Sunday, July 29, 2012

Elijah Damaris

This is the hardest post I have had to write to date. I have written several different versions of it in my head but always hoping for a certain outcome. I have started it several times only to delete it once I'm finished. I have contemplated not writing about it at all and to just bury it inside me. So I had to search deep inside my soul as to why I am posting about this on the world wide web for the entire world to see. Is it because I want sympathy? No. Is it because it's part of my grieving and healing process? Somewhat. But the real reason I am telling you about this is because I want people to know about Elijah Damaris. I want everyone to know that he/she existed. I want you to know about the child we lost.

On July 15th, I took a pregnancy test which revealed that we were expecting our second child. My husband and I laughed and rejoiced at the fact that we may be the most fertile couple in the world---we got pregnant at the first month of trying again. However, this excitement was also coupled with worrisome because I have been spotting for two weeks prior. I initially thought it was just the beginning of my period. But even for me who has a longer cycle than most women, spotting is not normal (which prompted me to take the pregnancy test).

A blood test for human-hCg was done the next day and it was indeed positive. On the 17th, the bleeding increased and I was supposed to leave for Indiana that Friday. I started the new employee orientation at my new job (17th-19th) and had no time to see the OB doctor during regular hours. I did not want to wait until we got back from Indiana either (two weeks later) so we went to the ER.

I did not have an ectopic pregnancy (life threatening condition and my #1 reason for going to the ER) or blighted ovum (positive pregnancy test but no embryo). In fact, the transvaginal ultrasound showed a  baby in a sac but with a low heartbeat. This along with my other symptoms suggested that I was having a miscarriage. (Or the proper medical term: spontaneous or threatened abortion. For once in my [medical] life, I refuse to use the medical term. Abortion? Really? I wanted this child.)

Spotting happens to 25-30% of women during first trimester; and of those women, 50% ends up having a miscarriage. After seeing my OB on the 23rd, she said there is a high possibility that I was one of those 50%. A follow up human-hCg blood test showed increased levels (19,000 to  24,000) but not enough (it should have tripled since the last week). Another ultrasound showed an encased 6 weeks, 3 days baby but with only 93 heart beats/min (we want at least 110s). The OB highly suggested I cancel my already postponed Indy vacation especially since it will just be me and Nathaniel driving in case something horrible happens. I was scheduled to come back for another ultrasound a week later. We were praying for a baby who has tripled in growth (baby was 0.62cm) and with a strong, faster heart beat.

But God had a different plan. The next day on the 25th, I started bleeding bright red blood. All day, cramps from both my back and front were constant and had worsened. And that evening, our worse nightmare began. Miscarriage was obvious and inevitable. I was advised by the on-call OB to go to the ER if bleeding doesn't stop after a few hours or pain becomes unbearable. Otherwise, I can wait until the next morning to see my OB.

The next day at the OB office, my uterus on the ultrasound was as empty as my heart. Up to that point, we held dearly to the smallest of hope that this pregnancy will still continue and eventually result to a beautiful, healthy baby in our arms. Instead, it was dark and consisted of nothing. I had passed most of the tissue during the night and all that was left of evidence of this missed pregnancy was the thicken uterus lining. Dr. Thai offered a medication that will fasten the sloughing off of the lining (the process could take weeks) but I declined and opted to let my body take care of itself naturally.

You see, no one tells you that miscarriage, like death, is a process. It's not an instantaneous event that happens quickly. I did not know what to feel and found myself distancing from the pregnancy and already expecting the worse in case the worse does happen. And then I felt guilty for giving up when the tiny little baby was fighting so hard to stay with us. And no one tells you either that no amount of distancing can ever prepare a woman for that kind of loss.

My husband takes comfort in that God probably loved this soul so very dearly that He did not want to part with it. I take comfort that this soul will not suffer---from the medical treatments he/she may need or from the hurt of the world. Maybe it happened because God wants me and Dean to strengthen our marriage. I do not know the reason nor will I ever know. But whatever it is, whatever is the lesson God wants us to take from this, I am trying to make it well with my soul. For His plans are always, always far greater than my earthly plans. For now, it is not well with my soul. But it will be. It has to be. For I have no room in my heart for hate or despair.

We decided to give the baby both a boy and a girl name. Elijah like the prophet, God loved him so much He lifted all of him to heaven without death (2 Kings 2:11). Damaris because she can only be found once in the Bible (Acts 17:34) and we do not know anything about her except she had great faith in Christ (and that's all we need to know). And just like woman of faith, we will never get to know our little baby. Elijah Damaris St. Louis.

I know the baby was only seven weeks. I know it was tinier than a lentil bean. But Elijah Damaris had a heart beat. Elijah Damaris existed. And he/she was loved. Nathaniel will know about him/her. Our future children will know that they are supposed to have another brother or sister. Our second child will be remembered.

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What Little Boys Are Made Of

What are little boys made of?

What are little boys made of?
Moon and stars and rockets to Mars.
Blast and boom and uppity zoom!

That's what little boys are made of.

What are little boys made of?
Snakes and rats and big jungle cats,
Vines and rocks and razor-tooth crocs!

That's what little boys are made of.

What are little boys made of?
Sticks and stones and skulls and bones,
Ships and sails and oceans and whales!

That's what little boys are made of.

What are little boys made of?
Leap and soar and kick and score,
run and jump and bumpity-thump!

That's what little boys are made of.

What are little boys made of?
Horses and lords and knights with swords,
Wings and tails and dragons with scales!

That's what little boys are made of.

What are little boys made of, made of?

What are little boys made of?

Sugar and spice and everything nice?
Frogs and snails and puppy-dog's tails?

A kiss and a hug, a snuggle and love.

That's what little boys are made of!

by: Robert Neubecker

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Amazing Little Spidey

It is amazing how obsessed Nathaniel is to Spiderman. Even more so when you think about the fact the he has never seen any Spiderman movies or cartoons! It started when he first learned about spiders and we got him a spider paint tattoo after running his first 1-mile run in Texas. He now possess numerous Spiderman t-shirts, pajamas, underwear, band-aid and shoes; but surprisingly no action figures or toys! His older cousin is also coo coo for Spiderman and is actually having a Spiderman party for his third birthday this coming weekend. I'm thinking I need to buy Nathaniel a little Spiderman present because he will jealous of all Daniel's presents!

Also, who do you think will win the Batman vs Spiderman battle? I think I'm putting my money on that little Spidey :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wonderful Ways (A Per Diem Nursing Job)

God works in wonderful ways and has given me a nursing position that works perfectly with our family. I had an interview a couple weeks ago at a local hospital and was offered any position I desired. After much discussion, we chose to go with per diem. My commitment is a minimum of only three 12-hour shifts in a month. I do have to work two major holidays and pray and hope that Hubby have those off so Nathaniel doesn't have to spend it without both of us. Not having worked since the later part of 2010, I was no longer an ideal candidate unless I choose to work full time. I did not want to work full time. I did not want to be away from Nathaniel for three days a week, especially since he will be starting Mother's Day Out program next month (twice a week for four hours). I stayed faithful to the Lord and deeply prayed for this (PRN) position. And so I am so, so very happy about this opportunity. Hospital orientation starts this week and will resume unit orientation in August after our vacation in Indiana.

I have always wanted to take these kind of photos---Nathaniel lighted by just the tablet---and I finally had the chance last week. It was during a summer thunderstorm so it was extra special dark, just for me. He was watching Blues Clues on Netflix and wearing his swimming arm floaties. But my favorite part? His shirt. It says, "My Mom Rocks" :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Potty Training

A month ago, we set the timer to alarm every 30 minutes and let Nathaniel roam around the house butt-naked. It was our reminder to make him sit on the potty, whether he needed to go or not. He did very well and only had one accident---he told us he needed to potty but he was already peeing. Ooopps. We increased the time every few days once he was aware that he pees on the potty, not the diaper. A week later, he was completely diaper-less at home with no accidents. I wasn't ready to take him out without a diaper yet---mostly because I dread taking him to a public restroom (shudder). But he is. We have been out several times either on play dates or shopping and told me he needed to go. I reassured him he can go on his diaper but he refuses to. I guess when kids are ready, they are ready. He even told us he needed to potty when we went swimming last Monday. He really loves wearing big-boy underwear and loves to brag about successfully using the potty and washing his hands. I'm so thankful we didn't need a reward system except praises. And I hope our trip to Indy next week doesn't hinder his progress.

"Mommy, I need to use the pot-ti! Hu-wee, hu-wee, hu-wee!"

Friday, July 13, 2012

Little Spidey to the Rescue (Perforated Eardrum)

My little Spidey came to Mommy's rescue yesterday. I had a doctor's appointment because I haven't been able to hear with my left ear since Monday. I suspected it was just another ear infection (same symptoms as last May 2011) so I didn't see any harm in bringing Nathaniel with me. While inspecting my ear, Nathaniel was holding my hand and constantly saying, "Don't worry, Mommy. I'll protect you." However, the doctor was having trouble visualizing all of my ear (he thought it was due to ear wax) so he ordered for my ear to be irrigated. As a nurse, you would think I'm tough when it comes to these things. No, I'm a baby. A big, fat, baby. But turns out, I had a reason to be afraid because that's when everything started to go downhill.

There was immediate pain in my ear and throat as soon as the nurse injected the half water, half hydrogen peroxide solution in my ear. It is normal to have some discomfort so I toughen it out. But after the third squirt, the pain became very excruciating and I got really dizzy. I had to lay down and pretty much squeeze my head to help stop the pain. I started crying because Nathaniel stopped talking but refused to let go of my hand. After quickly looking at my ear, that's when they found that it has a tear/hole and is now bleeding. I had to stay in the office until I'm well enough to stand and pain was tolerable. Nathaniel just laid on top of me and hugged me tight. He didn't want to talk and he didn't cry also. I was terrified I traumatized my kid and kept telling him I was alright.

I have an ENT referral although most perforated tympanic membrane (ruptured eardrum) heal on their own within a month or two. I was prescribed ear drops, which we had to wait almost two hours at the military pharmacy. In hindsight, I should have just asked for a written prescription and paid the co-pay somewhere else (military personal in uniform always go first so us civilians have to wait for a loooong time). Nathaniel did very well at both supporting me and waiting patiently as a two year old can be. It was already past our regular lunch time by the time we were done so when he asked for soup for lunch, we had an impromptu lunch date at Olive Garden. By the way, your toddler eat salad too, right?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pool Time

We spent three super-fun hours at the courtyard pool at the base today. We purchased arm floaties for Nathaniel and it boosted his confidence in the water even more. He was floating all by himself for the majority of the time! And Dean and/or I stayed within a couple of feet away from him at all times in case he needed help. Nathaniel also could not get enough of jumping in the water! He must have done it a hundred times. The pool also had a huge slide and he was super bummed that he could not try it because he wasn't tall enough :( Nathaniel is really such a dare devil little boy!

I really didn't want to bring my DSLR because it will be left unattended but these Instagram photos really made me wish I had it with me. I think I will have to bring my trusty ol' Rebel next time.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The End of His Long Hair

A few days ago, I blogged about Nathaniel's last day of long hair. I am still so very happy with this decision and thankful that Hubby finally agreed to cut his hair. Nathaniel did very well and didn't cry. We didn't have to bribe him with a sucker to stay still! He did refuse to take after photos, though :) It also started hailing as soon as we were sat down. We were very worried about our new vehicle but so far, we haven't noticed any damage. It was Nathaniel's first time seeing hail and he was very amused to see ice falling down from the sky.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Recipe: Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Potatoes

I love quick and easy dinner meals. You can even make this easier by just combining all the ingredients in the pot and throwing it all right away in the oven. However, the flavor will not be as developed compared to if you followed each of the steps in this recipe (I have done both). Taking the time to marinade the chicken for a few minutes and pan-searing it really are necessary steps for a very flavorful chicken meal.

Adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny

Serves 3

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3/4 lb red potatoes
  • 1 sprig rosemary + 1 tbsp chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Juice of 2 lemons (reserve squeezed halves)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Cover potatoes in cold , salted water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, cut in quarters then set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 tbsp chopped rosemary, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, juice of 1 lemon and olive oil. Add chicken and turn to coat. Let marinade for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450F.

Heat a large cast iron skillet (or any oven safe skillet/pot) over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until all the juices have evaporated. Continue to cook until chicken is lightly browned on both sides. Add potatoes and the juice of the remaining lemon. Add rosemary sprig and reserved squeezed lemon halves. Transfer the skillet to the pre-heated oven, uncovered. Cook until chicken is no longer pink in middle, about 25 minutes. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July Fireworks

We watched the fireworks show presented by Fort Gordon last Wednesday evening. I stupidly forgot my tripod so my fireworks photos are squiggly because it is just physically impossible for me to hold very still for the four-second shutter speed that I had my camera set on. We also sat waaaaaay too close to the fireworks (we didn't know!). We had to lay down to see the fireworks and they were exploding right on top of us. In fact, debris were falling on us and some were still on fire (none landed on us but the guy in front of us was unfortunate). So even with me laying down and my lens on its widest angle, I still couldn't capture the entire fireworks in the frame. I hoped to take better photos last night on another show but we stayed too long at a cookout with friends that we just caught the finale in the comfort of our front yard instead of going to the park.

Nathaniel absolutely enjoyed the fireworks show and he kept saying, "Ooooh! Aaaahhh!" He also said they looked like balls and rainbows. He also had a great time naming the colors. The last fireworks photo is actually taken by Nathaniel! He has been very interested at taking pictures with my big camera. I'm not too worried because he is so careful and makes a point to always wear the camera strap (he even reminds me sometimes!). And the camera body and all my lenses are insured so we also have that going on :)
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