Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Sep '07

Kyle the Insurance Guy

While Wesley was in the hospital I had to call our insurance agency twice to get some information about preauthorizing two different things. Both times I happened to speak with the same agent, Kyle.

The first time I spoke with him he told me that his little baby is also in the hospital for an extended period of time. When he asked me how long our baby has been in the hospital I told him twelve days.

“Oh, that’s not too bad,” was his reply.

Turns out that his daughter’s been in the hospital for two months or something like that (she was born three months early).

Still, just because his baby has been in the hospital longer than mine doesn’t mean that twelve days isn’t a very long and very expensive period of time to have our baby separated from us, our home, and our family. I felt he was trivializing our experience. But, still, he was just the insurance guy.

The second time I talked with Kyle was the day Wes was being released from the hospital. He asked me for some information for some forms the hospital needed. He asked me more about our son and his condition. Here’s more or less how that conversation went.

Kyle: So, what’s wrong with your baby?

Me: Um, he was born three weeks early, and really small. He weighed 3 lbs 15 oz.

Kyle: That’s not so bad. Our daughter was born three months early and weighed just two pounds.

Me: Gosh. Um, well, the insurance company will probably need to know that he also has Downs syndrome.

Kyle: Oh? That’s too bad. We weren’t sure if our daughter would be at risk for Downs, because someone else in the family has it. But we lucked out and she’s normal.

Me, thinking to self: Lucked out?

Kyle, going on as if he hasn’t just said something somewhat offensive to a tired and emotionally vulnerable new mother of a Downs syndrome baby: Our daughter was born so early that there was risk of mental retardation and other physical problems, but so far she seems fine. We are really lucky.

Me, outloud: That’s good.

Me, to self: Who are you to say that we’re not lucky to have our son exactly as he is?

I didn’t much like Kyle after the first conversation. And I really started disliking him by the end of our second.

Wesley is a joy to have around. Yes, he’s a newborn baby, which brings challenges to our daily lives and sleep patterns. But he’s Wesley. Our baby. He’s perfect.

Sep '07

He’s Home!

Sunday morning I walked into the hospital nursery and the nurses had big smiles on their faces. Turns out that our doctor gave the OK for Wes to come home with us on Monday. It took all morning to get things in order. He had to pass a car seat test, where they make sure he can sit in the seat for 90 minutes without his oxygen saturation level dropping too much. He actually failed the first test, but on the second test they hooked him up to oxygen and he passed. We also had to wait for home medical services to bring over some portable oxygen and a sleep apnea monitor to take home with us. We only have to leave him hooked up to the oxygen and monitor when he’s asleep in his crib, and sometimes he needs the oxygen when he’s eating because I think he forgets to inhale occasionally.

So Monday afternoon we finally got him home. All the nurses were so sad to see him go. One nurse who was off-duty even came in especially to say good-bye to him. They made us promise to send them pictures and email updates when we can.

Once we got him home it was like, now what? We have a baby at home…what do we do with him?

He seems to be a fairly low-key kid to take care of so far. He doesn’t cry a lot. In fact, the first night I didn’t hear him cry at all to wake me up to go feed him. John had to nudge me awake when he heard Wesley making noises (but not crying) through the monitor.

Today we took him in for his 2-week checkup. He’s gained a little weight. When he left the hospital on Monday he weighed 4 lbs 2 oz. Today (with his diaper on) he was 4 lb 5 oz. The doctor wants us to take him back next Wednesday for another checkup, and we need to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist to look at Wesley’s heart. It’s very common for babies with Downs syndrome to have heart problems. So far, at least, his heart appears to be in fine condition. But the visit with the cardiologist is just to make sure there’s nothing the doctor missed.

Sep '07

a BIG little surprise

Wesley John made his way into the world in a hurry last Wednesday, Sept 12th at 1:38 a.m. John and I had the goal of being completely ready for his arrival by the time I was 37 weeks pregnant, but the little guy showed us up by coming at 36 weeks instead.

The whole labor, delivery, and recovery experience was quite the surprise for us. First of all, I didn’t really believe I was in labor until I was at the hospital and the nurse told me I was dilated to a 4, almost a 5, and 100% effaced. I really just thought I had bad indigestion or something. I’ve heard that women in labor can enter into a dream-like state, so maybe that was my problem.

I actually had my 36-week checkup at my OB-GYN at 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 11) and everything checked out fine. He measured my belly and took a culture for the Strep B test. He said that next week he’d check me to see if I’d started to dilate yet. I was excited for that. During the appointment, though, I didn’t feel well. I was really anxious to get out of there, especially since I had to wait a while to see the doctor and didn’t finish until a little after 4 p.m.

Even though I didn’t feel great, I was stoked to go to my step aerobics class with my favorite teacher at 5:30. I had time to kill, so I took some shoes back to Mervyns in Orem. My back was starting to hurt. It was a pain on either side, maybe like constipation or something, and it came and went. It was so uncomfortable, though, that walking was hard and it was easier to sit down and breathe through it until it passed. A little before 5 I decided that I didn’t feel good enough to go to aerobics, so I headed home.

I had a bowl of soup and some toast and took a bath, thinking that would help the pain. I listened to one of my Hypnobirthing CDs to help me relax. The bath didn’t help the pain in my back at all, but it did soothe the cramps I felt up front.

I called John and told him that I wasn’t feeling good and was kind of miserable. A couple times I had to set the phone down so I could better breathe through the pain until the cramps passed. I told him I’d sure feel better if he were home.

At 7:00 I decided to call my on-call doctor because I had noticed blood in the toilet. Dr. Gordon suggested I had a virus and maybe hemorrhoids and recommended I take two Immodium. I did and took a couple Tylenol for good measure, but I can tell you that didn’t help the pain one bit. Breathing deeply like I had been taught in my Hypnobirthing class was the best thing to manage my discomfort.

When John got home he observed me a little while before handing me an oven timer to “just see” how far apart my pains were. They were about 2-4 minutes apart, but they only lasted 30 seconds for the worst bit before easing off again. John gave me a blessing. At 10 p.m. John called Dr. Gordon again and explained how things weren’t improving and that the blood clearly wasn’t hemorrhoids, and–no surprise–the doctor suggested we head to the hospital.

Well, we totally weren’t prepared to go to the hospital. In fact, our plan for that Tuesday night had been to write up our birth preferences sheet, and I was going to get the hospital bag ready later that week. So much for that. John found an overnight bag and we tried to think of what we’d need. I had a hospital bag checklist all ready, but it was in my email and I’d have to turn on the computer to access it. We ended up tossing in a bunch of clothes and toiletries. Not knowing if this was real labor or not, we erred on the side of caution and packed the car with the things I had intended to use while in labor: my birthing ball, CD player, Hypnobirthing book, and relaxation CDs. It took about 20 minutes to load everything, but it felt like forever to me.

Then the long car ride to the Orem Community Hospital. I’ll tell you that contractions in a bumpy car isn’t fun. I
remember telling John that if he wanted to go a little faster than usual, it was okay with me. John had never been to OCH before. In fact, we had scheduled a tour of the hospital, but it was for Thursday the 13th–two days away. I had to direct him there, but I didn’t know where to park or which door to enter. The doors we parked by were locked (it was 11 p.m.) and the sign told us to find the ER entrance. I took John by the hand and tried to drag him across the lawn that was saturated from the sprinklers. He said, “It’s wet” and I said, “I don’t care.” I was in a hurry.

We had to stop outside the ER entrance to let a contraction pass. When we finally got in I was anxious to get to the labor and delivery section, but we didn’t know where it was. We wandered a little, me very impatient with John’s apparent patience, until we found it. They let us in and set me up in an observation room where a nurse named Debbie took my information. This annoyed me. I was in obvious discomfort and she was asking me for my birth date and social security number.

Finally she examined me. John told her how we figured it was a false alarm but we thought we’d come to make sure. And she replied that we weren’t going anywhere since I was 100% effaced and dilated to a 4, almost a 5. That was about 11:30 p.m.

All the stuff we had brought with us was forgotten in the car, because the labor was clearly progressing quickly. Plus my blood pressure (which has always been excellent) had jumped at the onset of labor, and my baby’s heartbeat was dropping with every contraction. As a result I had to be hooked up to some different things to help with the blood pressure and prevent seizures. I had no desire to move from the bed where they put me. They asked if I wanted an epidural. I didn’t, if I could help it. I continued to breathe deeply and moan through the pain and I was able to get through it, one contraction at a time. My husband was a terrific advocate for me, always questioning the nurses’ recommendations for the IVs and so forth, to make sure I had the type of delivery I wanted. He also fed me ice chips after each contraction. I loved those ice chips, I was so thirsty.

The two hours I was in the hospital in labor seemed to go by quickly. The nurse checked me occasionally to see how I was progressing. I was at a 7, and then it seemed to jump suddenly to a 10. At that point she said to call her if I felt like I needed to push. I asked her, “How will I know that?” “You’ll know,” she replied.

And she was right. It felt different, like something was suddenly pushing down and ready to come out. I remember telling John that I wanted to push and him telling me earnestly NOT to push and calling for the nurse in the hall. She came and checked me and said, “Not quite yet.” Well, during the next contraction the urge to push was even stronger and I told John that I REALLY wanted to push, and he told me even more earnestly NOT to push and called out for the nurse again. This time she checked me and then called in the doctor, who apparently was hanging out in the hall somewhere.

The baby’s heart rate was dropping significantly with every contraction and he was having a hard time recovering after each drop. The doctor and nurses were anxious to get him out fast. The nurse Debbie coached me as I tried to push the baby out. Even though I could feel everything, pushing was hard and felt unnatural to me. Dr. Gordon could see the progress each push made and was so anxious to get the baby out that he kept saying things like, “Just one more! Just one more!”, which kind of stressed me out. I mean, I was doing the best I could manage. It took a few sets of contractions and pushing, maybe ten minutes’ worth, before Wesley burst into the world in a rush of liquid at 1:38 a.m., peeing all over Dr.Gordon. Right away the doctor and nurses commented on how small the baby was. He weighed in at 3 lbs 15 ounces.

It took a while for the nurses to get me all fixed up with the IVs and things I needed. One reason why I wanted a pain medication-free birth was so I’d be able to get on my feet faster afterwards. I’m glad I did it without an epidural, but the high blood pressure threw me off. I had to be hooked up to magnesium sulfate (or something like that) to prevent me from having a seizure as a result of the high blood pressure. And that magnesium stuff does quite the number on your body. I was totally out of it most of Wednesday until they finally took me off it in the afternoon. I also lost quite a bit of blood, so much so that they were worried I’d start hemorrhaging. Between the magnesium and loss of blood I was pretty weak and pretty much stuck in bed most of Wednesday. John and I tried to get some sleep between 5:30 a.m. when the nurses finally left us alone and 7 a.m. when breakfast came, but without much luck.

Just as breakfast arrived, so did the on-duty pediatrician who had examined our baby that morning. Without much warm-up he told us our baby very likely had Downs Syndrome, but that they’d submit a test to make sure.

This was a devastating blow to both of us. Completely unexpected. Wednesday was a hard day.

But each day since has been better and better. We love our little Wes. He’s still in the hospital in the special care unit. He’s 10 days old now and is making progress every day. During the first few days he was attached to an IV, oxygen, feeding tube, and heart monitor and stuck under the light for jaundice. Last Sunday his jaundice improved enough that he didn’t need the light. They took off his IV after he finished receiving some antibiotics. A couple days ago they decided he was stable enough to not need the heart monitor. And just yesterday they removed his feeding tube. Now they’re trying to wean him off the oxygen. He’s doing great. The main thing we’re working on is getting him to eat on his own, dependably, and to gain some weight so he can come home with us. The Downs Syndrome is secondary to all of this.

Wes has a sweet disposition that makes him a favorite among the nurses. They call him the Nursery Mascot. They also have nicknamed him Squeaker, because his cries–which are few and far between–come out as an adorable squeak. The nurses love him and have jokingly said that they should pass around a sign-up sheet so they can take turns babysitting him after he comes home. He’s a snuggler and is happy to be held. He often gets the hiccups and seems to always sneeze in sets of four.

Today he weighed in at just over four pounds, so he’s starting to gain weight. He’s doing fantastic on his feedings; he’s really getting the hang of breast and bottle feeding. I’ve been blessed with plenty of milk to keep him going. The nurses often say how to them he doesn’t seem like he has Downs Syndrome (even though the chromosome test was positive). When he’s awake he’s very alert, and his muscle tone is normal. He uses he arms and hands and kicks with his legs, and even can lift his head just slightly off my shoulder when I’m holding him. We’ll have to see how he progresses, but so far we feel optimistic. In any case, we love him and are so glad he’s joined our family.

Even though the labor and delivery turned out totally different than I had imagined, I got two things I wanted: a pain medication-free birth and–best of all–a beautiful, wonderful baby boy.

(Our blog currently isn’t letting me post pictures, but I will as soon as I can. If you want to see pictures you can email us.)

Sep '07

Stephanie Meyer Review

Well, I wasn’t going to post any thoughts about the last three books I’ve read–Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse–but I changed my mind after I found myself talking about the books so frequently with others.


First of all, the books are young adult novels about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire and is also best friends with (and eventually a little in love with) a werewolf.

Okay. Not really my type of plot. But my visiting teacher lent me Twilight and after reading that one I had to keep going.

Everyone upon everyone who likes to read has been talking about these books. You’ve probably heard them. But even after reading the books myself I kept wondering why: Why are these books such a hit?

I should point out that the books are probably most popular among the female readers because, in spite of the genuinely cool parts dealing with vampires and werewolves, the books are still fundamentally a love story. And a really intense love story at that.

So here’s my theory about why these books are so popular (in spite of the fact that the teenage girl, Bella, gets more and more annoying as the books go on): Stephanie Meyer has created another Mr. Darcy in Edward Cullen.

Unlike Mr. Darcy, Edward is seventeen, a vampire, and immortal. But other than that he and Mr. Darcy are one and the same: Extremely attractive. Sexy. Impeccably polite. Gentlemanly. And, more than anything, would do anything for the woman he loves.

This is the type of man women love to read about, love to dream about, love to think of themselves with. (Some of us, of course, are fortunate enough to already be married to someone with exactly these qualities. Minus the seventeen, vampire, and immortal bits.) I mean, how many women out there have watched BBC’s Pride and Prejudice a zillion times just for that part where Mr. Darcy dives into the pond and walks back in his wet shirt? What woman doesn’t wilt at the intense expression in Mr. Darcy’s eyes when he stares at Elizabeth Bennett? What woman doesn’t equate Mr. Darcy with the quintessential romantic hero and secretly wish they were Miss Bennett so they could be the object of Mr. Darcy’s attentions?

Don’t deny it, girls. You know it’s true.


Edward is the same way. Irresistible.

I think that’s a large part why we keep reading. We want to see Bella and Edward end up happily together, even though it possibly involves Bella becoming a vampire herself and breaking her best friend Jacob’s heart. And I know some people are really on Team Jacob and are rooting that he and Bella will end up together, but sorry, I think you’re in the vast minority. I’m all for Edward, and hope that Bella will get over her whininess and make us think that somehow she deserves such a man as Edward.


New Living Room and Nursery

This summer we updated our living room furniture and have been working to get the nursery in order.


Here’s the Before:


We moved out our old entertainment center and bookshelves to make way for our new stuff. We purchased a matching set of bookshelves, entertainment console, cocktail table, and sofa table from the Antique Chanticleer collection by Stanley. We bought it from a wholesale dealer in Ohio, and the furniture shipped to us all the way from North Carolina. It took forever. We ordered it last spring and it finally arrived on August 4th.

Here’s the initial After:


Here’s the bookshelves with our books displayed:


And, lastly, our whole living room with the new flat-screen TV in use. (Good thing the furniture came in time for NFL and college football season!)



I’ve also been working on the nursery so baby Wes will have a place to live when he joins us.

My sister lent us the glider, and the changing table was a gift from John’s sister. I put up the sage green curtains and found the white and green baskets to go in the changing table.

The closet right now is the room’s main storage facility, since we don’t have a dresser for the baby. Aren’t those little outfits hanging up so cute?

Here’s the Crib That Shannon Built. I swore I wouldn’t buy into the packaged crib sets, but dang, this jungle set from Target was too adorable to pass up.

The nursery’s not ready yet, but gradually things are getting in order. Our goal is to try to get everything else done we need to this week, because at the end of it technically I’ll be full-term and baby Wes might be on his way before we know it.


Wesley’s First Def Leppard Concert

This past weekend was a monumental event in my life and our unborn baby’s: Our first Def Leppard concert.

Def Leppard is John’s favorite group. If you had asked me six years ago, before I met John, who Def Leppard was I would have said, “Whoosat?” But now I not only know who they are, I know a lot of the words to their songs and could sing along on Friday night.

Us before the concert started. (That’s me 36 weeks pregnant.)

I got us the tickets for John’s birthday in July. We went to one other concert together this year, to see Dashboard Confessional at UVSC last spring. We were sure that John, at the ripe then-age of 28, was possibly the oldest person there. Definitely a Generation X thing.

It was quite a different story at the Def Leppard concert. There were all sorts of people of all ages from every demographic. In fact, we were on the younger side of the fan base. However, I did see several families who brought their kids–and their kids could sing along just as well as their parents.

Since it was a rock concert–and a concert featuring groups whose hey days were the 80’s–we saw all sorts of attire that outside of the concert arena might be considered fashion faux pas: leather pants, leg warmers, orange hi-tops, mini skirts and leggings . . . you name it, we saw it.

We arrived early and got dinner from the concession stands–cheeseburger for John, chicken parmesan hoagie for me, and a lemonade between the both of us. Then we got in our seats and enjoyed the perfect 70-degree weather until the first act started. First up was Foreigner.


Then we had Styx.


And–finally!–Def Leppard.


Oh, man, the crowds went nuts when they came out. They were really fun to hear in person.

Def Leppard doing an accoustic piece.

Wesley even danced around a bit in the womb. Apparently he’s already a fan.