I’m going for it

You know those “aha” moments people talk about? I had one of those. Last Monday. In my car.

Not exactly the place or way I expected to have such an auspicious moment. There I was, driving home from work, and out of no where, I made a decision. A big one. In the 12 minutes it took to get from my office to my driveway, I decided, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am going for it. I am going to write a book.

(Pause for dramatic effect…)

I know, I know, I know – we’ve talked about this already, right? Yes, we have. I’ve been told by more people than I can count that I should write a book. I’ve asked opinions and suggestions and ideas. I’ve said maybe I will, I’ve said I’ll think about it. But until a few days ago – I had not made up my mind about any of it – the what, the when,the if, or the how…

I still don’t know how it happened. It sort of came out of nowhere and I found myself suddenly talking to my dog (who comes to work with me) about it all. And I asked Captain Pup, “why not? I mean, seriously – why am I hesitating?” He tilted his head in his cute little way and stared back at me as we sat at that red light. His look said, “No idea! You tell me why not?” Well, it’s a lot of work, for one. And for two, I had no real focus about it. I couldn’t pin point what I wanted to write about. I have several ideas, none of which I really liked. And then it hit me – in that same moment that I decided to do this, I decided how. I told Pup, “You know what? I’m just going to write my story.” He agreed. Or, at least I think that is what he meant by wagging his tail at just the right moment. I’m going to write it like I write everything else you all read here. In fact, I’m going to use my blogs as a sort of outline. I’m going to be candid and honest and occasionally witty. I’m going to capitalize too many words and italicize too many others. I’m going to use WAY too many commas and dashes – but I’m just going to do it.

I have no idea how long it will take. I have no idea how long the story will be. I have no idea what exactly I’m going to say. But the end result will be the same. I’m going to put pen to paper (really fingers to keyboard) and write a story about pregnancy, birth, parenthood, motherhood, and what it means to be a family with a Mirco Preemie.

So there. I’ve shared my aha moment with the world. I feel good about it. And I hope your constant nagging in the near future about wanting a ‘sneak peek” will keep me accountable. 😉

-Jen

P.S. I came up with the MOST AWESOME book title ever, only to realize (after a quick internet search) that someone beat me to it! I was going to call it “Half Baked.” Awesome, right? Right? I’m right. Well, it turns out there is already a book out there about a Mom of a Micro preemie and it’s called “Half Baked.” Boo. And, side note, where was that book in my engine searches last summer???? Double boo. Any witty “quick-phrase-that-says-incomplete-pregnancy” titles you think of, please comment here. I will take them into consideration. Thanks!

I shouldn’t have watched it.

*SPOILER ALERT*

If you are a Gray’s Anatomy fan and HAVE NOT watched the episodes revolving around the NICU, stop reading right now.

(Have they all left? Good.)

Ok. I admit to having been an avid Gray’s fan. Season’s 1-3 was watched religiously. If you talked while Gray’s was on, you were banned. BANNED! But after season 3, I lost interest. I stopped watching, and have NO idea where the story is now. But, by chance, I was at my SIL’s house 3 weeks ago on a Thursday, and she is still practicing the Gray’s religion. So I watched. And it happened to be the week that Callie got into her car accident and was forced to have her baby – at 23 weeks gestation.

Everyone in the room was like – ARE YOU SURE that you want to watch this. I insisted that I was fine – I knew it wasn’t real. I will admit that I got choked up seeing that VERY life like doll the same size Abigail was the day she was born. But, all in all, I was fine watching it. I was actually rather detached from it all, and just focused on appreciating my baby girl all the more. Later that night, Anthony and I discussed whether or not we would watch the next couple of weeks worth of episodes that would follow this story line that was so similar to our own. We discussed how we thought the story would go. Anthony said that he was sure they were going to over dramatize it (if that was possible) and that this poor baby was going to suffer from every possible ailment that effects a MicroPreemie, and then suddenly be well and go home and have no problems. Essentially, the most unrealistic version of this story. We agreed that we were only going to become frustrated with that version of the story, so no. We weren’t going to watch.

Always the best intentions…

Curiosity killed this cat. I couldn’t help it. I wanted to know how this story was going to go. My need to watch was 2 fold – one: I simply wanted to see how writers who have never been through something like this would portray what they had been told of this experience. And two: I wanted to know what was being put out into the universe. I mean, let’s be honest… how many people experienced the NICU for the first time ever by watching this show? (You see all those hands that went up? Yea – lots.) I wanted to know for myself what was being put into people’s heads.

Already, I had gripes. Let’s continue to be honest. Abigail was BEST CASE SCENARIO by far. You don’t get better than what we were given, and still, we had it rough. At 24 weeks, Abigail did amazing things – but that was because she was healthy. Because I was healthy. Medically speaking, a 23 weeker (not yet at the point of viability) would not survive that crash. But, lets give it the “Miracle” benefit of the doubt, shall we? I mean – I know they happen. Ok, so the baby survives. Do you remember that scene were Addison is SO PISSED because Callie wasn’t given that steroid for the baby’s lungs and she totally dismisses the other OBGYN? Yea – I got that steroid. And we were told that without it, the baby’s lungs WOULD NOT be mature enough to function outside the womb.

Janelle and I had a conversation about this one – we both got that shot and knew how important that was. SO again, we sort of had to sit there and label this pretend baby as “Miracle.” You lived through being crushed, and you breathed without medically being able to. Go you! (can you hear my sarcasm?)

Remember how I was worried that they were going to over do it? I truly thought that the next several episodes were going to revolve around the NICU (I know my whole life revolved around it for 3 whole months!). So imagine my surprise when that whole NICU experience was crammed into one episode. We went from being a 23 weeker in a severe car crash to OVER 5 POUNDS and ready to go home at 12 weeks old in one episode???? Talk about going from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds!

Ok, you have to let me vent about that for a second. Again, Abigail was best case scenario. And we were in the NICU for almost 13 weeks. We took her home at 4.5 pounds. She had NO SURGERIES and only one major infection. I’m sorry – but showing a case where a baby SMALLER AND YOUNGER than Abby is out of the NICU in less time than she was, weighing more than she did, AND throw a major, life threatening, almost-didn’t-work heart surgery is just about the most unrealistic portrayal of how this whole thing goes that could possibly have been strung together. And it frustrates me. It frustrates me because it showed almost no effort. It frustrates me for the parents out there who had better scenarios then that and were in the NICU with very sick babies for 115+ days. It frustrates me that the audience is going to think that everything in that ward is going to be all hunky-dory, when there are so many stories of struggle and strife and loss.

And here we are, one more episode later, and the NICU is a distant memory. Well, here I am A YEAR LATER and the NICU is always stepping on our heels. Abby breaks a sweat and her doctors have to know about it. I will admit that I did not want to be overwhelmed by this fictional story – I did not want them to over do it and scare the living daylights out of people. But I certainly didn’t want them to underwhelm me! I didn’t want them to act like 3 months of a ridiculously fragile baby’s life was no biggie. I didn’t want them to make people think that every story ends up ok, no matter what…

*sigh* I guess I wanted more reality. I wanted less Dr. Talk (because they had rehearsed those medical terms very well!) and more baby story. I wanted the writers to talk to real parents who’ve gone through this, rather than visit a local NICU for 2 days and just act like sponges. I wanted to know about the Nurses and what they go through. In my heart I felt that if they were going to touch on such a rare kind of story that they should do it justice, and they simply didn’t. It was fraught with medical inaccuracy and lacked the kind of emotion needed to tell that kind of story.

Oh – and as a side note – I don’t know of ANY mom, even the ones who came within inches of death (and I know more than my fair share, thankyouverymuch!) who got to stay in the hospital the whole time their baby was in the NICU. I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt that the absolute WORST DAY OF MY LIFE was the day I had to go home from the hospital and leave Abigail behind. I was actually angry that they day Callie got to go home was the same as her baby. It just doesn’t work like that – and it takes so much more strength from parents of these miracle babies than what they let on.

So, the end result is exactly what Anthony predicted: I’m disappointed in how they told this story. Our story. And the story of so many other families. And the bottom line is that I simply shouldn’t have watched it. Because the truth is that, unless you’ve lived it, you just aren’t going to tell it right.

-Jen

My Mommy is a MOMinee!!!

Alright everyone! You know those amazing photos I post of Abigail that you all LOVE to look at? Well, they are taken by the wonderful and talented Brienne of Brienne Michelle Photography. She did everything from our engagement photos and wedding photos all the way up to Abby’s 9 month photos (and we are prepping for her 1 year!)

Bree is hosting her second annual “Mother’s Day Giveaway.” She gives out a family photo shoot to a very deserving Mommy FOR FREE!!! So, my sister nominated my Mom – and rightfully so. My Mom is AH-MAY-ZING.

So, I’m calling in a favor. Please take a second to click here and vote for MOMMY #2 by leaving a comment in the comments section of the “And the MOMinees Are…” post. It would make my very first Mother’s day very awesome if we could get this for MY mom. Thanks everyone! And Happy Mother’s Day to all of you awesome Moms out there!!!

-Jen

A Mother’s Prayer

I read this today, and laughed so hard, it hurt. Tina Fey is HILARIOUS.

For those of you who haven’t read it – it is a prayer she wrote for Mother’s of daughters everywhere. And what makes it so funny is that it is painfully TRUE. We worry about everything you can imagine. We have stellar hopes and dreams for our little girls, and underneath those, we have realistic, only partially sarcastic goals for them. And yes, we still have as much attitude towards them as we did when we were snot-nosed, spoiled teenagers giving attitude to our mothers.

Being a new mom, where the whole world is at Abigail’s fingertips, I can totally relate to this humorous little prayer. Now, I don’t claim to be funny by any means. Certainly there is no comparison to my humor and that of Ms. Tina Fey! But she did inspire me to write my own prayer, in honor of Mother’s day. And, because writers write what they know, of course this prayer is specific to Abigail. Here it goes! Enjoy:

Dear Lord:
Please protect my little girl. And I don’t just mean watch over her. I mean physically protect her. Could you wrap her up in some sort of heavenly bubble wrap or something? I would really love to see that.

May she be smart. But not too smart. Too smart = smarty pants, and You made me too sarcastic to deal with a smarty pants. Just sayin’

May she be as beautiful as I think she is. Beautiful + Smart = unstoppable. And if her baby pictures are any indication of what you’ve got in store for her looks down the road then please, PLEASE, have mercy on my nerves. I worry about her enough as it is without having to worry about what those boys are thinking!

Lord, if a cat has 9 lives, how many do Micro-preemies have? A better question would be how many have we used, so far? I want to know how far we can push it… 😉

May she lead a full and fulfilling life – one where she remembers the little things like singing in the shower and calling her mother. Because you know that if she doesn’t call me, I’ll call her. And leave obnoxious messages about how she never calls me. Which will make her want to call me less. It is a vicious cycle you can end here and now. Thanks.

May she never bring home a boy who is stupid. Anthony and I can handle a lot of things. We can handle a boy with tattoos. We can handle a boy with a different upbringing. We can handle a boy who’s a little bit of a rebel. We can handle cocky, super smart, opinionated, macho, and suave. But Lord, we cannot.handle.stupid.

May she get into college. Because she doesn’t know it yet, but in our house, it isn’t really an optional ideal. It’s more like a, “You are going because we are your parents and we know what is best for you so get over it now” sort of ideal. It doesn’t have to be Ivy league – You know neither of us were… But in a world where a Bachelor’s is the new HS Diploma, it’s college or bust.

I pray that we can afford the demand I just made.

Lord, help her to know right from wrong. Guide her actions in a way that helps her along her path to greatness and does not turn my hair gray.

Lord, give her logic. Because I would really, really appreciate not having to explain that “gravity is a law that simply cannot be broken” to her more than once. Her ability to accept the world around her will help keep her safe and ultimately away from hospitals. And Lord – gonna be honest here – NOT. GOING. BACK.

And Lastly, Lord, may she be happy. I pray she is as happy in her old age as she is now – without a worry in the world and her whole life ahead of her. Thank you for blessing me (and Anthony) with this amazing gift. Please grant us the strength, patience, and energy it will take to chase her around for the next 18 years and beyond.

Amen.

Lent, My Epic Fail

Well hello, strangers! Long time, no see!

It feels good to be back online. Anthony and I moved, and then were without internet for a full month! (But that story will have to wait for another blog.)

I tried my best. I really did. But without an audience to keep me motivated, my Lenton Promise to blog daily failed. More like crashed and burned. To the point that whole weeks went by when my poor neglected computer didn’t even get turned on!

As Easter approached and I realized that I’d passed the point of no return to “fix” the situation (as in try to write one blog for every day I’d missed in a matter of 48 hours), I felt ashamed. Christ suffered on the cross. God sacrificed his only son. And I couldn’t keep up with a simple promise I’d made to both of them. Good little Christian girl, my foot! I felt like I’d let the Lord down. I felt like I’d gone back on my word. And a large part of me wanted to place blame on my circumstances as an excuse as to why I couldn’t keep my promise.

Well, God works in mysterious ways. Because I realized that I had given something up for Lent – something VERY hard to live without. It just wasn’t a choice I’d made. I truly gave up the internet and television for Lent. I did it without even knowing it! And once I’d realized it, it was SUPER hard to deal with. I had no idea how reliant I was on these luxuries in my daily life. I took for granted how easily I kept in touch with family and friends. I forgot how alone one can feel without information. I had to push myself to not become bored because I did not realize how many hours I actually spent watching my favorite shows.

LIke I said – I didn’t set out to give up Cable and Internet. Heck no! Not a sacrifice I’d choose at all! And I had to laugh. Because I thought back to every time I’ve given up something for Lent and realized that I always gave up something insignificant. Sure, inconvenient – I hated not having soda or sweets. I felt it was a great sacrifice to give up or take on little things like no swearing, or the year I read the bible, or even carving out the time in my busy schedule to blog daily. But none of those things were ever truly sacrifices. This – this was a sacrifice. And within it, a lesson God was determined to teach me. Goodness knows I tried to end the suffering quickly! I called and talked to everyone who’s anyone in the world of Time Warner and Fios. But no amount of arguing or pleading or attitude was going to bring me this technological connection I craved any faster.

But I survived. As a matter of fact, by the time I got it all back, I wasn’t all that needy anymore. Sure, I did my best to catch up on my shows – but I wasn’t craving it anymore. Sure I spent one long night attached to my computer – but really, most of it was Pampered Chef work, not leisure. And in the almost week now that we’ve had the internet back, there are days that I haven’t been on Facebook. This is the first blog. The TV doesn’t automatically get turned on just because I can. Abigail and I spend a lot more time talking to each other (and the dog) than we used to. Most importantly, I learned that  I didn’t need either of these things to survive. I can occupy my time with other things. I can get my news and information from other sources. And now that I know that, I feel like my life is a little more in balance. I’m getting more done with my time.

So while it wasn’t what I set out to do – I did make a sacrifice for Lent. Sorry to my avid readers that have missed me over the last few weeks! I promise that I won’t stop blogging just because I’m not hooked up to an internet IV anymore! And I think I am going to make more significant sacrifices for Lent from here on out.

-Jen

Big Girl Part 2

4/3/11

Success! Abby slept the whole night through. She went down around 9pm last night and woke up just before 8am today. There was one point in the very early morning that I thought we had a problem, but we ended up ok. She was crying at about 4am and I thought she had woken up and gotten upset that she didn’t know where she was. She does get upset when she wakes up in a different location than when she fell asleep, and she gets VERY upset when she wakes up from a nap while we are out and about and cannot find me or Anthony right away. I thought I was going to have to pick her up and calm her down and try to get her to sleep again.

I was wrong. She wasn’t awake. She was crying… or rather, making crying sounds. Abigail has, for lack of a better term, nightmares. Short periods of time in her sleep where something is upsetting her. She cries out, she squirms around, she can even produce tears… but she is totally asleep. And the doctors say to leave her there. If she can sleep through it, she won’t remember it. It will be like it never happened! And it’s true. So while I have to fight the urge to rush in and scoop her up, we’ve learned to wait and watch.

So, at 4am, I watched her cry and wiggle and I waited to see what happened. Within about 6 minutes, she stopped. She was sound asleep, and smiling. What a goober. Scaring me for nothing. I tip toed out of her room and crawled back into my own bed. She woke up on her own just before 8am, and started to talk to her mobile and her feet, as she always did in her bassinet. My happy baby girl.

So, there you have it. We got through the night unscathed. Apparently now, she was ready. And so were we. Cheers to yet another milestone for my amazing baby girl.

-Jen

Lent Continued…

4/2/11

Big Girl

I am beginning to realize just how attached to Abigail I am. I’m more than positive that every first-time-mom (or dad) goes through this stage where their subconscious convinces us that the best and only place to do our jobs as parents effectively is within arm’s reach of our child.

When we brought Abigail home on the heart rate and apnea monitor, this was actually true. Abigail could not be left unattended for even a moment. Because it was those moments that we thought we were finally safe to wander a bit that the stupid alarm would go off. The first night without the monitor was like the first night most parents bring their baby home from the hospital. It was like having a brand new baby all over again.

After the holidays, we got into a groove. Abigail was sleeping through the night, and we could sleep through, too, without worrying. Finally, after a few months, it was starting to feel like we could transfer her to her crib in her own room. We tried out naps in the crib and they ended up not going so well. She really didn’t like sleeping away from us.

That subconscious mind told me she wasn’t ready. Maybe it was that I wasn’t ready. Who knows? But either way, we put the crib transition on hold for a while. Both Anthony and I wanted to keep her close. And just when we thought we might be ready to try again, we found out we would be moving soon. We thought that trying to transition to a crib, only to change all of her surroundings was going to be a bit too much all at once. So we decided to wait until we were moved in to the new house before getting her to sleep in her crib.

Well, tonight is the night. The very first night she will be sleeping in a separate room, and the first night sleeping in a different bed. I’m anxious and nervous about how it will go. I hope she will sleep through the night. So far, so good. But It’s only 11:23. Wish us luck.

-Jen