Friday, June 27, 2014

What I've Learned from my Daughter

I am, by choice, a busy person. I enjoy finding productive things to do to fill my time. I bounce from one activity to the next, and often wish that I could go without sleep so that I could get even more done. The problem with this is that I push myself too hard, rarely taking time to relax, and that never ends well.

Now that I am on summer vacation, I've been able to spend quite a bit of time with Naomi, my 19-month old daughter. As I've observed her, I've noticed a few things:

1. She takes time to smell the flowers...literally. When we go for a walk or are in an area where there are flowers, she takes time to notice their color and fragrance. She often tells me what color they are and gives me an "mmmmm" to show that they smell good.

 2. She stops to notice the beauty of things around her. If there's water nearby, Naomi will want to stop, look, and listen. If there are puddles on the ground, she'll repeatedly jump and splash in them. She thoroughly enjoys life without worrying about what needs to be done next.

 3. When we sit down to eat, she takes her time to complete her meal. It may take her 45 minutes, but that is ok with her. She isn't in a hurry to move to the next thing , nor is she thinking about all that needs to get done. She truly enjoys her meal (especially if it's pizza or french fries). Sometimes she eats a little, gets down to play, and returns to her meal, but she never rushes when she eats.

I, on the other hand, am almost ways in a hurry. I zip from one thing to the next, packing my day with an impossible to-do list, rushing from one thing to the next trying to get it all done. I rarely take time to relish the moment or notice the beauty of things around me. When I am working on one thing, my mind is going fifty miles an hour, thinking of the other 2 or 3 or gazillion things I need/want to do.  I just want to finish one task so that I can move on to the next. This often leaves me stressed, overwhelmed, and disappointed that I didn't get more done.

Now that I've been spending a considerable amount of time with Naomi, I am challenging myself to slow down and smell the flowers. Will you join me in this challenge?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Disappointing Start

My teacher friends and I diligently created a reading program that we knew our middle school students would love. We were going to show clips from a movie in conjunction with reading the book. Students would delve into the text, improve upon their reading comprehension, and stretch their minds as they engaged in shared inquiry. We had the movie. We had the books. We had the audio.

And we waited....

And waited...

And one student showed up. ONE.

I was absolutely crushed. Like every other teacher, I understood the importance of summer reading in order to prevent the summer slide. I knew that the 45 students selected for the program could possibly be reading at grade level (as measured by the Scholastic Reading Inventory) at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year since they were just slightly below grade level at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. I knew that they would greatly benefit from the expertise of us teachers who were running the program and would maybe-just maybe-fall in love with reading (and pick up a book on their own!)

However, when one student showed up, it took the wind right out of my sails. I run into this problem of wanting my students to succeed more than they want it for themselves every year. And I don't know how to solve this problem. I don't know how to build intrinsic motivation in my middle school students so that they value education. They are so smart and have all the potential in the world, but they have to have the desire to work. Me having the desire for them is just not enough.

My colleagues and I spent our time calling the homes of every child who was supposed to be in our summer reading program, and we had a better turnout today. Out of the 45 students who were invited, 8 showed up. So we vigorously worked with these 8 students, and it was GREAT! Do I wish more students would have come? Absolutely. Can I force students to give up 3 hours a week to work on their reading? No I can't. So I need to stop getting upset over what I can't control and work hard to help those who want the help.

But I can still hope...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Naomi Wasn't Supposed to Be Born-Part 3 of 3

Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.

"Ben! I'm bleeding!" I screamed as I looked at the blood-stained sheets on my bed.

 It was August 27, 2012 at 3:00 a.m., I was 25 weeks pregnant, and the unbelievable was happening.

Here I am at 20 weeks-5 weeks before my world came crashing down.

 The new school year had started on August 22, 2012 and I was happy to return to work after a restful summer vacation. During my doctor's appointment on August 23, 2012, I mentioned that I was still having some pain, and Dr. Sherritt said that this would be the case because my baby, (that I now knew was a girl) was getting bigger and the fibroids were taking up a tremendous amount of space. So during those first three days of school, I sucked up the pain and did what I needed to do. I am ashamed to admit that I did NOT comply with the restrictions that had been placed on me, and to this day, I still partially blame myself for the events that would unfold.

Each time that I went to the bathroom, I always checked to make sure there wasn't any blood, as I knew the risks associated with my condition. My bladder had grown weak from the pressure of my ever-expanding uterus, so it wasn't uncommon to feel a little moisture "down there" if I coughed or sneezed. During the night of August 26th and into August 27th, I had tossed and turned with little relief from the pain. I had already gone to the bathroom a few times, so when I coughed around 2:30 a.m. and felt a little moisture, I didn't think much of it. However, as I dosed in and out of a fitful sleep, something just didn't seem right. I dragged my tired, hurting body out of bed and made my way to the bathroom without turning on the light. I thought the moisture had a slightly pink tinge to it, so I rushed back to the bedroom and checked the sheets.

And that's when my world came crashing down.

My husband (a night-owl who was still up) heard my scared explanation and raced up the stairs to the bedroom. He immediately called the doctor and explained my situation. As we waited for the doctor to call back I called my parents, and my dad answered. His smooth, confident voice helped me calm down as he reminded me of what we had prayed-that I would give birth to a healthy baby girl. During our conversation, the doctor called and said to get me to the hospital. Ben quickly ushered me to the car and drove me to St. Mary's Hospital in Hobart, IN. During triage, the nurse asked for a urine sample, but when I sat on the toilet, blood begin to pour from my body at an astounding rate. The nursing staff helped me into a wheelchair and got me into a room as quickly as possible. When I asked them what was happening, they looked at me with concern in their eyes and said, "We don't know."

 Dr. Sherritt quickly arrived and I was put on a drug to try and stop the bleeding and contractions that the nurses determined I was having. (With this being my first pregnancy, I didn't know what contractions felt like, and I had had pain throughout the entire pregnancy, so I didn't realize that this pain was what was later diagnosed as preterm labor.) However, the first drug didn't work, so another was tried. And then another. The doctors collaborating on my case wanted to move me to Porter Regional Hospital just in case my daughter was born early (as St. Mary's doesn't have a NICU), but my condition wasn't stable enough for me to go anywhere. Finally, around 5:00 p.m., the doctors decided that it would be better to move me as opposed to having a baby born so early and needing transport, so I was sent, via ambulance, to Porter Regional Hospital.

My hospital room at Porter Regional Hospital

The first week was awful. I was on heavy medication that left me feeling very woozy, and I wasn't allowed to get out of bed for any reason. Dr. Sherritt said that we were going to try and get me to 28 weeks before my sweet baby girl came because she'd have a greater chance of survival.

By the second week, the bleeding had completely stopped, but I was still having contractions. During this time, I was finally allowed out of bed to go to the bathroom and shower.

A couple of weeks before my C-Section-Miraculously, I made it to 36.5 weeks!

After that, the days and weeks start to blur together. For a total of 78 days, I sat in that hospital room. I experienced a plethora of emotions, from disbelief, to sadness, to anger, and finally acceptance. I set a daily routine for myself and waited through the endless days. The most important lesson that I learned was to truly wait upon the Lord. He was in complete control of the situation, and I really learned to be quiet and just wait.

My family and friends made sure that I had a visitor at least once a day, and that helped keep my spirits up. People called, prayed, sent flowers, cards, books, candy, and other goodies to cheer me up. They rejoiced with me daily as Naomi stayed in utero. Dr. Sherritt came to see me every morning (unless he was off, in which case Dr. Kurt Wiese stopped by). They would sit and talk to me for awhile, regardless of the number of other patients they had to see. Much to the surprise of the doctors, I made it to 36.5 weeks. Dr. Sherritt told me that at first, neither he nor specialist Dr. Ismail thought that I'd be able to carry a child to term. But like Dr. Isamil said during the horrific 10th week of my pregnancy, "Sometimes God has a different plan."

Moments before I was taken into surgery; Ben was with me every step of the way.

Finally, on November 14, 2012, my sweet Naomi was born. She spent a couple of days in the NICU due to some breathing problems, but was soon given a clean bill of health. After spending four more days in the hospital, I was finally able to return home. I spent a grand total of 82 days in Porter Regional Hospital, but when I look at my sweet Naomi, I know that every day was worth it.

Holding my sweet girl for the first time

Visiting my love in the NICU-she's so tiny!

Kangroo care-we spent countless hours like this. We both loved every one of them. She was ready for kangroo care to end much sooner than I was!

God is so good!

Today, Naomi is a happy, healthy toddler who touches the lives of just about everyone she meets. 


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Naomi Wasn't Supposed to be Born-Part 2 of 3

Read Part 1 here.

Ben (my husband) and I were elated about the pregnancy, but it wasn't easy.  My doctor, Dr.Wallace Sherritt,  kept a very close eye on me due to the high-risk nature of the pregnancy. He saw me every week to monitor my progress and continually sent me for ultrasounds to keep an eye on the fibroids and my baby.
Dr. Wallace Sherritt, D.O
Community Care Network-Innovative Women's Health

We learned that the fibroids were growing very quickly, and he was concerned about the amount of space they were taking up. He didn't know if my baby would have enough room to grow and develop. I was given some restrictions, and we hoped for the best.

And then week 10 hit.

In May of 2012, I started experiencing the worse pain of my life. I'm talking toe-curling, nail-biting, excruciating pain that came in endless waves. It felt like I was being stabbed with hot knives in my uterus. All I could do was cry. Unfortunately, my doctor wasn't on call during the weekend that the pain hit. I don't think the doctor who was on call understood the severity of my case or the pain I was in. He informed me that with fibroids, I would have pain, but there really wasn't anything to be done. After a day of the intense pain and little sleep, I headed to the emergency room. The doctor said that the best he could do was give me Tylenol and that anything stronger would put the baby at risk, and I wasn't willing to do that. The Tylenol was kind of like using a band-aid on a surgical wound, but what was I to do?

The next day, I went to see Dr. Sherritt. He was immensely concerned and contemplated surgery, as one of the fibroids had become pedunculated  and was growing rapidly. Another large fibroid was at the bottom of my uterus and possibly on a nerve. Dr. Sherritt wasn't sure of the complications of surgery at this point, so he sent me to a Dr. Mahmoud Ismail, a specialist in high-risk pregnancies at the University of Chicago hospital.

Dr. Ismail-University of Chicago Hospital

After reviewing an ultrasound and reading over my case, Dr. Ismail sat down with Ben and me and told us what no parents-to-be want to hear. He said that in all of his years of practice, he had never seen a case like mine make it through a full pregnancy. Surgery was out of the question because there was a 100% chance that it would cause a termination of the pregnancy. He presented our options to us: abort the pregnancy, go through treatment for the fibroids, and possibly try to get pregnant again, or continue on with the pregnancy, knowing that it would be extremely difficult. Without hesitation, Ben and I said that abortion wasn't an option and that we would progress with the pregnancy. Dr Ismail looked us in the eye and said, "Sometimes, God has a different plan {than what is known in the medical world}." Both Doctors Sherritt and Ismail thought it best to put me on a heavy narcotic to control the pain, and I was told that I couldn't return to work teaching my middle school students.

A few days later, I got a phone call from Dr. Sherritt's office. During my latest ultrasound it was discovered that I had complete placenta previa. This raised all sorts of concern as it increased the risks associated with my pregnancy.

Since I wasn't allowed to go to work, I figured that I would be able to take it easy and the pregnancy would progress smoothly. I took some time to read about the possible risks associated with fibroids and placenta previa. As I read the drastic measures that have to be taken, I thought, "Those poor women. Who could be on bed rest for the entire third trimester? I'm glad that won't happen to me." Little did I know my pregnancy would spin out of control in a hurry.

Read part 3 here

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Naomi Wasn't Supposed to be Born- Part 1 of 3

"Are you struggling with IBS again?" my husband asked me. "It looks like your stomach is poking out." This wasn't a strange or offensive question at all. My Type A personality caused me to experience painful bloating when the stresses of life became overwhelming.

"No," I responded. It was one of those rare occasions when I had put on something nice---Victoria Secret nice. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for several months, but to no avail. I secretly thought that it was because of his Type 1 diabetes. Of course, I never said that to him and I never blamed him for us not getting pregnant, but that's what I thought. I figured I would get pregnant when the Lord was ready for me to have a baby.

A few days later I also noticed a strange bulge on the left side of my stomach and was able to physically feel a lump. When I went to see my OB/GYN, I pointed out the lump to him. After performing an examination, he immediately sent me for an ultrasound to see what was going on. As soon as the sonographer  started the ultrasound, she said, "What have we here?" She was amazed at the number of fibroids that were in and around my uterus. She said that people with fibriods like this usually are not able to conceive. I wasn't upset or taken aback because I, and many others, had prayed that I'd have my own sweet baby GIRL some day, and I was confident it would happen.

Once my doctor got the results of the ultrasound, he sat me down to tell me my options. I could either take Lupron in hopes of shrinking the fibroids long enough to conceive and have a baby, or he could attempt to perform a myomectomy since I was young (33 yrs. old) and desperately wanted a child. He was very clear about not knowing if my uterus could be saved or what kind of damage it would sustain as a result of the surgery, but the choice was mine. After consulting my father-in-law, a pharmacist of 30+ years, and spending time in prayer, I decided to move forward with the surgery. I was confident that the Lord would spare my uterus and allow me to conceive. I remember saying, "This isn't ideal, but at least the fibroids were caught before I became pregnant. This way, I'll be able to carry a child."

My final appointment and ensuing surgery were scheduled for the end of the first week of March (2012). Five days before my appointment, I realized that I hadn't had my period. I thought it was due to stress, but I decided to take a pregnancy test anyway. Much to my surprise, the test was positive!

Little did I know, my life was about to be thrown into a whirlwind.

Read part 2 here.
Read part 3 here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Codes to follow me

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

<div id="fb-root"></div>
<script>(function(d, s, id) {
  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
  js = d.createElement(s); = id;
  js.src = "//";
  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>