Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nineteen Years Ago in Slidell, LA - Happy Birthday, Peter!

Just to back up a little, twenty years ago our little family of four was told that we were to move from Houston, TX, to New Orleans, LA for my husband at the time's job with an oil company.  At that time our boys we had were aged 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 year old.  We settled in a little town on the east side of Lake Ponchartrain called Slidell.  We were a mere 10 miles from the Mississippi state line.   We'd only been in Houston for 2 years at that time.  Almost immediately after our move I discovered I was pregnant.  About a month after that the oil company that had transferred us to Louisiana announced that in 6 months major layoffs were to commence.  We spent those six months scrimping and saving just in case the job was going to be gone.  We spent very little time exploring Louisiana, although we did some low-price, close-by things like picking blueberries and checking out Mississippi and a very little bit of New Orleans.  We did Mardi Gras small-town Slidell-style, which was fine, actually, with the small boys.  During all of this time this third child grew inside me, and I wondered how we were going to manage with three children.  It was definitely a time of high stress, and I didn't have the tools to deal with it.
Peter and Alan in CO

I had a very laid-back doctor, which I guess was good for the third pregnancy.  He was so laid back though, that when the ultrasound likely clearly showed that we were having another boy, he causally said that "it wasn't clear".  The ultrasound on the other two boys were pretty clear as to their gender, so this led me to believe that we might actually be having a girl.  That summer I swelled up in the heat and humidity so much that I couldn't wear any of my shoes comfortably, even the sandals that velcroed shut.

Peter: 4 months old, TX
Around the middle of July we got the word that my husband would keep his job but we needed to move back to Houston as soon as possible.  I put in my vote for after the baby being born.  With that news we relaxed a little and waited for the baby to be born and made arrangements for our move back to Texas.

Peter: A few days old
August 24 arrived with Hurricane Andrew threatening the New Orleans area, so the boys and their dad evacuated to a shelter in Mississippi, while I was deposited the the local hospital since I was so close to my due date.  Thankfully, the hurricane did not come through Slidell, and we were home again in short order.

My mother, my only help arriving into town, could only be in Slidell for three days.  The laid back doctor somehow agreed to induce labor three days before the due date so that I could have the help at home I needed.  At this point we were still thinking we were having a girl, and the doctor was predicting approximately 8 lb.

Alan and Peter, CO
Peter's dad went into work as usual that day, a bit early, as his memory of George's birth was probably still burning in his mind.  A result of his going into work so early resulted in his car being blocked by later arrivals in the lot, so was virtually inaccessible without contacting the people whose cars were parked behind his.  My instructions were to call when "things got going" with the thought that he'd drive the hour commute and make it in time for the birth. 
All the boys, 6th, 4th, and 2nd grade

Things got going pretty quickly, as it turns out.  By 11 am, things were getting going, and I'd had an epidural, and the call had gone in to the husband to go ahead and come out.  We waited and waited, only due to the epidural assisting in blocking all urge to push.  While we waited, it occurred to me to ask the nurse if she could see the baby's head.  She responded "Yes, and there's a big head of hair."  At that moment I knew I wasn't having a girl, and KNEW it was a boy.  After his dad arrived, and the baby was born, it turns out the doctor was a bit off on his weight assessment too, as Peter was born a whopping 9 lb 13 oz., at 12:05 on September 9, 1992.
Alan and Peter with his broken toe

The next day when the doctor came in to check on me, he told me that he didn't want to ruin the "surprise" for me that for the next 60 years I was going to know that I was the mother of three boys, and that's why he hemmed and hawed regarding the ultrasound.

George, Peter and Alan, May 2010
In the hospital I had a hormonal lapse and named him Peter Matthew when the original plan was to name him after his grandfathers.  After I talked to my dad to announce his birth and told him his name, I felt horrible, and realized he needed to be Peter David, so I put in the name change immediately.
Peter in Texas

Even though those early unknowing and uncomfortable days were full of trepidation and doubt and worry, the days and times since then have been even more fulfilled by having this child, as well as his brothers.  I have many stories about Peter and his brothers that will come in future installments.
All the boys, CO

Right now all I can say to Peter is:  Happy 19th Birthday!  I have no idea how you got to be so old so fast.  I am very proud of who you are and am excited to see your life unfold in front of you one step at a time.
Peter and me, May 20

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Twenty-one years ago in Houston, TX

May 2011 George with Grandma Peggy and Tasha
George's graduation from LHS 2008, with Peter and Alan
We'd moved to Houston, TX from our home in Colorado in August of 1989, and later in November learned that we were expecting baby number two the following summer.  This turned out to be the healthiest pregnancy of all three, reasonable weight gain, stayed active, but was also put on bed rest and Brethine around week 33 for early contractions. This time, we were hooked up with good insurance and a "high risk" doctor in one of the best medical centers in Houston.  Every morning I had to wrap a sensor belt around my growing tummy and send in the record of contractions to the doctor so they could monitor how I was doing on bed rest.  Finally came the time to go off the medication and let nature take its course.  For six more weeks I had contractions every 3 minutes.  We bought and moved into our first house in Katy, TX that early June, and I was sure this baby would come early, or at the latest, on his due date (like his brother), which was June 24.  His due date came and went and the doctor could tell that the baby was getting pretty big, so he scheduled an induction for June 29, which was pretty cool because it was my grandmother's birthday, as well as George's Aunt Janis' birthday.  All was scheduled, and we got to the hospital first thing that Friday morning, started the oxytocin drip, and read the day away.  The contractions got going pretty good by 3 p.m. when the nurses changed shifts.  My new nurse came in and discontinued the oxytocin and said my contractions were well under way, and that I no longer had my own nurse so I could not be on oxytocin.  I got up to go to the bathroom, and came back to the bed and all contractions stopped.  When the doctor came at 5 or 6 p.m., he decided to send me home and we would try again the next week if the baby hadn't already decided to arrive in his own time.  The next earliest date for induction was almost a full week away, since the following two days were the weekend, the doctor was booked for Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday was the 4th of July.  

George, 1 day
I had fully expected to be going home with a baby in arms, not with a big tummy.  My mother had come to help, but had to leave for a class reunion, and my mother-in-law arrived.  Those next 6 days I tried everything I could comfortably do that the doctor suggested, drank beer, went for walks, relaxed in the tub...still the morning of July 5 arrived and I still hadn't delivered.  We went back to the hospital, this time my husband at the time dropped me off with the instructions that if or as things got going to call and he'd come from work. I started another novel that morning once the prostaglandin was in place (the doctor finally took me seriously about the success of prostaglandin with the first delivery.)  Another was inserted on the doctor's lunch hour.  Around 5 p.m., as I was finishing the novel begun that morning, the doctor broke my water, and George's dad was finished working for the day, so came to the hospital for the last bit of labor and delivery.  He was born at 8:59p.m. at 9 pounds 5 ounces.  As it turned out, he was gestationally calculated to be only 38 weeks, rather than the almost 42 weeks calculated from LMP, so he might have been even a bit longer had we not got him going.  All went well with the delivery, and we got to take George home to his new family the next day.
Christmas 1990, George 6 mos., Alan 2 1/2 yrs.

Twenty-one years have passed since that day, which is, of course, amazing to me. George is senior at CU-Boulder majoring in Applied Math and Molecular Biology and has sights on graduate programs at Princeton and MIT.  As with your brothers, I am very proud of you, George, and excited to see where your adult path leads you.
George with Alan, 1992 Slidell, LA

George fetching his dad a beer, with Alan and GG (Great Grandma)  

More Slidell, LA

George at Gma JoAnn and Gpa Pete's house, 16 mos.

George in Slidell, LA (with Alan) loving the face in the sprinkler sensation, over and over and over

George, Steven, and Alan messing around in Grandma Peggy's yard in Golden.

Happy 21st Birthday, George!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Friend's Baby Shower

(From 2009)
My dear friend is having a baby, and I attended her shower today. It has been almost a couple of decades since my boys were babies and I was in her shoes. This event really brought back some memories and an odd bittersweet awareness of just how quickly life moves along and beautiful babies have their experiences and grow into young adults. Watching my friend open her gifts, the tiny socks, the darling bibs, the bottles, the new-fangled gadgets to help new parents, all of that with the excitement of being full of life, a fully living being contained within oneself. The decision prevails, to find out the gender or not find out, when you will know anyway for the rest of your life. What an experience. So long ago, yet just yesterday. Then the ensuing 20 (almost 21!) of personality development, life experiences, building character, the joys, the tears, the challenges, the decisions, the moves, the loves, the losses, the support, the ignorance, the "winging it" (they do not come with instruction manuals), lessons learned with the first that get overlooked with the last. As the firsts are all diligently recorded (at least in the first child's baby book...), the series of "lasts" slip by unrecognized (the last bedtime story read, the last bath given, the last jar of baby food, the last nursing session, the last drive to a friend's house, the last enormous food bill, and on and on) and then before I know it they are off on their journeys.

It's all humorous and amazing. And sad, at least in the regard of realizing that those early baby years, as challenging as they can be, are fleeting. Now I get to watch these children/young men move forth in their lives, the foundations of their lives in place to be molded and folded as they experience life.
As my dear friend releases her life as "childless", entering motherhood with all of this ahead of her, I release my "child-filled" life, entering this next stage.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19, 2011 Happy Birthday, Alan!

Twenty-three years ago, in 1988, was an exciting time in my life.  I was 20 years old, newly married, and about to give birth to my first baby.  I love this story because it is all about synchronicity and Life...

Sometime in March, 1988 I was given terbutaline to stop early labor in my pregnancy.  My husband at the time, Jeff, and I had gone to Mexico for our delayed honeymoon in December and I'd contracted a salmonella infection when I was 4 1/2 mos. pregnant.  I am thinking this is what may have caused the early contractions a couple months later. Who knows?  Anyhow, I took terbutaline for 4 weeks while the baby continued to grow and develop and I was allowed to discontinue the medication three weeks before my due date of May 19.

The day I discontinued the medication, my dad, who lived nearby at the time, called to tell me he was going on a three week work trip, he was a pilot, and told me that he didn't want me to have the baby until he came home.  I told him that of course I'd wait to have the baby until he returned (of course I was thinking that the sooner I have the baby the better!) 

The days and weeks went by, and I celebrated my first Mother's Day that year, May 15, still pregnant.  I was at a Mother's Day classical concert in which my mother was playing and that baby danced and danced inside my belly.   The next few days I spent nesting like crazy, washing baby clothes, cleaning the house, and whatever else I could do with all of that extra energy.  May 18 was especially 'nestful'.  We went out to eat for a huge dinner meal and came home and crawled into bed.

Spring 1988 - Waiting for Alan, Golden, CO

Literally, for me, it was crawling into bed.  Because of the low height of the stair ceiling in the apartment in which we were living, we weren't able to use our double box spring and the bed mattress was on the floor.  At 9 months pregnant, I had to lower myself carefully using the dresser across the room to the floor, and crawl/roll into bed.  Jeff was already snoozing, and I started to drift off...

Suddenly the phone rang.  The phone was downstairs.  I rolled out of bed, crawled across the floor, pulled myself up the dresser, and ran my big pregnant body down the stairs.   I answered the phone, and it was my dad was on the other end.  He told me that he was back in town and that I could go ahead and have the baby.  I'd totally forgotten my promise to him.  But, at that moment, literally, my water broke.  My dad was telling me all about his trip while I was trying to figure a way to let him know that I needed to check on this new development.  Finally I told him that my water broke and I needed to call the hospital. 

I woke Jeff up and told him we needed to go to the hospital, so we went, and with every bump on that ride I sat in a new pool of water.   The next morning, 8:24am, May 19, Alan was born. 

"Uncle Dave" (Grandpa) holding Alan a few weeks after he was born. 
One of my favorite pictures from that time is one of my dad holding Alan. It was worth the wait!

The new family, 23 years ago

Alan graduating from WSU, 2010
Alan exploring his new digs in Cambridge, MA, 2010
In the twenty-three years since that day have been amazing.  I am honored to be his young man's mother.  I am proud of what he has accomplished but even prouder of the kind, generous, loving, thoughtful and compassionate human being he is and has always been.   Thank you Alan for beginning my journey through motherhood!  May your Birthdays be Happier and Happier!     Love, Mom 

Fall, 1988, Alan - Golden, CO

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Parenthood: The first really scary thing I remember

Of course bringing home a baby for the first time after just having him was terrifying enough.  I was 20 years old, so BARELY older than he, when I gave birth to him in 1988.  The responsibility of taking care of another human life can be a bit overwhelming at first, and then there's the worry about how I would possibly take care of the little guy if, Heaven forbid, he were to get an ear infection.  But this story is not about that stage.

It's from almost two years later, when my son, Alan, was 20 months old.  I was also five months pregnant with my second son, George, at the time.  We had moved away from our home state of Colorado where our families were, to Houston, Texas several months earlier.  The boys' father, my husband at the time, was in Louisiana doing field work for several weeks and wasn't due to be home again for a couple of weeks.  Basically, the people I knew were the realtor that helped us find the rental house we were living in, and some new acquaintances in a prenatal exercise class I'd recently joined.

I took Alan in for a well-baby check, and almost forgot to mention what I thought was a little abnormal looking.  The doctor verified that I needed to take Alan to an urologist to verify if he had an inguinal hernia.  Sure enough, he did, and was scheduled for surgery the following week.  The nurse told me that if Alan showed any signs of a cold before the surgery, I should call and let them know.  

Soon after we got the surgery scheduled, the only car we had began to have some serious issues.  The short story was that I took it into a nearby shop that we could walk home from.  While getting into the shop's parking lot, I'd accidentally backed into a ditch (which were abundant in Houston, and I was unaccustomed to in Colorado), so the auto shop guys kindly towed the car out of the ditch in addition to rebuilding half our engine.  I suddenly was car-less and had many errands to accomplish before the surgery since I had no idea what the recovery was going to be like.  Somehow we made it to the laundromat, and to the grocery store, and arranged for our kind realtor to take us to the hospital early in the morning of the surgery.

Two days before the surgery was scheduled, Alan developed a slight cold.  I called the doctor's office and was told that if it gets worse I should call them back.  The next day, his slight cold turned into a slight croupy cough.  Again I called the office, and was told that he will be fine for the surgery, to go ahead and bring him in the next day.  By this time, my intuition was screaming (the message wasn't clear though), but my lack of experience and tendency to trust the doctor took over, and I did take him in early the next morning for surgery.

I was sitting amongst other families who were waiting for their children to come out of surgery, and I noted that each time one was complete, the doctor would come and tell the family that all went well, and right on his heels would be the nurse to take the family back to the patient.  Eventually our urologist showed up and told me how great the surgery went, and then he left.  No nurse showed up right after him.  I waited, and waited, and just as I was getting up to check at the desk, I heard over the loudspeaker: "Would the family of Alan Emanuel please come to the check in desk?"  What??  That wasn't the protocol I had been observing!  I went to the desk and the nurse there informed me that Alan was ready to be admitted.

"Admitted for?", I asked, frightened.  The nurse realized I had no idea and called for the anesthesiologist to talk with me.  The anesthesiologist informed me that Alan had developed a life-threatening croup while in surgery, and he needed to be admitted and placed in an oxygen tent and on medications so his condition could stabilize.  I was taken to his room to await his arrival.  I was forewarned by one of the nurses that he had a deep red tinge to his skin (due to the medication), and was having serious difficulty breathing.  Even with the warning, I was not ready for what came through the door, which was a little guy, using every possible muscle he had, it seemed, to inhale air into his lungs.  His chest seemed to collapse with each inhale, and the noise he made was horrendously loud and grotesquely animal-like.  I spent the night with him, in his oxygen tent, listening to him breathe.  He was fine to go home by the next evening, which was also the time that the car was completely repaired, and my very new friends from the exercise class picked us up and drove us to pick up the car and accompanied us home to make sure we were settled and needs were met.  

By the time my husband came home two days later, the car was repaired, and Alan was completely back to his regular energetic routine.  Kids bounce back amazingly quickly! 

I learned a lot about myself with this whole incident that stuck through the rest of parenting those three boys.  I learned to trust my intuition and act on it, and stand up for my kids.  I learned that I was stronger than I thought, that I could even handle a crisis larger than an ear infection.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"When I Was Your Age..."

Just a Quickie...

As I was working out this morning and thinking of family in general, and all of the different relationships we have with one another, out of the recent sad ruminations, a humorous random memory came forth that instilled an instant of pride.

In 22 1/2 years of parenthood I only uttered the phrase, "When I was your age..." one time.  This momentous occasion occurred when my youngest son, Peter, was 14 years old and very desirous and in 'need' of a cell phone.  His two older brothers obtained cell phones when they turned 16 years old, as that was when their father, who was supplying them, deemed them mature enough to care for and need a phone.  Peter did have some good points regarding his social life and his being out and about more than his brothers were at his age, however, I had and expressed my reservations to point out the fact that he needed to demonstrate increased responsibility (like not absent-mindedly washing his iPod with his clothes, and leaving me waiting outside of the band room for him to run in and get something and getting distracted by a movie that he started watching...), and "By the way", it slipped out, "WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE...phones were attached to the wall with a big cord that limited the distance you could travel from the wall (let alone the house!)." Anyhow, of course I got a typical teen response, something like "you are not my age..." or "Yeah, Mom, that was in the Dark Ages..." or something, but mainly I was astounded that I'd actually uttered those words.  The pride comes in not having expressed it since (at least in my conscious awareness.  :-))

He finally gained the rank of cell phone-holder and user by the time he was 15, so succeeded, to a decent degree in proving his responsibility.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Grandpa's Dream 2006

A precious experience: Visiting Grandpa in Farmington. He was so small, barely there, barely hearing, recognizing a few. He knew me, I was grateful. He would doze, and then come back. He spoke often of how he should be on the top of a mountain. I told him he would be at the top of a mountain soon. His heart was in the mountains.

My mom and aunts brought him to Mancos to see all of the great grandkids and the families gathered. He had color in his cheeks, a smile on his face, hooked up to oxygen, dozed off and on, but mostly reveled in his party. He'd brought his entire family to this place. Eventually it was time for him to go. I knew it would be the last time I'd see him. I will never forget the scene. Forty people, young and old, standing silent, as Grandpa was wheeled to Mom's car. Joe grabbed Grandpa and lifted him out of his wheelchair and placed him in the car. There was not a dry eye watching this scene. Lots of hugging. Off he went, back to Farmington.
Later, after everyone had dispersed from the reunion, news came that Grandpa was sliding fast, and that it was likely that he wouldn't last more than a day, then, a few hours. That night I said to myself that I would dream of Grandpa. I fell asleep.

As I was dreaming, I became aware of being on the top of a mountain, breathing in the night sky, feeling the cool air on my face, looking at the full moon. Grandpa was sitting with me at a picnic bench. He was full of life, smiling, very happy, also enjoying the air as we pointed out all the marvels of our experience to each other. The dream ended.

The next morning, I was in my kitchen preparing breakfast, and I heard his voice, "I love you, Steffie." I knew he was gone from this realm, and shortly thereafter Mom called to tell me Grandpa had died in the night.