Modern homesteading: Empowering or enslaving?

I read this article yesterday, and I'm still mulling over how I feel about it.  Unlike the author, my grandmother canned, sewed, and cooked and baked from scratch.  She also used some convenience foods, like Velveeta, but the overall theme in her life seemed to be to make your own, make do, or do without.  She was always very frugal, and despite only working outside the home for maybe 20 years of her life (including the time spent working at a bomber plant during WWII, after which she returned to homemaking), she managed to end up with a nice little nest egg. 

My mother had a different story.  As a single parent, she had to work full-time.  But she still found time to cook from scratch, and she taught me that life is more about experiences than material trappings.  All of my aunts are crafty, and they all cook. 

While I disliked cooking and domestic pursuits growing up, it seemed kind of natural that I would grow into it.  And then I took it a step further.  I am the only one in my family with livestock.  The last I knew, I was the only one who gardens.  And while my aunt and two of my cousins get together every year to can tomatoes, I'm the only one who cans and freezes in any sort of serious volume.

Do I feel enslaved by my efforts to be more self-sufficient?  Not at all.  I love knowing that I am providing healthful food for myself and my family.  I love knowing that I am helping to continue what women (and men) have done for thousands of years by working the land and growing food from seeds and sunlight.  I love that it's good for the earth.

But.  I do feel like feminism has seriously backfired in some ways.  Women now seem to feel like they should work outside the home, whether they want to be a stay-at-home mother/homemaker or not.  I know that when I've mentioned to some friends - and male friends at that! - they have actively discouraged me from staying at home.  "But what will you do all day?"  "Won't you be bored?" and, "Women who stay at home always let themselves go," are all things I've heard when I mention how nice it would be not to work.  While the feminist movement opened a lot of doors and highlighted that women can be just as capable as men in the workplace, I don't think that it ever considered whether it was right for everyone.  Staying home was portrayed as slavery.  But now aren't many women just as enslaved by their 9-to-5 jobs?  Work is work, whether you are keeping house or working your way up the corporate ladder.

Right now, I'm doing it all.  I'm raising my son, cooking from scratch, canning, gardening, cleaning (though Shayne takes care of the kitchen [thank you!]), and working a full-time job.  Is it stressful?  Sometimes.  Do I feel pinched for time?  Occasionally.  But would I give up my domestic pursuits?  Not a chance.  I'd ditch my job first.  Right now, I'm working so that we can afford to fix up our house and pay it off sooner.  Once that's done, you can bet your hat that I'll quit and spend even more time living my real life.


Ready? Not.

I had another "end of the world" type dream last night.  I don't dream about this stuff often (and I wrote about it last time I did, on January 19th, so it's been almost a year), and I'm glad.  It scares me.  I wake up in a near-panic about how absolutely unprepared I am to face any kind of disaster. 

This dream had a different premise from the first one.  There had been some kind of governmental evacuation, and Shayne, Ethan, my mom, and I were all living in what looked like an extended-stay hotel or small apartment.  Something bad had happened, and they were preparing to evacuate us again.  We could only take a bag or two of belongings.  I remember being in a panic about where the batteries, firestarters, flashlights, and warm clothes were.  I wanted to take guns and ammo, but I knew that the government would be checking our bags.  I also wanted to get some cash, but so many people had the same idea that both the bank and ATM were out of money.  I kept thinking how much easier it would be if we had ignored the evacuation and stayed home. 

I woke up feeling awful.  I'm not ready. 

I'm not sure it's ever really possible to be completely ready for a disaster.  And even if you were, the disaster itself could wipe out all your preps.  But we only have one alternative source of heat, with a finite lifespan (kerosene heater).  I don't have seeds.  I'm not ready to pack a bag and bail out.  Aside from birds, I don't know how to field-dress a kill.  We only have a good stash of .223 ammo, though we have several weapons of other calibers.

My mind is just buzzing.  On days like this, I want to just pack up and buy a house/land in the middle of nowhere.  But I know that isn't the solution either.  We need our "tribe" and our family close by, since we all have different skills and strengths.  If there was a real SHTF (shit hits the fan) scenario, loners are going to have a hard time after a while.  Many hands lighten the load.

I'm trying to talk myself down and remember everything we do have. Even with our limited preps and gardening abilities, we're still more prepared than 99% of the population.  But I've decided that a wood-burning stove is the next big project after the bathroom.  Freezing to death isn't high on my list of ways to die, and it would be essential if we were to shelter in place with kids in the event of a lengthy power outage. 


More musings on where we're going

As of Friday morning, we are officially debt-free except for our house.  I kicked Sallie Mae to the curb about 7 years earlier than my original payoff date.  Of course, that would have been paying the bare minimum, but it still feels nice.  Really nice.  We also closed on our refinance on Wednesday, changing our 30 year mortgage to a 20.  We dropped our interest by another percentage point, kept our payment the same, and cut 7 years off the payment plan.  We do plan on paying extra on our principal, but right now our focus is to rebuild our savings.

Speaking of paying extra...  If we dropped an extra $500 on the principle every month (which is less than what we were originally paying for our debt every month between student loans, the car, and credit card, so I know we can do it), we'd have the house paid off in 8 years and 11 months.

Which makes me very reluctant to quit my job before then. Can you imagine having a $100K+ down payment on a house?  I can be ruthlessly practical, and I have a hard time thinking of giving up our financial security.  There's also that fact that I really like my job.

I don't know how to make this decision.  I've been struggling with it for several months, and I just keep going in circles.  I suppose the logical thing to do is to continue fixing up our house, save money, pay down the mortgage, and wait.  It's just not what I want.  Sigh.


Almost meal planning: week 3

Amazingly, I'm still sticking to it.  I still haven't noticed having to carve out huge amounts of time to make it work, and the results have been great.  Part of having this work is that I'm making casseroles, crock-pot meals, and roasts, so I'm not spending much time slaving over the stove.  I like to cook, and I wish I had more time for elaborate meals.  But right now, the reality is that just having something nutritious on the table is more important than trying new and exciting recipes.  Also, since I know what the other meals are that I'm cooking that week, if one of them requires mashed potatoes (or a side dish that requires more than opening a can or jar), I'll just make a huge batch with the first meal and eat them for both. 

And the best part?  My fridge!! 

It's stuffed!!  Granted, we have a smaller model fridge.  It's not quite apartment-size, but it's not standard.  It was the only fridge narrow enough to fit in that space between the cupboards and the doorway to the laundry area and short enough to fit under the cabinets.  It's little.  And disorganized, since I just tossed everything from grocery shopping in there when I had a spare second.  But everything in there is edible.  Some things could be moved to smaller containers, but there are no old, crusty leftovers or anything. 

I currently have a chicken in the oven for cajun alfredo pasta and chicken pot pie later in the week.  I think it'll need to go in the freezer, while we eat our leftovers... 


Almost meal planning: progress report

Yeesh, I'm talkative lately.  I feel like there are so many things bouncing around in my head, and I just want to post to get them all out in some sort of coherent way.  And if I can unload the little stuff, maybe there will be more room to mull over the big stuff.  I mean, there can only be so much room inside your head, yah?

So...  The great cook-at-home plan.  It's working.  I'm still not sure where I'm coming up with the time, since I don't feel rushed or like I'm having to work overly hard to make this happen.  Seriously.  I've had a two mishaps where I've neglected to eat breakfast and stopped at McDonald's for a salad on my way into work.  But I took my lunch to work every single day last week.  Shayne and Ethan also had dinner at home every day.  Major accomplishment, at least in my little world!

So what am I doing differently?  Basically, planning my meals a week or so ahead and sticking to the plan.  There's some room for flexibility, otherwise this wouldn't work for me.  For example, I had planned to make chicken and wild rice soup on one of my days off, so I roasted a chicken on my first day off, picked it apart, and stuck it in the fridge.  A few days ago, Ethan had a stomach bug, so I tossed some of the chicken into some stock I had canned last year.  Add onion, celery, carrots, seasoning, and noodles, and we had chicken noodle soup.  And somehow, in spite of a sick kidlet and raking leaves, I got a lasagna on the table that night for dinner.

Then I got sick.  I fell off the cooking wagon for a few days, but we still had enough leftovers to see us through (especially since I wasn't eating anything!).  It seems like as long as I cook every 2 or 3 days, we always have plenty of leftovers and wiggle room in case something goes wrong.

But since I'm now a bit behind and we are totally leftover-less...  Tonight, I need to toss the remaining chicken into the crock pot so that we'll have chicken and wild rice soup tomorrow.  And the ground beef in the fridge HAS to be browned before it goes bad.  Even if most of it goes into the freezer (Shayne and Ethan are eating dinner at my mom's tomorrow, and probably the day after as well), at least we'll have something in reserve for the nights the cooking just doesn't happen.

Something else I've learned is to pack up leftovers into meal-sized portions, even if I'm going to toss it into the freezer.  If I have to pack a lunch for work, I won't do it.  I'm cramped for time in the morning, and that's the thing that seems to get left by the wayside first.  But if it's already "packed" and all I have to do is throw a jar or container into my bag?  I can handle that.


Pretty Boy meets The Girls

Last night we took a trip to a friend's farm to go get Pretty Boy, the rooster.  Ethan was ecstatic to go see cows, and was even more excited when he found not just one, but three tractors in the barn.  This child is obsessed with machinery.  Sue got Pretty Boy into the kitty carrier with a minimum of fuss, and he rode quietly all the way home.  I set the carrier in the coop, still closed, and planned to wait til dark to let him out.

At around 7 pm, Shayne heard Pretty Boy squawking quite a bit, so I went out to check.  As then hens were trying to come home, Pretty Boy was bk-AWWWWK-ing at them loudly and scaring them away.  I moved the carrier out of the coop, and peace was restored. 

And then it was dark.  I was worried, as last time I introduced new chickens to an existing flock, there was a lot of picking and pecking before they sorted it all out.  But this time, nothing happened.  Pretty Boy went to roost on the ladder to the chicken house, and the girls cooed sleepily at him before going back to sleep.

But I was still worried.  I woke up at about 3 am and was unable to get back to sleep.  All I could think about was whether or not there would be bloodshed in the coop when I went out in the morning.  Was it too small of a space to introduce a lone bird to my flock?  If they fought, would the picked-on bird be able to find somewhere to hide?  Maybe I should go out at 6 am and open the door, so they could all go straight outside when they woke up?  Yeesh.  It was a long night.

I actually slept later than I expected, probably as a result of being up half the night worrying...  So at 8:30, I ran out to the coop, expecting much chicken misery.  Pffft.  As if.  Pretty Boy was in the house, and the girls were on the floor.  As I opened the door, Pretty Boy emerged and started bRRRRkk-ing at me.  The girls all hopped out the door, and Pretty Boy followed.  He followed them around, making chiding-sounding noises at them, then did his little wing-dragging mating dance.  Oh my.  My little adolescent hens went crazy.

First the girls would all cluster together, making little chicken noises that reminded me of nothing so much as a bunch of teenage girls giggling.  Then one would get brave and run up to Pretty Boy.  She'd circle around him, acting shy.  He'd dance some more, and she'd get even closer.
He'd decide the moment was ripe, and he'd jump on her back.  "Sqaaaawwwk!" went the surprised hen, as she ran back to the other girls.  They'd giggle and gossip some more, then another one would go to tease Pretty Boy.

The light was horrible (which is obvious from the picture I took), otherwise I'd have taken a video.  They were hilarious.  I think Pretty Boy was flattered by all the attention; he came from a flock of 70, with several other roosters.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the results, now that he has his own, very appreciative, harem.


What I Want

In no particular order...

  1. To become even more self-sufficient.  I like growing my own veggies, but I wish I had space to raise cattle for beef.  And pigs.  And maybe a goat for milk, if I could just milk her in the morning.  I want to make my own soaps, herbal remedies, and cleaning supplies.
  2. To finish our house.  I'm sick unto death of living in a construction zone.  I'm sick of our ugly bathroom and kitchen.  And if the dining room had plaster walls and a pine floor instead of paneling and pergo, I think I'd swoon.
  3. To be comfortable financially.  I don't need much, really.  I lived in my first apartment on $800 a month, and the rent was $400.  I can be frugal, and I'm a homebody.  But our car will eventually need to be replaced, and things go wrong.  So "comfortable" means having enough to save a bit every month.
  4. To homeschool my kids.  I'm not sure how long I want to do this for, but I already hate the idea of sending Ethan off to kindergarten.  I hate how education has become so centered on standardized testing that it's more a matter of how much you can memorize instead of how much you actually learn.  I'm also not too keen on exposing him to all of the sex/drugs/profanity that it seems like even the littlest kids now know about.  I was sheltered, with the added bonus that I was completely oblivious to pop culture.  I didn't have a clue what all the other kids were talking about, and I didn't care.  I was perfectly happy to read my books about magic and dragons and ignore the world.  But I'm not sure that is completely normal, and I don't expect my kids to be the same way.  So, I want to give them a good foundation at home before allowing the rest of the world in.  I also want them to have the freedom to explore topics in greater depth than what happens in most schools, to really learn about topics instead of just skimming over them.
  5. To buy a house and land further away from town.  I want to have room to roam away from pavement, cars, and other people.  We've toyed with the idea of building our own home, possibly from strawbales, and I think that would be the ultimate accomplishment.
  6. To stay home from work to raise my kids.  I'm fortunate enough to have family who can watch Ethan, so I don't worry about leaving him.  And I have a job that I love.  But I don't want to do this forever.  Being home feels like something I'm being called to do.
  7. To have another child, so that the "kids" and "children" I've mentioned in the past two posts are real instead of imagined.
  8. To take an exotic vacation.  Just one would be fine.  I'm happy going to the Smoky Mountains and to Sleeping Bear Dunes for vacation.  But I think it would be awesome to go to Scotland.  Or Italy.  Or Egypt.

Our life, in a nutshell

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that I have lots of ideas that often pull me in different directions.  We are still trying to sort out the specifics, but our ultimate goal has always been to live a more healthy, sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle.  Secondary has been to fix up our house.  We vacillate between staying here and moving.  We also talk often about whether or not I will continue to work full-time.

I know a lot of this has been gone over before in previous posts, but I need to clear my head, and writing is usually the best way for me to do it.  Bear with me.

 I still feel very strongly that our country is headed for disaster.  I don't mean this in a conspiracy-theory kind of way; I just mean that we (as a country)  have had our priorities jacked up for about as long as is sustainable.  Our goal has been progress.  Progress at any cost, and progress for its own sake.  As machines and computers started to do the work of people, it was thought that people would work less and have more time for leisure.  The opposite has been true.  We work more.  We spend less time as a family.  We value entertainment over relationships.  We value convenience over authenticity.  Newer, Better, and Faster have become the gods that America worships, and we serve them at an extremely high cost to ourselves and our future.

And I DO NOT want this for myself or my family.  In many ways, we have opted out.

Our only television lives in the basement.  I will not raise a child who is a mindless consumer.  We avoid toys and clothing that are feature popular characters.  He has no idea who Dora and Diego are, has never seen Blue of Blue's Clues, and identifies Cars characters by the type of vehicle they are instead of by name.  I intend on keeping it this way for as long as possible, as I feel very strongly that kids are exposed to too much advertising too early.  Mommy and Daddy should be the central figures and examples in the lives of our children, not characters.  Too many people rely on "educational" television to teach their children.  Shayne and I will rely on ourselves.  We strive to set an example of behavior for our children to mimic, instead of telling them to do as we say and not as we do.  We are our children's best teachers, and as a result, we are becoming better people.  We are far from perfect, but it's important for our kids to see that too.  We make mistakes.  We are human.  But we can always strive to be better.

We spend lots of time outside.  Ethan has never once become bored or cranky outside.  It's the ultimate entertainment, and it moves at the speed of the child.  All it takes is a parent or caretaker willing to supervise instead of getting something done.  It's not realistic to spend all day, every day outside.  Meals still need to be cooked, showers need to be taken, and the laundry doesn't put itself away.  But it's been an important lesson for me to organize my time around my little guy's need to play and explore - not the other way around.  Babies accommodate the parent's routine.  Toddlers need accommodation, otherwise they become cranky and confused.  Having a loosely structured day, with the child's needs foremost, make for a much happier home.  Please don't confuse this with accommodating a toddler's every want and whim.  There is a difference.  Children need to play.  They also need boundaries.  They do not need to be allowed to tyrannize their parents.

We grow and raise some of our own food - more every year.  And we are working on cooking more and more from scratch.  In addition to being healthier for us than conventionally grown food, our organically frown veggies are healthier for the earth.  And the less food that is shipped across the country, the lower our country's gas consumption.  We also have the peace of mind from knowing our eggs were laid by happy, free-ranging hens, that our home-canned food is additive free, and that we are raising our child to think about where his food comes from.

We live within our means.  We could afford a larger house, with a larger payment.  We could afford a new car.  We could afford to take a cruise.  Well, none of this right now, since I was paycheck-less for a while and our house and car both decided to fall apart at the same time we had big vet bills for our poor old kitty, but our household income is higher than that of the average American family.  But we don't live like the average American family.  We choose to save money in our own retirement fund instead of relying on Social Security or pensions from our jobs. 

We try to live small.  Less stuff means less to clean, less to take care of, and less to weigh us down.  It's a work in progress, and we aren't true minimalists or ascetics.  We just try not to have anything that isn't useful, beautiful, or that we don't love.  It's hard.  Especially with the constant bombardment of media and internet images.  Even though I have all the ads blocked on my browser, I still visit blogs and message boards, and I see houses and property that I wish I had.  I have to constantly remind myself that we are where we are supposed to be right now, and there is always a lot behind the pictures that I don't know.  Maybe the people are swimming in debt.  Maybe they received an inheritance.  Maybe they scrimped and saved every penny for many, many years to be where they are.  There are so many variables that it's an exercise in futility to try to compare yourself to anyone else.

These are the main tenants of our existence right now...  But where are we going?

And the truth is, I don't know. 

I'm trying so very hard to figure that out right now, but I'm not making any realistic headway.  I just feel pulled in six different directions...  Over the next few days, maybe weeks, I'll be trying to work through my options and feelings.  Stay tuned...


We're getting a rooster!

I said when we first got chickens that I'd never get a rooster, because I was afraid of all the noise he may make.  And now I'm eating my words.  With the continued unease in our economy, plus the fact that I've been unable to source a reasonably-priced provider for pastured chicken meat, I decided to look a little closer to home for a solution.  And when a friend posted on her blog how she needed to offload a rooster or two... the answer seemed obvious.

Pretty Boy, a Buckeye/buff Orpington cross, will be coming home to roost on Monday night.  None of the girls have started laying yet, but two of them are really close.  Their combs are bright red, and their wattles get bigger every day.  I expect eggs within a month. 

We currently have three breeds of chickens.  Buff Orpingtons and Australorps are considered a dual-purpose breed.  The grow fairly quickly, are heavy-bodied, and are excellent layers of brown eggs.  The Easter Eggers lay green eggs, and are fairly slim.  They are geared more for egg production than meat, but since their eggs are green, I will be able to easily remove them from underneath a broody hen.  Or if we hatch in an incubator, I'll select only brown eggs unless we need to replace a layer.  I'm hoping to raise a few birds next year for our own consumption.  I'm not sure yet if I'll do the processing myself; I don't have a good spot outdoors for butchering and cleaning production-line fashion.  But if not, we have a processor nearby who charges $7 per bird.  Even adding in feed costs, I estimate each bird would cost about $12 and dress out at 4 - 5 lbs.  And for organic (getting new, organic feed soon!), truly free-range, pastured chicken, a price of less than $4 per pound is unheard of. 

I'm still not certain about the noise issue...  But he can't possibly be noisier than our neighbor's 6 beagles. 


Almost meal planning

I feel like a champ.  I haven't spent any (ANY!) money at all this week, and we've had home-cooked food for every meal so far. I cooked a big pot of beef and vegetable soup on Monday (my last day off), then have taken it to work for lunch every day since.  I set out pasta and sauce for Shayne to make for dinner last night, then today popped pork steaks with a mushroom and onion sauce into the crockpot for dinner.  I also have bread rising in the bread machine to go with the rest of the soup.

This has not been easy, but it's been easier than I thought it would be.  I just have to remember to take meat out of the freezer to thaw, so I'm working a day ahead of myself.  I'd like to eventually get to the point where we're planning our meals about 2 weeks in advance, but even thinking a few days in advance is big progress for me.  I will probably only need to cook one more meal to get us through the rest of my working days, then I'll have my days off to plan, shop, and cook.  My ultimate goal is to cook enough on my days off that I'll only need to cook one, maybe two, meals on my working days.  This should keep Shayne from feeling like he needs to eat out for dinner (which is obviously better for both him and Ethan), plus it will give me dinners to take to work and keep me from eating out.  I don't mind eating out one day a week, but it was getting a bit ridiculous.  Last month, we spent almost $900 on food.  $900!  We should be spending half that...  I knew we'd gotten off track, since we've been stressed and our kitchen has been a mess, but still...  It's time to get back on track.


Ethan's vocabulary

Having just turned two a little over two weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to document some of Ethan's milestones.  In some areas, he seems very advanced, but in others, he's a bit slower.  So...  He's normal!  In my opinion, he seems to have an extensive and complex vocabulary, so I wanted to try to write down all the words that he knows right now.  These are all words he can say while looking at a picture, seeing it in real life, or spontaneously, all with no help from us.  He can parrot many more, but I don't consider that to be "knowing" them.

(After a quick internet search, it seems the average 2 -3 year old has a 30 - 50 word vocabulary)

  1. Mommy
  2. Daddy
  3. Grandma
  4. Papa
  5. Papaw
  6. Jay
  7. Jammie (Jasmine)
  8. Carlos
  9. Rafa
  10. Christopher
  11. Aunt Shelley
  12. Uncle Negro (nickname for his dark-skinned, Hispanic uncle)
  13. Nana
  14. Felisha
  15. Lucy
  16. Michael
  17. Meggie
  18. Miss Rachel
  19. Mr. Rut
  20. Mr. Dan
  21. Mr. Todd
  22. Miss Angie
  23. Uncle Chuck
  24. Aunt Virginia
  25. Great Grandma
  26. Miss Susie
  1. bear
  2. racoon
  3. squirrel
  4. fox
  5. duck
  6. giraffe
  7. elephant
  8. lion
  9. tiger
  10. zebra
  11. owl
  12. dog
  13. kitty
  14. mouse
  15. bird
  16. chicken
  17. horse
  18. cow
  19. pig
  20. sheep
  21. dolphin
  22. penguin
  23. crab
  24. fish
  25. octopus
  26. starfish
  1. tree
  2. grass
  3. flower
  4. dirt
  5. woods
  6. leaf
  7. lawnmower
  8. sunshine
  9. fence
  10. pool
  11. lake
  12. river
  13. bridge
  14. house
  15. fire station
  16. train tracks
  17. hill
  18. flag
  1. rug
  2. floor
  3. light
  4. bed
  5. toilet
  6. sink
  7. table
  8. chair
  9. spoon
  10. bowl
  11. napkin
  12. knife
  13. fork
  14. refrigerator (frig-rator)
  15. towel
  16. pencil
  17. pen
  18. book
  19. couch
  20. door
  21. window
  22. wall
  23. ceiling
  24. fan
  25. vacuum (wack-yoom)
  26. flashlight
  27. blanket
  28. washcloth
  29. soap
  30. shampoo (ampoo)
  31. toothbrush
  32. toothpaste
  33. medicine
  34. wipes
  35. paper
  36. picture (pick-ter)
  37. phone
  38. video
  39. slipper
  40. toy 
  41. screwdriver
  42. drill
  43. hammer
  44. bottle
  45. bedroom
  46. bathroom
  47. kitchen
  48. breakfast
  49. lunch 
  50. dinner
  51. man
  52. woman
  53. baby
  1. shirt
  2. pants
  3. socks
  4. shoes
  5. jacket
  6. hat
  7. glove
  8. bib
  9. shoes
  10. boots
  11. sandals
  12. diaper
Body parts
  1. head
  2. hair
  3. ears
  4. eyes
  5. nose
  6. mouth
  7. teeth
  8. chin
  9. neck
  10. stomach
  11. hands
  12. finger
  13. arms
  14. legs
  15. feet
  16. bottom

  1. train
  2. airplane
  3. jet
  4. space shuttle
  5. helicopter
  6. truck
  7. car
  8. van
  9. motorcycle
  10. mail truck
  11. trash truck
  12. boat
  13. police car
  14. fire truck
  15. ambulance (am-blance)
  16. Jeep
  17. Hummer
  18. combine
  19. tractor
  20. Bobcat
  21. excavator
  22. forklift
  23. dump truck
  24. mixer
  25. roller
  26. crane
  27. backhoe
  28. front-end loader
  29. bulldozer
  30. trash truck
  31. school bus
  32. tow truck
  1. red
  2. blue
  3. yellow
  4. orange
  5. green
  6. purple
  7. black
  8. white
  9. brown
  10. big
  11. little 
  1. inside
  2. outside
  3. underneath
  4. on top
  5. upstairs
  6. downstairs
  1. run
  2. walk
  3. jump
  4. dig
  5. climb
  6. come
  7. go
  8. work
  9. drive
  10. ride
  11. push
  12. carry
  13. eat
  14. sleep
  15. cook
  16. wash
  17. dress
  18. put on
  19. take off
So far the total is 222, and that's just what I came up with sitting here for a few minutes.  I know he knows way more animals...  He can string words together really well, though he often leaves out the unessential parts of sentences.  Some examples of his sentences are, "Go outside," "Bach coming downstairs," "Daddy working," "Ride tractor outside", and "Read book couch."  He definitely can get his point across.  My all-time-favorite sentence is, "Front-end loader scoop up dirt."  I'm impressed!

Things to make my life easier

As Ethan has gotten busier (and busier!) and takes fewer/shorter naps, I've been feeling frazzled again in the morning.  Especially when I'm trying to get out the door, I feel like I'm in a huge rush and that I'm setting a poor example for him.  So I'm going to try a few things to be a little more structured and organized during my "me" time, hoping that it will allow me to be more flexible during the time I spend with Ethan.

When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is make myself an iced raspberry mocha (Did I tell you I bought an espresso machine to save myself from my Starbucks addiction?  It totally deserves its own post, so I won't elaborate, but I am in LOVE!).  It doesn't take long at all, but trying to measure coffee while Ethan inevitably opens the refrigerator and begins to remove items (yogurt! milk! carrots!) usually results in misery when I remind him that he just ate breakfast and is probably full.  Please don't think I'm denying my little guy...  He's one of the rare toddlers that would eat all day, every day, until he got sick.  But if he doesn't open the fridge and see the food, he's completely content to play.  So I'm going to avoid it.  My mocha will be made the night before and refrigerated.  I get my coffee; kidlet stays out of the fridge, and a meltdown is averted.

The getting-out-the-door part is usually the hardest part of my day.  I always think about moving the carseat to my work car when Ethan is napping... and then I rarely do it.  I'm definitely going to make a concentrated effort to get this done, along with packing the diaper bag and taking my work "stuff" (lunch, laptop, etc) out to the car.  Then, even if I'm short on time, I won't be trying to throw things together while chasing the little one.  I usually end up getting frustrated and short-tempered, and I don't think that's a good example to be setting.

And something else that I've already started doing is to simply slow down.  I don't exactly have a busy schedule, but I don't like feeling like I'm rushing Ethan.  He's two; he doesn't get deadlines, or rigid schedules, or the pressure to go shopping, stop at the market, have lunch, and make it to work on time.  So I've decided not to live like that either.  If I don't make it to the store, or the market, or whatever other optional (though I know it doesn't always feel optional) errands and activities for the day...  I'll do it tomorrow.  Or the next day.  It's not worth rushing my little guy around.  I don't want him to grow up thinking we always have to be running from one thing to the next.  I don't want "hurry up!" to become a mantra.  I want to have time to let Ethan walk around the market - at his speed.  To play outside in the yard and not have to set a time limit on it.  To eat sitting at the table, not in his carseat.

So...  As I implement these little changes, I'm hoping that they will help me to slow down, relax, and go with the flow a bit more.  Life is too short for rushing through headlong.  I want my child to grow up knowing that there is always time to play.


More organizational ramblings

I so wish that there was some kind of magic wand I could wave and just have all the surplus junk leave my life instead of having to sort through it bit by bit.  Still, we're making progress.  We've tossed, donated, recycled, or otherwise rehomed 972 items.  Yeah, it's not even halfway there, but we're still plugging along.

Also, the appliance garage is dead!  I got a bug up my butt (where did that saying come from, anyways?) right before Ethan's 2nd b-day party, and I finally ripped the dang thing out.  And I'm soooo glad I did it.  Our kitchen suddenly looks a lot bigger.

Here's a pic of how the kitchen looked when we bought the house:

 And now that he appliance garage is gone (please excuse the not-so-great cellphone photo and sink full of dishes...):

Okay, so the pictures don't really do it justice, since the "after" shot is too close.  But trust me when I say it changed the whole character of the kitchen.  There's a lot of counter space that was freed up on the other side of the sink, since the toaster oven is now living where the appliance garage was.  And it just doesn't look as dated.  I can't quite convince myself I'm happy with our kitchen, but it's getting better.

We still have a big hole in the kitchen ceiling.  It's amazing, but I really don't even notice it anymore.  We're very close to securing the financing necessary for the bathroom remodel, so I'll be planning that with a vengeance soon.  Can't wait!


Our poor bathroom...

 I would like to take the opportunity to thank the PPOs yet again for the fantastic work they did on our house.  I sincerely wish some days that they had never laid eyes on the place.  Although I know they did a lot by simply maintaining the house, their "improvements"... weren't.  Below is a picture of my bathroom as it was this morning.  Ethan especially loved being able to see into the kitchen from the bathroom, but we decided that a window in the floor was a bad idea.  There is now new subfloor around the toilet, and the toilet has been reset.  Unfortunately, there's still a mess where the tile had to be removed, but we'll be taking care of that soon.

Now the PPOs supposedly were doing a good thing by remodeling the bathroom (I'd have preferred the original everything, but I understand wanting to "upgrade").  See the brown stuff that the tile is set into?  That's hardboard.  Hardboard is the stuff that clipboards are made out of.  I'm assuming that the PPOs used it as a underlayment because it was inexpensive.  Unfortunately, it's also not at all water-resistant.  Once it gets wet, it's pretty much a giant sponge.  There was no worse product available at the time that they could have used as an underlayment in a damp area.  Once the toilet started leaking around the wax ring, it just soaked into the hardboard, which simply held the water so that nobody ever knew it was leaking.  Our first clue was the grout around the toilet.  It started to crack and come out, but we thought it was because of the leaky tank (another story).  If we hadn't removed the ceiling and insulation (another sponge) when we did, the toilet was well on its way to sinking into the kitchen.  Thankfully there was a joist right underneath it to support the weight, but it wasn't a good situation.

So now we have a patch of 1 x 4s and plywood, and a working toilet.  It ain't pretty, but at least when I get up to go potty in the middle of the night, I don't have to run downstairs.

In other news, we started letting our kittens outside.  There is some part of my that is incapable of having a purely indoor cat.  It seems cruel.  Shortly after their initial exploration, the kitties discovered they could climb:

Talk about double trouble. 


Organizing. The never-ending chore.

I've been on a major organizational bender since losing the twins.  I'm so tired of our house looking like a war zone.  I'm okay with some chaos in the rooms that we are actively working on (currently kitchen and bathroom), but the rest of it is wearing on me.  Slowly, but surely, I'm making progress.

The first major thing has been purging what I no longer use.  I'm up to 886 (plus 150 from the "before Christmas" challenge) items tossed, donated, or otherwise rehomed.  I'm a little discouraged by my lack of progress... until I think that our house has 1036 fewer items in it than this time last year.  That's huge.  When I try to imagine our house and garage with 1000 more things in it than what it has now, it scares me.  I really should have taken "before" pictures of my cabinets.

After I've purged the items I don't want from an area, the next step is organizing it.  I've been buying baskets and other containers in order to better organize the tings we're keeping.  In the bathroom cabinet, all of the medicines are in divided baskets, organized by use.  On the back porch laundry room, the laundry supplies are all in a basket up in front of the cabinet, so that if I need to access something behind, I can just take out the basket.  Same with the pet medicines, treats, and toys.  It may sound painfully obvious to group often-used-together items in a basket, but for me it is a revelation.

The place where I'm getting hung up right now is clothes.  I'm two sizes bigger than "usual", since I haven't lost all of my baby weight.  And I'm honestly not trying all that hard, since we're also trying to have another baby.  Hard exercise can affect fertility, and I don't want to push my body too hard.  Plus, I'm still recovering from blood-loss anemia.  So there's my list of excuses.  Regardless, I had to buy some new clothes so that I could get out of my maternity stuff.  I went on a Goodwill shopping spree, and even though I spent less than $50, I now have 6 new shirts and 4 pairs of pants added to my closet.  I'm also storing both my class A and B uniforms, maternity clothes, some workout/backpacking clothes.  I have more clothes now than ever before.  I've gotten rid of some things I'm fairly certain I'd never wear again, even when it fits me, but some things need to stay.  I'm still looking for a good solution to this.  In the meantime, they've moved into the linen closet so that I don't have to stare at them every day.

Still.  Today I need to tackle the laundry situation.  It's getting scary.  Then if I have time, we need to go through the bathroom again before we take everything out in preparation for demolition.


The time has come

... the walrus said, to talk of many things.  Of tiles and tubs and toilet seats, of cabinets and sinks.

Okay, so I totally butchered Lewis Carroll.  But the point is, the time has come!  We may be sort of broke right now, but yesterday was the last straw.  The plumber/general construction guy (who we like and trust) came over yesterday to check out the toilet and leaky wax ring.  And found that the leaky wax ring has been leaking for about 10 years.  The underlayment in the bathroom is ruined, some of the subfloor is rotted through, and the toilet is slowly sinking into the kitchen.  Both Shayne and I are so, so tired of the slow demise of both the kitchen and bathroom (which is mostly the bathroom's fault), we're tired of ruined ceilings and flooring, and tired of fixing one thing just to have another go wrong.  The piecemeal repair is not working any longer.

We've decided to just bite the bullet and get a small home equity loan/line to remodel the bathroom.  We need new water supplies in there, since the hot water for the tub is down to a fast trickle (okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but it's nowhere near the pressure it should be), and in order to have that galvanized line taken out, we need to rip out walls.  Since we would be ripping out so much to repair what we need to, we're just going to mostly gut it and start over.  The PPOs who remodeled the bathroom to begin with did so much half-assed work elsewhere in the house that I'm scared of what is going on in there.  Only by taking apart the room will we be certain that there's nothing else lurking in the walls, waiting to leak.  We'd also like to examine the wiring, since everything we've discovered has been scary and unsafe.  He had a tendency to just duct tape around wires and leave them hanging in the walls.  And a fire is the LAST thing we need.

We'll have an estimate by Monday.  It's kind of a good thing that I've been obsessing over the bathroom since before we even moved into this house; it made the planning stage so much faster!  I know exactly what I want. 

I hate the idea of borrowing money, but I love the idea of finally getting what I want.  I love the idea of having another room in this house finished and beautiful.  I love the idea of being able to take a bath without half of me sticking out of the water.

This is going to be great.

Here's a few of my inspiration shots to tide you over:


Winter is coming

Being poor sucks.  Obviously, we're not destitute.  We have a roof over our heads, food to eat, and plenty to be thankful for.  But our saving account has been just about exhausted, and I have $300 in our checking to last us til next payday.  That doesn't include paying the NIPSCO bill, our IRA contribution, groceries, or gas.  Or the toilet repair that is happening tomorrow.  Basically, we have no disposable income and barely enough to cover the necessities.

I haven't been this broke since college.  My last paycheck was $285.  I didn't have enough sick time to cover the time I took off after the miscarriage, so I got docked for 8 or 9 days.

Times like this make me so glad that I store food.  I have lots of flour, sugar, and yeast for bread.  TONS of pasta and sauce.  Canned fruits and soups.  Broth.  A freezer full of meat and veggies.

People used to put up food for winter, because no fresh food was available outside of the growing season.  With modern transportation, that's no longer strictly necessary.  Even when it's winter in Indiana, it's summer in Chile, and we have the luxury of (fairly) fresh produce year-round.  It's also no longer necessary to butcher meat in the fall so that we don't have to feed it through the winter.

But what about a figurative winter?  A time when you don't have the means to buy food?  Or you may have to choose between buying food and keeping the electricity on?  Our situation is nowhere near that dire; I'll have a normal-sized paycheck next week, and we'll start to rebuild our savings.  But if we hadn't had that savings, it very well could have come to that.

I look at my food storage as an insurance policy against the lean times in our life.  Winter is always coming, literal and figurative, and we should do everything in our power to ensure that we are prepared.


House. Work.

The good news is that we're back to working on the house.  The bad news is that it's because of a plumbing leak...

On Wednesday night last week, Shayne dumped some sulfuric acid drain cleaner down the sink and toilet drains.  5 minutes later, when he started flushing the drain with water, he realized the tub drain was leaking.  Into the kitchen.  In case you didn't know, sulfuric acid is some nasty stuff.  When it came out our pipe and into the kitchen, it ate the finish off of the countertop as well as the nice, shiny fronts of our (new) stainless steel dishwasher and refrigerator.

We (meaning Shayne) pulled down the soggy ceiling tiles and neutralized the acid with baking soda.  The sink drain was now stopped up completely, so I dumped backing soda down the drain and plunged until it stopped fizzing.  I used an entire box.  But I was afraid if I let the acid sit in the pipe, it would eat the pipe like it had the shower drain.

We called out a plumber that my mom has used, and he came out on Thursday.  He took down some lath and plaster in the corner of the kitchen ceiling and completely replaced the old galvanized drain with PVC.  Thanks to the PPOs, the tub drain went uphill in a loop before connecting to the original galvanized and running to the main stack.  There was also a clean-out fitting crammed in there, which was totally useless because the only plumbing access was reached by ripping out the kitchen ceiling.  Sigh.  I should have gotten a picture, but it was yet another completely jacked-up repair courtesy of our "handy" PPO.  Thanks K!

But anyways, that's long gone.  Today the plumber is back removing the bathroom drain pipe.  There was only a leak in a corroded fitting, but we told him to get rid of everything.  I'm SO done with water leaks, especially the kind that start upstairs and end in the kitchen or basement.

Yesterday was spent tearing out the ceiling tiles and removing the lath and plaster where the sink drain runs.  Our kitchen ceiling is a wreck.  The plaster is covered with THICK, shiny, yellow paint (mmm, lead!) that is falling off in most places.  Observe Exhibit A (this is after I knocked off a lot of the loose chips with a broom):

Please note the duct-taped wires protruding from the ceiling to the left of the fan.  That's bad.

Also note the insulation visible where the lath has already been removed.  It's pulped newspaper blown into the sidewalls by the PO.  It "leaked" into the first four joist cavities.  I prefer it to fiberglass, since it's not itchy, but it still made a HUGE mess when we tore out the lath.  We had a pile about 3 feet high in the corner of the kitchen and filled a contractor-size trash bag.

As of this morning, our poor kitchen looked like this:

Hopefully soon we'll have a new PVC drain line installed for the sink.


More bad news

I took Kitty to the vet yesterday because a thought-to-be benign lump on her torso had gotten much larger.  We're still waiting for confirmation, but it is looking like Kitty has cancer.  She's 17, so she's lived a good, long life.  But it still sucks.  We'll probably have to have her put to sleep, since the vet found another tumor.  To remove them both would cost approximately $1100, and we just can't spend that kind of money on my poor cat.

I'm so tired of bad news, and sad news, and things going wrong...


House of cards?

I keep wondering whether the healthy attitude I have about the loss of our babies is real or a defense mechanism.  I'm sad.  I'm so incredibly sad, and disappointed too.  But after my first miscarriage, I was sad in a different way.  I felt like God was punishing me, like if I'd done things differently, made different choices in my life, then maybe He wouldn't have taken my baby from me.  It felt like He was retaliating, or trying to prove a point, or something. I was angry, and guilt-ridden, and miserable, on top of the "normal" feelings of loss and sadness.

This time it's different, even though the loss is several orders of magnitude larger.  These were babies, not just a ball of cells that never developed into a baby.  But this time I feel like loss is just a part of life.  It seems that with everything modern medicine can do for people, we've lost sight of the fact that it is not God.  There are so many things medicine can't fix.  This seems especially true when it comes to reproduction.  Before 24 weeks, and often not even then, there's really nothing that can be done when things go wrong with babies.  Sometimes they can help the mother, like in the case of incompetent cervix or some premature labors.  But the baby itself...  It's all in God's hands.  

I no longer see God as a angry and vengeful being, meting out punishments.  I don't think He points His finger and says, "You will have cancer," or, "You will suffer from AIDS."  Granted, I do believe that He could make all disease, sickness, and suffering stop.  But it's part of our life experience, and how we live our life and the sometimes painful experiences in it, determines our character.  I could choose to become bitter.  But instead, I'm choosing to look ahead and remain hopeful that we will be blessed with another healthy, full-term child in the future.


Nickle and dimed (with some extra zeroes)

I woke up today feeling awful.  I overdid it a bit yesterday and ended up bleeding again.  Oops.  And even though I got about 8 hours of sleep, I don't really feel rested at all.  Oh well.  It's not like I had big plans today or anything.

I should have taken a few pics of the huge tree limb before they cleaned it up.  The tree trimmers came on Wednesday.  Since our septic is between the back of the yard and the driveway, they couldn't take their big truck back there.  So they took a Bobcat.  Our yard is totally trashed.  I can only imagine what the European countryside looked like during WWII if one little Bobcat could tear up our yard so much.  On top of it all, it cost $400.  At least we still have a bit in savings to get us through the rest of the time I'm off work, but that will about wipe us out.  And that's not even counting the medical bills that I know are coming...  Thank God I have a job to go back to, even if it's just riding a desk for a while.  Shayne has also picked up some overtime in another small town, so we'll have some extra money coming in from that as well.

I didn't post about it yet, but we had another plumbing incident in between the loss of the babies.  The main drain clogged (again) and backed up into the kitchen sink.  The kitchen drain plumbing chose that time to give out and started leaking from every joint.  We got a bucket under it fairly quickly, but some water still got into the cabinet, went through the floor, and into the basement.  We had the drain snaked so the water would go down, and the guy was planning on coming back in two days to install a clean-out in the basement so that he could really clean out the line between the septic and the house (They poured the driveway over the tank and installed a riser so that there would be access from outside.  But there's no way to clean the line from outside now.  Thanks Previous-Previous Owner...We'll just add that to the list of reasons I love you.).  Unfortunately, the first cleaning didn't "take", so when Shayne went up to take a shower, it all came up the kitchen sink, out the leaky drain, overflowed the bucket, and into the basement.  All over our pantry.

Suffice it to say that it's all better now.  Shayne re-plumbed the drain, Drain Guy installed the clean-out, and $900 later, we have a functional wastewater disposal system.

Seriously, if we make it through this year without going into debt, it will be a miracle.


Two weeks

My tiny baby boy has been dead for two weeks.

Sometimes I feel okay.  I don't sit around and cry all day, or anything.  I'm not exactly back to normal physically, so I'm pretty limited in what I'm able to do.  But I've had visits and phone calls from friends and family, I work on small tasks I can accomplish while sitting, and I've been reading a lot.  Most of the time, I feel almost normal.  And then I'll think of something, and it somehow leads back to the fact that I was expecting two babies, and now I'm not going to have any.  Or rather, I had them, but I'll never nurse them, they'll never make cute baby noises, and they'll never grow up.  It sucks.

I want something to look forward to.  My future right now seems like a blank canvas, but in a bad way.  I don't know where I'm going with work, with family, with anything.  I was officially offered the K9 position at work after we learned I'd only be having one baby.  I agreed to it, since that had been the original plan.  But now that we're not having any babies, I feel a little conflicted.  I really think I want to try again.  I don't want to give up on the idea of having another child.  That puts a big crimp in my career plans... But I don't think it matters.  If the job stuff is supposed to work out, it will eventually.

I never thought I'd say this, but I actually miss being pregnant.  I just don't know if we're going to be able to emotionally handle trying to conceive another baby.  I knew with our first miscarriage that something was wrong.  I mentioned to Shayne several times that I thought something was wrong with our baby.  It was more a "what if" kind of feeling, but it was there nonetheless.  With Ethan, I never had that.  I worried a bit, but in a more normal, non-specific way.  With the twins, I was worried at 7 weeks that something wasn't right, which is what led to the ultrasound that found both babies.  And after that, I was sort of fixated on Vanishing Twin Syndrome and NICU babies.  After Owen was born, I told numerous people that I didn't feel like anything was wrong with Baby B, and that I didn't think I was going to lose her.  And there wasn't anything wrong with her.  If the placentas hadn't been fused, she almost certainly would have been fine.

But now I feel like I'll be paranoid no matter what.  Hearing a heartbeat is no guarantee of safety.  Feeling a baby move doesn't mean she'll be okay.  I think I'd be a wreck the entire time, regardless of gut feelings.  I would so love to have one of those "Zen" pregnancies where the mama-to-be is totally calm, positive, and at one with the Universe throughout.  But I'm such a control freak that I don't know if I could even come close.  Maybe if I could be cloistered with a bunch of nuns or something...


Carrying on...

Grief seems to come in waves.  The first day, I felt terribly guilty.  Then just sad.  I'm also a little angry.  I feel like I got cheated; I was supposed to have two babies, and now I'm not going to have any.  It's rough.  I'm waiting for my really bad day to come along, like it did after Owen's birth and before Sophia's.  I know there will be (at least) one day where I'll be an absolute emotional wreck the entire day, but it's kind of nice to get it all out at once.  

I'm pretty sure my milk is coming in.  I was going to pump and donate it to our milk bank, but they don't accept donations after a transfusion until 4 months have gone by.  It seemed like it would be a nice thing to do in the month or so before I go back to work (and probably for a while afterwards), but I can't pump and dump for 4 months.  I don't think I could handle it emotionally.  I'm trying to decide whether to pump and give it to Ethan, but there is a little part of me that worries.  If my milk isn't safe enough to donate, is it safe enough for him?  He's getting organic, grass-fed milk from a local farm, so I'm not sure my milk would be any healthier/more beneficial at this point.

Shayne and I had talked before we even started trying to conceive this year, and we'd decided that if we ever had another loss, we'd just stop and be happy with our little family.  I realize I can't make any truly rational decisions right now, but I'm fairly certain that when I'm able, I want to try just one more time.  The idea of another loss like this terrifies me, and I know I'd spend my pregnancy even more anxious than I was this time.  There are a lot of logical reasons against it: I have my dream job waiting for me back at work (K9 officer), it would be a financial setback to have me off work again, and it means continuing to postpone fixing up and selling our home.  But I want so badly for Ethan to have a sibling.  I want to have another newborn nurse, watch him/her learn to coo, to smile, to crawl.  I want a rainbow after all of our tears...  And in the grand scheme of things, it seems silly to put work, money, and the like ahead of family.  I may regret not pursuing my dream job, but I think I'd regret even more not allowing another child into our hearts and lives.  But I don't have to decide right now.

My physical recovery seems to be coming along well.  I actually feel halfway normal today, which is good.  If I can DO something, then it keeps my mind busy enough so that I don't feel so miserable.  I also really miss physical activity.  I don't want to go jogging or anything, but it'll be nice when I feel up to taking short walks.  Right now, just walking across the house leaves me winded.  I can't imagine how awful I'd feel if I hadn't gotten a transfusion...

In other happy news, we had part of our huge box elder tree come crashing down on our chicken coop.  Thankfully Shayne over-engineers everything (especially good if he builds our house!), and the chickens and coop itself are fine.  The tree... Not so much.  We're going to need to have the tree trimmers back out to clean it up; the biggest part of the branch that fell is at least 16" in diameter.  And then it forks into two gigantic branches.  What a mess.  I can't wait to see how much this costs...


The story of the twins: Part 10

I am posting these updates retroactively.  It's actually August 1, but I feel like this is an important part of my life to share.  These posts were originally on a message board, but since my blog is something like my journal, I wanted to have the story here as well.  Also, I'm sure I'll mention these events in the future, so I want the background available.  And, just maybe, my story will help someone else who is going though the same thing.

We named her Sophia Marie.  She weighed 7 oz and was 8 inches long.  She had a heartbeat for about 4 hours after birth, and we were able to have her blessed by the hospital chaplain before she died.  We had my mom and MIL in to meet our baby girl, and both of them held her.  But I couldn't.  I looked, but I just couldn't bring myself to hold the baby my body had forced from my womb.  The hospital took photos, footprints, and made a cast of her hands.  A professional photographer also came in to take pictures.  Later that night, the funeral home came to pick her up.  We're having her and her brother cremated and plan to plant a tree in their memory.  We may or may not scatter the ashes.

The placenta was sent off to a lab to be checked for abnormalities.  Both were fused, which is what caused my body to continue contractions after Baby A  (we named him Owen Lee) was born.  Somehow my body knew that a placenta needed to come out, but didn't realize it was attached to the "live" placenta.  The "dead" placenta was also very likely the source of my infection.  Once I had miscarried Owen, loss was inevitable.

I came home from the hospital yesterday morning, after receiving more antibiotics overnight.  It's good to be home and to spend time with Ethan, but I'm just so sad.  Shayne and I had agreed after our first loss, that if we ever had another, we'd be done trying for babies.  And although I know it's way too soon to make decisions, all I want right now is a baby.  I feel cheated.  I never wanted or expected twins, and was just starting to get used to the idea.  Now I have to adjust to the idea of no babies at all.  It's so hard.


The story of the twins: Part 9

I am posting these updates retroactively.  It's actually August 1, but I feel like this is an important part of my life to share.  These posts were originally on a message board, but since my blog is something like my journal, I wanted to have the story here as well.  Also, I'm sure I'll mention these events in the future, so I want the background available.  And, just maybe, my story will help someone else who is going though the same thing.
Worst day ever... I'm still at the hospital, so this will be quick. I started to miscarry last night and lost a lot of blood. We came to the hospital around 8 am. I had an infection as well as needing a blood transfusion and fluids.

I delivered Baby Girl several hours layer. The placentas were fused, and my body has been trying to rid itself of the "dead" portion since I had Baby Boy. It was also likely the cause of the infection.

I still feel horrible. I don't know how to deal with it, and all I can do is cry. I'm staying overnight at the hospital because of the transfusions, but will go home in the morning. I'm just heartbroken.


The story of the twins: Part 8

I am posting these updates retroactively.  It's actually August 1, but I feel like this is an important part of my life to share.  These posts were originally on a message board, but since my blog is something like my journal, I wanted to have the story here as well.  Also, I'm sure I'll mention these events in the future, so I want the background available.  And, just maybe, my story will help someone else who is going though the same thing.

Things aren't looking good.  I started cramping and having contractions last night, and I lost maybe 3 good-sized pieces of what appeared to me to be placenta.  I also lost a lot of fluid at one point, but I wasn't able to determine really how much or what color it was, because I was sitting on the toilet at the time.  There's a really good chance that it was amniotic fluid.  I pretty much prepared for the worst and resigned myself to the fact that I was having a miscarriage.

And then it all stopped.  Again.  I wish my body would figure out what the heck it's doing and do it already.  

I called my midwife, and the ultrasound tech doesn't come in til this afternoon.  I have an appointment at 12:45 to see what's going on with my cervix, the placenta, and amniotic fluid levels.  I'm almost scared that the baby will still have a heartbeat.  I sort of just don't want to hope anymore.  My midwife wasn't terribly optimistic, but also seemed confused that everything had suddenly stopped.  I can still feel the baby high up in my uterus, laying transverse.  I thought I felt movement once, but I'm nowhere near sure.

I just don't know.

The only "good" news is that the baby still has a heartbeat (154).  My membranes did rupture, likely from all the contracting to pass a large piece of placenta last night.  The baby has some fluid, but not much.  The doc says not enough for lung development, but I've read some stories about similar situations, and I still have a shred of hope.  My cervix was more open than it was before, but I'm still passing bits and pieces. It's not fully dilated or anything, so they have no idea if I'm close to a full-blown miscarriage or not.

Basically, we're still wait-and-see.  The OB is going to talk to the perinatologist to see if an infusion of fluid may do some good.  The OB was of the opinion that is of more risk than benefit right now. There is a small chance that the membranes will repair themselves and/or refill, but it's not likely.

I was so shocked that there was still a heartbeat.  If nothing else, this little baby girl is a hell of a fighter.  

Even later:  Ugh.  What a long, crappy, trying day.  I can still feel baby girl moving around, and my heart just breaks that my body isn't the safe place for her that it should be. 

My temp is up to a little over 100F, and every other time I've had a temperature spike, it's meant that I'm preparing to lose more tissue/placenta/whatever.  I'm NOT looking forward to tonight.  The cervix and uterus aren't supposed to be voluntary muscles, but I wonder if somehow I'm holding everything in during the day and it can only come out after I've gone to sleep.  I've heard of women holding off having babies during wars or for spouses to arrive, and I wonder if I'm inadvertently just prolonging things.

Part of me wants so badly to just be done.  I don't see a happy ending to this no matter what, since there will be physical effects to my baby even if she manages to make it to viability.  And then I feel her wiggle around inside me, and I know I can't possibly give up when she's fighting so hard.  What a horrible place to be.


The story of the twins: Part 7

I am posting these updates retroactively.  It's actually August 1, but I feel like this is an important part of my life to share.  These posts were originally on a message board, but since my blog is something like my journal, I wanted to have the story here as well.  Also, I'm sure I'll mention these events in the future, so I want the background available.  And, just maybe, my story will help someone else who is going though the same thing.

The good news is that we're 8 days in, and Baby Girl is still in there.  Not-so-good news is that I was up with contractions for what seemed like half the night.  Talk about making you paranoid, especially because the baby was lower in my uterus than usual.  I can't say how many contractions or how often, because I was honestly afraid to look.  I just figured if I was going to give birth, I'd know soon enough.  I drank a big glass of water, laid on my side, and prayed that if this was it I'd get it over quickly.  And they went away.  

Looking back at Ethan's birth, I had a few times where I initially thought I was in labor.  I would have regular contractions for an hour or so, then they'd taper off and go away.  But when the real labor contractions hit, they were so much stronger than the "practice" contractions.  And now that I'm awake and rational, this seems like much the same thing, more like BH contractions than the Real Thing.

This morning, Baby Girl was back up high in my uterus and I could feel her moving around.  I'm feeling much, much better emotionally than yesterday, but I'm SO tired.  I'd kill for a decent night of sleep.   On top of all the pregnancy-related drama, we've had a plumbing back-up, flooded basement, and a $800 bill for installing a clean-out in our main drain.  We'll also have bills from 2 hospital visits, though I'm praying it'll be like when I had Ethan and between my and Shayne's insurance, we'll come out free and clear.  It's been a rough couple weeks.  I'll take my vacation now!!  


The story of the twins: Part 6

I am posting these updates retroactively.  It's actually August 1, but I feel like this is an important part of my life to share.  These posts were originally on a message board, but since my blog is something like my journal, I wanted to have the story here as well.  Also, I'm sure I'll mention these events in the future, so I want the background available.  And, just maybe, my story will help someone else who is going though the same thing.

I took a "mental health day" from work - I just couldn't bear to go in and face anyone.  I couldn't even call in and talk to the secretary.  She's a nice woman, but asks lots of questions, and I just couldn't deal.  I know it's because she cares, she cried yesterday when I told her we had lost one of the babies, but I wasn't up for it today.  I texted a co-worker and asked him to tell her to put me down for a sick day when he went in.  He had taken a personal day, but he called in for me.  I love my guys.  I guess the secretary tried to play 20 questions with him too, but all I had told him was that I was tired and emotionally drained.  

I still dropped Ethan off at the babysitters (my best friend's parents) and spent some time talking with them.  Just normal stuff, nothing about babies or pregnancy or anything stressful.  It was nice to be able to forget about everything for 20 minutes.

I came home, ate some junk food - I am SUCH a stress-induced eater! - and chilled out reading for a while.  And then I had to use the bathroom.  While I was sitting, I just lost it.  I'm so tired of waiting for something to fall out of me every time I have to pee!  I'm tired of wearing pads.  I've been in the damned things for 3 weeks, and now I can't even wear cloth because I don't want to risk any infection.  I'm sick of every little stomach gurgle making me paranoid, of counting the days to some magical "safe" number that will never make me feel safe, and of wondering if my body will suddenly reject the baby girl I still have growing inside me.

I now totally understand why people have scheduled inductions or c-sections.  If I were 36 weeks today, I'd tell them to just cut me open and get this baby out already.  I want to see her, I want to *know* she's okay instead of just waiting and hoping for itty-bitty little flutters.  I want to hold a living baby, not a tiny, still being that fit in the palm of my hand.

I don't even have any tears left, but I can't stop crying today.  I'm not sure what I'm even crying for.  Loss of Baby Boy?  Worry for Baby Girl?  Self-pity?  Fear of the future?  I even feel sort of relieved that I'm *not* having twins, because I just was never able to wrap my head around having two babies at once.  Obviously, I'd never have wished for this to happen, but...  It's all just a big jumble.  I know it's all normal and natural, and I'm working through a lot at one time.  I know it's not all going to go away overnight.  I know that it will get a little easier.  

But today it all just really sucks.