Thursday, August 29, 2013

First ( week) Impressions

Sally had her first appointment with Dr. L this morning! He's a rather important person in the life of our little ear-infection-prone family, so this one-week-old well-visit was a special milestone indeed.

Getting there was a bit of an adventure: Sean and I were up with Sally from 2-5 am while she got increasingly hungry and exhausted and decreasingly able to latch and nurse. She managed a fairly inadequate meal and we all collapsed, waking up a little later than we'd hoped when Walter started stirring at 7 am.  Sean got Walter set up with some peanut butter toast while the two of us scurried around trying to get both kids and all our kid-related accouterments ready to go as quickly as possible to get Sally to her 8:15 appointment on time.

I came out of the bathroom and the sight of Walter sitting in his booster seat (contentedly) eating his peanut butter toast all alone made me lose my mind with weeping.  So, that took up a little time, too, though I mostly held it together until later this morning so my crying wouldn't alarm Walter.  When we talked about it later, Sean made many very reasonable observations, including the fact that this was far from the first time Walter has eaten breakfast while we've been in and out of the room getting things ready, and having a sibling means more people who love Walter and whom Walter loves, not less. I am not entirely reasonable these days, but I appreciate that Sean's observations on this are correct, and well-informed by his experience with having siblings.  I'm just feeling a little extra protective of my first born, these days.  My baby.

We got both babies dressed and in the car, and even though Walter's breakfast was cut a little short and Sally's was put off until we could get her to the doctor's office, both settled in quite well in their carseats.  Walter was incredibly pleased to be sitting next to Baby Sally. He went to day care and we made it pretty much on time for our appointment.  I was desperate to nurse Sally and it felt like it took forever to get checked in, taken back to the exam room, and get Sally measured and weighed before we could try to nurse. It did not, in fact, take forever, and as usual the folks who work with Dr. L. were awesome about getting us settled in as quickly as possible.  Thankfully, Sally latched immediately, even though we were nursing without a boppy pillow in a strange position in a strange place and she was crazy hungry, which often makes it hard for her to latch right when she needs it most.  But this time it worked, and we were nursing quite well when Dr. L. came in and were done in time for him to look her over after we talked for a short while.

Sally's one week stats: weight, 6 lbs 15 oz (before eating breakfast, Sean notes); length, 19.5 inches; head circumference 13. 6 inches. Pretty much right on the median curve for all things--slightly lower than average for weight and height, right at 50% for noggin size.  We are quite skeptical of her height measurement ... it seems unlikely that she would grow an inch and half in a week, especially considering that she's not back up to her birth weight, yet.  I was disappointed, but not surprised, to hear her weight, but Dr. L. said that her weight is on its way up and that's all that matters.  Same thing for the bilirubin--it's on it's way down, and it's not going to start climbing again.  We're headed in the right direction on all counts.

It's funny ... I got very used to seeing Walter's extraordinary measurements as a measurement of (or maybe a helpful shorthand for) his overall extraordinary-ness. Sally's measurements aren't extraordinary, but clearly she is. Some first impressions of our bug:

**Sally is extraordinarily sweet and snuggly. She seems to love snuggling with us, and actively snuggles herself in to whoever's arms she's in.  She seems to enjoy being in my arms, especially.  I'm holding her right now, in fact ... she's in her favorite spot on my chest again.

**Sally makes a wonderful and very wide range of expressive noises and facial expressions.  A recent example: after a rough start, Sally latched and started to nurse well.  Right at the start, though, she unlatched and re-latched twice to look up at me and give an indignant, "EH!"  Commentary, just to let me know she was not pleased with recent goings-on.  She's not shy about stating her opinion.

**On a related note: though small, Sally is very very strong. When she's angry and I put her on my shoulder she climbs up my torso at an alarming speed and tries to make a break for it. She is rather persistent in pursuing what she wants, including nursing on my fingers instead of my breasts, or kicking to avoid getting a new diaper (she prefers to pee in freedom.)

**Sean says that Sally is so alive, and has been right from the start. The way she immediately started crying, before she was even fully out my womb, has been consistent with the way she seems to approach life: fully engaged.  We're seeing more and more of that as the jaundice wears off and Sally has more awake and alert time.  When she opens her eyes she seems really pleased by everything she sees. Unless it's 2 am and the first thing she sees is Mama trying to get her to nurse.

**On the subject of nursing, I am maybe being overdramatic.  It's going well, all things considered.  She's pretty new, still, and it makes sense that we wouldn't have all the bugs worked out.  And when it goes well, it goes spectacularly well.  I hopeful and grateful for being able to connect with Sally this way.  For as many mutually frustrating moments we've had nursing so far, there have been far more tender, loving moments.

**Sally is beautiful. She seems to look a lot like me as a baby, but she also looks quite a lot like Walter (which was very disorienting for me, at first ... in my post-surgical haze I was pretty convinced that I was nursing newborn Walter again.) She's got a nice amount of hair--same brown/blonde color as Walter, but not my hairline (which Walter did have.) She has the same stork bite birthmark on the back of her head/neck that Walter has.  Her eyes seem darker than Walter's, and I'm thinking they might end up being hazel/brown like Sean's.  I love her mouth best of all ... so expressive.

As Dr. L. says: "She's perfect."  That's his official medical opinion, and it seems right to me.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Baby Sally Here!"

So, here I am again, one week later, all cozied up in my bed in the living room, blogging. Here's the big difference:
Sally on the outside!
Sally's snuggled in on her favorite spot, all balled up right in the middle of my chest.  After we nurse, I put her on my shoulder to burp her, and she usually falls asleep.  As she does, though, she squirms her way over to the middle and settles herself into her spot.  I can't even begin to express how happy this little ritual makes me. 

I'd hoped to get some sleep on Tuesday night before the surgery, but nerves, reflux, and frequent trips to the bathroom conspired to keep me up until the wee hours.  At the rather wee hour of 3:30 my alarm went off and Sally's birthday began in earnest.  Sean, Umma and I left the house at 4:30; Baba stayed home with a sleeping Walter.  It was a quiet ride to the hospital, lit by the full, blue moon.

A little girl like Sally comes once in a blue moon.
We arrived at 5:30 and immediately started getting ready for the c-section. Item #1 on my birth plan came up before we could even get the birth plan unpacked.  My nurse insisted on trying to place the IV and was unsuccessful, with lots of painful pushing the needle around before she gave up.  I did my best to keep it together while also communicating that I really, really didn't want another painful, poorly placed IV for this c-section. The charge nurse came in and put me at ease right away.  She explained that they could call up someone from anesthesia or a paramedic if needed, but that they'd certainly place the IV in the inner forearm, right where it was and gave me such trouble when Walter was born.  She asked me to let her give it another try in a spot that would be good for breast feeding and recovery; I did, and she got it in easily on the first try.  My whole body flooded with relief (and IV fluids.)  

Sally was hard to find on the monitor at first, but then her heartbeat came through as strong as ever, and during the many pre-op visits that morning I loved listening to her moving around so vigorously, and enjoying feeling her movements in my womb one last time. After she was born I allowed myself a little sadness about the loss of that feeling--there's nothing quite like it. 

Everyone agreed that my plan of having Sean with me for the first part of the surgery and then having Umma come in when Sean left the OR with Sally was a very good plan indeed, so both of them got gowned up and ready to go. 

The blue scrubs were especially cute on blue-eyed Umma
Before I knew it I was being wheeled down the hall to the OR.  I was alone--they brought Sean in after the spinal block and other pre-op preparations were done.  At first I was worried about that, because he'd held my hand and helped me through the epidural with Walter. But the OR was full of really warm, wonderful women--nurses and anesthesiologists--who immediately put me at ease and literally surrounded me with comfort and encouragement. I rested my head on one of the nurse's shoulders and she hugged me during the whole spinal block procedure, calmly narrating everything that happened and patting my arm affectionately.  I think the spinal block took two tries to get right, but I felt so calm and cared for I barely registered the delay.  It reminded me of day two after Walter was born, how in the middle of everything falling apart Dr. Y. comforted me while I cried and gave me a kiss on my forehead.  There is something about women caring for women in these moments that is precious indeed. 

Dr. M. is not a woman, but he is my dear doc and I was glad indeed to see him in the OR.  He and his team worked very well together and you could tell that they were all engaged and really present, even though it's a routine procedure. It was very different than the feeling in the room when Walter was born.  When that surgery was over, the doc started gossiping with the nurses about office politics.  I'd also made the anesthesiologist hold my hand when Sean left with Walter, so he wasn't monitoring my blood pressure as well as he should have been (which lead to the big blood pressure drop, vomiting, and other complications.) This time the anesthesiologist was on top of my blood pressure the whole time, giving me medicine to raise my blood pressure every time I started feeling a little nauseous.  It was good she was ready and able to do that, because my blood pressure dipped a lot throughout the surgery.  With her proactive help, I was able to get through the whole thing without throwing up (recovery was a different story ... lots of throwing up that first day and night.  But that was, relatively, fine.)

I'd had no idea how different a spinal block is from an epidural.  I couldn't feel anything at all, not even the pain-free tugging and pushing I clearly felt throughout Walter's c-section. I couldn't move my lower body at all, either. Our anesthesiologist narrated the surgery and gave kind and caring encouragement throughout, while Sean held my hand and occasionally peeked at Dr. M.'s progress.  Our anesthesiologist took some rather graphic pictures of the surgery which I've kind of looked at but not very closely.

"Now you'll feel a big tug," she said, and I did feel that one, the tug that brought Sally out into the air right at 8 am.  The second that the air hit her she started to scream.  It was wonderful.  It took a little time and intervention from the pediatrician to get Walter to cry.  Everyone was very impressed with how quickly Sally started crying. Lots of joyful crying and laughing and words of welcome filled the room.  The anesthesiologist confirmed that we did, indeed, have a little girl, which I needed to hear because I wasn't completely convinced until that moment. "I can't tell you for sure until she's measured," she said, "But I think she's quite petite."

That was my impression, too, when Dr. M. held Sally up for me to see.  A very little baby, very angry, looking very very much like me when I was a little, angry baby.  I was relieved to hear her weight-- 7 lbs, 5 oz--which is small but not too small at all.  She's not a very long baby, either ... only 18 inches tall.  And she loves being all scrunched up into a ball, which makes her seem even smaller.  The "Sally Bug" nickname fits very well indeed.  

So angry!
Sally passed her first tests and exams with flying colors at the warming station in the OR.  When the pediatrician was done with the initial assessment, they wrapped her up and handed her to Sean who put her right next to me for our first snuggle.  She was still crying like a champ, and blowing little amniotic fluid bubbles.  I kissed and kissed her head and as Sean and I snuggled her she started to calm down, which surprised me.  Sally continues to respond very well to being comforted--we've only had to break out one of the "5 S's" from happiest baby on the block ("Shhhhhhh.")

Snuggle bug, right from the start
Sean followed Sally to the nursery where they got her a little more cleaned up, poked her heel, got her footprints, etc. Umma came in and held my hand while Dr. M. put me back together. Baba, having had breakfast with Walter and dropped him off at daycare, arrived at the hospital during the surgery and joined Sean in the nursery.   He told me later that Sean was completely focused on Sally--it was like there was no one else in the room, no one else in the world.  Clear symptoms of a dad in love.

Far from office gossip, Dr. M. was giving instructions and narrating his work throughout the surgery, totally focused.  I heard him describe the stitch he was using, and the nurse say quietly, admiringly, "Beautiful." Always a nice thing to overhear.  Everyone involved in the surgery was very pleased and relieved. Very quickly I found myself being wheeled back to my room, settled back in and given my sweet Sally to nurse.  

Nursing Sally for the first time

I don't remember how that first nursing went, honestly. It's a blur ... I think we had some trouble with her tongue pushing my nipple away, but when she latched she latched surprisingly well, and I knew I wouldn't have the same nipple damage I had after my first attempts to nurse Walter. We got lots of great visits from the lactation consultant (another benefit of the planned c-section and being in the hospital during the week rather than over the weekend.)  She admired Sally's perfect latch and my calm approach when faced with getting-started problems.  She helped me remember how to do a football hold, which is shockingly easy to do with a petite baby and it felt great to have some options for varying her position.  

I am pretty good at being calm during nursing, and even keeping perspective when things aren't going well.  But it's also something I worry about a lot, because it's hard not to jump from whatever the current problem is to the possibility that I won't be able to nurse or will have to stop nursing early, and even though I know that's not the end of the world, it's a possibility that makes me sad.  There have been a number of those worrisome moments with Sally; great latch notwithstanding, it's been hard and it continues to be hard. Sally is jaundiced and the bilirubin makes her very, very sleepy.  When she wakes up (or when we wake her up) to nurse she is usually very tired, very hungry, and very angry. Once we get started, it's great, but getting started is a real struggle.

But there's already been a lot to celebrate, too.  My milk came in with very little fanfare on the evening of the second day, which is very early for a c-section (my milk came in on day 4 with Walter.)  I seem to have more than enough for her but not so much that I'm particularly engorged.  I have to pump a very little bit at times to get soft enough for her to latch, and we've used eyedroppers of expressed breast milk to encourage Sally and give her hope when she's having trouble and frustrated. No need to supplement with formula--her weight loss has been significant, but not enough to make anyone worried. Today her poop is yellow and seedy, which means she's getting good, high fat hindmilk.  So many things going well ... I am still worried, but feeling good about our chances.

We stayed at the hospital for three days; we could have chosen to stay for a fourth, but we were ready to go home. Low points included a bad choice on my part regarding pain medication (I chose not to take it when I should have ... and then remembered how important it is to stay ahead of the pain rather than treat it "as needed.")  There was also an almost hilariously bad personality mismatch with one of our nurses ... I say "almost" because it made those seven hours pretty awful for me and Sally, but even while it was happening it was kind of funny.  She was very high strung, very anxious, with non-stop unhelpful 2am talking and prone to making kind of dramatic disparaging statements regarding the temperament of our precious newborn daughter in response to trivial setbacks.  Sean does a pretty great impression of this.    

Highlights include all of our other nurses, who were absolutely wonderful, especially a nurse who had a very similar birth experience as I had with Walter.  She understood both my worries and my joy coming into Sally's birth, and she seemed to really love Sally, too, putting extra time and effort into getting good pictures of her and taking her to the nursery so I could get a nap and then Sean and I could have a romantic dinner together. 

The bug's first photo shoot, with photos by very patient nurse

The greatest highlight of all, by far, was Walter's visit on Thursday afternoon. He's always happy to be with Umma and Baba, but he was starting to get a little desperate for Mama and Dada.  "Mama car!" he said, weeping, when he saw my car on Thursday morning and no Mama to drive it.  We talked to him on the phone, including a call to him at day care shortly after Sally was born.  He was so excited and happy on the phone: "Love you, Mama! Love you, Dada! Love you, Baby Sally!!!" We'd originally planned to wait until day 3 for his visit, thinking I might not be well enough before then, but by Thursday afternoon the catheter and the IV were out and I was looking and feeling pretty good.  And Sean and I were both feeling very anxious and desperate to see Walter, too.

We got some good advice from the lactation consultant about Walter's visit: when we knew they were close to the hospital, we took Sally to the nursery. That way, Walter got to see and visit with Mama and Dada without the new baby, first. Walter was happy to see us, but immediately asked for baby Sally.  Walter and Baba went with Sean to get Sally from the nursery. Walter was nervous and excited.

Walter sees his sister for the first time.
Back at the room, we took some family pictures. Sally started to cry and want to nurse, and since getting her going on nursing is kind of a production, things got a little frantic for a short time.  Walter was overjoyed to meet his sister.  He likes to whisper "Baby Sally Baby Sally" and tell her secrets in what sounds like parseltongue.  We watched him trying to figure out the best way to interact with her physically. He errs on the side of gentle caution (but occasionally needs reminding to hug with less force, stroke her ears with one finger and not pinch, etc.) He sat with me on the hospital bed and was very gentle with me, too.  

While restrained and careful, Walter also radiated joy and giddy energy.  He danced and sang around the room, occasionally very cheerfully calling out for more crackers (Daddy shared his Cheez-Its.) He clapped and beamed at us.  Sean helped him to hold Sally in his lap and it was amazing to watch him process the moment: feeling so happy and excited, and at the same time nervous and wanting desperately to do it right.
"I can't believe I'm holding my sister!"
Walter presented Sally with a birthday card from his day care classroom (complete with classmate handprints.)  He also gave her a little monkey Umma helped him pick out.  Sally gave Walter a Curious George doll, which he was delighted with at first, but then he turned introspective.  After a minute of careful thought he offered to give the George doll to Sally.  He was quite relieved when we explained that George really was a gift for him.  Then he offered Sally some of his Cheese-Its, and was confused (but also a little relieved) when we explained that she couldn't have any.

We decided to end the visit while everyone was still happy (and before Walter could somehow trigger a code blue by pressing all the buttons in the room.)  It was short but it was amazing.  I wish I could better articulate what it felt like to have my whole family together that way.  It was something like this:

Totally geeking out
We're so proud of Walter.  He's navigating this huge transition with a great deal of joy, patience and a positive outlook. It's clearly wearing him out--he's exhausted at the end of the day.  But he manages all the same to bring the best of himself to all these new situations.  And the best of Walter is astoundingly loving and good.  

Tonight Walter was so tired he just kept self-destructing.  He threw his plate of food on the floor, then helped clean it up, then said "I'm sorry" so sadly we felt like maybe we should be apologizing to him. He just seemed borderline miserable all night. But he also sang his new "Baby Sally" song and included her name with great joy in his "God bless" prayer list. After dinner I held Walter in my lap for the first time in months, wrapped my arms around him and cried and cried.  He was not alarmed by this at all, just snuggled in, stroked my arm, and watched The Muppets. 

Lots of feelings these days.  But we are weathering them together. 

The rest of our hospital stay was pretty uneventful: my healing and progress started strong and continued to be good throughout.  The vomiting and nausea was annoying but wore off with the anesthetic. The catheter gave me flashbacks and worries but it wasn't in very long at all. The IV was perfectly placed and gone very quickly, too.  I was up and walking just a few hours after the surgery.  I got my appetite back and heartily enjoyed any and all food that came my way, although the hospital's definition of "burrito" was pretty amusing:

This is NOT a burrito
I left the hospital looking about five months pregnant (I estimate that's about 2 months less pregnant than I looked on the day we took Walter home.)  And I felt ... good.  Like walking down the hall and out to the car was probably not going to kill me. Sally cried getting into her carseat for the first time and then fell asleep, and then woke up and regarded us and her situation calmly and with interest. 

 Umma and Baba took Walter and Hank out for a walk so that we could get settled in.  When they got back from their walk we all greeted each other with great joy. Hank the Dog was as happy and relieved as I've ever seen him, and gave me very loving, gentle licks on my arm, clearly communicating the dog equivalent of "Thank God you're alright.  You had me worried."

"Another baby for me to fret over.  I think I love her."
Umma and Baba headed home on Monday, taking Hank with them for the week.  Sean is home with me and Sally this week. Baba will be back next week when Sean returns to work. Then Sally and I will head down to Crick for a week with Umma and Baba and then ... a few weeks of just me and Sally (and Hank) together during the day. I think I'll be in great shape and ready for the challenge by then. I feel almost well enough, but not quite, to manage it now.  My feet are still super swollen and I'm feeling more abdominal pain as I ween myself of the narcotics  But I'm getting there. Tonight I changed her diaper for the first time and it only took 4 tries to get it right (to be fair, a certain baby kept peeing as soon as I got the new diaper on.) 

This post has taken me all day to write, which means I didn't sleep while the baby slept, so I'd better try to do that, now.  It was a good day.  One blog post, lots of poopy diapers (take that, jaundice!), a visit from members of the congregation, a shower for Mama, a bath for Sally, lots of nursing, lots of snuggling.  

Welcome to the family, Sally Bug! As Walter says, "Baby Sally here!" And we are glad, indeed.

Proud Mama, beautiful children
Bonus photo to blow your mind:

Look at the picture on the screen and witness a quantum singularity in the space time continuum.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ready or Not!

I think we're ready.  You know, as ready as we can be.

Walter, who has been introspective lately as Sally's due date draws near, was extra subdued tonight.  I think he's worried about tomorrow.  I'm worried, too.  But Umma and Baba are here, which always makes it feel like a party, and Sean made an amazing dinner.  We even had "doot-doot" cake, which broke through Walter's somber mood and brought out quite a smile.  And that made us all smile (also, the cake was delicious.)

Our bags are as packed as they can be, just waiting for a few last minute additions.  The to-do list has largely been to-done.  I even managed to get a haircut (very cute) and my terrible talon-like toenails taken care of. Operation: Operation Sally is a go!

I'm pretty scared and very excited.  I think I'll be able to get a little sleep tonight, though.  Today was a busy day.  Tomorrow will be an extraordinary day.  Sally, I'm so excited to meet you!  God bless us and keep us, both. 

Monday, August 19, 2013


I think Walter is ready, not only for a sibling, but for life in general.

Here are some skills he's added to his repertoire in the past few days:

Punning. Walter has always enjoyed word play and telling jokes, but this seemed like a new level to me:
Me: OK, time for jammies!
Walter: No! Peanut butter and jam-mies! (sly smile.  When we laugh, he laughs hysterically and repeats the joke.)

Small talk. The boy can talk about the weather.  This skill will get him far in Wisconsin.
Sean: It's going to be, like, 85 today.  It's like it's summer or something.
Walter: Too hot!

Philosophizing.  Life is hard, sometimes.  It's good to keep things in perspective.
Walter (recovering from almost falling down): Whoa. Slippy.
Sean: Did you almost slip?
Walter: Ja. It happens.

Yup.  Ready to take on the world. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wrote too soon ...

As soon as I finished my update last night, it needed an update. (Sigh.) Here goes:

Walter: rough night last night, complete with lots of coughing.  Good nap today, though, and in good spirits.

Sean: Pink eye.  No one likes having pink eye, but Sean tends to take it as a sign that the world and all its germs are out to get him, personally.  Paranoia and pink eye go hand-in-hand in this house.  And you'd better believe we are washing those hands, thoroughly and repeatedly with clean towels.  Fortunately (?) we get pink eye a lot in this house, and always seem to have extra eye drops on hand when one of us, inevitably, starts getting pink and pus-y on the weekend.  I predict Sean's eyes will be clear come tomorrow.

Me: Maintaining.

Sally: Enjoying the milkshake Mama just drank.

Hank: Sleeping on the couch.

We are not at our best, but we are fine.  And, if history gives any indication of future events, we will all rally for Sally's arrival.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Family Health Update

Life has gotten better for some, goopier for others.  Here's the scoop:

Walter is much, much better.  His hives are all cleared up, the pink eye is gone, and he's not coughing anymore.  He's all done with all four medicines.  We were able to stop the Benadryl on Sunday, and it was amazing the to see the immediate change (for the better) in his demeanor.  We got our sweet Walter back. AND, best of all: no ear infections. Tubes doing what tubes should do. What a relief!

Sean and Umma both caught Walter's bug and have been getting steadily sicker as the week goes on.  Bad cough, swollen throat, very tired.  No pink eye or hives (thankfully.) But prayers for healing are welcome.  No pressure, but these two have to be healthy by Wednesday or I'm going to be very lonely in that operating room.

I think Wednesday is going to be the day.  I have no idea if I'm progressing toward labor or not--Dr. M. doesn't do cervical exams for patients with planned c-sections because they sometimes hasten labor.  So I could be all dilated and effaced and what-have-you and not even aware of it, but I don't feel like labor is immanent. I keep reminding myself that the delivery on Wednesday will be bringing Sally into the world a week early, based on her due date. So, I'm hopeful that Baba will be able to come home from the churchwide assembly, Umma and Sean will have a few days to get better, and we'll all have Tuesday together to get last minute preparations done for Sally's arrival. 

On Tuesday night, the blue moon will rise. By the light of that astronomical oddity, we'll head to the hospital around 4 am or so on Wednesday, and by 8:00 am, we'll have a baby.

Maybe.  Again, it's weird to have this scheduled out.  I love schedules.  But I'm trying not to count my blue moon chickens before they hatch (whatever that means.)

My own health is mostly good.  It seems like my super immune system is successfully fighting off the household virus (being able to get tons of sleep and fluids and not being over worked and exhausted to begin with is probably helping with that, too.)  I'm very uncomfortable but able to sleep, at night and whenever I feel like it during the day, which is a huge blessing and feels like the best preparation for Sally's arrival that I could be doing right now.

I very much expected that, after a day or so of bedrest, my hemorrhoids and everything else would get completely better and I'd feel terrible about leaving work a week early.  Yet another example of mistaken expectations on my part.  It turns out that the pressure of the baby alone, without any help from me standing up or even sitting down (rather than lying down,) is enough to keep everything bad and, in fact, make it worse.

I'd decided not to worry about the bleeding hemorrhoids, so I was surprised when Nurse B. and Dr. M. were both worried about them.  Evidently, having something bleeding like that when you go into surgery isn't a great idea. But there's nothing we can do, not until the pressure lifts and Sally is born. So, they tested me for anemia (I am nowhere near anemic) and Dr. M. said that following up on the hemorrhoids will be important after the surgery--hopefully, they'll go away as soon as the pressure is off, but if they don't, another surgery will be needed.

I'm still not worried. But even I am getting grossed out by the situation.  Hemorrhoids, hemorrhoids, hemorrhoids.  Ick.

Sally is still measuring great, with a nice strong heartbeat and good levels of movement. I'm very attentive to her movements, these days.  They are balm to my over-anxious soul. I dreamed about her all last night ... I dreamed that she was born the size of a six-year-old, with a full set of teeth.  Terrifying, but I was pleased to note that she had my nose.

Hank the Dog seems to be doing fairly well, although his soul is a bit over-anxious, too.  He camps out on the couch and keeps an eye on me all day.  We've been having work done on our basement (yes, the timing could be better. merp.) and barking every time the workers open or close the front door has kept him quite busy.

It's been quite a week!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Always Being Made New

Dear Walter and Sally,

Something big happened today.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the denomination I serve as a pastor, elected a woman to be presiding bishop for the first time.

Her name is Elizabeth Eaton, and when she was elected she was serving as bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod. I don't know anything about her other than what I saw and read today.  She seems earnest, which I really like, and smart, and passionate about her faith and the life of the church. People who already know her as a leader say she is honest, direct and wise, and that she's weathered many storms already in her time as a synod bishop with grace and compassion and integrity.

We don't know yet what kind of presiding bishop she will be.  So far, she seems kind of nervous and overwhelmed, which is very understandable.

You're probably wondering why this is such a big deal to me.  I hope, anyway, that by the time you two read this the novelty of women reaching the highest leadership positions in the church and elsewhere is thoroughly out-of-date.

Like you, I grew up in a church where women could be ordained and serve as pastors.  The rules changed to allow it in 1970, and I was born in 1981, so I never experienced life as a Lutheran without women pastors.  The congregation I grew up in had several pastors who were women, and they had a profound influence on me and forming my faith and my identity as a Christian.  Of course, the pastors I grew up with who were men did that, too.

But it was a powerful experience for me, growing up in a predominantly Roman Catholic town, to grow up in a church where women could be pastors.  I realized very early on that I had options my Roman Catholic friends who were girls didn't have.  My parents always told me I could be anything I wanted to be, and do anything I set my mind to doing.  I felt like my church affirmed that message, not just for me but for all girls and boys: you are beloved, you are special, you are gifted and called by God ... and whatever it is that God is calling you to do, you can do it.

Of course, it wasn't completely true, back then.  There were still rules and other barriers to people being ordained and being elected to leadership positions. As I've gotten older, the church has gone through some amazing transformations that have made that feeling of being affirmed and empowered in my calling that I had as a little girl an actual reality for more and more people.  In 2009, the ELCA voted to change the rules so that people in same-sex relationships can be ordained. This year, one of my favorite professors, recently ordained, was elected as a synod bishop--the first openly gay person in a committed relationship to be elected as a bishop in the ELCA. And today, the first woman presiding bishop was elected ... and not only that, but of the top four candidates, three were women.  There wasn't just one qualified woman leader to choose, there were many.  

I used to think that I wanted to be the first woman presiding bishop in the ELCA.  The idea of being a history-maker appealed to me.  But this is so much better.  I will be able to tell you, Sally, that just before you were born a new possibility for women in the church was born, too. And Walter and Sally, you will both grow up in a church that allows me to look you in the eyes and say, with total honesty, "You can do anything God is calling you to do."  You may not want to be pastors or bishops, but being gay or straight or a man or a woman isn't automatically going to disqualify you from doing those things.  The door isn't pre-shut.  And that's a pretty exciting, wonderful thing. Something to celebrate!

The theme of the assembly that's going on right now is "Always Being Made New," so I think today and every August 14th we should celebrate Always Being Made New Day.  On that day I think our family should celebrate options and possibilities and potential.  On that day we should also celebrate Umma and Baba's wedding anniversary, because their love is Always Being Made New, too.  And also because they've always encouraged me to dream big, and to look toward the future with hope.

On that day, we should eat cake.  Because cake is delicious and Baba and I really like frosting.

Anyway, in some ways I hope this hoopla seems a little silly to you.  But I hope you also know how proud I am to be a pastor in the ELCA, and how proud I am of both of you, and how limitless your potential--our potential, all of us--seems to me right at this very moment.  I am feeling hopeful, excited, and very much being made new.

I love you!  Happy Always Being Made New Day!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Snapshot of Walter, 21 months

Tonight's bedtime exchange involving a dustpan was so representative of what Walter is like at 21 months ... it must be recorded, verbatim-style.

SEAN:  Aggggghhh, so much sand in your clothes.  I've got to get a dustpan.
WALTER: (Following Sean, wearing just a diaper, crying a little and rubbing his eyes.)
SEAN: You OK, buddy?  Do you want to watch me use this dustpan?
WALTER: JA!! (totally over-the-top delighted.) (pause.) MY dustpan. (getting petulant, threatening to meltdown.)
(Sean cleans up the sand on the changing table, showing Walter all the steps and including him in the process. Walter periodically interjects:)
WALTER: MY dustpan.  My dustPAN. My DUSTpan!!!
SEAN: Would you like to use the dustpan?
WALTER: JA!!! (totally delighted again.) (begins to sweep his bed with the very sandy brush.)
SEAN: Not the bed, please. How about the floor?
WALTER: How 'bout floor? (Sits down on the floor, happily sweeps for awhile.) Garbage! (Gets up and takes the pan and brush out to the kitchen, opens the garbage can and empties the pan into the garbage.
SEAN: Now let's put it away in the closet.
WALTER: Put it away! (On encountering Hank lying down in his path to the closet. Very politely:) 'Scuz me, Hankee.

That's the snapshot!  Walter is always just right on the edge of a meltdown at any moment, and it doesn't take much to push him over that edge.  But he's also capable of a great deal of spontaneous wonderfulness, too. And he's very polite to his dog.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Yesterday Sean tried to introduce a little diversity into Walter's recent video viewing (since he's been sick, an endless loop of The Muppets, Sesame Street you tube clips, and covers of favorite Woody Guthrie songs) by breaking out our Fraggle Rock collection.  He chose season 2, disc 1 (season 2 being the best season, in our opinion.)

It's a good choice, but it's a choice we made once before, and when the episode started I was immediately transported back three years ago, the last time we turned to fraggles for distraction during a difficult time.  I was off from work, I spent my days resting with my feet up, I took frequent baths, all as I'm doing now.  But three years ago I wasn't on bedrest, I was having a miscarriage--slowly losing our first pregnancy over the course of a very long, very sad week.  

The first episode on season 2, disc 1 is an episode about Wembley Fraggle becoming a parent.  The episode starts with Wembley feeling depressed, feeling like his life lacks meaning and purpose. Someone (Boober, I think?) makes the comment that meaning doesn't just fall from the sky.  Suddenly, a large object drops from the sky into the fraggle pond. The fraggles all panic, except Wembley, who recognizes the giant egg as "a house for babies."  The fraggles, including his friends, all think Wembley is crazy.  He is defiant, and tells them he's going to do what you do with eggs: sit on it.  The fraggles think this is hilarious, and even his friends can't help but laugh at Wembley's expense.

Wembley sticks to his guns, devoting himself to the task of caring for the egg and the tree creature inside. He talks to the baby and sings the baby a lullaby.  Early the next morning, the egg hatches.  The baby tree creature emerges and immediately identifies Wembley as "Mama!"

Being a Mama is not easy, Wembley soon finds.  He can't figure out what to feed his baby.  His friends have gone from not believing Wembley to being fairly annoyed with him and the baby, who is larger than a full-grown fraggle and very, very needy.  The baby gets depressed (much like Wembley at the beginning of the episode) and Wembley realizes that tree creatures want to fly, so the fraggles all come together and sing a song as a flying lesson.  But they can't teach the baby to fly, and Wembley realizes his baby needs to be with other tree creatures.  It's a very hard decision and Wembley has to be prevented from going with the baby, but ultimately the baby is returned to its tree creature parents, who have been mourning their loss and are overjoyed to be reunited with their baby.  Now Wembley is mourning, until he sees his baby soaring, joyfully flying and shouting "Fly! Fly!"  Wembley is still sad, but happy, too. 

Yeah, it's pretty intense.  Too intense for Walter, it turns out, although I think he was overwhelmed less by the emotional content and more by the really annoying, high-pitched crying noises the baby tree creature makes (Walter ... we are not going to be able to turn off your baby sister and turn her crying into Woody Guthrie's "Take you riding in my car, car" ... I'm sorry.)

Too intense, for me, too. "I can skip this one," Sean said, in 2010 and in 2013.  "No, it's OK," I said three years ago and this weekend.  And yesterday I added, "We've come so far."

Most pastors really only have a handful of sermons that they give over and over again with slightly different words and nuances.  One of my sermons is about idolatry, and how you can come face to face with what you've put in the place of God in your life by asking yourself "What am I most afraid of losing?"  My answer to that question is unequivocal: my family. And you might think, "Well, that's not so bad.  If her biggest problem is that she loves her family too much ... big deal." But no human relationship, nothing on earth, can bear the weight and burden of being made into a god.  It's not fair to make your spouse or your child THE source of meaning, purpose, and hope in your life.  Like Wembley, you will find yourself weeping as you watch them fly away, your meaning taken from you by the inevitables of growing up, of distance, of time, of death. 

But ... and here's something I didn't realize until yesterday and need to add to my sermon ... the episode ends with hope.  Wembley has lost his baby, but he hasn't lost his meaning, and he hasn't lost the meaning and the joy he gained from his time as a Mama.  We shouldn't make our families (biological, adopted, appended, chosen, immediate, extended, ecclesial, etc.) into our god, but our families do give us a glimpse of God, a lived experience of the meaning, purpose and love that come from God.  
Edison-Albright family picture, 2006
Today, Sean and I are celebrating our seven year wedding anniversary.  I use the term "celebrating" rather loosely since we're not, like, going out for fancy dinner or on a romantic date or something like that.  We're even a little skittish about kissing each other, since Sean seems to have picked up Walter's cold.  Between Sean caring for me and Walter and the dog and the house and trying to catch up on some of the time he missed from work, it seems unlikely that this evening will bring any sort of romantic respite for either of us.  And pretty unlikely in the near future, too, as we're kind of, you know, expecting a baby any minute now but if not any minute then certainly next week, Wednesday.

And yet, we are celebrating, and it is romantic.  Here we are, right on the cusp of a new adventure in family life, hanging onto the edge of that cusp like our lives depend on it.  When I kissed Sean this morning I felt the thrill not only of living dangerously with germs, but of that spark, that attraction, that love that brought us together in the first place and keeps bringing us together again and again. 

I'm not going to say that Sean gives my life meaning. That's an awful lot of pressure to put on a guy, even a guy as wonderful as Sean. But I will say that, through Sean, I've gotten to experience a meaning and a love much bigger and greater than just us two.  We've come so far since the day we met in 1999, from our first kisses in 2002, from our wedding in 2006, from the miscarriage in 2010, from Walter's birth in 2011 ... from yesterday, really.  I'm excited to keep going, to jump off this cusp and onto the next, to find new ways of making meaning together.

Happy anniversary to us, novelgazer.  I'm so glad I get to fly with you. 
Edison-Albright family picture, 2013

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Everything is Broken, Part II

I am bedresting.

This has put a major crimp in my nesting.

It's amazing how much can go haywire in a short amount of time.  Tuesday morning, I was tired but fine. Tuesday night, complete screaming agony.  While I writhed around in pain from the worst hemorrhoids of my life (hemorrhoids hemorrhoids hemorrhoids ... if you're grossed out, stopped reading now) Walter woke up coughing and screaming at regular intervals, throwing up at one point, too.  There was a thunderstorm, as well, adding an extra exciting element to our perfect storm of a terrible night.  Between taking care of me and Walter, Sean got almost no sleep at all.  Every once and awhile the household whimpering would abate long enough so that I could hear Hank the Dog snoring. Hank: "I am so used to this by now.  Good night, crazy family."

When Walter woke up again at 3 am I decided that our misery could only be improved by company and I crawled into bed with him.  It was a terrible idea, but it worked: Sean got a few hours of sleep, Walter got a little sleep, maybe, and definitely some rest, and I got one more snuggle in with my boy before that snuggling became absolutely physically impossible.  It was not a comfortable three hours for the Mama.  At one point, I had to turn over on my other side, away from Walter.  He woke up a little bit, snuggled in behind me, and did his best to rub my back (because he knows, you see, that back rubbing is what you do when you want someone to go to sleep.)  He's a very sweet boy.  When he woke up at 6 Walter was cranky to find a giant pregnant Mama taking up so much space in his bed and blocking his route to the door.  I was cranky and unable to get out of said bed (the turtle-on-her-back metaphor is truer than ever these days.)  Sean came and rescued both of us, like he does, and as we started a new day, I think we all thought we'd probably seen the low point and it could only be up from there.

Our optimism, while a treasured family characteristic, was misplaced in this case.

Since then, Dr. M. put me on bedrest for the duration of my pregnancy (me: "If I get better, can I go back to work?" Dr. M. "No.  That was easy.") and I made arrangements for my maternity leave to start (and end) a week earlier than we'd hoped. While my helpless turtle self lay around in pain all day, Walter got really impressively sick.  Pink eye in both eyes and a case of hives that spread so quickly and aggressively it took our breath away.  There was a trip to the emergency room and two trips to see Dr. L. The second trip to Dr. L. was inspired by a bad case of tremors and blue fingertips. Walter had his first lab work since the day he was born--a blood draw and urinalysis that came back totally clean. Armed with two antihistamines, steroids, and antibiotic eye drops, we were told to dose up our boy regularly, watch and wait. All of this, we were repeatedly assured, was perfectly normal and not nearly as scary as it looked.

And it was true.  But ohmygoodness was it a terrible three days before we started to see the light.

The light was there all along, of course. It was immediately there in the form of prayers and offers of help from family, friends and congregation members. It was there in the fact that none of the conditions that put me on bedrest are life threatening to me or to Sally.  The light was there because of all the work I'd already gotten done to get ready for maternity leave, and because the incredible staff and volunteers at Redeemer immediately jumped in and made everything else that needed to happen, happen. The light was in Walter, who braved all those doctor's visits and pokes and prods like a trooper, and in the truth that he is really OK and going to be fine: his body is just fighting a regular old virus in a somewhat overzealous way (really, immune system? Do we need this over-the-top histamine response?)  The light was in our wonderful doctors, Dr. M. and Dr. L., and their wonderful nurses who take such good care of Walter and me. Walter was so excited to go see Dr. L. on Thursday morning that he ran around the house happily chanting "Dr. L.! Dr. L.!" It's a little weird, but it's definitely better than being afraid to go to the doctor.

The light shone in and through Sean, who--sleep deprived--summoned strength, love and patience abundant (where does it come from?) And the light very much arrived with Umma on Friday evening ... that was the turning point, when we knew it was going to be OK.  When Walter woke up this morning he declared it: "Umma, Umma-Day."

We're not out of the woods, yet, but Walter's hives are getting better.  The main struggle now is getting all four medicines into him while he's 'roid raging like a tiny, angry baseball player. So, so angry.  I'm doing OK, too, although the hemorrhoids are now bleeding a lot (I told you to stop reading) and I'm kind of anxious and cranky (with no steroids to blame for it.)  I've got a bit of a Rear Window thing going on ... kind of ... really, nothing like that at all except I sit around all day thinking that bad things are happening out there. I'm going to have to distract myself with a lot of Star Trek next week, I think.

On Wednesday morning, after that first terrible night, Sean and I couldn't help but draw parallels between this 37th week of pregnancy with Sally and my 39th week of pregnancy with Walter (the week that Sean immortalized in the original "Everything is Broken" post.)  I made some sort of "well, maybe this time it will be less expensive" comment, but I should have knocked on wood, because Sean has had to take two and half unpaid days off so far, and the ER isn't cheap, and the emotional and psychological costs racked up in just these few days have been considerable.

It stinks when it feels like everything is going wrong all at once. You try to keep perspective, you try to count blessings and realize that it could be so much worse, but it still stinks while you're in the middle of it.  A lot of the light/darkness dichotomies in the Bible are unhelpful at best and racist (or often used racist-ly) at worst, but there is something to be said for the image of the light of Christ shining in the darkness, like a candle flame shining persistently, maybe sputtering a little bit now and then, but shining nonetheless.

On Thursday Walter was heartbroken to find that two of his "happy birthdays" (battery-powered LED candles we had in our windows at Christmastime) were out of juice. "Broken," he announced, sadly.  When we got the third one to glimmer, he was completely delighted, and let out a big, very surprised and happy "YAAAAAAAY!"

So, thanks be to God for Umma Umma-Day, for dear ones who come bearing shredded BBQ chicken, for snoring dogs, for Sean, for the impromptu concert of Muppet music Walter gave us tonight (he let us know when each song was over by clapping and shouting "Yaaaaaay!",) for Sally dancing to the beat of her brother's singing, for sitz baths, for steroids and antihistamines and antibiotics, and even for bedrest (and the luxury of being able to take bedrest when I needed it.) We are a little broken, but still glimmering away.  YAAAAAAAAY! Amen!

Monday, August 5, 2013


I am nesting.

I didn't really "nest" with Walter ... I was too tired, sick and broken by the time we got to this point.  There was no sudden burst of energy directed at household tasks, just some plaintive nagging from my perma-perch on my bed directed at my beleaguered family members.

I've gotten the whole family in on it this time, too, but I'm able to do more and find I have quite a lot of focus and stamina to direct at various tasks.  The to-do list I made for getting ready for Sally has been significantly diminished, to the point where I'd feel comfortable now, if I go into labor, that anything we didn't get done could get done and everything that really needed to be done is done. Done done done *satisfied hand-washing gesture.*

I've been super productive and efficient at work, too, and am also feeling very good about the congregation being prepared for my maternity leave.  I like this energy and focus.  I like making visible progress and checking things off of lists.

I don't like the insomnia. I find I'm either too wired to sleep at all or, if I'm tired enough from a few nights of that to actually sleep, I wrestle with anxiety nightmares all night long and wake up exhausted.  Last night, I kid you not, I dreamed I was in a van full of young women evangelicals caught in the crossfire between the police and some kind of organized crime syndicate.  My favorite quote from the dream (that I can remember) was when I told our driver and the leader of the group, "Well, if we don't get in the van right now, we're definitely going to die." "Good point," said the leader. "Yes," I said.  "I'm very good in a crisis. I should really be in charge."  Then I felt bad for undermining the leader's authority.

There were some tense moments, but when I woke up everyone in the van was still alive. What a relief *uncharacteristic moment of sarcasm.*

Worse than the insomnia is the impact the nesting is having on my time with Walter. I'm well enough to sort and fold clothes.  I'm not well enough to keep up with a 21-month-old.  So, Umma, Baba and Sean have been rotating Walter duty and nesting duty (that is, they do the majority of the difficult work while I sit and sort things.)  Walter has noticed the lack of Mama time.  Today when he got home from school he was extra affectionate, with his arms wrapped around my neck for hugs and stroking my face very gently (before switching to poking my face as he counted my freckles ... then I showed him the millions of freckles on my arm and he sighed, overwhelmed ... then he started to pester to let him watch YouTube videos.)  He was very upset when I left to go to a council meeting and very glad to see me when I got home, just in time for a goodnight hug and kiss.

Part of me reasons that it's good for Walter to get used to Mama being less available.  Part of me wants to be as available as I can possibly be these next two weeks.  I want to pick him up and hold him as much as I possibly can, knowing it'll be a month at least before I'm allowed to lift him.  I want him to feel the warmth and love of my full, undivided attention.  And I want him to be OK when that attention is divided, too.  Oh, Walter.  After I left his room tonight, he kept calling out, "Love you, Mama!"  After calling back with "Love you, Walter!" a couple of times, I knew I had to stop so that he'd go to bed.  I hope he knows that "love you" never stops, no matter what.

So, my plan is to get done as much as I can during the couple of hours I'm home when he's at day care and at night after he's gone to bed, leaving the weekend as open as possible.  I'm still working (I'll work right up until 2 days before the c-section, Sally permitting) so I don't have much time during the day, and today I spent that time napping (blissfully dream-free.) We'll see how it goes.

Every once and awhile in the middle of my nesting frenzy, Sally will start moving very assertively and demanding my attention.  At first I'm a little annoyed, like, "Hey! Settle down! I'm sorting and folding your clothes, here." Then, I'm delighted, and then, I stop what I'm doing and take some time to notice her, this baby I'm nesting for.  She continues to love my left hip best of all, which makes me wonder if we'll be "joined at the hip" after she's born, too. She sticks her little feet up under my ribs and does a stretch/handstand, just like Walter used to do.  She doesn't get the hiccups very often or for very long.  She's running out of room, and sometimes her movements seem a little ... indignant.  Like, "Hey, Mom.  Did you really need that second ear of sweet corn? You're smushing me, here."

It's a good nest we're making for you, Sally.  It's a little crowded, but you're used to that, and there's a dog. He's going to lick your feet. Your brother is going to love you and count your toes a million times.  He may also poke at you a little bit, but he's pretty gentle on the whole. Your Baba and Dada have sore backs from moving bins and other heavy things around to get ready for your arrival, but when you arrive they will take Advil and brave the pain so they can bounce and rock and walk with you.  Your Umma is going to sing to you and make you laugh and smile.

Your clothes are clean and lovingly folded, for now.  It's a good nest, Sally.  It's a nest of always "love you's," no matter what.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Negotiations and plans

I'm listening to Walter negotiate with Sean for more, more lullabies. It's a nightly thing.  He tries to make it last as long as he possibly can, in part because he wants us to stay in his bedroom with him forever, in part because he doesn't want to go to sleep yet, in part because he loves singing with his whole heart.

"Other one.  Chicken, please?"
"I gave my love a cherry, it had no stone.  I gave my love a chicken, it had no bone ..."
"OTHER ONE! Chicken!"
"Ok ... *sings the chicken dance song*"

"Other one" is Walter's new favorite phrase, joining (not replacing) such classics as "no" and "my turn." It drives us all a little crazy.  There are only so many "other ones" out there, you know. Particularly when it comes to lullabies about chickens. He really, really loves sung Alleluias, and there are a whole lot of "other ones" of those to sing, but he quickly exhausts all the ones we know.  His appetite for Alleluias is insatiable. For the record, I think this has (almost) nothing to do with him being a pastor's kid, and more to do with his love of vowel sounds, words with the letter "l" in them (see also: "Aubriella"), and words that have a joyful connotation.

Walter is really, really good at singing, and getting better at it every day.  He sings whole songs by himself, now. He seems to be repeating the sounds he hears rather than associating those sounds with words, although as he hears a song more and more the approximations of words gradually become actual words.  Last week he went on an almost non-stop jag of singing his version of this new daycare favorite:

Baby bumblebee
Walter's mommy peapod-a-me
Baby bumblebee
Ouch. Stunna me.

I love that "won't my mommy" became "Walter's mommy." I bet he's got all his classmates singing it that way, too. He tends to be a bit of a trendsetter at school.  They all say "uppaday," for example, and they all evidently asked their parents for hats like his, too.  Just keep using your powers for good, Walter.


I had my 36 week appointment with Dr. M. today.  We're into the every-week appointment time ... but of course, that time is not very long at all ... just three weeks before Sally day!  It was a good appointment.  Measuring well, heartbeat great, moving like a champ, urine clean, blood pressure perfect.  My weight gain leveled off after going a bit off the rails the past few weeks; I celebrated this good news by eating some Oreos.

Dr. M. and I had a good and candid discussion about all the bad things that happened last time I had a baby, from the botched IV placement to the terrible complications after the c-section.  I told him I was hesitant to write up a "birth plan" because I know that plans, goals, any sort of illusion of control is kind of silly when it comes to childbirth.  I want him and my other caregivers to know that I trust them, and that we'll work through whatever happens together.  He encouraged me to write it down, anyway.  "Limiting the number of IV attempts is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask for," he said. "And the process of writing it down will help you think through everything you're worried about and hoping for."

So ... Birth "Plan" Draft #1:

1. I'd like for the anesthetist to place my IV.
2. I'd like to spend as little time with the catheter in as possible. I'd like to get up and moving as soon as I'm able to after surgery.  If I can't get to the bathroom on the first day, can we consider removing the catheter and using a bed pan?
3. When Sean leaves the OR to go with the baby, I'd like my mom to be gowned up and ready to come into the OR to hold my hand while I'm being stitched up.
4. I'd like to not throw up on the operating table, have uncontrollable diarrhea in my bed, have a huge blood pressure drop right after surgery, or go into renal failure. I know my docs and nurses can't promise these things won't happen, but maybe knowing that they did happen and could happen again will help, somehow.
5. I'd like to hold and try to nurse Sally as soon as I can after she's born. Even though this was hard with Walter, it was so important to me to make that connection as soon as possible.

There's more, of course, but that's enough for now, enough for a first draft. Mainly, I'm hoping for a healthy baby. Walter was such a gloriously healthy baby!  What I'd like to be different, this time, is that the healthy baby would also get a healthy Mama.  I know recovery will be hard, but I'm hoping it's not as hard as last time. Not something we can plan for, but definitely something we can hope for, and pray for.