Monday, May 27, 2013

The Loss of Luke

Four years ago today our family had a huge loss. I am still at a point where it is easier to just copy and paste the story rather than delving back into it. So if the words are a bit raw still, it is because I typed out the story shortly after the loss and have not been able to read/edit since.

I have been having trouble with coming up with words to put down to say what happened to us. I need to stop hesitating and just put my thoughts into words to help myself heal.

On Wednesday, May 25th, 2011, I woke up a bit early because I needed to head to a prenatal appointment in the city. I had switched OB's so I could attempt a VBAC and University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is the only hospital that would allow me to attempt it after 2 c-sections. I had to drop Hugh off at school early so that I would have time to drive in. As it was it was raining buckets and I was afraid I would be late. We all know traffic gets backed up when it rains.

Even with bad traffic I walked into my appointment at exactly 9:30 am (that was my appointment time). I had Owen with me and a bag full of toys and snacks to keep him occupied. I had a standard appointment....pee in a cup, get weighed, listen to the heartbeat, but she had some trouble finding the heartbeat with the doppler. So, she sent me to the hospital for an ultra sound to find it. I was a bit worried but I hoped that the baby was just being shy and the ultrasound would find the heartbeat right away. As it was I had had my gender ultrasound the previous Thursday and all was well at that point.

It was a 10 minute drive to the hospital and then I had to find parking and head in. My midwife told me that they were expecting me. I assumed that meant I would be seen right away for the u/s. I was wrong. I waited, with a hungry and grumpy 2 year old, for 1.5 hours. When I was called in they had cleared the waiting room and it was their lunch time. I went to the back and had to strap Owen into his stroller (this made him really mad) so I could have the u/s. The machine was so old and crappy they could hardly even see the baby let alone find a heart beat. So, they told me yet again to wait so they could get approval to use a better machine. Another 20 minutes have gone by. Owen is just crying at this point and I finally get in the room. Owen would not be set down at all at this point so there I am lying on the table with Owen sitting on my chest (they needed my tummy free for the u/s). At this point they could see that there was no heart beat but it looked like the baby was still moving. That was all Owen. Another tech had to come in to hold Owen because he was sobbing so much that it was shaking my entire body. Then they wanted the OB to come in to confirm. Again we waited. I'm already crying at this point. I just wanted to leave. I had Owen to deal with and I didn't want to deal with the reality of what was happening to me.

I went into this overly optimistic. I mean it is almost pushed down a pregnant woman's throat that after the 12 week mark you are "safe" from losing the baby. I was almost 18 weeks at this point, plus I had just seen the baby less than a week ago and everything was fine. It really hit me when I was getting ready to leave and the OB told me that it was my choice to schedule a D&E or an induction. OMG.....not only did I lose the baby but I was so far along that I would have to deliver the baby too (a D&E is a horrific procedure and I would never in a million years consider it...if you don't know what it is you can look it up but be forewarned that it is horrific).

I knew at this point that I would go back to the OB that I had started the pregnancy with. I have anxiety driving to and from the city as it is. I am not comfortable at UIC and the only reason I was there was to attempt the VBAC, which is not happening now.

I had called Greg a few times during all my visits to keep him updated on the situation (he could not come to be with me because of transportation issues), so he knew what was going on. I still had to go pick Hugh up from school...Greg had informed them that I would be late but not why. I cried for most of the entire hour drive going to pick up Hugh. I should have pulled over but I just wanted to be home at this point. Once I got to get Hugh I ran in and started sobbing again. I had to tell them what was going on and I got two of the best hugs ever from Hugh's teacher Ms. Crystal and Miss. Stacie.

I made it home without getting into any accidents and I just sat there. I didn't know what to do or to think. I needed Greg. I needed him to hold me and be with me. I tried to do a little research online but crying kept getting in the way so I did nothing until Greg finally got home.

Friday, May 27th came and we drove to the hospital. My mom had taken off work to stay at our house with the boys. We arrived and they showed us to our room in the labor and delivery area. We had to sit and wait a bit. The OB (same one that delivered Owen) wanted to check my cervix before anything. I was still closed.

I got an IV and blood work (18 vials, they were testing me for EVERYTHING) and the first round of cytotek at about 8:30 am. Bed rest for the first 2 hours with cramping starting at just about 3 hours. At 1:45 pm I got my second dose. 2 more hours of bed rest. The cramping became more regular. By 5:00 they were coming every 2-4 minutes. I got the last dose at 6:00 pm with 2 more hours of bed rest. Cramping/contractions were coming about every 2 minutes right away. At 7:00 pm my water broke and the intensity level of the contractions went through the roof. By 8:00 pm the contractions were coming on top of each other with no break. I started throwing up at about 8:15 pm with quite a lot of pressure. Right around 8:40 pm the pain increased and I delivered the baby.

I never had to be hooked to a monitor except for blood pressure and that was only while I was on my 2 hours of bed rest after the med dosing. They allowed me to deliver in any position I wanted so I ended up delivering on my side (it was the best position to get me through those non-stop contractions).

The baby was a boy....we named him Luke Gregory. He weighed 6.88 ounces and was 7.5 inches long....he was not large enough to qualify for stillbirth status in the state of Illinois but he was classified that way through the doctor's office. Luke was perfect, with 10 fingers and 10 toes. It appears that he died right after my gender u/s the week before. I have since received chromosome and pathology results and he was a perfect in every way boy. They could detect nothing wrong and have no reason for his death.

The placenta never delivered on it's own so I had to go in for a D&C. They put me under completely saying that I had emotionally gone through enough at that point. The hospital staff was wonderful, they contacted the funeral home for us to arrange for Luke to be picked up so we could cremate him. They also took pictures and have put together a memory box for us with foot prints

and a bunch of other stuff. The funeral home waived all charges except for the $50 county paperwork fee.

Greg and I got to hold Luke for as long as we wanted, his eyes were both open and he had a perfect nose and 10 fingers and toes. We took more pictures and said our goodbyes. Now that Luke is gone I need to deal with this loss. I didn't just lose a baby, I lost all my hopes and dreams for another person that will never be.

We had Luke cremated and have since received his ashes from the funeral home.There was not much.

I am having them made into a pendant to put on a necklace so I can have him close to my heart forever. I also had his foot prints and name tattooed onto my inner wrist. Anytime I think about him I can look down and remember how little and at the same time how much he touched in this world.

Last year on Luke's Birthday I bought a white balloon for each boy to release. After their birthday party they each released one balloon for Luke. I did the same this year. It is such a small thing but the boys talk about it all the time.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Beanpole Teepee and Patio

The beanpole teepee for the boys is DONE! I spent way too much time digging the sod out. I wanted to rent a sod cutter but it was not worth the cost. $65 for 4 hours, when the rest of the project only cost me around $60.

I of course got my idea from a pin on Pinterest. I pretty much followed the directions on the page except for the center stone. They wanted me to get a 17" stone. Well, they don't come in that size. At least not that I could find after spending a couple of hours searching online. I considered making my own using a plastic planter base as a mold but then I realized it would take a good week to set and become useable. That was not going to work for me. I wanted to get this project done right away.

First, I took a stick and tied a 3.5 foot piece of twine on it, near the bottom, then I stuck it in the ground where I wanted the patio floor of the teepee. I took a left over can of spray paint from the crib project and sprayed the grass while  holding the nozzle of the can near the end of the twine and walking in a circle.
Next, I started digging (about a foot outside the pink line, the pink line is the finished size of the patio....I wanted a dirt area on the outside of the patio to have a space to plant the beans in). I have no idea what kind of grass this is here in the back of our yard. It is different from the rest of the yard. It goes completely white in the winter (it has not yet gone completely green yet this year) and it is thick. It's root system makes a sort of mat in the top 2 inches of the soil. It about killed me to even get the shovel though the grass. This step took me 3 days when it should have only take me a few hours. After I had about 2/3 of it done I got G to help. I had planned a play date with a couple of kids from Hugh's school but they only planned on helping with the bricks.
There was the problem of what to do with all the grass and dirt that I ripped out. Well, I made some new flower beds with it! I put down newspaper to smother the grass in the area and then I put the sod upside down on top of it. By putting it upside down the sun bakes the roots and the grass stops growing. I will spend the rest of the summer adding to the new beds. G will dump all the grass clippings on it and all our kitchen compost scraps will also go on it. If I had all that stuff to dump on it now I could just let it sit for 6 weeks and it would be ready. I have to do it the long way though. It will be ready to plant in in the fall.

Here is the final size of the newly added bed. I was excited to be able to get the entire bed laid out with the sod and dirt that I ripped out of the patio area!
Next up...the sand base. The pin directions called for 12 bags total, 6 for the base. Yeah, as if. I had to use all 12 bags as the base. This pic is of the awesome mom from the boys' school and G working on leveling the sand. I have to say, this was the hardest part and the part that we kind of gave up on. I knew that a perfectly level patio didn't matter since it's intended purpose is the floor of a teepee. I learned a lot though and I "think" I will be able to accomplish this step a bit better on the big patio on the other side of the yard (the one that we intend to put a table on and need a level floor).

Oh, and I know it is just an excuse but it was HOT out. Hot and the sun was beating down on us (I have the crazy sun burn to show for this day), and we needed this step to be over.
I didn't get a picture of the step where we laid the bricks. Or the kids hauling all 150 bricks and handing them to me but I did get this one of the boys standing on the patio before I filled in the cracks. You can see that it is not level...I was not about to pull the bricks back up and start over with the sand step though. I also bought a bag of smooth river rocks and we added them in the "big cracks". It think the kids enjoyed doing that.
I decided to add a stepping stone where the "entrance" to the teepee would be. I also decided to not use regular sand to fill the cracks. That is just inviting 2 young boys to dig it all back up. Doing that turned into a huge hassle though. I did my research and decided to use polymeric sand It worked perfectly and almost like magic! I love that stuff. I ended up having to use two 50 lb. bags...and that was exactly enough for a patio of this size. 

We had a frantic gardening in the dark issue with this though. I spread the sand and then got it a little bit wet with the got dark by this point....the directions said to go out and get it wet a second time...I did that. The directions then said to not let it get rained on for 24 hours. Go, check the weather. Oh, crap! Realize that it is supposed to storm all night and all the next day. Then realize that the tarp is still holding all the dirt that needs to be back filled around the edges.

G really is a good sport with all my crazy projects. He came out and set up a small flashlight and started back filling the dirt while I finished up something in the house. I came out and we finished with the dirt. It actually was pretty nice working in the garden in the dark. No chance of getting a sun burn! Anyway, after all that work to use the tarp to cover the patio, the storms all passed us by. I shot this pic the next evening just before dark. You can see my stepping stone where the entrance  will be.
G had a day off work today so I got him to help me with the poles for the teepee. I bought twenty-four 6' bamboo poles. I knew that they would not be long enough since the patio is 7 feet across, so we taped 2 poles together with some duct tape. We gave them a 12" overlap to make them sturdy. That gave us 12 poles for the teepee. Miss Faye was great and took a nice long nap so we were able to get the entire thing done. I didn't measure but I think there is a good 7 or 8 feet of standing room on the inside of the teepee.

As for the top of the teepee, I just tied the bamboo poles together with twine.
We left to go pick the boys up at school and came back late in the day. The sun was low in the sky and I realized that my stepping stone and entrance were poorly located. They face west and the afternoon sun shone directly in the teepee. Obviously it is not an issue now that it is bare, but once the beans fill it all in then it will not be shaded inside in the afternoon. It bothered me enough that I dug the stone up and relocated it on the south side of the teepee.

After I relocated the stepping stone I then needed to fix the position of all the bamboo poles to accommodate a new entrance. Then, give the boys a quick planting lesson. Find stick....poke holes around poles...drop a couple of beans in each hole....cover and firm soil....DONE!

Then I tied twine all around the teepee to define the area for the boys (get them used to going in and out at the entrance) and to give a tiny bit of stability to the poles.
Here are the boys....excited by the teepee. Well, Hugh is for sure and Owen is really excited by the rolly polly in Hugh's hand.
Now, we water and wait. We planted 6 beans around each pole. There has got to be at least one good strong one to come up around each pole. I will thin them back if we get all of them to come up.

Project done! On to birthday party planning. The count down is in 11 days.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Summer Gardening Plans!

Every year I try to do more landscaping in my yard. I really enjoy the manual labor and I love to make my yard beautiful. I wish I could do more each year but sadly the budget only allows a little bit. This year I am enlarging some flower beds, completely changing my garden to accomidate a teepee for the kids, and creating a path to "enter" the yard while surrounding the patio with flower beds. 

I have already started on the path. I was initially only going to put a narrow stepping stone kind of path in but then I realized we needed to be able to get the lawn mower into the yard without crushing the flower beds. So, a big wide path it has become!
Mini path progress (it will be solid stone when I'm done). This is just a dry lay to see if I like it. Now I need to go get some sand. Except for the sand (which is only $1.50 a bag) this is a free project....the last people who lived here put in the patio and kept all the extra stones in a big pile behind the garage. It is kind of nice to get rid of the piles! I don't want the pavers perfect squares like they are now though so I need to figure out how to break them.

View of the path from the yard looking at the house. I will rip out all the grass to the right of the path and make that flower bed butt up to the path.
I got a couple of plants today. One is a vivid pink hollyhock....I will plant it near my bean teepee. The other is a dappled flamingo willow. I still have to figure out where I want to put it. I researched it online and it is supposed to get HUGE and grow fast. I may put it in the bottom right of the below picture.
If you look closely you can see my pink circle in the grass. I started making the flower beds around it it two years ago. I will clean it up and make the flowerbeds go all the way around (except for an "entrance") this summer. Next summer I plan on digging out the center and putting in a patio for our bistro set.....can't afford all the stones this year though. If I do put the dappled willow near this "almost" patio it will be in a perfect position to block the patio from the neighbor's prying eyes.
Finally, the "fun" project! Over in this corner of my yard I had my "garden" it was tiny, but you can see another pink circle. This one is where I need to rip the grass out right now. I'm putting in a very small brick patio which will be the floor of my bean teepee. Then I will create new garden beds around the outside of the teepee area. I still need to mark those before I rent the sod cutter.

Off to start digging!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lamp Upcycle

If it doesn't move then paint it! I have already talked about my obsession with painting. Well, I have been a bit stressed out lately with volunteering projects and upcoming birthday parties to plan and money issues (don't we all have money issues). Anyway, changing something or refreshing an existing item always helps my mood.

I have recently painted my living room. It went from brown to orange. Well, the brown lamps do not match anymore and I have been meaning to change that. What a better way to destress than to paint?!?

Here is the before lamp in action. It is not the best picture of the lamp, but really, who takes pictures with the lamp in mind. This is the new orange ombre paint job. I'm going to eventually have shades of grey in the room (the floor will get painted and I hope to reupholster the furniture), so the brown lamp had to go.
Here is the lamp out in the yard all taped up and ready to be primed. I made sure to wash it really well to get all the dust out of the cracks. I wanted the paint to adhere properly. I just used an empty plastic flower pot to stand it up out of the grass and...
...sprayed away. I did 3 very light coats of primer. If you get too heavy with spray paint then it will drip.
By that evening it had dried enough for me to do the next step. MOD PODGE! I love mod podge! For this project I took an old book that had no value and that we would never read again and I ripped a few pages out. I went to town getting those on the lamp. G happened to hop in the shower when I started and I was able to finish before he got back out. So, don't let the time hold you back from experimenting with mod podge.
I only did the middle section because I was going to paint the rest of the lamp a nice dark grey color. I let the mod podge set over night to dry and then after I took the boys to school  I taped over my work. I didn't want any paint on this part. I'm sure there was an easier way to cover this part but I had the tape on hand and, well, it worked.
Two light coats of a dark gray glossy spray paint...

a little drizzle, and a mad dash to get the lamp in the house before all my hard work got ruined....
....and I now have an awesome lamp that totally clashes with it's former lamp shade! I need to get a new one of those still!

Cost of project...$3.44 for the gray spray paint. I had all the other supplies already.

List of supplies to refinish a lamp....

Spray Primer
Spray Paint
Painter's Tape
Old Book
Mod Podge (this comes in all sorts of finishes, I used a high gloss one)

Time to refinish lamp....

Not counting drying time - 1 hour.
Counting drying time - 1.5 days

I will watch garage sales this spring and summer to find a nice white lamp shade that needs a new home.

And a gratuitous aren't my kids/weeping cherry tree, beautiful, picture!