My BBM Journey: Why I Love Getting The Kids Involved

I wish we could all be as energetic and innocent and just down right as awesome as a little child. Yeah, they are a lot of work and can sap the life right out of you some days, but every day as a mom I experience moments of pure joy at the little things. Like when my toddler tries to do squats and push ups with me while I’m exercising, or the crazy comical creativity of my preschooler as she dresses up as different imaginary characters and uses common house hold items in creative new ways. Most of all, I love that they are so eager to help and learn. Those ten million questions can drive me batty, but when it’s all said and done I love watching my kids catch onto new concepts and participate in new activities. They can even surprise me with how sharp their little minds are, catching onto things I didn’t even realize they were paying attention to.

Like today, we came home from grocery shopping on this amazing warm Spring day and as I let my kiddos go onto the back porch to keep busy while I put groceries away, my daughter happily sprang over to our growing containers of vegetables and did her daily check on them. She noticed that one of the flats of lettuce we have not yet planted in a pot was wilted in the hot sun, the soil dry. (They need a bigger home to grow.)

“Oh, mom, this little salad is thirsty!” and she walked right over to the watering jug and began watering it, a little wrinkle of concern on her brow. I didn’t tell her to do that, hadn’t even explained much about keeping the plants watered, but she had watched me a few times and knew enough to water them! Then she proceeded to water all the containers, even getting her foot stool so she could reach the taller pots.

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In that moment, like many before it and many more to come, it all becomes so much more worth it. Teaching your kids new things and watching them drink in every experience with exuberance, that’s what it’s really all about. You can buy things, but little experiences and memories are priceless.

Vanquishing Fear – An Epic Tale

My mom had 8 children, 7 naturally drug free and one (me) a classical incision emergency C-Section. (I was breech, and her second child.) The first 3 were hospital births and the last 5 were unassisted home births. That’s right, 6 vaginal births after a C-section, 5 of those at home with only my father and I helping. So you can imagine I had a very strong back ground in natural birth and a woman’s body being able to bring her child into the world.

When I became pregnant with my first child I originally planned a hospital birth, but used midwives for all my prenatal care. When I was 8 months along we moved from Colorado back to Kentucky and near our family. Rather than try to transfer to a new doctor so late in the game and with my mom now available to support me along with my husband being a licensed paramedic, we chose to have an unassisted home birth. All my prenatal care had been normal and the baby appeared healthy. My last appointment had been at week 35 and every thing was great. I went into labor on my own at 5 days before my due date and labor progressed normally and in a timely manner. However, I had experienced a nagging fear from the early part of my pregnancy that something would go wrong at birth. It was irrational, with no reason to believe it, and I tried to chalk it up to first time mom fears and fear of having no family support out in Colorado. Even after I moved home I still had this nagging, unexplained fear, even with my mom to support me and telling me there was nothing to worry about. So I labored at home for 12 hours before my water broke on its own around midnight. All night I labored and since this was my first baby I mistook pressure for the urge to push and started pushing too early, which wore me out. By the next morning, other than being tired, there was no reason to believe anything was really wrong, but I just couldn’t explain it, I was afraid something was wrong. I said we needed to go to the hospital.
Long story short, about the time we got in the car, the real urge to push came and for the 15 minute drive to the hospital I was holding back from pushing and was afraid I would deliver there in the car. I kept trying to take my pants down because I was sure that baby was coming, but I had to stop because the contractions were coming fast and furious. We got to the hospital, they wheeled me to a bed, the doctor barely got there in time to catch the baby, I was nearly crowning on arrival. 2 pushes and out came my baby girl, 5 lbs. 10 oz. But something was wrong with her skin. She was very red, not bloody, but her skin was fire engine red. The top layers of her skin were coming off over her whole body, but other than that her APGAR scores were perfect.

Our first Daughter Skye, minutes old.

Our first Daughter Skye, minutes old.

They didn’t know what was wrong with her, so she got transferred an hour away to the Children’s hospital where there was a NICU and that is where she stayed for 17 days enduring every test imaginable, being kept in sterile isolation and wrapped in gauze like a mummy, we weren’t able to hold her because of the risk of infection. Her case went to 10 different states, over 100 specialists consulted on her case, but nobody could figure out what was wrong. She passed away barely an hour into day 18 most likely from infection that had set in because without being able to attach a traditional I.V., they had to use her umbilical vein much longer than was recommended and then finally had to put a direct line into her chest.
We were so devastated. Our first and only child was gone.
I tortured myself thinking about what had I done to cause this, or what could I have done to prevent it. Every doctor reassured me that this was just an unexplained mystery, that there was nothing I could have done that I didn’t do. They ruled out skin diseases, infections, and various genetic defects. To this day nobody knows what was wrong. Genetics seemed to be the most promising avenue to research, but since they didn’t know what to test for (having tested for all known genetic disorders that fit her various symptoms) and since she was no longer living to positively confirm, we were left in the dark.
I no longer felt even remotely strong or empowered. I looked around at all the happy mommies and babies and they mocked me. I had been told that women had been doing this for ages, that it was perfectly natural. I had seen it over and over with my own eyes, yet I had failed. I had not brought a healthy baby into this world. I did not have a baby. Despite a strong desire to birth naturally I had to give my baby over to every intervention imaginable and in the end, those did not work either. I was the very picture of fear and disillusion and defeat.
I became pregnant with my second child by what I consider divine intervention. We were actively preventing pregnancy as well as not in any state of regular intimacy (or intimacy at all, it was more like just going through the motions in order to have the illusion that life would go on and we could somehow recapture what we had lost, which of course, we could not.) However, about 6 weeks after we buried our daughter, I found out I was pregnant again. I was a mess, I didn’t know what to feel. I wanted to be happy, but mostly I was so afraid. What if it happened again? What if it was some genetic thing they had not picked up on? Calling one of my first daughter’s doctors did not help, he told us flat-out we should terminate the pregnancy until we could have more genetic testing done. So you see, from the very moment I picked up that positive pregnancy test, my second pregnancy was wrought with fear.
Because of the outcome of our first birth, my husband and I knew we would not be able to have a home birth. In addition, I was treated as high risk and underwent test after test. I saw a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist and had more ultra sounds than I can count. The last 10 weeks alone I had 1 ultra sound each week where they took 10 different measurements each time and if baby was not in the right position they worked until she was. The whole 9 months was amazingly stressful. By the time my due date arrived I was literally begging them to induce me even though I didn’t believe in that, it’s just that I was a bundle of shot nerves. Thankfully, I went into labor on my own 2 days before my scheduled induction. I labored at home all day and by 9 pm we decided to go to the hospital since  transition with my first baby had gone so fast and because I was worried about getting hooked up to an intravenous antibiotic as soon as my water broke. I arrived barely dilated and the nurse was going to send me home after the token hour of monitoring, but 30 minutes later my water broke. I didn’t know until after the fact that they hooked me up to some pitocin once I was officially admitted to keep things moving along and that made my labor very painful and the contractions very intense with almost no time in between them. By the time I hit 5 cm I gasped for the epidural. I could not imagine half a night of this pain, strapped into a bed, not able to move or get out of the bed, and barely able to catch my breath. The contractions were 40 seconds apart and I had no ability to focus and breathe. The nurse went out to call for the epidural, and as soon as she stepped back in about 5 minutes later I was beginning to bear down. She checked me and I had gone from a 5  to a 7-8. She told me it was too late to get the epidural and called for the doctor instead. It was the same doctor who had delivered my first daughter and once again he entered the room with barely enough time to throw on a gown and catch my little girl – my perfect, beautiful, healthy 7 lb. 10 oz little girl. We were over joyed!  At that time I didn’t care about how the staff had trampled over my wishes on many points, that the doctor stuck the needle for the numbing agent in my clitoris for a SECOND time (he had done so with my first birth also) to sew up the same place I had torn with my first delivery, that the nurse who had been attending me during labor was almost rude the whole time, and that the doctor shoved the scissors into my husband’s chest and demanded that he, “Stop crying and cut the cord,” and then almost did it himself before my poor hubby could wipe the tears out of his eyes at the sight of our dreams being fulfilled. It did bother me that even though I had been promised time with the baby on my chest, that turned out to be 30 seconds before they whisked her away for long minutes and brought her back to me wrapped and capped, all of which I promptly undid to be able to look at her perfect body and skin and hair. There was no way I was going to keep her tightly wrapped up, not after what I’d been through with my first daughter.

Me and our second daughter Faith, a few hours old.

Me and our second daughter Faith, a few hours old.

As time went on and I had months and then years to review my 2 birth stories, I just felt disappointed. Obviously my first daughter’s birth and entire life was traumatic, my second daughter’s pregnancy was extremely stressful, and then the birth was definitely lacking. As someone who had originally wanted an unassisted home birth, my second daughter’s birth was gravely lacking in so many ways. By the time I became pregnant with my son this past year, I had long since decided I wanted something different, yet I wondered if I could ever really have what I wanted. I was more confident about my pregnancy and birth since having my second child, who remains one of the healthiest children I’ve ever known, yet I knew my husband would still never go for a home birth and honestly, I didn’t want to go that route either. We were now living in Tennessee and a friend referred me to the Vanderbilt Nurse Midwives. They are very hands off when it comes to interventions and amazingly supportive of empowering women and providing the most meaningful birth experience possible, yet they deliver at Vanderbilt, one of the leading medical centers in the nation, located in Nashville. It seemed like the perfect match for me. My entire 9 months of prenatal care just confirmed it more and more, and by the time I neared my due date I was down right excited to give birth, something I had not felt with my first 2.
I went into false labor on my due date. It was just strong enough for me to drop my daughter off with my friend, but after a few hours it stopped. Normally I would have been disappointed, but I was very calm and I knew my baby would come when he was ready. I was in and out of false labor the next day, my 40 week appointment, and I had my midwife check me and she asked if I wanted my membranes stripped. I was ok with that, but she said that while I was dilated a 2, I was only 50% effaced and she couldn’t really strip them. However, that night I began having some really good contractions. I was sure this was it. They continued until around noon the next day. My husband had decided to stay home from work and we dropped my daughter off at my friend’s again. As soon as we did, they stalled again! I was ok with the baby coming in his time, but I was anxious about all the false alarms and putting my friend’s life on hold and having my hubby miss work unnecessarily, something we could not really afford. So I called my midwives and they recommended that I try a castor oil cocktail. Within 2 hours of drinking that I knew we were really going to have a baby.
Vanderbilt is about 40 minutes from my house and since it was the middle of rush hour, we decided to go on to the hospital even though I normally would have waited a little longer. However, knowing how fast I tend to progress, I was more comfortable with being in Nashville even if I had to take a walk in the parking garage for a few hours. We checked in and they took us to a triage room in L and D to check me and monitor me for an hour. I was still 2 cm, but I was 90% effaced. My pain was still very manageable and my midwife (it just so happened my primary was on call that night, out of several that could have been) was reluctant to give me a room. I was sure that it wouldn’t take much monitoring, they would see I was in labor for sure. Apparently the monitor was not on my belly correctly because even though my labor was definitely progressing, after an hour the nurse came in and said, “I guess they’ve slowed down, huh?” I shook my head, “No, the exact opposite, they are getting stronger for sure.” She adjusted my monitor and checked me. I had dilated to a 3 and was completely thinned out, but my midwife wanted to monitor me a little longer since they could not see my contractions on the monitor. Another 30 minutes went by and the contractions had gotten pretty intense. I had to focus through them. After a really strong one I told my hubby to tell them I had to pee.
The little triage room didn’t have its own bathroom, so they helped me across the hall. My hubby went in with me to help me with my gown. I will never forget what happened next! I sat down to pee and he was casually scanning the bathroom interior. A hard contraction began, making him glance in my direction and his eyes got big as saucers and he said, “Oh my god!!” in such an intense manner that I completely forgot the pain and looked at him. “What??!” The look on his face and his pointing finger made me look down, afraid that I might somehow have started crowning without knowing it. Turns out I had passed a ridiculously large amount of bloody mucus, a rope almost as long as my fore arm. I started laughing just as the contraction peaked, which made it sound more like a hysterical sob, and my midwife knocked on the door urgently and asked if we were ok, which only made me laugh harder.
Needless to say, they quickly helped us gather our things and head over to a room. I got one of the 2 delivery rooms that Vanderbilt offers with a labor tub and between that and actually getting to have my primary midwife deliver me, I already felt this birth was a success. This was enhanced as I met the nurses who would be attending me. I was almost surprised to find each of them happy and energetic, a glorious relief after the non chalent, almost rude nurse who had been present while I labored with my second child. One nurse bustled about filling the tub while another walked me through paper work, being very sweet and patient while I stopped to have contractions. Another nurse was reviewing my birth plan with Claire, my midwife, and the whole air was nothing less than joyful, like everyone was my personal friend and they had been waiting 9 months just for me to have my baby. It was amazing.
As soon as the tub was full I was helped into it and allowed to get in my zone. They dimmed the lights and very quietly and almost with an air of sacred went about their tasks, allowing me to labor on my own, breathing through the contractions. I had never taken a class on child-birth, but I had self-educated and with every breath I focused on relaxing every muscle in my body, not even scrunching an eye lid, embracing the pain, taking them one at a time, envisioning a portal opening in my mind, slowly, easing my son into the world. It was just me in my zone, in the tub. My hubby was resting and checking Facebook, my doula, who I had originally planned on having there, was not able to come at the last second, and Claire was checking on a few things while I labored, my mom wasn’t even there. She had been present for the first 2 births, but wasn’t able to come all the way down to Nashville from Kentucky. But everything was as it should be, I felt calm, I felt powerful, I didn’t feel lonely, I just felt like I was the only one who could birth my son and I was ok with being in the tub, alone, laboring. Time ceased to exist. It was just one contraction at a time. There was no before and there was no after. (I later realized I was in the tub for just over an hour.)
About the time my breath got wavery during the contractions, Claire appeared and sat with me, gently encouraging me, telling me how wonderful I was doing, how I was so strong, bringing my baby down. She very gently stroked my arm and even though I had not directed her to do any of this, it was perfect timing and perfect support. At one point she had me move from a sitting position to leaning over the side of the tub. I went through maybe 4 more contractions like that and then my body began to push involuntarily. I knew I was very close. That was a very familiar sensation. My husband had just put a music CD on and we were barely into the second song when I told them I needed to get out of the tub. (Vanderbilt policy is that you can labor in the tubs but you cannot deliver in the water.) When I got in the tub I was dilated to 4, and upon checking me when I got out I was only a five. I saw what looked like doubt cross Claire’s face and she quietly said to the nurse, “She’s only a five….” I think she was thinking I may have gotten out too soon, but my husband spoke up and said, “No, you are going to see, it is going to go very fast from here.”
Unlike the doctor and nurses who had delivered my second child, Claire nodded and started getting things ready for a baby to be born even though I was only half way dilated. I was starting to lose control. I was told to breath through and focus, but it didn’t matter what I tried to do to focus, my body was trying to push with every contraction. I was told that my cervix was swelling, to not push, but my body continued to take over. Claire quickly asked the nurse for some Litocain and I barely felt the sting of a needle way up high and knew she was numbing my cervix. Then she began to apply counter pressure through 3 or 4 contractions. If I hadn’t requested my very own self to have no I.V. inserted when I got the room I would have sworn someone had secretly slipped me some pitocin. My contractions were so intense and no time in between them. And then I was given the green light to push. Oh, how I pushed! 2, 3, 4… a nurse grabbed one of my legs and pulled it back when my brain couldn’t register Claire’s command to pull my knees back. My husband was directed to pull the other knee back. Another great push and my baby’s head was out. I think they told me not to push for a second, then I was allowed. It took a few more and out he came, his shoulders had gotten stuck for a second, that’s why I had needed to push so much more than with my daughters. From 5 cm to baby out took no more than 15 – 20 minutes, I know because the song that was playing on the CD was maybe the 4th or 5th track. Everyone was surprised at how quickly that had happened, even me!
And then, bliss. That moment of relief when my baby was out, screaming in indignation at the world he had entered, on my chest, all 7 lbs. 15 oz. of him. He stopped crying when he heard my voice, looked at me for a moment, then, as if becoming aware once again that he had been ejected from his warm home, he began wailing his lamentations once more. He was precious, every screaming bit of him! And my wonderful birth experience didn’t end there, I was able to hold my son on my chest for at least 20 minutes, nobody rushed me. Everything they did to check him over was done with him in my arms. The only reason they finally took him when they did was because I got curious about how much he weighed and told them to take him. They weighed him and brought him right back to me and I nursed him.

The moment of bliss, captured by one of the nurses for me.

The moment of bliss, captured by one of the nurses for me.

I had torn in the very same spot as the first 2 births, but this time, instead of screaming louder than I had while giving birth, I didn’t even feel the needle that numbed me because, apparently, female midwives must know more about the importance and sensitivity of the clitoris, as well as its location, something my OB had failed to grasp in his many years of patient care, considering he stuck me there not once, but twice. I barely felt the four stitches I received. My entire experience was perfect, just as I had always imagined, everyone respected my wishes, my baby was not once out of my sight with out my direction, he roomed in with me and only went to the nursery for his hearing test and PKU, which I was welcome to be there for. I could not have wished a more perfect experience into existence, and since this is the last baby we plan to have, it was an amazing ending to such an important chapter in my life, my child-bearing. And even though my first 2 births had been natural with no pain medication, this was the very first time I felt truly amazing and confident and powerful – and it is a beautiful thing!GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Long Time No Write

So, I realize it has been a while since I wrote. Believe me, not for lack of happenings! I was just remembering this morning how therapeutic it has been for me to write blog posts, so I dusted off the ol’ key board, so to speak, and here I am.

Let me see, where did I leave off? I’m not sure, especially since my life story is not written in chronological order here, but how about a few updates about my life in general these past few months?

We moved to Tennessee where Josh has opened a new restaurant where he is co-owner, it is doing great, we’re super happy about that. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sano/256534591089142)

Faith is coming up on 3, she is a hoot. There is no lack of funny stuff that she comes up with, she’s growing like a weed and continues to be our sunshine.

“The Garden Of Optimism”

Skye Blue has really blossomed this year, I’ve been doing well with a new line of sculptures called “Every Tree A Soul”, (http://www.etsy.com/shop/SkyeBlue85?section_id=8161645) I’ve sold quite a few.

“I Cling To Hope”

The biggest surprise for me is the change in medium, I never thought I would be primarily sculpting. I’m really blessed with the response and wonderful people I’ve met. I also launched a project that has been a dream of mine, an ornament donation program for families who lost a child to miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, or early childhood death. The response to that has been humbling and tender, hearing other moms who lost their babies expressing their joy and thankfulness for what I’m doing. It is a precious thing I am finding great joy in to honor my little girl, Skye. (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151009575556271&set=a.10151009575456271.479378.362725131270&type=3&theater)

I lost my dad this past March after a rather abrupt and short illness. I miss him every day. It has been hard to let it sink in that he is gone, he was always so healthy and full of spunk.

Me and daddy in Sep. 2011, right after he stopped working. He passed March 2012.

And, we are expecting our 3rd child. We are really happy and excited! Of course there is always a level of scared, but so far everything is good and healthy and we believe that by the end of December we will be holding our new Tiny Love in our arms. (I’m due December 13.)  I am just beginning my second trimester, I’m 15 weeks (3 1/2 months) and we don’t yet know the gender, so I’m just calling the baby Tiny Love for now.

Having my 3rd baby is pretty mellow. Of course I was part nervous and part naive with my first, plus very stressed with opening and running the restaurant in Colorado. I was extremely nervous and stressed with Faith because of everything that happened with Skye. This time around, I feel relaxed and experienced. I have experienced the best outcome and the worst, so there is nothing I can’t be prepared for at this point. I am on a mission this time around to make the very best of my pregnancy and not just work toward a successful birth. I am eliminating stress (something that isn’t easy for this natural worry wort.) I am getting mentally and physically fit and strong and am anticipating a grand finale to my childbearing (I hope), the very best birth experience yet.

12 weeks

Still, there is always something new with every baby, every pregnancy. I doubt I will become bored. Even with my third I’m experiencing things for the first time, like explaining to your almost 3-year-old that there is a baby in my belly, I’m not just fat, and that she can’t knee me in the gut as she’s accustomed to. We’ve also been working on bonding. We’re making progress, at first the only response Faith had to the new family member was to scream “No!!” whenever we approached the subject. She has since graduated to kissing my belly and praying for the baby at night, although she doesn’t seem to completely grasp how this is all working. I think the turning point was my first ultra sound a few weeks ago where she saw baby sucking its thumb on the big t.v. She could relate to that and she was very concerned that the ultra sound tech not press on my belly too hard with the wand. She held my hand through that whole scan and kept reminding the ladies, “Be careful, not too hard on momma’s belly.”

Another mild surprise for me is something that probably shouldn’t surprise me at all, maybe perplex me is a better term. With every pregnancy I have grown a cup size. I know, I know, there are some of you who are saying, “Ok, what’s the problem?” Well, we women generally do grow in that area during pregnancy, but most of us shrink back after we give birth or stop nursing. I never did, not with my first 2 pregnancies. I went from C to D with Skye, and from D to DD with Faith. I started at generally the same weight (give or take 5-10 lbs.) with all three pregnancies. I now find my current undergarments becoming snug. I was voicing my concern to Josh last night, it went something like this.

“Babe, my bras are getting tight, I’m seriously worried I’m going to have to go up another cup size.”

Josh lowers the book he’s reading and gives me an impish grin. “Sounds awesome, what’s the problem?”

“No, it’s not awesome. These things just keep growing. Normal women get to have them shrink when it’s all said and done, mine just keep growing. It’s already very difficult to find a 36 DD, it’s going to be impossible to find a 36…… gosh, I don’t even know what the next size up is, its like the great beyond.”

Needless to say his ensuing laughter was not reassuring. Men, they just don’t understand.

So yes, even with a 3rd baby I have all kinds of questions. How will the above issue play out? How will it be to have a baby and a 3-year-old? Will Faith feel left out? Will I have to upgrade to a duffel bag to carry all the stuff? (Josh already monopolizes most of my purse.) Will my belly get any saggier? (I really hope not) If I have a boy there are a million more questions just for that, I’ve had so much experience with so many babies, but they were all girls. The thought of having a boy takes me way out of my element.

I think my point here is that this pregnancy, so far, has been mellow, but definitely not boring.

So, that’s pretty much what’s happening in my life right now. I’d like to keep the updates more frequent and shorter, mostly because it’s a pain to wrangle the cords to put the computer on my lap to type, and it’s a pain (literally) to type hunched over my growing belly for too long. We shall see, I guess.

 

“A Baby Story”

We recently got cable service installed after almost a year without television. Since moving to Bowling Green, we were able to pick up somebody else’s WiFi, free of charge. It was rather nice, and we could watch the shows we liked on Hulu, so we didn’t really miss the tv. About a week or so ago our luck ran out and our unknowingly generous neighbor no longer provided us a signal, so we decided the only thing to do was break down and get our own hookup. Since the internet alone would be just as expensive as a tv/internet package because of the bundling discount, my husband decided to go ahead with the cable hookup and we secured a tv from his mom to use as long as we needed it.

I’m not a tv person. I like to watch nature shows and certain dramas if they are available, but I am just as content to go without tv altogether and do something active, artistic, or useful. My parents got rid of their television when I was ten and we didn’t have anything like that until I was about 17 when my little brother got a desk top computer for gaming that we were able to watch DVDs on. Even when I moved out on my own, I only watched tv if somebody turned it on and I would watch what they were watching or I would do something else. (I had roommates, or when I was at a friend’s house, and even when Josh and I first got together.)

We happened to have tv through the first 8 months of both of my pregnancies. I found a show that came on in the morning when I was not working and got into it. “A Baby Story”, a kind of documentary type show that follows a couple or family through a pregnancy, labor, and bringing the baby home. When I found out I was pregnant with Skye, I watched this show to try to prepare for labor by keeping all the different situations and techniques fresh on my mind. Ironically, not one of those shows prepared me for what happened with my first baby. The labor, the breathing, the actual delivery – that I was prepared for and seemed to ace. The part where I receive my little bundle of joy all wrapped up and pink and warm – that never happened. My first real look at my baby was just a tiny face, everything else was wrapped in sterile gauze because of her condition, and she was in an isolet being transported two hours away to a bigger hospital.

She had an immune disorder/skin condition that left her with the top layers of skin coming off at birth. There was a high risk of infection, fluid loss, heat loss, and the condition was so rare that it remains undiagnosed to this day, despite many different specialist teams in many different states over a 17 day period trying very hard to figure out the puzzle. We had no clue about her condition as all my prenatal tests came back normal and there was no reason to do additional tests. It is not even clear if there were additional tests that could be done. Other than her skin, she seemed fairly healthy, but after just a few hours there were issues with her blood counts and platelet levels. The doctors had a very hard time with “chicken or egg” syndrome. Was her immune condition a result of her skin, or was her skin a result of the immune condition? Did the fact that her exterior was compromised signal her body’s blood cell production negatively, or was it the blood cells that were the root of the problem? With no real idea of an approach to take the doctors were flying blind and treated for many different things at once.

Wrapped in plastic to retain heat and moisture until the specialist team arrived, this was Skye's first picture.

I’d like to stop here and say that while I feel this story will one day be told, I cannot go down that road today. I can only say that the loss of a child for a mother is NEVER forgotten, even as the memory dims for friends and family, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my baby girl who was taken from me so soon after she had arrived.

That was in 2008. In 2009, I found myself pregnant once more. Because of my previous history and the possibility of it being a genetic condition, I underwent many more tests, ultrasounds, doctors’ visits, and had a higher level of emotional stress. If you stop to realize that during my pregnancy with Skye we moved cross-country, opened a restaurant, worked it almost single-handedly, lost the business, moved back from Colorado to Kentucky, and moved in with my parents because we had literally nothing, you can maybe begin to imagine how stressful that was along with being pregnant for the first time and completely isolated from any family except my husband. Now – my second pregnancy was more emotionally stressful than all that, for me.

I can’t really explain my feelings here, there just aren’t words. Only somebody who has watched their tiny baby die in their arms, the little chest stop rising and falling, the tiny heart stop beating, can understand the terror of it happening again. Even though most of my prenatal appointments had all good news and I did not have a deep feeling that there was something wrong (I did feel there was something unexplainably wrong when I was pregnant with Skye ) my second pregnancy was terrifying. For starters, it was completely different from my first, my body did different things. My doctor said it should be fine to exercise regularly, but I decided to go with my own gut instinct and remain as physically unstressed as possible.

I felt my first Braxton-Hicks contractions very early, at about 20 weeks. Shortly after that I had to go back to serving at Applebee’s for a time and every day had me on pins and needles as my contractions became a lot stronger. By the end of most days, I was not even sure if I was in labor or not, they were that strong, and I waited for my water to break, praying it wouldn’t happen as I was not even 30 weeks. I did a lot of praying and I just willed myself to believe every day that my baby would be fine, that I would get to hold her and kiss her.

At 29 weeks I was able to stop working and in the next few days an ultrasound showed a possibility that the baby might be affected by intrauterine growth restriction as she measured a bit small. (This later proved to be a false scare when she arrived at a normal weight with normal head, chest, and thigh measurements.)  This gave me new waves of anxiety, but I was not working and I just rested and stayed as calm as possible. We had never even begun to recover from our losses in Colorado or the death of our first baby. To make matters worse my husband, who was still dealing with unexpressed grief, was having trouble securing a permanent job that could support us, we had only a mattress set for furniture, and we were behind on bills.

I escaped all of this stress, whenever possible, by watching “A Baby Story”. I would cry every time the baby was laid on its mother’s chest, longing and aching to feel that and see that miracle in my arms. I did finally have that beautiful experience. After months of worry, weeks of ultrasounds (1 every week for the last ten weeks of my pregnancy) days of waiting, hours of labor, I experienced that one moment as if it was in slow motion. It was breath-taking. Tiny flailing arms, a turned down lip at the cold reality of the world outside her protective womb, bare and beautifully naked, with perfect skin and a mop of brown hair, crying heartily her displeasure at this disruption of her former life, Christian Faith Champion entered the world on August 19, 2009. She has been my dream come true ever since.

Christian Faith, moments old.

With tv service once more, and an active little girl who likes to wake up no later than 6am, I have found my old stand by tv show, the one program of interest nestled between infomercials at such an ungodly morning hour when a normal body is craving that last sweet hour of slumber. I feel the birth pains with those poor women and wonder why I am putting myself through this emotional discomfort. Then that beautiful little baby enters the world, breathes its first breath, and every one is so happy and there are tears every where. I remember my little moment and I can be joyful for people I’ve never met and who I don’t know.

Even as I look at my second baby girl, now nine months old and still healthy and beautiful, I realize that I’ve never really had a normal pregnancy experience, nor will I. The strange circumstances of our life during my pregnancy with Skye were a far cry from the easy, doting, blissful ignorance of a first pregnancy and my second was not nearly the clear, sure experience of a normal second pregnancy. Because of the history, I will never have a normal pregnancy, there will always be worry, extra tests, more fanfare. The chances of Skye’s condition being genetic have generally been dismissed as slim, but there will always be a terror in the back of my mind, creating stress.

Josh and I have talked about the pros and cons of having another child. Having my first two so close together took a toll on my body. I still have no desire to go through this process again, but I don’t know if it is too soon to tell for sure. I always saw myself with two. It was never the plan to lose one, it never is, but the fact remains, I’ve had my two. I never thought past that. There are friends and family who tell me it’s just a bit soon, that I’ll want another down the road, and there are others who tell me to quit while I’m ahead. These are the general extremes, and while I value the advice of people who know me well, I know that it is only mine and Josh’s decision and no one else’s.

I guess the hardest hurdle to overcome for us is the “trying”. Neither of us can imagine setting out to conceive a child on purpose. We were “trying” with Skye and actually “not trying” with Faith. The emotional step it takes to decide, with your actions and not just your mind, to create life, is just not one we are ready to take. We may never be ready to take it. We are both o.k. with this. If we never have another baby, we are more than thrilled with the two beautiful gems we have, one here with us and the other waiting on us in Heaven. If we are blessed with another pregnancy unexpectedly, we will pray and believe that God will deliver that child safely into our arms too.