Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Diva Ballerina

Ever have one of those parenting days that just sets off the most ridiculous scenarios? I know I had one last year at Christmas time when Norovirus made its way through our household.

Michelle at In The Life of a Child wrote this laugh out loud mama post recently. Enjoy her Diva Ballerina!


Monday, October 29, 2007

Curve Ball

As I walked down the long hallway of the school, Grace plopped her hand into mine and started swinging our arms back and forth. She was skipping, and I was shuffling along side her.

"Let's see if Tante is in her classroom today," I said.

I stuck my head inside the door of her classroom, but Tante wasn't there. Grace hopped up and down beside me as she usually does before school. As I backed up to re-enter the hallway, I noticed two figures toward the end of the hallway. I recognized their profiles: Melissa's tall thin figure and Tante's belly was in its telltale form. There was no mistaking her pregnant figure...all out in front. I smiled as Gracie said, "There's Tante!"

Tante responded, "There's my Gracie!"

Melissa said, "Good morning Grace." as she turned around and walked down the hallway toward her classroom.

"I need my hug, Gracie!" Tante added.

As Grace wrapped her arms across Shanna's belly I said, "Big day today."

"Yep. Today's the day."

Later that day, Tante would have her 20 weeks ultrasound, where they would find out the sex of the twins.

"Well Gracie, we better get you into the gym (for her morning before school care)." I instructed. Grace ran off toward the gym, and we exchanged our morning hugs and kisses before I went off to work.

When I left the gym, Tante had gone somewhere else. I was excited for her, but began to focus on getting to work on time.


I had very little sleep the night before, and later that day, left work early. I was home before my girls and Charlie were. I was taking advantage of the quiet and had snuggled into my bed to grab a nap. I had just drifted off when I heard a loud buzzing sound. It startled me awake.

I finally determined it was my cell phone vibrating on top of my jewlery box. I grabbed it, and said "Hello."

"Hi Jen. Where are you? Work?" Tante asked.

"I'm at home. I came home early."

"Oh. Can I come over? I'm only about a block away right now."

"Sure." I responded sleepily and then I hung up the phone. "Gee, she sounded happy. I wonder if the twins are boys or girls."

I came down the stairs to the first floor of my house, and surveyed the gigantic mess which had accumulated over one weekend of me needing to work extra hours. I laughed and thought, "Oh well. She knows us very well."

I peeked out the window of my front door, and saw her silver car pull up. Tante got out and waddled up the front walk. She had a serious look on her face, and it made me nervous instantly. Having been on the receiving end of pregnancy complications twice, my "oh crap" radar went off inside my head. I was hoping I was wrong.

We sat down at the kitchen table, and I immediately asked, "What's up? What's going on?"

Tante sighed deeply, "I have twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome."

There it was...the "oh crap" moment I was hoping wouldn't happen. My dear friend had wanted to be a mother ever since we had shared an apartment as bachelorettes in 1996. She had some odds stacked against her in getting pregnant, and miraculously, it hadn't been an issue for her and her hubby. She was so excited, but very "morning" sick very quickly in the pregnancy. In fact, when she had her first ultrasound, and it revealed two babies, Tante being very sick made a lot of sense. Twins bring on lots and lots of HCG, which amplifies the morning sickness.

"What did Dr. C say? Tell me what he told you."

"My babies could die. I going to a specialist to find out for sure, but Dr. C thinks I'll need surgery to fix this, and then bedrest."

"Oh Tante! I'm so sorry this is happening to you..."

We kept on talking, but from my perspective, Tante was just going through the motions. She was in shock, and nearing tears. I fumbled through my words. I attempted to guide her in taking each day one at a time from that point on. I'm pretty sure she didn't hear much of what I said.

When I was diagnosed with severe preeclampisa, all that I heard was my life was in danger and so was my baby's. It was as if my ability to take in information was dammed off by those words. Nothing else could get in. Nothing. No emotions. No information. Just pure panic. I don't know for sure, but I imagine Tante was replaying "my babies could die" over and over in her head.

As Tante walked out my front door and toward her car, tears pooled in my eyes. I didn't want this for her. Why in the world do bad things happen to good people? Why? I kept wondering and worrying about her and the babies.

Tante has had a whirlwind of a week. She had the appointment with the specialist, who told her that he would need to perform surgery on her placenta. The surgery went well, but it was now a wait to see what happens time frame. So far, both babies are hanging in there. Tante is now on complete bed rest, and those babies, hopefully, will stay inside of her for a long time. God willing.

Most of you don't know Tante, but I ask that you pray for her and her beautiful, still growing baby girls.

Tante was an amazing amount of support and love for our family during both of my pregnancies and NICU stays. She helped keep Charlie sane when my life and my daughters' lives were in danger. Tante's ability to just listen to me during those scary, dark times was like a beacon of light. I only hope I can help her through what may be challenges in the upcoming weeks and months. Our family was dealt several curve balls in the last 5 years. I only hope we can help Tante and her husband to hit this curve ball right out of the park!

Please pray.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Trick Or Treat

I switched off NPR as I turned into our alley. A young girl about 8, ran past the front of the van. Her witch hat bounced with each step, and the fake green hair of her wig wriggled as she ran. A few other neighborhood kids scurried past my van on their way to the H's house for the hot dog party.

I smiled as I figured my girls would be waiting for me at the back door. Their faces would be eager, and their bodies would be jumping around to the tune of "Mommy is home! Mommy is home!"

My assumption lived up to its expectation. :)

We immediately ascended the stairs to the girls' room, and found the princess costumes which would adorn my beauties. Meghan could barely contain her enthusiasm as Halloween was perhaps the most exciting thing ever in her entire life. She bounced, skipped, and clung closely to me as I gathered all the necessary components of her "most-beautiful" Tinkerbell costume. I kept picturing that little puppy in the Loony Tunes cartoon that would jump over Spike the bulldog as he marched down the street. "Is it time yet? Is it time yet? I want my costume on! I want my costume on! Is it weddy (ready) yet Mommy?"

I didn't answer, but Grace felt the need to fill my silence. "Meghan, Mommy is almost done. I'll go get your wand." I grabbed Grace's costume too.

"Meghan, come here. Your costume is ready."


She wiggled and danced as I pulled the white turtleneck shirt over her head. Next, she put her hands on my shoulders as she stepped into the Tinkerbell green dress. She slipped her arms into her Tinkerbell wings, and finally wriggled on some "leg socks" to complete the ensemble. I straightened out her shirt underneath the bodice of her dress, and Meghan danced and twirled and jigged around the room. "I'm a beautafull Tinka Bell! I'm a beautafull Tinka Bell!"

She really did look like Tinkerbell. She is pixie-like in most ways physically, and her yellowy blond hair accentuated the whole look. I thought, "Wow, she is too frickin cute in this."

"Mooommmmmmy! I want my dress on," Grace emphatically shouted as she realized that Meghan had gotten dressed first.

"Hold on Gracie, I'm looking for your tiara. Where did it go?"

"I don't know. Meghan must have taken it."

"Well, it is gone Grace. I can't find it here in your pigsty of a bedroom Grace."

"Meghan did it!"

"Grace, no she didn't. It is here somewhere, though. How about we put this barrette in your hair instead?"

"Okay, Mommy. I like that one."

I thought, "Wow, that was so easy...almost too easy. It must be the allure of the candy that is keeping the tantrum at bay today. Wow!"

Earlier, Grace had not seemed as excited as Meghan, but all of a sudden, she could no longer stand still either. Her enthusiasm came in the form of jumping up and down, as I attempted to catch her limbs in rhythm with the jumps.

Grace slipped on her white long sleeved shirt, and I found the Barbie, Princess Rosella, Island Princess dress of low quality material, but exceptionally sparkly and glittery fabric. The turquoise "chiffon" clung to her arms, and I pulled her long blond locks out of the back of her shirt. She also wriggled into her white tights, and then spun around in a few twirls. Her costume shimmered as she spun.

"Mommy, we forgot my feathers."

"Okay Grace. Let's put them on now."

I fastened the pseudo peacock feathers to her dress, and wondered to myself just why exactly would a girl princess have boy peacock feathers. Her long blond hair helped her to look like Barbie, too. She was beautiful. She is getting so big so fast. Where did my baby Grace go?

The transformation was complete. Princess Grace and Pixie Meghan were ready for the fun. They both raced downstairs to gulp down some dinner before heading out for their candy rewards.

After dinner, we opened the glow stick packages. Their cousins Chloe, Molly, and Trey had arrived, and were coming along in their most beautiful princess ensembles too. Chloe wore a hot pink Jasmine costume, and Molly was a Cinderella bride. Molly wore her Aunt Laurie's veil, which made me smile. Her Aunt went to Heaven in 2004 shortly after Meghan was born, and I know that Laurie would have loved seeing Molly wearing it with pride. Their baby brother, Trey, was in a darling little monkey costume.

I cracked and snapped the sticks, and a soft purple hue glowed brightly in my hands. I put a glow stick in each of their pumpkin buckets, and we headed for the front hall closet. All the girls clamored for their coats. Simply put, they were "itching" to get out the door, and it made me giggle a bit.

As we walked down the front path, the leaves rustled under our feet. Pumpkins glowed orange. Ghosts, gobblins, witches, princesses, and parents moved about gathering the booty.

Grace enjoyed holding Molly's hand as they paired up down the sidewalk. Meghan clutched my index finger, and pulled me up each path to the houses. Chloe wondered aloud to herself why nobody seemed to know who she was. Afterall, it was easy to see that she was Jasmine from the movie Aladdin.

A few times, Meghan's enthusiam could not be contained, and she would let go of my hand as she bolted to catch up with the big girls. Her orange pumpkin bucket jiggled and her Tinkerbell wings bounced up and down in cadence with her steps. "Hey guys, wait foooorrrr meeeeeeee!"

Grace and Molly continued to walk hand-in-hand with their pumpkin buckets in their free hands, and then I noticed that I had forgotten to take Grace's peacock feathers off. They were now sticking straight up out the back of her jacket near her neck.

"Do you want me to take your feathers off Grace?"

"Nut uh Mommy. I like them. They're kinda like a turtle neck."

My sisters and my brother's girlfriend walked with us. It was a warm evening compared to some of our past Halloween's here in the frozen tundra.

It made me remember running around as a girl with my sisters and brothers. It seems so long ago now. Life seems to be speeding at a faster pace as I get older now.

I want to savor each moment of tonight. Meghan's Tinkerbell wings bouncing up and down in the shadows. Grace's hand firmly placed into Molly's. Chloe's independence. Trey shuffling down the sidewalk with his Monkey ears at attention. Molly's light up shoes. Charlie and his Mom proudly handing out candy while a fake skull shouted out spooky sayings. Kristen and Bob enjoying their little man. Lauren and Sarah guiding the girls and Lia. Our neighbors gathered around. Children laughing, running, and getting spooked. Children with sugar highs. Children being children. Adults yearning to be children again. Adults soaking in the traditions. People living life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Owie, It Hurts

When Gracie was a baby in the NICU, she had several leads on her chest to monitor various vital signs and such. I remember the circular stickers that attached the leads to Grace covered nearly all of her chest. I have a vivid memory of watching her tiny 3 pound body breathe in and out. Her retractions made me very nervous. I kept willing her to calm the rapidity of her breaths. My telepathic notions didn't work, but some time and patience did.

Preemie skin is often frail, and the NICU used something they called "second skin" to help protect Grace's skin from sores while in their care. Grace only ended up with one tiny scar on her collar bone. It is pea-sized and slightly raised. Recently, Grace asked me what the bump was on her chest. I told her how it got there, and she said, "I like to touch it."

Grace often gets obsessed with the textures of things, which I think is tied into her sensory issues. From the time she was an infant, she was obsessed with touching both of her ears. Whe she was a baby, she'd even grab her ears while we were feeding her. Grace's need to touch and hold and carress things is sometimes very profound.

A few days ago, I was helping her put a shirt on before school, and I noticed the scar was red and angry looking. I instructed her to stop touching the bump, and she seemed to understand. I even thought that maybe she had received a bug bite or something like that.

Today, when she woke up the pea-sized bump had morphed into a 50-cent piece sized infection. The color of it was now redish purple, and a halo of inflamation was surrounding the bump.

So, today we went to the pediatrician. He isn't sure what the bump is except that he thinks it is some sort of boil. By touching the scar so much she may have accidentally introduced a staph or strep infection into the area. I also asked the doctor if it was possibly something called panniculitis, which can afflict people who have Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. He said he wasn't sure but that he'd check into it. My gut feeling is that she has an old fashioned boil.

We're trying a broad spectrum antibiotic to see if that will help. I'm also supposed to apply warm compresses, and put Neosporin on the bump. Grace acts like I'm electrocuting her when I get near the bump though. It must really hurt her.

I hope the medication helps and that Grace's former scar doesn't become larger. Isn't it interesting how her early beginning in life keeps coming back to haunt her?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thank You Mama

Whoever said people don't need validation of our feelings is/was just plain lying.

I want to profoundly thank "Mama" who commented on my Flashbacks post. She said, "Thanks for making me feel normal today. You aren't supposed to "get over" it. You are supposed to learn to live with your "new normal" life, and in that life OB/GYN visits and seeing pregnant women are hard things for you. It seems like you are doing that."

Sometimes it takes a complete stranger to help me. So many of my friends and family, who love me dearly, just don't quite know what to say to me after all this time. They don't understand why preeclampsia was such a profound life changing experience.

I assume they feel sorry for me. Or maybe they don't want to bring up a bad subject? I assume they just don't understand. I assume mostly because few have truly acknowledged what happened to our family. (Thank you to those of you who have acknowledged it.) In typical cursory fashion, most say "Wow, but it's over now." Nope, not really. Or, "why do you keep talking about this?" Or, "Why can't you get over it?"

It will never really be over for me. My life was altered by my experiences. I am forever changed physically and emotionally by preeclampsia.

All that I can do now is accept and embrace my new normal: the Jen who survived severe preeclampsia twice, the Jen who was a NICU mom twice, the Jen who now worries about what might seem to be the most mundane of things when it comes to her kiddos.

Thank you "Mama" for your acknowledgement of my experience. Thank you!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Alpha-1 Carriers and Anxiety/Bipolar Disorders???

Wow, I guess I would have never put these two together. Interesting, but I'm not sure I completely understand it...

Art, alpha-1-antitrypsin polymorphisms and intense creative energy: Blessing or curse?

Volume 28, Issue 5, September 2007, Pages 899-914
Twenty-Third International Neurotoxicology Conference: ”Neurotoxicity in Development and Aging”

Donald Everett Schmechel, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Medical Director, The Falls Neurology and Memory Center, 4355 Hickory Boulevard (US 321), Granite Falls, NC 28630, United States
Received 1 February 2007; accepted 21 May 2007.


Persons heterozygous for Z, S and rare alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT, SERPIN1A) polymorphisms (ca. 9% of population) are often considered ‘silent’ carriers with increased vulnerability to environmentally modulated liver and lung disease. They may have significantly more anxiety and bipolar spectrum disorders, nutritional compromise, and white matter disease [Schmechel DE, Browndyke J, Ghio A. Strategies for the dissection of genetic–environmental interactions in neurodegenerative disorders. Neurotoxicology 2006;27:637–57]. Given association of art and mood disorders, we examined occupation and artistic vocation from this same series. One thousand five hundred and thirty-seven consecutive persons aged 16–90 years old received comprehensive work-up including testing for AAT ‘phenotype’ and level, nutritional factors, and inflammatory, iron and copper indices. Occupations were grouped by Bureau of Labor Standards classification and information gathered on artistic activities. Proportion of reactive airway disease, obstructive pulmonary disease, and pre-existing anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder were significantly increased in persons carrying AAT non-M polymorphisms compared to normal MM genotype (respectively, 10, 20, 21, and 33% compared to 8, 12, 11, and 9%; contingency table, pulmonary: χ2 =37, p = 0.0001; affective disorder: χ2 = 171, p = 0.0001). In persons with artistic avocation (n = 189) or occupation (n = 57), AAT non-M polymorphisms are significantly increased (respectively, proportions of 44 and 40% compared to background rate of 9%; contingency table, avocation: χ2 = 172, p = 0.0001; occupation: χ2 = 57, p = 0.0007). Artistic ability and ‘anxiety/bipolar spectrum’ mood disorders may represent phenotypic attributes that had selective advantage during recent human evolution, an ‘intensive creative energy’ (ICE) behavioral phenotype. Background proportion of ICE of 7% consists of 49 of 1312 persons with AAT MM genotype (4%), and 58 of 225 persons with non-MM genotypes (26%) (contingency table, χ2 = 222, p = 0.0001). Penetrance of ICE increases in genotypes with lower AAT levels: PiMS, 18%; PiMZ, 44%; PiSS and PiZZ, 100% (five cases). At all ages, persons with non-MM genotype had significantly higher proportion of thiamine deficiency (50% in PiMZ), reactive hypoglycemia (20% in PiMZ), and possibly fatty liver (thiamine: χ2 = 28, p = 0.0001; hypoglycemia: χ2 = 92, p = 0.0001). In older persons, PiMZ genotype had significantly increased proportion (46%) of brain MRI T2 white matter abnormalities (χ2 = 49, p = 0.003).

Persons with ICE and MM genotype showed increased prevalence of pulmonary disorders and same signature as S and Z carriers and homozygotes (see above). Z polymorphism was associated with delayed age of onset (average 7 years) for persons with toxic environmental or occupational exposures (log rank, p = 0.0001) and more stable cognitive change in persons with neurodegenerative illness (p < 0.05). At all ages, ICE phenotype and Z polymorphism were associated with altered copper homeostasis with low or absent non-ceruloplasmin bound copper (p < 0.05). AAT polymorphisms which affect iron, lipid and copper metabolism may affect early events in nervous system development, function and response to environmental exposures. AAT may also be a ‘switch’ for copper metabolism and low ‘free’ copper would be theorized to provide protection for lipid oxidation and favorably affect beta-amyloid and other aggregation, but possibly alter early ‘critical’ period of CNS development. AAT polymorphisms may define an important and treatable subset of persons presenting with CNS disorders. This new proposed phenotype for AAT transcends classic pattern of strictly liver and lung disease, and should be considered for proper evaluation and management of patients presenting with classic AAT-related disorders, affective disorders, persons with ICE, white matter disease or multisystem disorders of memory.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mama So Proud

Today, Meghan had her first trip to the pumpkin farm. I've missed virtually all of Meghan's "firsts" throughout her life for various reasons, but this one, I could control. I could be there.

While carting two of Meghan's preschool friends and her teacher, Miss Amy, I struck up a conversation with Miss Amy. I was interested in hearing how she thought Meghan was doing in K3. I've always wondered if Meghan would need to be "held back" an extra year before starting K4. With her micropreemie start in life, I wondered if she'd need extra time to mature and learn before competing with her peers in school. I very vividly recall a conversation I had with her neonatologist while she was still incubating. He had indicated Meghan would be high risk for learning problems and attention deficit disorder.

I'm happy to report that Miss Amy doesn't see any lagging or delays in Meghan's abilities when compared with her peers. This makes my heart warm today! :)

The pumpkin farm was great too, but somehow this spur of the moment conversation helped me breathe a large sigh of relief for now. Meghan is still at risk for learning problems based on her micropreemie birth, but for now, she seems to be beating some of those odds. Who knows? Maybe K4 isn't as far away at it seemed yesterday?


Yesterday, Grace's class visited an apple orchard and pumpkin farm, too. I chaperoned and rode the bus with her there. She had fun sitting next to Dylan and pretty much ignored me all the way there. It is good to see her social skills are exploding now. Whew!

Tonight, we had Grace's parent/teacher conference. Last year, Grace did well, but this year she is going great according to her teacher. Teacher said "Grace is in the top of the class." Wow! Wahoo! Yeehaw!

It was a "mama so proud" day! I'm sure it was a "daddy so proud day" too.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Research into the Impact of Testing Children for Alpha-1

I think I may investigate this opportunity to contribute to the Alpha-1 community.

Hey all you Alpha parents out there, please consider participating in this
important study within our community. To be clear, this is for the parents not
the kids. Or, if you were diagnosed as a child, this study is for you, too.

Alpha-1 Genetic Testing of at Risk Children

The objective of this study is to investigate the ethical, legal, and social
impact of testing at risk children for Alpha-1. The results will inform the
development of recommendations for health care professionals on what
constitutes disclosure of risks and benefits in informed consent or assent by
children who are considering testing for Alpha-1.

As a pre-study, we will conduct 2 focus groups: one in Denver, Colorado on
November 10, 2007 and one in Orlando, Florida on December 1, 2007. To
participate in a focus group, you must be a parent who has made a decision
to test or not to test your at risk child for Alpha-1 or an adult who was tested
for Alpha-1 as a child. To enroll in the focus group or for more information
please email marilyn.coors@uchsc.edu or call 1-303-315-0203. To participate
in the study survey, please enroll in the Alpha-1 Research Registry. The study
is funded by the Alpha-1 Foundation.

To enroll in the Alpha-1 Research Registry at the Medical University of South
Carolina, read the following information:

The Alpha-1 Research Registry is a confidential database of individuals
diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1) and persons identified
as Alpha-1 carriers. It serves as a resource for investigators seeking
individuals with Alpha-1 to participate in clinical trials, surveys, and other
scientific and medical data collection activities. The Registry’s Family Linkage
Program facilitates genetic research and other studies requiring family member
participation while protecting the privacy and autonomy of each family
member. The Registry is also a vital component to other Alpha-1 research
endeavors such as the Alpha-1 Coded Testing (ACT) Study and Genetic
Modifiers Study. The Registry is conducted under the direction of Charlie
Strange, M.D. at the Medical University of South Carolina. For more
information about the Registry Program, you may visit the website at
www.alphaoneregistry.org, email at alphaone@musc.edu or call toll free at 1-

I Love Photoshop Elements

I've embossed my girls. haha

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Comedic Interactions

...between Meghan and Grace, and Meghan and Charlie.

Recently, we were on our way to my in-laws house for a visit. Grace and Meghan were fastened into their car seats appropriately. About half way there, Meghan began to make some vocalizing sounds sort of like when she was baby and had just discovered that she had a voice. Her squeals morphed into an exhaling song of some kind, which she was making up as we drove.

It was beginning to grate on me and Grace.

"Meghan, please stop!" I asked. "You're getting too loud. Use your inside voice."

Songs continued to come out of her mouth in an increasing tone and volume.

"Meghan!" I said again.

"Meghan! I don't want to hear another peep out of you!" Grace exclaimed.

To which, Meghan placed her index finger on her thumb to form the equivalent of a chick's beak and began to taunt Grace with:

"Peep! Peep! Peeeeeep! Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!"

We all began laughing our heads off.

I was stunned at her ability to judge her sister's frustration with her, and keep pressing Grace's "buttons" further.


On Thursday, Charlie, Meghan, and I were gathered around the kitchen table. Meghan was picking at her food, and Charlie and I were coaxing her to eat just a few more bites of this or a few more bites of that.

Eventually, the dinner began to whind down, and Charlie began to tell Meghan how they would be going to the library after dinner. He began setting the stage of going to the library in his best parental tone.

Meghan blankly stared at him and responded with this: "Blah! Blah! Blah! Blaaaaaaaah!"

Charlie and I couldn't help but laugh. I envisioned a Peanuts-like "wa wa wa. wa wa."

I can't help but wonder if we have a budding commedian in our midst. LOL

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mommy William Tell Overture

This is just so unbelievably funny to me. For all the mothers I know, please watch!

Monday, October 01, 2007


As I walked across the parking lot, I noticed that there was still salt in the cracks of the asphalt. It had been there since spring when the snow finally melted. A misty wind hit my face, and I squinted to spot my minivan in the lot. October was here, and I was on my way to my annual exam with my OBGYN, Dr. C. As I hopped into the drivers seat, the rain began to pour down.

Photo: www.microsoft.com

I switched on my wipers, and turned on my headlights. The sky was a slate color and fog was coming in waves in front of me. I made the drive with ease down the highway, though.

My van glided off the exit ramp, and I made the turns to arrive at Dr. C's office.

As I turned left into the drive way of the office building, I began to have flashbacks of being there before. I wasn't prepared for it. I wasn't ready to "relive" it in my mind today. A lump formed in my throat, and I stuffed down the urge to cry. I know I'm supposed to be over this by now, but it just isn't going away. I really don't think it ever will.

I scolded myself saying, "No Jen! Not now!"

Every year with my annual exam, I face the past. It is an internal struggle for me. I was supposed to go for my visit in June. They had already sent me 2 reminders, but I just couldn't bring myself to make the appointment until last week. What finally made me call was the story of a woman who died of cancer. That finally clicked with me, and upon calling, they fit me in since I was overdue. (Upon rereading this, I laughed at the prospect of saying I was overdue, that never applied to me when I was pregnant.)

As I left my van, I clutched my umbrella and a white piece of paper I wanted to share with Dr. C. I walked quickly through the parking lot, and rain water was rushing past my feet down an incline toward a drain.

As I opened the door, I inhaled deeply to prepare myself for seeing pregnant women in the waiting room. I noticed a sign that said bone density screenings were on the second floor. Fortunately, this was enough of a distraction for me. My mind wandered considering just what exactly a bone density test entailed. I found myself at the desk, and checked in.

As I turned around to sit down for the wait, I noticed a woman who appeared to be close to 9 months pregnant. Her face seemed puffy, and I noticed her ankles were swollen. I wondered if preeclampsia was in her destiny. She was quickly called back to her exam room, and this was a relief for me. I hate feeling jealous of pregnant women at the same time I'm scared to death for them. To me, pregnancy is an illness and with it comes horrible consequences. It isn't a time for joy and anticipation.

It starts with unbelievable nausea and vomitting, which lasts until to the mid-way point. Then, the headaches start. Shiny silvery flashing lights appear in my vision, and then the "fireballs" appear before my eyes. The incredible swelling comes, which results in stretching, painful skin. My central nervous system gets irritated, and every thing results in insults to my senses. Eventually, my blood pressure creeps up to scary levels, and then my kidneys start to malfunction. The baby stops moving around in a scary silent kind of way, and I start to obsess about counting kicks or movements. I poke and prod my belly to make sure baby is alive in there. I stuff down the fears and focus on the kicks. I'm so swollen that my teeth are tight inside my mouth, and it irritates me that I can feel my pulse in my gums surrounding my molars.

All of this is flashing through my brain. All because I'm facing my past. Twice I suffered from severe preeclampsia. Twice I had premature children. Twice it didn't go well for me. Twice I felt like a failure. Twice I prayed every moment my child was fighting in the isolette. Twice I cursed me and my failure of a body.

There I was in the waiting room hoping like hell that my name would be called soon. I just wanted to get out of there. I wanted it over. Reliving it again was too much for me.

To distract myself, I looked around the room to check the door where the nurse would appear to call me back to my exam room. There she was. It was Erin. I hadn't seen her in a few years.

I thought, "Not you too."

Erin was about seven months pregnant, too.

"Jen, come on back."

Dry At Night

When Grace was nearing age 4, I began to question when exactly she would sleep through the night without the assistance of a “princess panty” otherwise known as a pull-up. As is typical of me, I began asking other mommies when their children had accomplished the milestone. I received several answers, all of which made me feel a little inadequate in the parenting department since the ages included in the answers were younger than Grace’s age at the time.

“Hmm,” I thought.

I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but we began to implement restrictions on amounts of fluids after 7:00 p.m. Even with the restriction, the morning pull-up was flooded.

I thought again, “Hmm. Wonder what we’re doing wrong?”

So, I went to the source: The Internet. It seemed that we weren’t doing anything wrong. She just had an immature bladder and was a very deep sleeper for 12-13 hours per night.

“Great!” I thought. “We’ll just wait this out. It was no deal to purchase the pull-ups anyway.”

Eventually, Gracie began to ask me things like:

“When will I stay dry at night Mom?”

“Why can’t I stay dry at night Mom?”

I just kept telling her that it was okay, and that her body would learn how to stay dry at night. She seemed pretty okay with that explanation, but then she must have asked some of her friends if they stay dry at night. Their responses must have been to the contrary of Grace’s experiences. Her inquiries resulted in repeat conversations between us about how her body would eventually learn how to stay dry at night. Occasionally, she would cry and worry that the inevitable would never happen.

At her 5 year old check-up in May, Charlie had asked the pediatrician whether we should be concerned or not. At that time, Dr. M said that he wouldn’t worry until Grace was age 6. So, again, I figured we’d wait and see what happens, but in all honesty, I had begun to worry that her younger sister, Meghan, might figure it out before Gracie did.

Gracie and I even had a conversation a couple months ago about how she could decide if she would want to tell the other kids at school that she couldn’t stay dry at night. She opted for leaving that part out, which I said was probably for the best seeing as kids will be kids.

Well, almost 2 ½ years have passed since I felt like I was bumbling my way through motherhood and potty training. With my fingers crossed, I can now report that Grace has stayed dry at night for almost 30 days in a row. WOOHOO!

She is so quirky though. :) I hadn’t been paying too much attention to her pull-up results since she dresses herself in the morning. Last week, I asked her if she was staying dry at night. Grinning from ear-to-ear, she responded by opening a cabinet door on her desk. Inside the cabinet were at least 25 used, dry pull-ups piled high with pride. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I immediately started to laugh and hugged her close.

Way to go Gracie!

We’ll be finishing up the package of pull-ups, and then Grace will be in the big kid world of underwear at night. Wow, and she did it before Meghan. Yes! We safely navigated away from that potential childhood tragedy.