Happy Birthday, Sweetie

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It was 15 years ago that I gave birth to the most beautiful
person I’d ever seen…my dear Maya. Throughout her childhood she was always patient and mostly calm. And as a teen she’s a true dream. (Don’t get me wrong. She is human) But as far as daughters go, she’s the best.  I wouldn’t want her any other way. I am so proud.

Tomorrow, Maya leaves for a week in Hawaii with her best friend M’Lynn. And all I
can do is wonder how it’s all happened so fast. I hope she has a wonderful trip, full of breathtaking sunsets and oceanic
discoveries.

It’s hard to truly put into words my honor at being your
mother, kiddo.

It is for you that I
repost your birth story today.

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Monday Memory: Maya’s Birth Story

Sometime during the Autumn of 1992 Paris and I moved back to Seattle to find a midwife and settle in to have this baby. For a while we lived
in our Volkswagen microbus. But sometime around November it became
obvious that not only was I outgrowing the tiny bus bed, but it was
quickly
becoming a tad too cold for the freedom of outdoor living to be what it
once
had. 

So we moved into a nice little hippy frat in the University
district. This place was great. There were about 15 of us living there, most
of whom were either musicians, employees of the local vegan restaurant/coffee house/juice
bar/health food co-op, or any combination of the above. As you may have ascertained, none of these
are particularly reliable sources of income. And with the house being four stories, eight bedrooms, and optimally
located there was generally a crunch for rent. We would have the best parties at the end of the month. $5.00 at the door bought admission, endless
beer and the free entertainment of 3-5 bands. It was always a gas, and we often had enough money left over to buy some
groceries for everybody. Years later,
people would stop me on the street to ask if I was the energetic, dancing,
pregnant girl.

Oh, I’m sure you can just imagine how incredibly conducive
this situation was to my gestation. Actually,
despite living on the third floor in a house that was several flights of steps
up from the street, itself, I loved it. It was great exercise. What more
does a pregnant woman need, right?

Well according to our midwife – folic acid, iron, regular
eating habits, and possibly even childbirth education classes. I took the first two, tried to do my best
with the third, but drew the line at the last one. As far as I was concerned, CBE classes were
just fine for out of touch, yuppie, new agers, but I KNEW my body, thank you
very much. Not only that, but I had read
Spiritual Midwifery until it was falling apart and was looking forward to the
rushes of contractions as well as a psychic connection with those present
during labor.

Yep. I didn’t have a
clue.

Forty weeks came and went. I began to worry a little.

Fortunately, labor began at 10:30 pm ,
a mere 3 days after my due date. I
called the midwife. She told me to get
in the bath. So we have lots of pictures
of me lying in a tub looking for all the world like a very enthusiastic
manatee. This didn’t stop my labor, but
it did slow it considerably. We called
Beth back to report contraction times. She said to try to get some sleep. She’d be sending her assistant Lynn over in a couple of hours. 

So Paris
slept. I stared at the back of his head
and became more uncomfortable with each contraction. When Lynn arrived, Paris  awoke long enough to
settle her into our big comfy chair. So
again I worried as everyone else slept.

Beth arrived the next morning to find that I’d worried
myself into a quite, panicked state. My
contractions were still further apart than they would prefer. I grew to hate my beloved stairs as Beth had
us climb up and down, pausing only to slow dance with Paris
for each contraction. In all reality I
probably only ascended those steps a few times. But in my mind the time stretched on forever. 

A few hours later, Beth checked my dilation to find that I
was at 7 centimeters. Great, 3 more to
go. I felt a bit discouraged, but was
ready to keep going. I ate some canned
pears, and wandered around a bit more. As
tired as I was, I had no doubt that this felt good, healthy and right. Two hours found me still at 7 cm. At this time Beth suggested some Cohosh
tincture and the rupturing of my membranes. Sure, I thought, whatever’s going to get this kiddo out. She scraped. I gulped.

WHAM!

My contractions hit me like a freight train. There was no psychic peace in this room. There was no connection to anyone else. As I sat writhing upon our big chair, I felt
like a horse in a fire. All I knew was
that I wanted to escape, but couldn’t find a way out of the terrifying heat.

I have absolutely no idea how much time passed before they
checked my cervix again. All I know is
that it hurt non stop, and I felt like I needed to push. God did I need to push. Beth checked me and grew a bit pale. I was told that I had swollen to 5 cm. What? Was she telling me that I was going backwards?

Apparently the pressure of my bearing down had placed undue
stress upon my cervix and it was swelling. Not only that, but the urge to push was getting stronger all the
time. She told me to lift my chin. She told me to pant. She told me to make horse noises with my
lips.

Still I writhed and grunted. This didn’t feel so right anymore. Beth held my chin in her hands as she told me that we needed to go to
the hospital. “No!” I wailed. I briefly spied Paris
looking terribly frightened, as Beth told me in no uncertain terms that I could
die if we didn’t leave. OK. She had my attention.

I’d been wandering around in an over-sized T-shirt for the
past day, and saw no reason to change that. So Lynn and Paris wrapped a sarong around my waist and we began the
descent to the street into Beth’s two door, small, economy car.   Paris
sat behind my seat which we had leaned waaaay back. It was approximately 4:30 pm when we took off across town to Providence Hospital.  Now I know that some of you are familiar with Seattle traffic. It is unbelievable at rush hour. When people in Phoenix talk to me about traffic, I unabashedly laugh in their faces. Buddy,
you don’t know what the word
means.

So there we were racing across
town in the crush of it all. We careened
around Metro buses. We ran orange
lights whenever possible. At one point I
remember looking up into the face of a man in a van. The look I saw
there, I will never
forget. I think he realized what was
going on at the moment our eyes met. There, at that moment, may have
been my one truly psychic moment during the entire labor. Poor van guy. Poor, poor van guy.

So off we went. Eventually we arrived at Providence where they wanted me to do, what else, but paperwork. As I whimpered, Paris
offered to stay and do this, while I was wheeled back to the birthing
suite. It didn’t take long to get hooked
up to all the damn machines. Fist they
screwed an internal fetal monitor into my baby’s scalp. I enjoyed my one and only personal
catheterization. They strapped an
external monitor to my belly with a large elastic band while telling me to be
as still as possible. 

Beth explained to me that the plan was to give me an
epidural so that I could numb away the urge to push. The thought was that if I was not bearing
down, the cervix would further relax and dilate according to its own
agenda. Where, I couldn’t help but
wonder, was this thinking a few hours ago when they scraped open my bag of
waters and drugged me with the tincture which began this crazy nightmare? But I didn’t say that. I said that I understood. I said that I thought that was a wise
decision. So they inserted an IV Foley. This was they could give me some fluids to
help keep me going. They apparently also
had a policy about juicing a person up prior to Epidurals. There was also the general hospital opinion
that it would be a good idea to be prepared “just in case.”

So there I lay, waiting until it was time for the
epidural. About 45 minutes later, they
were finally able to track down the anesthetist. He came in, told me to bend over, and inserted
the catheter into my epidural space. A
bit of burning and it was done. The
thing I’d never wanted was done. I
didn’t get my natural childbirth. I
cried to know that this was true. I began
to feel very otherworldly and removed. Then I looked up and noticed that everyone was looking at me strangely
as one nurse read the jagged lines on the monitor printout. You guessed it. My blood pressure had dropped dangerously
low. So I was equipped with an oxygen
mask. It didn’t take long to dampen from
my tears.

So I waited. And I
waited. And my labor slowed down. It slowed further. They talked to me about Pitocin. I agreed. They turned up the epidural to deal with the painful effects of the
Pitocin. Little did I know how typical
this story is. The difference being
that, I never planned on this. I never
wanted to “bring on the drugs.” In fact,
when I later saw my paperwork, it had a big read stamp across it that read
FAILED HOME BIRTH.  That felt good…so
good.

Anyway, after they doped me up with Pitocin and ass numbing
Epidural drugs, Beth sent Paris away to grab himself a sandwich. After
he left she leaned right down in my face. She told me that the doctors
fully expected to be doing a c-section on
me if I didn’t dilate within the next 2 hours. But, she also told me
not to worry about that. She knew me better than that. She told me to
take a nap…that I needed and
deserved it. That I was to have sweet
dreams, and when I awoke I would be fully dilated and we’d go ahead and
push
this baby out. 

And you know what? I
did just that. I took my nap. I woke up about an hour later for a vaginal
check. Lo and behold I was fully
effaced, dilated and ready.

There are,
in my opinion, no sweeter words than, “You can push, now.” And push I did.

I pushed for an hour and a half. I turned a few parts of myself inside
out. Yes, I have some truly unfortunate
photos of that, too. Aren’t you glad I
don’t post them? Sometimes I wonder how it
is that OBGYNs have families, at all.

Just when I thought that I’d never get her to come out, I
was told to feel her head. I was told to
look in the mirror. That’s my kid,
thought I. Oh my, that’s my kid! Pushing became so much easier then. She was out in just a few more
contractions.

But the elation was short lived.  Paris
caught Maya. I heard that she was a girl. I heard them instruct him to cut the cord. Then someone said, “We’ve got a slow
one.” Suddenly, she was so far away. They had her across the room, under a heat
lamp, rubbing her – so hard. “What’s the
matter with my baby?” I asked.

No one answered. But Beth looked over at me. She
said, “Call to her. Let her know that
you want her.”

“Maya”, I called, “I love you.”

We love you!”

“Come to us.”

“Maya we love you!!!”

Paris  standing
next to the table was also calling out to our baby.  She opened her eyes…that exact mirror of his. Looked straight into his, and sighed as if to
say, “Thanks for waiting.”

Everyone sighed in response…in unison. They continued to work on her for a few
minutes. Evidently, the little gymnast
had somehow wrapped her umbilical cord around her throat three (3!) times. This may have contributed to her slow start.

And as everyone was gazing at the lovely infant, I felt
something shift. Oh great. It was my leg. They’d left me at the squatting bar. And my leg was slipping out from under me and
over the side of the bed. Clinging to
the bar I tried to heft my great whale of a self back up. “Wonderful,”
I thought, “One of the most beautiful and poignant moments of my life, and I’m
going to fall naked onto the floor.” Fortunately, that did not occur. Somebody did indeed notice and I was numbly rearranged.

I stayed in that room for another little while, practicing
breastfeeding, adoring my baby, and congratulating myself. About 30 minutes later we moved to a regular
room where Paris  slept on the
floor. I spent another mostly sleepless
night. But this time it was because I
couldn’t take my eyes off of the exquisite girl in my arms. I couldn’t believe that anything could be so
beautiful. Lying in the eternal twilight
of the hospital room I was surprised, at one point, to notice the door
opening. Imagine my bewilderment upon
spying a nun standing in the entry.  Her
only words…”Bless you, my child.”

no angel

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There’s this thing that happens when you tell people that
you have a chronically sick kid. They
stop looking at you as the woman in the second hand clothes with unwashed bad hair. Suddenly, you become this angelic martyr worthy of being placed upon a
golden pedestal. People tiptoe around you as though you are somehow  fragile as a flower – to be coddled and
admired.

Well, it sucks. And
it’s hard to say so, because people only mean the best by it.

You see, it’s easy to feel guilty when we don’t live up to
the impression that the world has of us. Sometimes our “miracle babies” act like little shits – so we yell at
them. Then, not only are we “bad moms”,
but we further are not appreciating this amazing gift for which we’ve struggled
so hard. And the really ironic thing is,
these times so often coincide with the huge medical
news/issues/procedures.

Now is one of those times for a friend of mine. Her daughter’s going through another really
rough patch. No, I take that back. Annika isn’t going through another one. The fact is, lately, the crap just doesn’t
seem to end so much as build up. And Moreena’s such a kind, smart, funny, and yes – human- woman who’s given me strength
when I honestly had no reserves left. I
just want to lift her up and give her a huge hug.

Yesterday, she wrote this
post, but closed the comments. Frankly,
I don’t blame her. Sometimes you just need
to get it off your chest without everyone lending their glib reassurances. But, if people could just send a little
strength her way, it’d probably make a difference…of some sort.

So if you pray – pray.

If you just love – love.

Everything helps.

Really it does.

woof woof

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What’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys?

Parvovirus B19, of
course. Actually, no. I take that back. Parvo absolutely
sucks. In fact, it worked really hard to
destroy Kajsa about 6 months ago. So she
became well acquainted with our old friend IVIG
(intravenous immunoglobulin).

And it worked wonders. At one time she had over ten billion DNA copies running around in the
blood. But, with a little help from IVIG,
she was able to recover. And we’ve been
monitoring Kajsa’s Parvo levels since that time. For the most part we have been relieved to
see a steady decline.

As of last month
they were down to 100 (or fewer) copies. In fact, we’d started to joke about the ridiculously, unbelievably high
levels she’d once shown. As you can
imagine, this month I expected to hear that they were gone completely.

So imagine my surprise when Mary called yesterday to inform
me that Kajsa’s Parvo levels are once again over ten billion.

It turns out that IVIG is incredibly helpful for 2 weeks to
3 months. After that, honey, you’re on
your own. So when Dr. Morgenstern called
the infectious disease docs, their recommendation was quarterly IVIG
treatments. Yippee.

The good news is that we’ll be able to do this
outpatient. They have a little room with
a recliner. (Gads, am I ever glad I took
up knitting.) So we’ll go sit there for
four or five hours while she has her infusion. I’ll try to read and knit. She’ll
try to climb out of the chair. It should
be fun.

Oh, and for a couple of things completely off topic:

I got the job at the salon & day spa. I’m supposed to begin next Tuesday. Woohoo! I’m VERY excited to start working again.

My initial introduction to the rest of the employees was at
a staff meeting. I was incredibly
nervous. And they were all so young,
pretty and stylish. I seriously felt
like the fat girl with toilet paper on her shoe. So I just sat there and smiled whenever
anyone looked my way.

Then, when I ran into the other LMT the next day, I was told
that they all wanted to know why I was smiling so much. (Great — fat, toilet paper dragin’, and
mentally challenged.) Thankfully, she
told them that I was probably really nervous. A whoppin’ big thanks goes out to Wendy, my newest ally.

   …   …   …

And finally, I’m learning to knit socks…on circular
needles. I feel like a total klutz, but have been told that everyone feels that way, at first. So I’ll just keep knitting along.

Seems like a pretty good way to get to
tomorrow to me.

Simplify

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I needed a reminder.  Wanna come along?

The following excerpt was found on the Gallagher Press
website and is compliments of Linda Breen Pierce.

"Simplify, Simplify…"

More than a
century after Henry David Thoreau uttered these words, his plea for simplicity
has more significance now than ever before. We work hard and play hard, filling
nearly every moment with activity. Most families believe they need two incomes
to pay for a standard of living that has doubled in the last 50 years. But do
we?

Based on my three-year study of over 200 people who have simplified their
lives, I found that we can work less, want less, and spend less, and be happier
and more fulfilled in the process. Here are ten suggestions to simplify your
life. Don’t try to simplify your life in a few weeks or months; most people
need an initial period of three to five years to complete this transition.
Small, gradual steps are best.
 

1. Don’t let any material thing come into
your home unless you absolutely love it and want to keep it until it is beyond
repair
. Too much stuff – it’s suffocating us. Purchasing, maintaining, insuring,
storing and eventually disposing of our stuff sucks up our precious life
energy.

2. Live in a home with only those rooms
that you or someone in your family use every day
. Create a cozy home
environment that fits your family. You will find this is much more satisfying
than living in a museum designed to impress your friends. Spending time and
money to maintain a home that is larger than you truly need diverts these
resources from more fulfilling endeavors.
   

3. Limit your work (outside of the home)
to 30 hours a week, 20 if you are a parent
. To live a balanced life, we
need "down" time – time to daydream, to relax, to prepare a leisurely
meal, to take a walk. If we surround our structured activities with empty
spaces, those activities will become more productive and meaningful.

4. Select a home and place of employment
no more than 30 minutes away from each other
. Commuting time is dead time.
It nourishes not the body, the mind, nor the soul. Preserve your energy and
money for more rewarding life experiences.
   

5. Limit your children’s extracurricular
activities to one to three a week, depending on age
. Otherwise, you will
exhaust yourself and your children will grow up addicted to constant
stimulation.
 

6. Take three to four months off every few
years and go live in a foreign country
. Living in a different culture
fascinates, excites, and vitalizes us. It teaches us to live in the present, a
core practice of simple living. We gain perspective when we experience a
foreign culture. We learn how much we have to be grateful for.
   

7. Spend at least an hour a week in a
natural setting, away from crowds of people, traffic, and buildings
. Three
to four hours of nature time each week is even better. There is nothing more
basic, more simple, than the natural world.

8. Do whatever you need to do to connect
with a sense of spirit in your life, whether it be prayer, religious services,
journal writing, meditation, or spiritually-related reading
. Simplicity
leads to spirituality; spirituality leads to simplicity. Cultivate a practice
of silence and solitude, even for 15 to 30 minutes a day. Your spirituality
will evolve naturally.

9. Seek the support of others who want to
simplify their lives
. Join or start a simplicity circle if you enjoy group
interaction. Living simply in our culture can be a lonely journey. Your friends
and family may still be on the work-and-spend treadmill and are unlikely to
give you support. Participating in a study group will give you support and
validation for your choices.
   

10. Practice saying no. Say no to
those things that don’t bring you inner peace and fulfillment, whether it be
more material things, greater career responsibility, or added social
activities. Be vigilant with your time and energy; they are limited resources.
If you say yes to one thing (like a job promotion), recognize that you are
saying no to something else (perhaps more time with family). Live consciously
and deliberately.

………………………………………….

Linda Breen Pierce is the author of Choosing
Simplicity: Real People Finding Peace and Fulfillment in a Complex World

and Simplicity Lessons: A 12-Step Guide to Living Simply.

She can be
reached via email or at (831)
626-8486 (Pacific time).

Medical Drama

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Tomorrow is Kajsa’s monthly nephrology appointment. And I’m sure it’s going to be upbeat, to say
the least. Especially since she’s eating
like a horse and has so much energy that I’m seriously thinking of renaming her
Boing Boing.

Meanwhile I have an appointment today to massage the owner
of a local Salon & Day Spa to see if he wants to hire me on as the third
Massage Therapist. I haven’t been this
nervous about doing a little bodywork in about 10 years. Seriously, I reaaally hope I get it.

The only problem, though, with being gainfully employed is
that it takes us precariously far from practically indigent. And while you might think, “Well,
whoopdeedoo, fantastic for you!” It
kinda isn’t.

Lemme explain. You
see, as long as we are horribly poor, Kajsa is covered for her thousands of
dollars worth of medications each month, her close-to-that doctors’
appointments, and heaven forbid – any hospital stays.

Yep. Last time we were in Phoenix

I had a long talk with Kajsa’s social worker. It turns out that there’s a huge gap between being eligible for assistance
and being able to actually afford a chronically (read never goes away) ill child.  Well crap.

So we’re in a super serious Catch 22. As I see is, we have three choices.

1. We
stay too poor to pay our bills, buy food, and have a happy go lucky life.

2. We
get good jobs and watch our child go without healthcare.

3. We
lie our butts off and hope no one catches on.

In other words, we are royally screwed. As my husband, not to mention my mom will
gladly tell you, I am the worst liar in the entire world. In fact, I turn beat red, stammer and
eventually break down in tears over the guilt of it.

That only leaves to first two…

Working poor and middle class terror.

Now what I’m about to tell you might turn you off a
bit. But honestly, I’m not trying to
push any agenda. Never mind, I totally
want to push my own agenda…I just haven’t a clue what it is, yet. So bear with me.

I was perusing the Hillary and Obama sites last night when I
stumbled upon this little video.

And if
anything will make me sit up and listen to a politician, it’s talking about
healthcare for all children. Hell, that’ll
make me stand up and vote. Anyway, check
it out.

I’m not a huge fan of any politician. But I like the fact that she’s at least
talking about this topic. The way I see
it, even if she’s lying through her teeth, she’s trying to reach a
target audience.

And that means that I’m not alone.

It’s Snowing

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Yes.  It is March 29th

Yes. I do live in Arizona.

That, my friend, is why my husband is driving home from work in a car that has a hole in the top where a sunroof should be. 

I have a feeling he’ll be taking my car to school tonight.