Sunday, January 20, 2013

2002 Christmas Letter

I'm sorry I haven't written in so long. There
really has not been much to say, other than, "We made
it back to the States alive, and yeah we're looking
for a job and apartment like we said we would be. So .
. . how's the weather?" </P>
<P>But, surprise surprise! The big news right now is
not the apartment (we just got a lovely one), or the
job (Dan just quit a yucky one), but the baby! Many
thanks for all your prayers at her unexpected and
dramatic arrival. Of course, Annemarie Christine
(three generations of the Holy Family included in the
name!) was worth every bit of it and I’m absolutely in
love with all 4 lbs 8 oz of tiny, feisty her. Her
prognosis is excellent--she was apparently quite large
for her age–and she should be home (no promises)
sometime next week, when Dan and I can (hopefully)
finally assume some kind of normal family life with
our most thoroughly incubated kid. </P>
<P>For now, the excitement is not at all wearing off,
but it is certainly wearing me out. (Again, though,
she’s worth it.) Her feedings are exactly every three
hours for one half hour in which I have to wake up the
comatose child (drunk with jaundice treatments) and
convince her that eating is almost as nice as
sleeping, and that she must do this both from a bottle
and from me. So, we fuss over how to suck and swallow,
and extricate barbs from her while looking at the
clock and hoping I can get one out before the buzzer
rings, with no time to cuddle or just "be". We will
make this up later.</P>
<P>Hopefully, this does not sound too strongly of
complaining, because God has been so good. She does
all bodily functions on her own (one mustn’t be fooled
by tiny diapers, no sir! :), with only extra vitamins
from an IV and extra warmth from her cube. (She’s been
under phototherapy for her jaundice, and thus lays in
the cube for hours with tiny sunglasses on; it’s a
scream. They call it "the beach," and she seems to
enjoy it, sleeping away as much as possible.) Steroid
shots I received in the 48 hours before her birth
apparently did the job of preparing her lungs to
breathe on their own. </P>
<P>For those of you (women :) who want all the gory
details, I will be brief (well, I’ll try.) I went into
labor while at the movies, June 1<SUP>st</SUP>
Saturday night. But don’t worry, my ticket wasn’t
wasted, because I thought I just was having bad
stomach pains/cramps, and so just bit my lip every
once in awhile. I began to be concerned when this
continued throughout the night, waking me up to squirm
at closer and closer intervals, hoping I didn’t have
the flu. But around five in the morning, things became
a bit more, um, messy. So I looked up my symptoms in
one of my many books, my jaw dropped, and I awoke mom
and Danny. </P>
<P>I was pretty darn sure what was happening at this
point, and was excited but naturally concerned. Dan
arose, threw half my entire wardrobe in a large black
bag (a useful collection of three dresses, several
slacks, four tops, and one pair of socks). He also
kindly packed me snacks, while my sister got makeup .
. . then the four of us flew to Women and Infants
Hospital. </P>
<P>So, they rushed me in, threw a johnny on me, and
helpfully informed me that I was in active labor
(smile) and that the baby was old enough to be just
fine (brilliant smile). But . . . the baby would be
much better off in at least 48 hours, when her lungs
could develop under steroid treatments. In fact, it
would be much better to keep me in the hospital on
medications to stall the labor until my due date.</P>
<P>Well, I could sure see the pluses of this point of
view, at least between contractions. Better for the
baby was the mantra. So, they plugged me into heavy
magnesium, which relaxes all your muscles, and
supposedly your uterus (sorry guys) also. </P>
<P>Well, Sunday was spent getting doped up, getting
nice food, entertaining my mom, sister, and husband
from this really cool bed with a bunch of buttons.
Sunday night was spent rather wakeful, as nurses were
apparently very worried that if anything happened, it
would happen in the middle of the night. So, every few
hours I was hooked up to monitors, pricked and bled,
poked and examined, etc. </P>
<P>Thus, on Monday I was a bit more tired, and a bit
more woozy, and a bit more anxious. Because, you see,
the contractions never really stopped. They just
spaced out by every two hours on the first day, and
ever so gradually became closer together. Still, the
doctors brightly informed me that they were able to
keep some women for weeks in this condition. I was as
happy as possible about this, though I was constantly
being informed that the process of labor was
increasing by the centimeter, and the baby was quite,
quite ready to enter the world, at least from her
point of view. </P>
<P>It was tough to wait, not knowing how many hours or
weeks it would go on. But by Tuesday, the medicine
completely got to me. I lost most muscle control, and
started seeing jungles growing in the room, and really
fuzzy green and purple beetles. The doctors came and
pulled the plug, reassuring my delirious self all the
while that maybe all my body needed was a break, and I
could look forward to another three days of "mag" in a
day or so. </P>
<P>It didn’t take long for my body to decide. Labor
picked up just where it left off, and transition
helped to wake me up a bit. Dan, who had "crammed" on
birth coaching ever since they took me off meds, was
wonderful and it actually was a peaceful, quite nice
experience. I knew nature was taking its course, and I
just relaxed and prayed and stuff.</P>
<P>Apparently, I relaxed too long, because all of a
sudden my water broke (sorry guys) and suddenly
Annemarie was exceedingly eager to leave the womb. We
informed the nurse, who leisurely called the doctor to
"check out the patient in room #, membranes possibly
ruptured." Anxiety somewhat building, I just lay
there, praying, and feeling–um, how to describe
it–tremendous forces of nature? So, when the doctor
finally arrived, (the nurse was busy putting a nice,
tight band around my waist, with many a bump and tug,
to do her routine check on the baby’s heartbeat. I
kind of wanted to bite her . . ), I was engaged in
this whole moaning, sweating, trying not to deliver
kind of thing. He "checked to see if my membranes had
erupted" and basically found the crown of her head. He
made a very funny face, which I appreciated
afterwards, and suddenly there was a great rush of
footsteps, nurses all aflutter. The doctor told me
there wasn’t time for epidurals (duh!!!), and I did
this gritting teeth grin and said, that was fine, my
husband and I were planning to do the Bradley method
anyway, (lol! With our one class, and after three days
of magnesium!) </P>
<P>Knowing what I did know (and wanted) about the
Bradley natural method of childbirth, I was somewhat,
er, "put off" by the realization that I was not going
to be allowed to give birth to my protruding child
(sorry guys :( , that I first must simply transfer my
traumatized self onto this nice stretcher they’d
wheeled in for me, and I would be going on a nice
little trip three floors down. Ha. Apparently the
doctor’s favorite latex gloves were downstairs. </P>
<P>So, with my best straining and several shoves, I
was summarily rolled / thrown onto the stretcher, and
RUN down the corridor. I was literally motion sick,
silent, eyes closed, hanging on to the railings for
dear life, and wondering if this was real. It was like
a 911 movie, and gosh how they took the curves, in
huge, swirling motions! All the nurses were jogging
after, (one said, "I’m so sorry; it wasn’t supposed to
happen this way!") my IV in tow, yapping various
numbers and pulse rates and things to each other.
Then, a moment of silence, as the elevator lurched
down a couple floors. Then more commotion: most labor
rooms were filled, as the month of June is providing a
9/11 baby boom, and a table had to be moved to get the
stretcher in a room that was being renovated. I
vaguely remember a radio blaring, of all songs, "Baby,
come on over tonight." </P>
<P>I had to be moved again, and neither Annemarie nor
I thought that was a great idea. I remember clawing at
the other bed like an animal, with all my muscles
concentrating on the one great effort everyone was
yelling at me not to do. ("Don’t push yet!") I landed
face downwards on what was finally the "right" bed,
involuntarily letting out the most God-awful scream
I’d ever heard, scaring me back into
semi-consciousness and my sister into thoughts of the
convent. </P>
<P>Bradley and I were not pleased at these
proceedings, to say the least. I was turned on my
back, the one position I was trained to strictly avoid
(having read how this was only for the doctor’s
convenience, and the many reasons why this was the
worst possible thing for your back and for getting the
kid to arrive, etc.) </P>
<P>But hey, it worked. Mercifully, in about two
minutes. The moment she made it was probably the best
in my life, despite the out-of-control circumstances.
(To illustrate this latter point further: the doctor
who’d seen me upstairs and brought me down had just
gotten his license. He was replaced at the last minute
by a more experienced female doctor, who literally ran
in.) This was part of the reason for the frantic,
lightning fast coaching I was getting from 8 strangers
at once under the bright lights–"Don’t push; don’t! I
know hun . . . (what’s her name?) Katherine, we’re
going to move you down, pull yourself over here. (Mom:
"She’s Katie.) Katie? Katie, okay, now we’re going to
. . . was she medicated? Oh dear. stirrups . . . what
the . . .Give me that. Susan! Heartrate (numbers
numbers). Position the (technical term for whatever).
I guess I have to. Okay now. Is the ... ready? Push,
c’mon, let’s push!" No kidding.</P>
<P>Quite the atmosphere. Mary (my sister) was pale in
the hall, talking to some expectant father about the
wide selection of pain relievers available in this day
and age. Mom was crying with joy (or some other
Mom-like thing; she was the only cheerful voice in the
room). Poor Dan! Having done a marvelous job coaching
up to this point, all his Bradley knowledge was in
vain in this scenario. All he could reach was my hand,
and occasionally sneak in to lean over, kiss my cheek
and speak in my ear about "how well I was doing,"
bless him! My nails were continually tattooing his
skin during my various shifts in position. Abandoning
his efforts to tell me how to "ride the wave" of
contractions, he decided to counter-coach. "Push if
you want to hun; if your body is telling you too, you
should you know. Don’t listen, don’t worry." Well, I
wasn’t listening to much but my occasional yelps, my
half-tearful requests to "Can’t I just sit up a bit?"
(Dan vocally agreed with this strongly, but I don’t
think anyone could really hear anyone at that point)
and my Mom saying "oh, she’s beautiful!" (Actually,
she was kinda blue and messy, but quite wonderfully
lively. I had one good peak as she was rushed out to
her incubator.) </P>
<P>In my efforts to make all my coaches happy, I tore
myself up quite a bit, despite my little premie. Dan
told me the only useful information during the whole
thing, that he could see the baby. (That was the most
wonderful thing to hear, because at that point I
didn’t know what anyone was doing or why.) And, after
the event of 2:21 pm, I got to see her and play with
her a bit in the evening. Oh wow, it is so
<P>And oh well! So much for me being brief. Discharged
on Friday, I have spent my days in the hospital lobby,
catching up on prayer, reading, and quiet time, in
between feeding my kid. Dan is left to do much of the
moving himself, but still comes when he can. I am so
grateful everything did work out, that she is doing so
very well, and that we have been given such a
blessing, though unexpectedly early. I am so grateful
for all your prayers that made this possible, and for
the emails and cards many of you have sent us. (I will
try to respond to them personally later, when I get
back some computer time.) Please continue your prayers
for Annemarie’s recovery and success at making up for
what she missed in pregnancy. (The best and only real
bet as to why she came early was because of the severe
straining of my back, with my scoleosis and all that,
as I got rounder. Such physical stress can trigger
early labor. Thus, before my next kid, I am going to
go through physical therapy with a watermelon strapped
to my middle, thus preparing my muscles.) She is so
tiny that it seems even more scary to think we will
soon be solely responsible for her welfare. But God
has been so good . . . and He doesn’t stop. :) Love
you guys, and all my thanks for your prayers. Keep in

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