photo dump: the thankful edition

It’s Thanksgiving Day so I’m going to give thanks, as one should on Thanksgiving Day…and every other day.

For Thing 1 and Thing 2, generously provided by my employer and a co-worker who has no use for the 12 pound turkey they handed him as we left work early in the morning last week. Yes, I named them, as I do every year. Deal with it! Meanwhile, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are currently soaking in an icy cold, brine-y bath waiting to be properly roasted.

For bringing sexy back in the way that only Personal Protective Equipment can. This look is hot. No. It really is hot.

The perfect pick-me-up after running 4 miles before you work your 4th 12 hour night shift in a week. Hurray for Snickers and for running and for a busy, busy full NICU which means work!

For kick-ass looking compression socks to wear after running a few miles before working hard on your feet for 12 hours all night long. Oh, and, give thanks for the break relief RN who makes the moment where you get to put your feet up for 20 minutes.

Be thankful for the 2 hour nap you had after working all night before you take the time to drive your favorite Princess 125 miles in the rain and wind and fog across a couple bridges during drive time Bay Area traffic so that she can attend two hours of Princess training.

It’s totally worth it when she sends you this picture of her being fitted for the wig of her favorite princess, one of a few who she will be portraying. Yes, you can almost hear her squeeing with delight from the only open cafe in the area where you sat and waited during those two hours. Worth it. Totally. So was her telling you how much she loved you and was glad you were driving as you drove across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in the 0.25 mile visibility fog.

This card with this name on it which we waited for for 12 years because no matter what the social workers tell you, it isn’t as easy as it should be to get your child’s social security card with his name on it after the adoption is finalized because government agencies can be so frustratingly dumb sometimes. But not Maria at the Manteca Social Security Administration office. Sure it took her several hours to figure a way around the bureaucratic walls but she did it because, as she humbly put it, “there’s always a way around walls.”

Remembering when you said you couldn’t wait for your kid to outgrow his shoes and clothes before they wear out when you see that the shoes that you just got him are too small. Human Growth Hormones, we are so thankful especially when you see your son’s height and weight plotted at <1%ile on the growth chart because look at that, the kid is almost finally plotting on the normal growth chart!

Pretty scarves and jewelry and makeup and clothes that flatter what your mama gave you, no matter what your age is, that you wear for no other reason than because you want to; which has nothing to do with completely unwanted attention from any stranger who imagines that you got all dressed up because you want their attention.

Yeah.

No.

Taking the time to catch part 3 of the 4 part Hunger Games Trilogy with this child of yours because that is what the two of you do together after the husbands and kids are asleep.

Running this for the third holiday season because otherwise you might just murder someone…or at least given them a really big hug with your hands around their neck because it is the holidays and because you like to eat and to drink because it is the holidays and because you like to run…a lot.

Moments of relaxation and the cat who makes you sit still and enjoy them. I plan to do just that today after I run a 10K and get Thing 1 and Thing 2 into the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

 

potential dress code violations

Sitting in Hollie’s chair:

I know. I’m sorry. It’s absolutely frightening how I look without makeup. Still I don’t care because…

I’m getting PAMPERED!!! As I should be. As I deserve to be.

And then Hollie says to me, “I just LOVE how you let me do whatever to your hair.

I nod because it’s true. And then I catch a glimpse of…

OMG! Purple!! Purple like…

Sure it’s the IT color right now from fuschias to lavendars to deep purples to silver tones. It’s hot. Of course Hollie is fast becoming the go to person to get these luscious, colorful locks here in the Central Valley. But…dress codes…”natural hair color”…Absolutely I am a woman of a certain age who could wear the blueish-purplish-silvery hair and it would be totally legit…but, I don’t know.

“MOM! Stop peeking!!!”

I confess that now I am nervous but I keep repeating to myself how much she loves that I trust her…over and over until…

Signature copper with deep violet-red roots painted on as if baby I was born this way.

Naturally!

I may save tiny human beings but my girl makes me beautiful and that, based on the presented photographic evidence is truly miraculous.

 

 

this week on the iPhone

I may not take as many pictures with my Canon as I used toand I should be taking more…still I manage to take pictures because there is always my iPhone close at hand and Instagram.

She really is a pretty little thing and not nearly as bendy as the haters say that she is.

Rain finally came to to the Valley and I did ask my darling husband if he would rather take the car into work in the Bay Area rather than the bike because I could easily get up at o’dark thirty to take Jodie to work and then go home to sleep until it was time to take Daniel to school. No big deal. Jodie would have a triple latte ready for me when it was time to pick her up.

No was his answer.

He got soaked.

Oh well!

The morning after the rain is the best when everything is so fresh and clean…except the mom-car.

Oh, and sunrises as I leave work in the early morning are the best because, yes, I worked! I worked callback which is even better!!

The sunrise view in my mirror reminds me that my day is done…as soon as I drop my son off to school.

This son, my favorite son, who every day, all the time reminds me how lucky I am to say that I am his mom!

But LITERALLY the most exciting thing happening under the Big Top this week was these salt and pepper grinders.

Really!

Follow me on Instagram.

 

 

play it again: behind that NICU door

On call for work tonight. The census has picked up and, yes, I’m (finally) working more doing one of the things I do best. I can’t even begin to describe how good it feels after literally weeks and weeks to be doing one of the things I am most passionate about. This job reminds me every day that not only is life is precious but that human beings are a helluva lot stronger than most people can ever understand…especially tiny human beings who literally fit into your hand when they are born 4 months too soon like the bravest, strongest human I know, my son, Daniel.

I have been doing what I do for over 24 years and although some days (nights) can be horribly tough and emotionally exhausting I am so grateful that this is what I do. I am also kind of surprised that not everyone in my life really gets what it is that I do…nor do they appreciate what it is that Daniel (and his parents and sisters) has lived through. Then along comes something like this that (hopefully) opens their eyes to perhaps some understanding and (maybe) appreciation.

It’s the best job ever. It’s the hardest job ever. It’s what I do and it’s what I love.

originally published September 29, 2013

Heading into work the other day, I walked past a group of people gathered in a small circle just outside the entrance of the NICU. Another Labor & Delivery tour in progress. I know this because most of the ladies in the group are visibly pregnant and because I hear their tour guide explain that behind that door is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where if a problem with their baby should arise, they will receive the very best of care. As I swipe my badge to open the door and enter the unit, I see out of the corner of my eye the expectant parents lean forward a little to get a peek of what exactly is behind that door. Some rest their hands protectively over their pregnant bellies as if to somehow keep their babies out of there.

I smile to myself because I get it. I did exactly the same thing while on a Labor & Delivery tour of the hospital where I was planning on having my baby girl, Hollie. I was definitely curious as to what was behind that door but the last place I would want my baby to be was behind that door.

Then I discovered my passion, working as a Neonatal Intensive Care Registered Nurse in that very unit. It really is, to me, the best job ever. A job that no one close to me has ever completely understood unless they found themselves in there, behind that NICU door. I have done this job long enough to know this to be true with my closest of friends, my darling husband, my children, my family. Unless one works there or has sat vigil beside the isolette of a sick, tiny, fragile human they don’t know what I do behind that NICU door. Nor do they understand truly what my son’s life was like behind that NICU door…or his parents’ lives…or his sisters lives. They have no clue of the rush of adrenaline and trepidation I feel when I get the assignment that is listed as “23-24 weeker”. Nor do they understand the helplessness Bill and I felt the night my water broke 14 weeks too soon while I was pregnant with Jodie as the neonatologist on duty came in to talk to us (to Bill) about the very real possibility that our baby would be admitted into the NICU and all the potential complications and disabilities she would face. It’s scary stuff no one understands unless they spend any length of time behind that door.

Check out NPR’s Radio Lab this Sunday.” was the message I received. Curious, I do. You should too…if you really want to understand what it is that I do…what I have been doing since 1990 when I started my career working in one of the 500 hospitals in North America, Europe, and Japan that had been enrolled in clinical trials of different surfactant replacements, many of which also gained FDA approval.Or maybe you wonder what it is really like to be a parent of a tiny human born at the cusp of viability…a baby who is more fetus-like than newborn baby-like. The story that belongs to Kelley Benham, Tom French and little Juniper is not new to me. I read Kelley’s three-part series, Never Let Go several months ago thanks to a posting shared in the Micropreemie Parents Facebook group I help moderate.

I certainly can imagine all that Kelley and Tom went through as the mother of my own micropreemie. Bill and I too have jumped at that middle of the night call telling us we need to come to the hospital now. Our family learned to accept and understand Daniel’s real age and his adjusted age. And we celebrated too that day we were able to disconnect Daniel from all the monitors and remove all the wires and took home our baby boy.

I also know too well how hard it was for Tracy, Juniper’s primary nurse, to take on the responsibility to be her primary nurse. I totally get why she worked overtime, not wanting to leave Baby Juniper when she clearly was going to die. Like Tracy I also enjoyed many conversations with the babies I have cared for and their parents. I also have enjoyed dressing up “my babies” and taking pictures of them to share with their mommies and daddies the things we did together in the middle of the night when the rest of the world slept. I’ve listened to mommies sing hymns, sweet lullabyes and even Guns n Roses “Sweet Child of Mine“and daddies read countless stories while keeping watch over their tiny ones whom they could not hold. I’ve fallen in love with many of these babies and their families…yeah, I fell completely in love with one whom I now call son too.

While I would never, ever want to experience the absolute fear that I had the night my water broke much too soon while pregnant with Jodie, I am thankful that it did happen. Thankful? Yes, so very thankful. It is because of that Bill went behind that NICU door as a parent to see where his baby might end up and listened to the doctor discuss percentages, potential outcomes and disabilities. That NICU tour and discussion Bill shared with the doctor on duty prepared him, prepared both of us to be parents for a baby born on the edge of viability with pretty much most odds against him. Only days old, when Daniel precariously clung to life, needing emergency open heart surgery, Bill declared that the tiny patient I fell in love with who was all alone needed a father, needed a mother, needed a family and we should be that for him. If that was Jodie wouldn’t we be doing just that regardless of the overwhelming odds that she would have died or be profoundly disabled or moderately disabled, he argued. Yes. Yes we would and so we did just that for Daniel as parents who end up behind the NICU door do.

Check out Radiolab’s 23 Weeks 6 Days

just saying hi

You know how when you are having just one of those days where your head is dully throbbing or perhaps that crick in your neck is just a little bit tighter? Or maybe it’s one of those days where you are fighting that eye twitchy thingy that happens when you really don’t want it to happen. It’s just one of those days.

Then suddenly you look out the window and…

Of course you smile. How could you not. Heck, I smiled and I wasn’t even there to witness the random Smiley-face balloon that floated into JP’s Memorial Garden just outside of the NICU where I work because…WOW!

Hurray for social media! Thank you to my fellow colleague who shared this moment.

It’s been nine months.

How is that possible?