vine fresh, or (duh) plums and prunes.  I love plums... Prunes? Not so much.  I almost picked up some plum juice, but I'm cheap... Prune juice was cheaper and I can hold my nose.  But still... Yuck!  (On that note, Peter says I'm a big baby.  He's right, no doubt!)

***
I've been having interesting pulling in my abdomen.  It could be round ligament pain.  But Dr. H. had mentioned that some women with dynamic cervix issues tend to shrink/lengthen throughout pregnancy and that, with the TAC, you can feel the cervix trying to change against the stitch.  Could it be that?  I dont know.  But if it is, wow... I change way earlier than I thought.  Without having a 24-hour ultrasound going, it would be pretty impossible to know that, though.  I'm not worried, but the stretching is an interesting feeling.  I'm imagining that I'm feeling it in a different way because of all the weight I've lost and how my body has changed shape.

***
I have a request: just do me a favor and say and extra prayer for us over the next 2-3 weeks.  We have some things going on and, while I'm not going to blog about it right now, I'd appreciate your warm fuzzies and prayers offered on behalf of our family.

13w2d

Saturday, January 19, 2013

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I'm hungry.... I can't complain because Peter, perfect guy that he is, has already taken my "order" for Subway and is on his way.  But, the one track mind is at play, so... I'm hungry.

I'm taking baby steps to kick my previous history where the sun doesnt shine.  No decision on the whole nursery-in-our-room vs own-nursery yet, but my current wardrobe has dropped to the few maternity shirts a friend lent me and yoga pants.  I'm feeling frumpy.... (I think, amplified, because my friend Rebecca- if you homeschool, totally check out her page, especially Homeschool Mondays- has challenged herself to give up the pony tail for a month in an attempt to de-frump-ify... I have blow dried my hair for 3 days... still a pony tail, but blow drying??? not me, people!)  So, as much as the whole 'dont do things you'll have to undo' still haunts the back of my mind, I decided to look into more maternity clothes.  I went to my favorite local site, craigslist, and typed in maternity, finding a lot of things for sale near where Peter works.  Emailed with the mom, had a nice back and forth, and ultimately, Peter picked up two huge bags (plus a cocktail dress- gorgeous!) and brought them home.  As I took each item out for the wash, I realized that there was quite a bit more in the bags than I thought.  As in, two loads of laundry!

This morning, I cleaned my closet.  It was impossible to fit in a few more pieces; I had to actually take out non-maternity clothes and box them for the basement.  My closet is still full- that's how much stuff this woman gave me! (I mean, I paid for it, but she made a deal for it, and I'm convinced she added pieces).  The clothes are nice too- pretty but in excellent shape.  I'm wearing one of my "new" outfits now, and it feels strange to be in real clothes and not workout wear!

***

The whole "nesting" thing has been lost on me.  I mean, I wanted a nursery with the other kids and wanted things squared away, but the compulsion that my friends spoke of?  Never had that.

Until now.

Hot diggity dog...  It's a crazy feeling of needing to get X done.  Like washing the walls.  Or cleaning out the floor of my closet and organizing my shoes.  Or changing out my desk for the newer (smaller) one that is in the garage.  When the feelings hit for actually getting baby stuff done?  God help us (and my previous history) because I dont know if I'll fight the urges!

***

Peter told me that he felt "boy" again today, and unlike his vote for Xerxes as the name, felt the name "Michael", which is my choice if this baby is a boy.  Perhaps Michael Xerxes?  ("he who is like God", "hero of heros")  We'll see.... I'll have to start a poll soon.  Boy or girl... I still have no idea.

***

And now, for the TMI section.  Constipation blows.  I realize this is a common pregnancy complaint, but (like puking, etc) this is something I avoided in the past.  The Zofran plus the iron-heavy prenatal plus just being pregnancy... ugh.  I'll spare you the gory details but it's a rough time.  I reached out to some moms on my TAC board and got some great suggestions, so I'm going to the supermarket later.  Prune juice (mixed with plum), pear juice, Activia yogurt.  I drink so much water, so adding more of that isnt really possible (well, I'm sure it is, but you get the point) and I already take 100mg of Colace 3x/day, but I'm at the point of asking for a prescription from Dr. B.  Yeah... That B-A-D.  But we'll see... Hoping the juice and trading (at least for now) my Greek yogurt for the Activia will help...  Ideas?  I'm open to them!

Unspeaking

Friday, January 18, 2013

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There are times when I wish we could just say things to get them out and then have the world move on as though we hadn't said them because saying them wouldn't help a situation and would just make things worse.  Know what I mean?

My dad visits on Fridays.  He'd prefer that I drive the half hour each way and pick him up which, in inclimate weather, I do, although with a newborn, that will cease because it will be too much with a baby plus Bobby and Maya when he can get here on his own.  I keep Fridays clear of playdates and plans; the kids start asking for him, usually, midweek, and by Friday morning are jumping up and down because PawPaw is coming!!!  My dad and I are different in most ways and the visits tend to have me  stressed by the end of the day, but they love Fridays sooooo much, and my dad is a great grandfather with them (usually).  He paints with them and builds castles with them.  He's only 61 (but has torticollis which is medicated with orals and injectibles), so he's fairly young, and they adore him and the way he gets on the floor with them.

Have I mentioned how much they look forward to his visits?  How they go to the door and ask for him on non-Fridays?  How all I hear about on Friday morning is "PawPaw... PawPaw... PawPaw..." ?

My dad has a habit of cancelings.  He's sick.  He doesn't feel well.  His neck is bothering him.  He's having bathroom issues.

These are all possible.  I'm not saying he's lying.  Except when I catch him later.  Like the time he texted that he was sick and then, the following week, slipped up and admitted he was painting.  When I called him on it, he was like "Oh, well I didnt feel great..." but I cut him off and told him that I'd just prefer he not lie and just tell the truth.  And, for the love of all things holy, to give me notice so that I can tell the kids.  Texting me at 8am on a Friday or 9am on a Friday telling me you aren't coming isn't helpful when the kids are rushing me through breakfast/dressing/potty so that they can race to the car.

So, this morning, 8am, a text comes in, canceling.  At this point, when I see them, I dont even respond because I know I'll just be angry and it's not worth it.  The kids are begging and I have to say those dreaded words: "PawPaw isn't coming."

Bobby doesn't usually cry.  He'll go to the front door and try to open it, saying "PawPaw?" and I'll go and gently remove him and say the sentence again.  He'll go to the picture window, climb up the couch, and press his face to the glass, looking outside before turning, "PawPaw?"  And, again, the gentle decline.  At this point, he'll go to a toy (or his chair in the kitchen) and throw it (or knock it over), a pained look on his face.  Sometimes he'll run to the door to the garage and bang on it and whine.

Maya is a crier.  Her bottom lip quivers, she murmurs "PawPaw's not coming?", and then fat tears start.  And continue.  And she sobs.  I tried once explaining that he wasnt feeling well (what I was told) and she just cried harder because then she worried he was sick or hurt, so I no longer give excuses.  The not coming is enough to make her upset enough to throw up. 

Today, I waited a bit before telling them, trying to find an alternative, which thankfully presented.  A neighborhood friend and her sons were free, so we all met up at the local McDonald's which has a huge indoor play area and played... for 3 hours!  There were plenty of kids there and Bobby and Maya (and D and T) had a blast, so it was a great morning, considering.  So, when I told the kids my dad wasn't coming, I immediately followed it with "but let's do socks, shoes, and coats, so that we can go and meet D and T for playing!"  It took a while because they were confused, but the idea of playing must have eventually won out.  I havent mentioned my dad to them; I kind of expect that they will ask me after nap, and I'm debating on what to do.  My MIL texted me that she's free if we're up for company after nap, so I may suprise them with a visit from her (which they'll love).

But there's this unspeakable anger.  Not unspeakable because I cant describe it but unspeakable because I just cant say it.  Things slip out, dont get me wrong.  I'm not known for being able to hold my tongue and more than should comes out when I'm ticked off.  For example, last week my dad just wasnt playing with the kids.  He wanted to sit on the couch and talk to me (he hadn't been here for a month due to not feeling well.  He even missed Christmas.  I talked to him on the phone and he sounded as sick as we were, so I dont doubt he had the flu too).  He's a talker and he lives alone, so I get that.  But the kids were C-R-A-Z-Y over him finally being here.  They wanted to show him their toys, they wanted to drawn, they wanted to build, they just wanted him.  They had begged for him for a month and finally, here he was!!!!  And yet, every time they tried to get him to play, it was "In a minute" or "After a while", and they were getting frustrated.  At one point, Maya looked over at me, and the look was crestfallen.  So, because my filter doesn't always work, I said, "I'm not sure why you come over if you aren't going to play with them; they look forward to seeing you and playing with you all week."

Clearly, this was rude.  I know this.  After I said it, I knew it (although I didn't apologize because it wouldn't have been real- It was how I felt.  It was just rude.)

He wasn't happy with the comment (understandably), made a retort, and then got up and played with them.  And they were over the moon.  It was only for an hour because then I started lunch, they ate, and then they went to nap, but they were so happy.  I heard about that one hour for days after.

They love him.  They adore him.  They want to play with him and be with him, so the idea of not having Friday set aside doesnt work, especially since, beginning in July, they will have half day school on Friday morning and then only see him in the afternoon anyway.  I want to give them as much time as I can with him because memories with your grandparents are fleeting and, truth be told, they will remember the good times way more than they will remember the days he flaked on visiting them.

But I'll remember.  And, like the Irish temper, I'm an Irish grudgeholder too.  I try not to be.  I know this is a problem of mine; I'm working on it.  But it's a character flaw.  So, I left, speaking but unspeaking.  Wanting to blow off, but knowing it wont do any good (and that it wont set a good example). 

He is who he is.  Things like this arent going to change.  (And I'm not suggesting he didnt feel well today; with his meds, etc, it is always a possibility.)  He's never going to remember to give me notice if he's canceling and he's not sick.  (For example, Feb 1st is a Friday.  We aren't having a visit that day; it's Nicholas's birthday and we'll go to Mass at 8:30, breakfast after, and then do something with the kids.  I've mentioned this already, but I will remind him again next week and then the Wed/Thurs of the week in question.  Otherwise, he wont remember).  He's never going to understand just how much his absence impacts the kids, regardless of the reason why.  When he's asked why I'm upset with him, and I tell him that it has nothing to do with my schedule being impacted but that the kids are so very sad when he doesnt come, he doesnt seem to get it.  They'll get over it.

I'm sure they will.  But I can't tell you how much I'm dreading telling them that my MIL is having double knee surgery and that they wont be spending Wednesdays with she and my FIL for quite a few weeks.  I know that's not going to go over well.  Thank God for our church playgroup which I will take them to, because that will at least give them something to look forward to doing, but they know... The know Wednesdays are Grandpa and Uita days; they start looking forward to it from the moment they come home with us on Wednesdays and, from Monday on, I'm hearing about "On Wednesday, we're going to Uita and Grandpa's house..."  And this is something I have time to prepare them with!  We've already started dropping hints and, once February starts, I'll make it more official to them, but I know that first Wednesday is going to suck.  (Peter will be home, actually, because I have an OB appt but the next week, he'll be in Holland, so man... it is REALLY going to suck!)  So, will they get over their sadness and disappointment? Yes.  Will they remember in the long term?  Probably not.

Will it suck in the meantime.  Hell yes. 

I wish, I just wish, that there was an easy answer, but there's not.  As warmer weather approaches, it will be easy to walk to a park and grab an ice cream on the way back, but now?  In the cold and bitter wind?  Options are limited and, without scheduling things in advance, I'm not sure if we could pull together friends for a playdate like we did today.  Thankfully, there are indoor areas where the kids can make a quick pal, which is nice.  But I still feel sad about the whole thing.

***
An update on Peter's business trip: He'll be gone the last week of February.  I'll be 18-19 weeks when he's gone.  I'm nervous, but thanks to Sarah agreeing to stay with me and having an awesome network of friends in the area, I know that, God forbid, something happen and I need to go to the hospital, the kids will be okay and taken care of until I can get back to them.  And that makes me feel a bit more at peace with the whole thing.  (Not that anything is going to happen... Things will be fine...)

13w1d

2 comments
There are some days that I want to say "Screw you, history!  This pregnancy is going to be damn textbook perfect (except for the whole, cesarean-at-38-weeks part) and you can't stop me!!!"

I mean, clearly, if I'm talking to my "history" it may be time to visit the local shrink, but still....

The second trimester... Risk of loss drops from 25%+ to 1-5%, depending on history.  I'm in that 5% but still, 5 out of a 100.  I mean, if someone told you that you had a 95% chance of winning the lotto, you'd play, right?  I know plenty of couples who, in addition to telling at the 13 week mark, also start baby registries and nursery prep.

I mean, I was one of them... Five years ago, but still. I think I was actually 11 weeks or so when the drywall to the nursery (off our bedroom, at our old house) went in and the sage green paint went up on the walls.  And then the baby registry... That thing that us infertiles reallllllly wait for because we've waited so long.... Peter and I spent hours at that evil BRU shooting things with the scan gun.  It was 12w2d that I updated the registry for Bobby and Maya, as I laid around in bed on bedrest-post-TVC and trying to keep myself thinking positive.

After losses, I think we push the idea of these things farther and farther back.  Don't make a nursery that you will just have to take down.  Don't register for a shower you aren't going to end up having (or worse, one that you'll have and then have to return the gifts because your baby never came home).  Don't wash the baby clothes... Don't deck the crib... Don't, Don't, Don't.... Don't jinx it.

Quite a number of my friends didnt even a have a carseat when their babies were born and had to run out to get one before leaving the hospital.  Some had no nurseries or beds set up and the baby slept in a clothes basket for a night until someone could put it together.  Some had helpful grandmas washing laundry as mom and baby were being discharged.  Don't jinx it.

There is a part of me that says even thinking about it runs the risk of the JINX.  I'm not so worried about baby registries; I don't plan to have a shower, not because this baby isn't as loved or doesn't deserve the attention, but showers (in my mind) are really to help new parents who dont have the basics get the basics, while honoring the new baby-to-be.  We have the basics.  We dont have clothes or anything (because, the Universe has a sense of humor and I had literally just sold them all on craigslist when I got pregnant) but as far as big ticket items, we have a fair amount.  Maybe I'll have a mother's tea?  Invite my crazy friends to our favorite tea house and overrun the place for lunch?  But making a formal registry isn't part of  my agenda so, Jinx, be gone!

But the whole room thing...  That's on my mind a lot.  Worst case scenario, we do absolutely nothing and, the creche that is waiting patiently in the basement comes up the day we come home from the hospital.  No big deal.

But we're not converting the playroom into a nursery (at least, I dont think we are... I suppose we should talk about this more... If that changes, then I wouldnt want to do the nursery until way later just because the kids use that room).  Our current plan is to have the crib in our bedroom and then, when the baby is older, transfer the baby into a room with either Bobby or Maya (with the other  child in their own room/the playroom).  This, of course, means a revamp of our bedroom, which is big but kind of full, seeing as I have my desk and 2 bookcases in there.  Some stuff can be removed or moved elsewhere, but there are the logistics.

And there's me.  I'm one of those people who really loves to move furniture around (while Peter is not) and while I know that he has to be my braun at this point, I want to be mobile (and not bitchy) enough to be able to participate and have whatever vision comes into my head work itself out in the room.

Which leads me to: wanting to kick the JINX where the sun doesn't shine and say "Hey! 2nd Trimester here! It's GOING TO BE smooth sailing to the end!" while rationalizing the part of my mind that says "No harm in waiting until late June to do stuff... Just because you wont be physically able to do much, at least you dont have to worry about putting stuff up just to put it away". 

To add to it all are Bobby and Maya.  We opted to tell the kids about this baby early because, Bobby especially, needs time to process and adjust.  Waiting until later wouldn't work for him.  For Maya, she told us we were pregnant (no joke) and then proceeded to tell the world she was a big sister, so confirming it meant we could at least give her real information, and she loves the entire process.  Bobby is just now (after almost 2 months) starting to understand that there is a baby.  So, as I said, it takes him a bit of time.  Putting the nursery sooner rather than later gives them a chance to get used to the idea and see how things are changing (since they love our bedroom).

And yet... That whole jinxing thing.

Pregnancy would be so much easier if not marred by the truth that some babies dont come home... if memories werent laced with putting up nurseries just to take them down... if rocking chairs didnt hold blankets and tears and instead were just full of nursing and snuggles.

I do believe- I really DO- that this pregnancy will be different, that this baby will be the first to see the third trimester and that we will have a different outcome than ever before.  And I've been (for the most part) pretty zen and relaxed.  The first trimester flew by and worrying hasnt played a big role because I'm living by the whole "I'm doing my best and that's all I can do" motto.  But this... This is an actual decision that isn't life or death, that doesn't have to be made now or later, that is just one of those things

You've Made a Difference

Thursday, January 17, 2013

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I truly believe that.  And I am so grateful.  Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and the positive energy that you directed towards Maya's godfather and our dear friend.  When I reached out, we were all in the midst of tears and fears, having been told to expect the worst and that an experimental trial was the only hope left.  All that remained was a bone marrow biopsy to make sure that he was eligible (and that the cancer cells werent still through the roof and too high for treatment).

I don't even know what to say.  From that place of fear and despair, there was always the candle burning with that little flame of hope, and since I can't even write the words through my tears, I'll let the words of Bobby's godmother do it instead.

"E came home last night. He is very stable and doing so well that they saw no need to keep him in the hospital.....also the bone marrow biopsy came back showing that the leukemia is in a remission for now.  The doctors can see that he is in remission, but aren't sure what is causing the effect. They think that the steroids he took to lower the high cell count are possibly holding the leukemia at bay for now, but are not sure for how long.  We are asking God for a miracle and are grateful beyond words for this time. Please pray with us that the donor cells will now have the chance to develop and fight for E.
All glory to God,
J"



E isn't out of the woods yet and the road is still a long one, but for now it is one where the cancer is being beaten down.  Please continue to pray for him, to think of him, to hold him near your hearts, and to focus your positive and healthy energy his way.  His family are grateful, and so are all of us who love him and want to see him well again.

But thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

It's the Little Things

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I can't believe that, in 2 weeks, Nicholas's birthday will be here... that in less than a month, Sophia's birthday will be here.  February 1st and 16th: 5 years old.  Has it been that long since they were born?  5 years since little fingers touched mine... since little chests yearned to breathe... since their warm skins were pressed against mine... since their bodies and mine comingled at that sacred dance of mother and child?  Has it really been that long?

Some days, it feels like this is who I always was.  Other days, it feels like was yesterday and I'm still gulping in air, trying to rectify the what-happened with the what-was-meant-to-be and the what-might-have-been.  But, at the end of the day, this is simply what is.  And it is five years that they were here.

Each year, we try to do something special.  We're thinking about taking Bobby and Maya to the Please Touch Museum on Nicholas's birthday.  They love museums and PTM seems like something five year olds would have loved to do.  We'll of course have their dinners, and I'm debating throwing a little Super Bowl something or other to remember them both, since this year (although it wont be NY vs NE) the SB falls on the same date it did in 2008... their birthdays on the same days of the week as back then... 

As I was emailing back and forth with Bobby and Maya's preschool teacher, I wrote something without premeditation and emailed it without thought.  I didnt know, but if they were celebrating St. Valentine's Day, would they have a party and, if so, was a family selected for cupcakes yet?  (Each party, a different family is asked to contribute something).  And, if they werent having a party, would it be alright if I sent in cupcakes on the 14th?  And then I shared a bit... Bobby and Maya have 3 older siblings in heaven... Their twin siblings would have turned 5... Sophia on the 16th... I'd like to have thought I'd be sending cupcakes in for their birthdays with them but, since that isn't possible, if it isn't a problem, could I send them in with Bobby and Maya instead?  To remember and do something special and childlike? 

Her email, as her emails always were, was beautiful and compassionate and welcoming of my cupcakes.  She was sweet and said that if sending in cupcakes for their party would be a way for us to commemorate and remember Nicholas and Sophia, then by all means, we were the cupcake family.  And that she would think of them and know why the cupcakes were there.

It's the little things... It's the not feeling out of place sharing, it's the having other people explain that, in these little ways, we are able to go on and remember with peace...  That in knowing those 20+ kiddos and their teachers will be enjoying cupcakes that I'm making with all my kids, especially Nick and Sophie, in mind, we will be able to smile...  It's those things that make this journey doable.

I've been thankful to their teacher so many times for her kindless and love towards Bobby and Maya.  In randomly picking us to be the cupcake family for Thanksgiving (Alexander) and allowing us to do it for Valentine's (Nicholas and Sophia), my heart overflows with her for my older three as well.

Sequential Scan Update (12w6d part 2)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

5 comments
The scan went well.  I have to go to a local lab for bloodwork today, but otherwise this is something we can check off the list!  The tech said that everything looked great and normal, and seemed confident that the TAC would get us to our July delivery!

Baby measured several days ahead at 13w3d.  Heartbeat was 158 beats per minute.  The little bean was bouncing up and down, sucking his/her thumb, and had hiccups.  Very adorable and VERY reassuring.

12w6d
A truly awesome way to end this first trimester!

12w6d

2 comments
The last day of the first trimester is here... and I'm ringing it in with a visit to the perinatal testing center this morning.  I saw these high risk docs and u/s techs so often during my pregnancy with Bobby and Maya that it seems odd to think I'll only (possibly, hopefully) see them twice this pregnancy, once today and once for the 20 week scan.  I'll post pictures once I have them, from today's scan.

So far, this first trimester has flown by.  It seems like yesterday that there was the positive pregnancy test (or several), the blood test results, the first OB appointment and so on and so forth.  Now, it's looking forward to the next leg of the journey: to the 15 week appointment and, possibly, a gender!, to P17 shots, to Nicholas and Sophia's birthdays and the scary stage of pregnancy where everything seems to go down in a handbag, and Peter's trip to Holland.  Not to mention, I'll be teaching yoga on Tuesday nights and Wednesday nights this spring and I still plan on being an assistant coach for CYO, this time with track (XC is in the fall).  Busy girl...  I'm hopeful that this pregnancy will continue on the normal, textbook line and all these things will be possible.  And, if not, then I'll cross that bridge when I get there, but I am soooo hoping.

And a new fun thing... MOVEMENT!

At 12w5d with Bobby and Maya, I felt them moving around which, I think is also around the time I felt Alexander.  It's kind of funny that yesterday, at 12w5d, I had something I could distinguish as 'baby' versus something else (like, TMI, gas).  I was in the car and the seatbelt was against my lower belly when I felt something pressing it from the right side.  Thinking I knew what it might be, I moved my hand inbetween the belt and my belly and pressed lightly.  After a few seconds, there was the telltale pressure of someone downt here.  No distinguished kicks or anything like that, but definitely something.  Wow... What a way to celebrate the day!

Well, I'd better get going to my appointment!  I'll update later...

Speaking Up

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2 comments
Originally posted here

Sometimes, it feels like it is a neverending, step-forward-step-backwards dance with Bobby's speech. Friday's (IU) speech was barely okay; last night's speech, according to Peter, had more good than bad but there were parts where he just wouldnt focus. To show that he has his mom's bad attitude, when the therapist was saying "Hi" and trying to get him to respond (and he wouldn't), she wrote Hi on a notecard and gave it to him, hoping he'd read it off verbally (this is a technique we use since he's a good reader). Instead, Peter said he looked at her, took her pen, flipped the card over, wrote Hi, and gave it back to her.

Smart-ass... Just like his mom... And you know, I smiled with pride at the story. :)

Today, as he continues to try and recenter on school after the 2 week break (and we struggle with still not having an aide...), he had some verbal successes on the way home. I always ask "How was school" and usually Maya tells me all about their days. On Thursday when I asked, Bobby actually answered "Fun". So, today, after Maya told me about the day, I looked in the rearview mirror and said "Bobby," to which he looked up and made eye contact with me through the mirror, "how was your day?" He smiled and said, "I had fun at school."

Major Score!!!

Then we drove by the car dealership on Main Street and he yelled, "Balloons!!!" I said, "Yes, balloons! What colors do you see?"

Maya started naming the colors (red, blue, and green), but Bobby was going left-to-right, with all the colors in order. Again, huge score that he answered the question!

Of course, when I asked him what he wanted to drink with lunch, he was silent... So, you win some and you lose some.

Meanwhile, Miss Attitude is about to break me. There's only so much of a minature version of me and my bad attitude/irish temper that I can take. God, give me strength. Last night, I needed to take a time out to avoid... I dont even know what. Stringing her up by her toes? I told Peter that I just needed to hide in our bedroom for a minute or two, then I went and sat down in silence. Goodness, that child can whine! Whereas Bobby isn't as articulate as we would like, Maya is like a teenage girl trapped in a 3 year old body. If she's this absolutely insane at 3, what will 16 actually look like? Sweet Jesus, help us. Some of what comes out of her mouth is hysterical, some of it is just infuriating, but the little tone she uses when she's irritated- ugh... It's like listening to myself in stereo.

I not only got what I deserve, I got it in spades. I hope my mom is happy. My only solace is knowing that that particular curse works, so I'll be blessing my own daughter with it. :)

In spite (or perhaps even because :) ) of this stuff, I can't write things without smiling. Looking into their sleeping faces before I kiss them for their naps or refilling glasses or wiping Nutella-laced faces... It all spells out a bliss that I didnt know could be so wonderful and so stressful and so break-your-back at the same time.

Good times...

Ranting About the IU

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2 comments
Previously posted here

I probably should take a nap instead of vent, but... What fun is that?

I've heard from so many special needs parents that dealing with the IU (and groups like it) can be one of the biggest headaches. I dont love our IU by any stretch but this weekend I'm fuming.

I shouldnt be... It's not like this catches me off guard.... It just pisses me off.

So, first the good... I love Bobby's BSC. She's amazing. She 'gets' Bobby and doesnt let him get away with anything. She works really well with his preschool teacher/aides, and is just a real treasure when it comes to support for Bobby.

His OT: this is the only therapist who has contacted me to set up make-up sessions (since OT started so late) (and, actually, is the only one to not tell me they dont have to do make-up sessions, which isnt true). I think she gets Bobby as well, and am looking forward to meeting her at our home on Monday. She called me on Thursday to schedule make-ups at home so that she can get to know me and Bobby's home routine, which I think is awesome and will help him in his school therapy too. I've spoke with her a few times on the phone, and I like her, so she's a keeper.

His SEIT: I didnt really get to know her, and now she's gone (I'll get into that in a bit).

His SLP: Speech was the last thing to get assigned. I finally had to tell the IU that if they didnt assign him a therapist I was going to start calling whomever I could get to listen and, three months after his 3rd birthday (and 4 months after our initial meeting/eval), he was assigned a speech therapist. Thanks to all of the breaks the IU takes and their lack of understanding how this type of mismash impacts children who a) have a slower time processing in general and b) struggle with new situations, this has been a disaster. We've seen her twice. TWICE. There was a three week gap between yesterday and her last visit, so it was like square one again. Which is tough. It takes Bobby so long to really connect with different adults that both sessions were basically wasted. He doesnt know her, she doesnt know him. I think she wants to help him, but at this point doesnt know him and doesnt know how. Which is frustrating (for her, I'm sure, too). She seems competent and I believe her approach will be good for him; it's just getting a schedule that is really a schedule that is our problem now. And because, once again, the IU has a vacation day, she wont be here next Friday, which means when she comes back in 2 weeks, she'll still be a stranger to Bobby.

This ticks me off, but what really gets me is the one-to-one aide he is supposed to have.

Before the holidays, we had his IEP revision meeting. His case manager was late, but the news was good: he had been approved (FINALLY) for a one-to-one aide to help him in preschool. This person would be trained by his BSC and the BSC will oversee him/her. They will help Bobby particiapte in activities that he is struggling in, as well as help reinforce directions and skills (which is great, since Bobby needs a little time to process things). We were told by the IU how this would start when school resumed in January (which wasnt true exactly since the IU was on vacation when school resumed! WTF!!! ISNT YOUR JOB TO HELP KIDS IN SCHOOL????? Sorry... my fingers vented on their own). So, come his second class of the new year, we're all waiting to see how his aide, who will be at school from 8:15am-12:15pm, will work out...

At 10:15am, I got an email from his teacher. No aide. The person never showed.

I spoke to Bobby's BSC as she was leaving for the day (while I was in the pick-up line) and she was suprised the IU had assured us (Peter and I AND the school) that an aide would be starting, since they were going through the agency the BSC is from and since the BSC would be training him/her, her schedule would have to be adjusted to be on-site. She (the BSC) hadn't been notified anyone had been assigned because... wait for it... no one had been assigned!!! And she didnt hold out hope that there'd be anyone on Thursday either (she was right). She told me she'd text me once she heard there was someone assigned).

It's nice to have someone on our team because, when I emailed the IU to let them know that there was no aide, the response was that the case manager would look into it and take care of it... and I've heard NOTHING. That was Tuesday. There's been no "We havent assigned him an aide" or "The aide wasnt able to start" or anything. Nada.

I know what it is like to work for an agency that is underfunded and overworked. I know it's tough. It's not fun. There's always something to do and not enough to do it with, and someone will always be unhappy with what you are doing. But come on... The IU works with children. The work FOR children. Early theraputic intervention is what helps kids who are struggling become productive students who have confidence in their abilities and are able to work through their weaknesses with their strengths. A half-assed approach doesnt help anyone.

We're getting a new case manager, as our current one is being reassigned to a different job, and I'm hopeful that we'll be able to establish a good working relationship that will benefit Bobby. But today, I'm just frustrated (and ticked off) with how this semester is already shaping up.

Thank God for a preschool teacher and aides who never quit, and for a BSC/therapists who are really trying and working hard for Bobby's sake. Otherwise, I think I'd want to bury myself under a rock!

12w2d

2 comments
It's official... I'm gestating a barbacue/buffalo chicken wing. 

That, or a preborn junkfood addict.  I'm not sure which.

I've done, for the most part, a decent job of nutrition.  I drink my water, eat my greens, and try to make sure that I'm eating positive calories.  Now that I'm not throwing up all the time, this is way easier than it was in the early weeks.

But the cravings I'm having are ruthlessly junky!  The other weekend, potato chips and a cheesesteak (which Peter dutifully got me, even though I'm sure he secretly threw up in his mouth when he asked them to put mayo on it).  The last few weeks? Cereal (and we're not talking about the healthy, Kashi cereal of the world).  Although I've had my 2 week love affair with frosted mini wheats, for the most part, it's cinnamon toast crunch and golden grahams.  I hadnt eated these in years before the cravings hit!  And what's the best?  Mixing the two together... Mmmm.... With whole milk (which I hadnt drank in forever, since I prefer unsweetened almond milk).  But several times, I've had an INSANE NEED for chicken wings.  Not wings, actually, but the little mini-legs.  The idea of wings makes me (funny enough) nauseous, but barbacued, buffalo (yes, both if possible) little chicken legs... Ohhhh....  Thank goodness, Whole Foods knew I'd be pregnant over football season and they've had them on the hot bar.  Not together, but side by side, so I can mix them in a container and toss them to share the sauces.

Issues.... I know... I got 'em...

Today, all was well until about 10:15am when I just HAD to have them.  Maya and I were going out to grab things for dinner, so off to WF we went.  It was an act of ultimate patience to do my shopping before going near the hot bar, where I was literally praying they had them out.  And, yay!  They did!  I loaded up a container and checked out, trying my best not to drool.  When we got in the car, I popped that bad boy open and ate... and ate... and ate...  The ten minutes home was averaging more than one leg a minute because, by the time I got in the garage, I'd cleaned 14 of them!  (Oh, and there are more in the container.  God forbid I need these later and cant get back to WF for more!  Or, the fear- that someone else wants them for game day and they run out!).  I can only imagine what people who saw me must have thought: chicken in hand, licking sauce-laced fingers. 

***

All in all, things are going well.  It seems kind of nuts to be here, when I think of where I was at this stage with Bobby and Maya.  Instead of laying in bed, I'm out running (well, jogging... I am S-L-O-W these days!).  Instead of on every restriction known to obstetrics, I'm playing with my kids and snuggling them, even at almost 40 pounds for Bobby!  Instead of fearing what might happen if I took prenatal yoga, as I was with Alexander at this point, and terrified in every class, I'm teaching those classes with a smile.

I have my moments.  Last night, I cried into Peter's leg for a few minutes, overwhelmed by a moment of fear.  What if?  What if the TAC isn't enough?  What if we have to explain to Bobby and Maya that their brother or sister is in heaven with their older siblings?  A miscarriage would have been hard, but there's a part of me that knows I would survive because I've been there...  I had the miscarriage when the kids were little and it was sad and hard and heartbreaking, but it was early in pregnancy and there was no impact to the kids, other than mommy being sad.  At this point, I'd need a mini-cesarean because I can dilate; how would I explain that to the kids?  How would I feel?  For the most part, I dont think about it.  I know I'm doing all I can and that I have an outstanding medical team to make sure that we dont push anything too far and that we catch anything that does start us down a scary path.  That doesnt assure we make it to July 10th, although I have faith and am hopeful.  But I worry at times for Bobby and Maya.  And for Peter.  And for our families and friends, and myself too.  When the moments come, I just take a moment to breathe and pray.  What will be will be; I just do my best and roll with it.  That's all I can do. 

***

I'm starting to feel **something**.  It's not movement in a traditional sense.  It's more of a shifting in my lower abdomen.  It feels like a fullness that goes from one side to another.  Kind of neat :)  Makes me look forward to the little touches that I remember from Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander, Bobby, and Maya.  Those are some of my favorite memories. :)

***

The one thing that is waaaayyyy different this round is not having a clue as to gender!  I really have no idea.  I focus, I meditate, but nothing... Peter says he feels boy, and continues to call the baby Xerxes, but I have nothing...  My dad is on Team Peter, too; but Maya's godmother is on Team Maya, looking for a baby sister.  So, we'll see...  Bobby and I are silent on the issue for now :)

Review: Whitmor 12-Bin Organizer

Friday, January 11, 2013

3 comments
Originally posted here

Whenever you write a review the really, really endorses an item, it sounds like you were paid to do it. And, if you were paid, it sounds contrived. I wasn't paid for this review, nor did I get anything in return for reviewing this item. I actually bought it earlier in the week and I just really dig it. So I thought I'd share.


I live under the false illusion that I am organized. Of course, for months, my idea of living room organization (as it relates to the kids toys) is this Sterlite bin that I kept under the train table. The kiddos would randomly (and not even to play with anything) dump it in the floor. It drove me nuts. But, it was easy enough to just throw all the trains, cars, tracks, etc in it when someone was coming over. In spite of the fact that it was unorganized and didnt look all togethern neat... But hey! Trains and cars (that REALLY hurt when you step on them) weren't in the floor, so I'm organized.

Honestly, it got to the point this week (probably because a fair amount of my time is spent loving the couch) that the sound of the metal and wood and plastic crashing to the floor, the kids standing on the bin just for fun, and the all around lack of 'neat' look took me down. I just couldnt take it anymore. So I pulled up my trusted buddy, Amazon, and looked for some sort of storage. I wasn't sure what I'd get but I needed something... I wanted the living room to look more organized (I mean, it's the twins' living room too, so I didnt want to banish their living room toys to the playroom because I couldnt deal) and I just wanted something that looked (and was) more organized. Enter the bin system.

I looked at a few and, because I'm anal, read all the reviews and I opted to get the Whitmor. At an Amazon price of $55 (retail listed as $90), it was cheaper than all the other bin organizers and it had the best reviews (4 out of 5 stars). I even opted, with my Prime, to overnight it for $4 because I.WAS.DONE. I needed something and I was on the verge of meltdown central. (I know, it sounds crazy to be this UP over something so pointless but hey... I am me... This is how I roll.) I ordered it Monday afternoon, it arrived Tuesday afternoon and, after my run and while our neighborhood babysitter was still here with the kids, I unloaded the box, which consisted of 2 MDF side panels, 8 metal rods, 16 screws (17 actually), 4 large bins, and 8 small bins.

No kidding: in 15 minutes, it was assembled. The poles lined up to predrilled holes and I screwed in the one side before laying the second side on top of the poles and screwing those in. All while carrying on a conversation. It was a breeze. Then, we slipped the bins into place and voila! Ready to go. I organized the toys and decided to count down how long it would take for at least one of the bins to end up on the floor.

I'm still waiting.

For whatever reason, Bobby and Maya dig this. Maybe it is the primary colors. Maybe it is because they can now find their different types of trains and cars. Who even knows. They take toys out and play with them, but no throwing, no mess. And, when they are done, they have started putting them back! (When they havent, I have put them back, but even my stress about cleaning up has dropped- probably because I'm not cleaning up what seems like a billion small trains/cars!) It looks wwwaaaayyyy better and it even inspired me to move their chairs up and put their train table behind them (instead of in front, where it worked almost like a psuedo-coffee table to the main living area. Now, it's almost like our living room has been divided into "living room" and "play area", which is nice.

But the mess... Oh the mess... Or lack there of! THANK YOU!

It is made out of MDF (which isnt great but lends to the fiscality of it) but the metal rods seem stable (not enough to have little monkeys climb on but to able to do the job they are fine). The bins are a good, hard plastic, which I think would work well even if we didnt have the organizer anymore.

Did I mention it cleaned up the clutter?

So... if you have little ones (or you do lots of crafts) and you want something that is easy to put together, wont break the bank, and is very functional (and may even inspire your little guy or gal to clean up after themselves), I highly recommend this. I even gave it 5 stars on Amazon, so you know I like it!

Your Help Is Needed

Thursday, January 10, 2013

6 comments
I covet your help in this moment, wherever in the world you are, whatever your beliefs are, and I beg- BEG- you to join with me, right now, in this second, to pray, to send loving thoughts, to just focus on a scientific miracle- whatever works for you.

Maya's godfather (who is married to Bobby's godmother) is gravely ill.  Last year, as he was pursuing the diaconate program, a routine physical came back with alarming news and, ultimately, he was diagnosed with leukemia.  Months of treatments and a bone marrow treatment later, things looked good and, as the holidays approached, he seemed to be in remission.  We were all so grateful; we looked forward to his possible appearance, if he was up to it, at our annual 3 Kings party.  I remember looking at pictures from our 2011 gathering and smiling at the idea that, once again, this part of our 'family' would be together.  (We are close to all of the godparents of our kids; they were chosen out of an intense feeling of brotherly and sisterly love, and they play a key role in our lives.)

Christmas brought with it a new battle of tiredness and a general feeling of unwell; when the tests came back, our worst fears were confirmed.  The battle wages on, and he is still very sick.  It was a blow to all of us, especially his wife and their 2 children.  When Baby H's godmother (we are all close) called to give me the news, I remember just collapsing in my chair, feeling as though the wind had been knocked out of me.  It all looked good... How could this happen?  As I left a message on the parish priest's phone, asking him to remember E in prayers at the upcoming Masses, I felt my throat fill with a lump that I couldn't swallow.

This morning, J (E's wife) called me, asking me to light that special candle and pray...  There is nothing else right now that we can do.  They have been left with options that aren't all that happy: experimental treatment or returning to chemo (which may not work).  Or to do nothing.  Not a placce anyone wants to be, when it is just them.  Really not a place you want to be when you have a wife, a teenage daughter, and a young son.  She asked that we pray for peace in whatever choice they come to, and wisdom to come to that decision.  And, of course, that we pray for a miracle, and that he will be healed and come home to his family.

So, whatever you believe, please, please, take a moment for this intention.  If you are Catholic or Orthodox will you join me in prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?  If you are Protestant, will you lift up E in prayer and ask for Jesus's healing hand on him?  If you are a religious or spiritual person, will you beseach God, Goddess, or your special patrons to watch over E and for healing?  If you aren't religious at all, can you take a moment and send your healing, positive energy E's way?  Anything you do, in this moment, I appreciate, and I know that their family does too.

O, Sacred Heart of Jesus, who said, ask and thee shall receive, I beg that by the ardent flames of love that kindle your heart, hear my prayer. Please give wisdom and peace to E and J, and their family in this trying time and, if it is Your will, heal E of his leukemia. Grant my request of grace and pour your blessings and mercy over me, that I may be made worthy of your Divine Sacred Heart. (pause for a moment to meditate on the itention). Amen.