2 Blondes and a Ginger

2 Blondes and a Ginger

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Finale- Graham's Story Part V

I think the week after Graham was born was the most difficult week of my life. Emotionally I'd been fairly stable throughout my hospital stay, but I was a wreck after givin birth to Graham (I can't imagine what parents go through when their baby is in the NICU for months). My doctor was visiting me one morning and said, "I think you did better than any patient I've ever had in the hospital for so long, but now I think we need to talk about some medicine for you." I convinced him to wait. I told him that I'd never struggled with depression and that I thought I would be much better once Graham and I were home together. Not that I thought taking the medicine was wrong, but I just wanted to give it some more time.
So I would get up in the mornings and go see Graham down the hall. I'd push the button on the door, tell the nurse who I was, and the NICU doors would open. But before I could make my way to his bed, I'd wash my hands with some super duper soap and put on a gown. The first few days he was covered with wires and had a tube of oxygen running to his nose. I didn't think I would be able to hold him, but before I knew it, one of the nurses had him in my arms. As the days progressed, the wires diminished. Jeff and I would go to the feedings throughout the day. When I was by myself with Graham, I would just hold him, rock him, and sing him songs. There were so many things that were unnatural about Graham being in the NICU, so I clung to what was natural.

I often cried when I left the NICU. Again it seemed so unnatural to leave my son with someone else, and the doctors were so vague about when he would get to go home. One night I was furious when a NICU nurse told me I needed to leave and get some rest. I had been at Graham's bedside for a couple of hours just touching his arm, and she said that he was not getting good rest with me by his side. Was she serious? Wasn't I the mom?

When I got back to my room, the nurse usually came in to take my blood pressure. For some reason, my blood pressure continued to rise. I had to be put on medications and was told I couldn't be dismissed from the hospital until it was under control. I'm sure that made my blood pressure became even more elevated by the mere fact that it was high! I was told that preeclampsia could last 6 weeks post partum. I could not fathom another 6 weeks in the hospital- I was reaching my breaking point.

But God ever so faithfully worked in me and worked in Graham, and a week after Graham was born, we both made our way back home- a home that I had left 6 weeks earlier planning to only be gone for a couple of hours for a doctor's visit. Being in a car, eating food in my own kitchen, and sleeping in my own bed...it was all surreal. And not to mention the fact that I had a baby sleeping in the other room. He wasn't suppose to be in the world for another month. Let me reword that...he wasn't due for another month, but he quite obviously was suppose to enter this world on January 24, 2009.

People often talk about how they grow in their faith in the midst of a difficult situation. People are often motivated to pray more fervently and read the Scriptures more diligently during trials. Unfortunately, this did not happen to me. I wish I could say I became a prayer warrior during this hardship, but I didn't. My friends and family were probably praying more than I was! However, months later, I can look back on the situation and see how God was faithful despite my own efforts. God brought healing to both Graham and me even though I wasn't reciting the Psalms from dawn to dusk and even though I wasn't in constant prayer. It doesn't mean that I shouldn't improve in those areas, but it does mean that God delivers despite what his people do, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

So that concludes it. Five stories about how Graham entered this world. Five stories that help me remember that God is faithful. Five stories that give me a taste of God's goodness. "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good, how blessed is the man who puts his refuge in Him."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Graham's Story Part IV

A year ago today I got up around 5:00 am. They started inducing me around 5:30. My doctor broke my water mid morning and I got an epidural (make that two epidurals) when the contractions became stronger. (Unfortunately the first epidural only worked on one side of my body). I didn't feel good...but it wasn't the worst pain I'd ever been in. I'll have to attribute that pain to a kidney stone. All day long I was calm but uncomfortable. I was given magnesium via iv, and as the nurses assured me, it made me feel like I had the flu. And all day long I waited. I didn't really watch tv or talk. I didn't ask for those back rubs that husbands are supposed to give wives when they're in labor. I didn't really want to be touched. I just waited. The doctor thought there would be a baby come late afternoon, but still there was no Graham. The nurses increased the pitocin but my contractions were irregular. One nurse told me, "these are the strangest contractions I've ever seen." I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do with that information, but I knew things weren't going as I had hoped. When the evening came, my doctor mentioned a c-section. He said he was willing to wait, but he thought I was going to have a c-section. So Jeff and I decided to wait a hour more. When the doctor returned, I had progressed only slightly and my contractions had decreased in intensity. So a c-section it was. I always thought c-sections were quick, but it seemed to take forever. I kept asking why Graham wasn't crying and the doctor assured me that the magnesium they had given me made him sluggish. The nurse brought Graham to me for a quick kiss and then left the room. My nurses took me out of the OR and to my room for the night. Jeff came back and gave me the news. They were admitting Graham to the NICU. "The NICU?" I couldn't believe it. I thought after making it to 36 weeks he would be safe from the NICU. The neonatologist said that only about 10% of the 36 week babies have to go to the NICU. Percentages obviously weren't working in our favor. I didn't get to hold Graham the day he was born, but my nurse put up pictures of him on my bed so I could look at him throughout the night. The neonatalogist visited the room and informed us that Graham was having some difficulty breathing and that he probably had a massive headache. (She said a lot more, but I was completely out of it and fighting to keep my eyes open!)Graham had been stuck, and the only way he was coming out was via c-section. I can't imagine how bad his head must have been hurting! If you've seen pictures of his enormous cone head, you'd understand. It was all a little surreal. I had a baby, but I didn't feel like I had a baby. The NICU had my baby. Was I really a mom?

I often hear people say that the day their children were born were the happiest days of their lives. Sadly, I can't say that this day a year ago was the happiest day of my life. A full day of labor and no baby to hold? No thank you. But then I think again. Being a mom is one of the happiest parts of my life and that day made me a mom. In retrospect it may have been the happiest day of my life.

Well, Jeff Graham and I just returned from the hospital. As soon as we walked into the building I remembered the smell. We passed the NICU and made our way to Labor and Delivery. We handed cupcakes to the nurses who were so kind and helpful during my long stay. I was so glad that the two nurses who helped deliver Graham were working tonight. I was afraid they had forgotten me, but of course they hadn't. We thanked them for all that they did, and I got a little emotional as we left the building. A year ago Graham came into the world right there in that hosptial. And that's the end of this Graham story. Only one more Graham story to go.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Red Wagon and Mr. Onions

The other day I determined I was finished with letting cold weather overtake my life and decided that G and I would venture into the subarctic temperatures for a little stroll. You can only stay inside so long, so we bundled up and stepped outdoors. Instead of the stroller, I put G in his off road wagon that Nattie and Poppa gave him for Christmas. I was a little nervous about the wagon because we had only used it in the house, but I figured I was overreacting and just needed to let G be a boy. Soon we were making our way around the block. Thank goodness for peripheral vision because I was constantly having to use it! I needed to look at the road, but I also wanted to make sure G was safe. We were about halfway around the block when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Instinctively, I jumped and clumsily rammed my arm into the wagon handle. My entire body was jerked backwards by the handle, but somehow, my arms caught G just as he was diving head first out of the wagon. My heart was racing. For a few minutes I wouldn't let him go. But because my arm was killing me, and I was having a little bit of difficulty carrying an almost 1 year old and dragging a wagon, I decided to give the wagon ride one more chance. Don't worry...nothing else happened. I plopped G back in the super duper Radio Flyer ATW wagon and walked backwards the entire way home. Ahh, the things you do to make sure your little ones are safe and secure. And since I'm probably going to have a lot of practice walking backwards until Graham learns the concept of danger, I'm thinking about becoming a professional walker backer. It should definitely be an Olympic sport.
Thankfully, most days are a little calmer. We get up and eat breakfast, and we attempt to make it to the gym. I try to avoid getting the elliptical machine that is next to the man who smells like raw onions when he gets good and sweaty. (Trust me, it's bad. Today I even took the elliptical machine with the malfunctioning TV screen just to avoid him. Martha Stewart looked like she was stuck in the middle of a blizzard, and I have no idea what she was making, but at least I was one machine removed from Mr. Onions). We come home. G takes a nap. We eat lunch. We play or run errands. G takes another nap. Sometimes he has a snack. He eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches now! We play some more. Graham puts his hand to his ear and pretends like he is talking on the phone (Obviously, I have a phone addiction. There were two mornings when he pretended like he was on the phone as soon as he saw me walk in his bedroom door. It's like he can't separate the idea of "momma" from the idea of "phone"). We wait for Jeff to come home. Then, Graham really gets to play. Jeff throws G in the air, dangles him by his feet, and blows raspberries on his stomach. We eat dinner and by 8:00 he is usually on his way to bed. Exciting huh? Yawn. I am boring myself just writing this, but I promise you a baby in real life is pretty entertaining. Right before your eyes you watch one of God's people grow physically, intellectually, and hopefully one day spiritually. Right before your eyes you see the hiccups and kicks you could once only feel. You witness the baby that was once inside you playing and laughing and taking on a personality of his own. Maybe I had crazier stories when I was working at Allstate, but I most certainly have a better story developing before me. I'm watching and nurturing a child as he becomes an adult and that, my friend, is quite amazing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Too Chicken to Cook a Chicken?

I've always been terrified of cooking an entire chicken. I don't care what it costs, I'm going to have nicely packaged boneless skinless chicken breasts for dinner. It might have something to do with the time I put a whole chicken in a crock pot, forgot to take out the giblets, and the entire thing disintegrated into some indistinguishable form of mushy chicken soup, but nonetheless, I'm scared. Well, my mom gave me a recipe that she said was delicious, so I thought I would venture out and try the whole chicken thing one more time. The recipe is pretty simple.

First, you wash and pat dry the chicken. Oh, and please remove the bag of guts while you're at it! Then rub in some herbs. We used Herbs de Provence, but you could use basil and thyme. You also need to add salt and pepper. Make sure you season the inside and outside of the chicken. Then, you cut an onion, lemon, and garlic head in half and insert them in the cavity. The first time I cooked this dish, I forgot to put the onion in the cavity, and the flavor was a little too lemony. Next, melt some butter and brush it over the entire chicken. You can then put carrots or other vegetables in the bakeware with the chicken and bake it for 1 1/2 hours at 425 degrees. After about 45 minutes, brush some more butter on the chicken- especially on the legs.

I'm not sure if it had anything to do with baking it in the Le Creuset I got for Christmas, but when I pulled that chicken out of the oven, it was prettiest thing I'd ever seen. A chicken that was perfectly brown and crisp and smelled delicious. It tasted just as wonderful. You can make a gravy with the drippings and whip up some mashed potatoes for a tasty meal. It looks so fancy and is an almost fool proof recipe...again just remember to put the onion IN the cavity! I was going to take a picture, but I couldn't find my camera at the time. So, you'll just have to trust me. It was beautiful and yummy! Fryer chickens are so inexpensive, and I used the leftover chicken to make chicken pot pie the next day. I'm converted. I'm now a whole chicken cooking kind of girl.