Monday, April 27, 2009

Deals of the Day: Diapers and the Pink Pack-N-Play

This was not a good weekend for hitting the garage sales. Our weekend schedule was already very full, so we knew we'd be limited on the amount of time we'd have available to spend out hunting for bargains. Also, both highways leading out of our neighborhood were going to be partially closed all day Saturday for a bridge repair, making traffic a beating and leaving us unwilling to be out in it. Fortunately, our neighborhood sale was this weekend, and we had the opportunity to explore the garage sale preview when James got home from work on Friday night.

For some reason, our neighborhood sale is never very good. Really, we could just skip it altogether and not feel like we missed out on anything, but with nothing else going on on Friday, it didn't hurt to drive around. As we expected, we didn't find much, and some sales were so poorly executed, we didn't even stop the car. Despite the disappointing excursion, we did pick up a few odds and ends, some books, a remote control puppy for Grace, and a super cute mini Pack-N-Play for the baby.

Pack-n-Play's have come a long way since our big kids were babies. Back then, there was a standard design, no bells and whistles, and the color selection ranged from light blue to dark blue. This little one is fairly basic with regards to the shape, but it's smaller in size than the ones we used to have -- a bonus for someone like me who prefers floor space to clutter. Plus, it's pink gingham with ruffles! Squeal!

It has a very sturdy bassinet addition that snaps in all around, instead of being perched precariously atop the unit, as were the bassinets of yore. It really has no bells or whistles to speak of (some other styles and brands have tilting mattresses, vibration settings, built-in music, etc.), but that's not a deal breaker for us. It has wheels, and a little umbrella topper, and ruffles! I was sold before I ever stepped out of the car. Better still, I brought it home, carrying case and all, for $15. Squeal!

On Saturday, we went about our day as planned and stopped at Walgreens on the way home. I picked up something in the back of the store and unintentionally cut through the baby aisle on my way to the register. There, tucked away on a bottom shelf, I noticed some Walgreens brand diapers clearanced from $4.99/pack to $1.09/pack. Without hesitation, I bought every pack available in my local store -- 19 packages in all -- and would have driven to all the neighboring Walgreens if we weren't already on a tight schedule. I spent $20.71 on diapers instead of $94.81. I saved $74.10! Though we're expecting to cloth diaper this baby, we were already planning to use disposables for those exhausting newborn days and on those occasional super-busy away-from-home days -- now we can at a discount.

Cross Posted on Mandigirl Muses

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Shoes: Thoughts on Loss and Being Pregnant Again

I am a huge fan of shoes. That's not always been the case, but somewhere around age twelve or thirteen, something changed in me and I've loved shoes ever since. My mom would indulge me as best she could by buying me shoes I loved in varying colors. My first job was next door to a shoe store, which meant I brought home no money for anything else.

As I've gotten older, my shoe selection has changed. I have an array of flip-flops and Crocs. I own shoes sensible for walking long distances. I have heels chosen carefully so they don't rub blisters or cause undue pressure. I have a pair of surgical shoes I hobbled around in all last summer after hurting my desensitized feet. My shoe collection these days is not glamorous, but it is reliable, and most of all, safe.

Why such a safety girl? Last summer, I wore a pair of my favorite flip-flops to Six Flags and developed large blisters on the bottom of both of my feet. Because my feet are so insensitive, I couldn't feel the blisters developing and remained unaware until they burst and bled. I was driven out of the park on the Medic Cart (embarrassing!) and spent time in Urgent Care. Despite constant care, the wounds didn't heal well, and later, when we suspected infection, I spent time in the ER. That led to weekly appointments with the podiatrist who literally sliced away sections of my sole at every visit. He also banned me from walking as I was accustomed. He made the wounds and my entire situation worse to help my feet heal properly, and without that treatment, I was at a serious risk of loss.

I learned my lesson last summer, pain was my teacher, and now I'm very conscious about my shoe choice in relation to my environment. I take measures to protect myself and to keep myself completely intact. Though I am better and can now walk with ease, I don't ever fail to remember the situation I found myself in and the measures I can take to prevent a recurrence of that experience. That doesn't mean I spend my life in fear of hurting myself or losing my feet, it only means I'm being aware, conscious, responsible, taking measures to protect myself and to prevent a loss.

Regarding shoes, I have a pair of metaphorical shoes: the shoes of my life, the shoes only I walk in every single day. The shoes of my life are lovely indeed. They were provided by a generous Giver who knew just what I needed. There are bows and buckles right where they belong, with beautiful children, wonderful husband, and better friends than I could have ever dreamed. Financial security and a host of blessings make for a good stable fit. Varying hues are the lives I have touched and the lives that have touched mine. I could not create for myself such an amazing pair of shoes.

But the shoes of my life also represent days that are unusual and often not-so-easy. There are woes from my childhood and the days of my youth. There are family and relationship issues common to all. There's a history of pain and of grief and of loss. These are the things that rub blisters and cause scars. These are the things that, if ignored, could fester and grow infected and could lead to further pain and further loss. These are the risks of walking at all, and while the pain can be intense and inconvenient and hard to understand or take seriously, these are the moments that should never be forgotten.

For those who know me, my story of loss is well-told. We've had four first trimester losses, including a twin in this pregnancy, and I had a son, born too early, who lived on the Earth but for a moment. An interesting thing about my pregnancies is that each loss revealed an issue resolved in the next pregnancy. Were it not for my losses, there is no way I would still even be pregnant with this little girl. Medically, it has been vitally important to consider the past, and just as with my feet, I don't ever fail to remember the situations I found myself in and the measures I can take to prevent a recurrence of those experiences.

All of that to say that I got an e-mail this week that really, quite honestly, ticked me off. I know that sounds mean, but I'm just keeping it real. It came from an acquaintance of mine, really a friend of a friend, and while it was well-meaning (I'm sure), it frustrated me to no end. Here's a portion:
I have been asking God to send you a supernatural cloak of peace. May you not be moved by emotions or thoughts from your past. God is doing a new work.
Not so bad, right? No, probably not. Still, I'm irritated.

(I'm also hormonal, but that's beside the point.)

First of all, I've never been close to this e-mail sender. We're not friends now, nor have we ever truly been friends. I hear a little about her life through our mutual friend. In the same way, I'm sure she hears about me. She has had some minimal and limited involvement in my kid's lives as a nursery worker, but she's had very minimal involvement in mine. Moreover, we haven't even laid eyes on one another or spoken in two whole years. On top of that, her life has been wrought with different struggles -- never fertility issues and recurrent pregnancy losses. How, then, is she expert enough to even presume to guide me in my current situation? Who is she to tell me how to walk in my shoes when she's never tried them on for size?

If you know me in real life, if you read my blog, if you keep up with me on Twitter or on Facebook, if you pick up the phone, if you e-mail me and actually ask how I'm doing, or if you bother to actually involve yourself in my life for even one moment, you would know that while there have been times of wonder and struggle during this pregnancy, I have personally been awed by the peace that consumes my heart. I expected to be an utter wreck by now, and to my delight, I am not. Even when concerning things happen, I'm consumed by peace. That doesn't mean that I allow myself to be oblivious, or that I cancel medical treatments in the name of faith, or that I disregard what my past reveals about my present. It means that I walk out my present in light of my past trusting God all the way.

I'm twenty-four weeks pregnant now. I'm carrying a baby who could quite possibly live outside of the womb. I have reached this gestational age to my great surprise, and I do not take one ounce of the credit. God has sustained me all along. Even more surprisingly, I am this pregnant and still upright, which has never happened for me -- ever -- and that, too, is a miracle. Even with all these good things, I still walk out my present in light of my past, realizing that each moment I have with this child on the Earth is a blessing.

Babies die in the first trimester, and hearts are still broken.
Babies die in the second trimester, when all should be safe.
Babies die when they are born too early, just like Zachary.
Babies die from cord accidents all the time.
Babies are carried with the knowledge that they won't live.
Babies die for no reason at all.

Am I a fool to remember my losses and to let them influence my attitude in this pregnancy? No -- I am the wise one. These tumbles and hiccups and bumps in the night may be all I know of my daughter for many years to come. That's a truth I know all too well. These children are gifts to us, treasures, and we would all be fools to take even one portion of their existences for granted. Some people realize that without having had their hearts obliterated. My knowledge has grown deeper by walking a much harder path, still, these shoes are mine, and though they are stained and tattered and sometimes broken, I think I wear them well.

Cross Posted on Mandigirl Muses

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Scoring at the Saturday Sales

I love garage sale season, particularly when I have specific things to buy. Lately, I've been looking for a few baby things and some furniture to redecorate the girl's room. I found a lovely convertible crib at a thrift store a few weeks back and bought it for $27. I picked up an Arm's Reach Cosleeper (with leg extensions and two sheets -- normally nearly $200 altogether) on Craig's List last week for $20.

This weekend, I was on the hunt for a twin bed for Gracie. Gracie had a black metal-framed day bed, but for the new room decor, I wanted something in wood, not a daybed, and something in white or something that could be painted. The crib (which looks very much like this one, only without the curved back) looked more modern to me with its straight lines and wood planks, so I went out thinking that's what I was looking for. No.

We pulled up to a sale this weekend and saw the loveliest shabby chic changing table there in the driveway. It's an antique dresser that's been converted, but the conversion isn't that noticeable unless you're really looking. The tag read "$20 OBO," and the lady happily took $15. I'm not going to tell you how hard it was to fit into the back of the CR-V, particularly considering how much shopping we'd already done. Let me just tell you my husband was far more patient with me than I ever expected he would be.

James said we could not fit another thing in the car -- forget about more furniture! -- yet he stopped at one more sale. A sale that had a wood twin bed frame with a matching night stand for $7. A furniture set that had precisely the same curves and lines and shapes as the changing table stuffed in the car. James knew he was in trouble as soon as he put the car in park. He tried voicing his complaints once or twice, but knew the fight wasn't his to win. It took some maneuvering, but surprisingly, I got all the furniture in the car. I left just enough room for the kids to make their way home, and they didn't even mind how crowded it was.

I'm excited to paint the bedroom set, particularly since I just found a tutorial that should make painting those spindles quite simple. I may have to reconsider the more modern bedding set already picked out and find something more traditional, still I think it's all going to look so lovely.

Cross Posted on Mandigirl Muses

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

That Day and This Day

On the day Zachary was born, I was twenty-two weeks and one day pregnant, which is precisely where I am in this pregnancy today.

That morning, I woke up as a patient on the antepartum wing of the hospital and was rushed to the OR for an experimental procedure in the hopes that we could rescue my child from death. This morning, I rushed out the door for an early doctor's appointment with enough spare time to grab a chicken biscuit along the way.

That morning, the procedure failed as a surprise to me and I agreed to lengthy bedrest in Trendelenburg position. This morning, I was certain that there would be another failure, leading to bedrest, and was surprised to find out I was wrong.

That afternoon, I met with the neonatologist to discuss ethics and hospital policy and decided on a timeline for life-saving measures and respite care. This afternoon, I ate tacos, had a progesterone injection, laid around on the couch and caught up on Facebook status updates.

That evening, I was sent to labor and delivery because as that day progressed, my water broke, the baby's cord prolapsed, and there was nothing more we could do to to save him. I was given Cervadil and what was left of the cerclage was removed. For some reason, American Idol was on the TV as I labored. This evening, I intend to watch American Idol with my family at home, safely and happily still pregnant.

The whole experience of losing Zachary was a whirlwind. At every turn, I remember thinking I'd get out of it somehow -- somehow everything would work out and both the baby and I would be okay. Sure, maybe I'd require all sorts of intervention, but miracles were neither impossible nor improbable. Instead, by that evening, I marveled at how tiny his perfect little body was, and by the next day, I was making arrangements with a funeral home.

After such an experience, it was no wonder that I expected there to be something wrong when I went in today for a routine ultrasound at the exact same gestational age. It's true that I've had an extraordinary amount of peace throughout this pregnancy, but when your "normal" has been something so heart-wrenching, it's difficult to change your mindset. Still, I don't even think I realized how internally convinced I was about there being problems until my sweet doctor came into the room and the tears (mine, not his) started flowing.

Today, though, was a joyous day. Instead of having my unfortunate expectations met, I was surprised to find that my pregnancy is still progressing nicely. My current miracle is ongoing. My cervix is fine and remains stable in spite of vacation walking and a sporadic seasonal allergy cough. The baby has grown and is still measuring ahead -- she's measuring over 24 weeks around her tummy, and around 23 weeks everywhere else! Today, I marveled at how big her perfect little body is, and instead of making funeral arrangements, I think it might be time to get serious about decorating the nursery.

Zachary at 22 weeks 1 day

Little Miss Priss at 22 weeks 1 day

Cross Posted on Mandigirl Muses

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I know the title of this post seems to be a clever play on words since we just went to Vegas, but I promise this post has nothing to do with the game of Blackjack. Rather, it has to do with the fact that while we were in Vegas, I hit twenty-one weeks in this pregnancy.

From the beginning of this pregnancy, I anticipated I'd be in major freak-out mode come 21/22 weeks. In both of my pregnancies that have gone so long, twenty-one weeks is a major turning point for me. When my pregnancy with Gracie hit twenty-one weeks, my cervix began changing, I had a rescue cerclage placed, and began 15 very long weeks of bedrest. With Zachary, twenty-one weeks was the beginning of the end with a cough that wouldn't quit and a cervix that would.

Here I am again at twenty-one weeks, and surprisingly, I'm not freaking out. I am very aware of my body (I notice every twinge and tug) and I have thought of visiting the doctor a time or two for another sonogram (just out of curiosity, not out of warranted concern), but I've held steady. I've held steady primarily because I have a regularly-scheduled sonogram at 22 weeks, but moreso because I know sonogram or not, I'm completely out of control when it comes to the outcome of this pregnancy.

I'm doing everything I can to insure a healthy baby at the end. As you can imagine, I've done my research, I've asked my questions, I'm following orders. However, it's been nearly two years since Zachary died, and in those two years, I've become more aware that no matter how much a gestating mother does to insure the life of her little one, life is still fleeting and can slip through fingers when least expected.

That's not to say that I'm expecting an end to life or that I wouldn't be absolutely beside myself if it happened to me once again. I cannot imagine surviving such a loss more than once. I don't even want to think about imagining it. Still, it happens, and it's in light of that reality that I find myself completely at peace.

I'm not at peace because I know the outcome of my pregnancy. I have no idea how this journey will end. I have hope of how it will end. I'm preparing for a positive end. Still, I know no matter what, God holds both me and this wiggly baby girl in the palms of His kind and capable hands, and regardless of how our individual days are numbered, He will be faithful to care for us both.

I'm at peace because I've experienced both the miracle of life and of death. I'm at peace because I've survived. I'm at peace because I went through something so extraordinarily devastating and relied on a God who is extraordinarily faithful. He was present with me through the good moments and the bad. He carried me, He comforted me, and He personally mended my shattered heart.

"O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things..."
Isaiah 25:1

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be."
Psalm 139:13-16

"Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust...
Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.
Psalm 40:4a-5

Cross Posted on Mandigirl Muses