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Remembering…

The jealousy that I don’t get to say my son’s name like the mothers of living children has ebbed… just in time for the holidays.  I saw a post discussing how we’re keeping our lost children near and got to think about all the lovely ways Atticus is near my heart and my head.

First, I need to tell you that I was at a holiday party this past weekend and the conversation broke so a woman could tell me that Atticus was hanging out over my right shoulder. While I don’t tend to think in that particular sphere, it is also hard for me to believe that life ends with death. It was comforting to hear that someone saw my son’s warmth, staying close to his mama during this hard holiday season.

I tend toward the tangible objects: things he touched, things he wore, the imprints of his hands and feet.  We’ve received lovely ornaments with his photos.  We’ve been decorating with white birds after my husband suggested we house Atticus’ ashes in a porcelain bird.

Then of course, I had his portrait tattooed on my forearm. I have dreams of having living children and being able to see all my babies together.  I imagine cuddling with my family on Saturday mornings and always having Atticus with us. Not many people ask me about it, but I had the sweetest conversation with a little girl who asked why I drew a baby on my arm.  So we talked about things we like to draw and decided we drew things that mean a lot to us.  I told her that he meant a lot to me, so I drew him.  Her mother was very uncomfortable with the conversation in the middle of Williams Sonoma and I loved it.  It was real.  She was interested and unabashed with her questions (and of course, I chose my words very carefully – I’d hate to be disrespectful to her age or her parents).  So different than talking to many adults.

Tomorrow, he’d be 11 months old.  It’s gotten a lot… better? easier? None of those words seem right.  Different. Not quite so raw. The missing has not lessened.  The acceptance has grown.  The disdain for people with “plans” has grown. Even more so when it actually happens.  We had had a plan…

So below are a few of my favorite things that inspire thoughts of Atticus… my favorite moments of the day…

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Wish Me Luck!

I miss being on my skates so much!

One of my first orders of business after moving to Philly was to check to see when the next tryouts for the Philly Roller Girls would be.  I contacted their PR person and she let me know that they had just decided on the schedule for this fall!

There will be two clinics on 9.25 and 10.23 and then tryouts are 11.20!

I’m so grateful to the Mid Iowa Rollers and all their training and help and support over the last year.  A great group of women… They were incredibly welcoming after we had Atticus but I just wasn’t ready to lace up again.  I’m hoping the extra time, working out and determination will earn me a place on the PRG Fresh Meat team. We got the schedule for local adult skates to brush up on the basic skills, but I’m not too worried about that.  I’m open to all lessons on improving my technique and even better, improving how I hit!

We’re going to a PRG bout on August 27th and I’m already counting the days until I can see them in action!

Oh Twitter, I love you…

Yesterday, I had the fortune to attend 140 Characters – Des Moines, a day conference for meeting and discussing social media with like-minded people.

If you know me, you probably know that I used Twitter to make friends in Des Moines, IA.  I moved to the city in 2008 and for one year, I sat alone after work, watching television, went on dates from Craigslist and hung out with my parents. That was my life. I could not seem to find my people in this city. I’d catch glimpses of them at various concerts (attended alone, after I put my big girl pants on) or at coffee shops. But, when I tried to become friends with some interesting women, it was a big old fail.

Twitter is what saved me and Twitter is what helped me grow in this town. I went to a Tweetup and found interesting people. I followed them. They followed me. I got invited to events. I stalked people that posted provocative entries (you can do that on Twitter – and it’s welcomed *thanks @lyzl). Twitter lead me to my roller derby team and lead me to volunteer for Character Counts in Iowa.

So it’s no wonder that my interest has been piqued when it comes to Twitter and business. The idea that the power is with the customers these days and that businesses have to be engaging the whole person, not just their pocketbook is a fascinating new development.  A few points that caught my interest yesterday:

@MichaelLibbie (advertising and marketing)

  • ‘Social media takes work, imagination, perserverence and lots and lots of courage’
  • 95% of people don’t get social media.  How do I not fall into that 95%?
    • Discipline – What is your strategy? Do you want to meet people? Do you want to build relationships?
    • Blog regularly – budget your time, start a blog if you haven’t already (and if you haven’t, why not?! You don’t have  a voice if you don’t have a blog)
    • Broadcast original content

@davemurr (a marketing and digital communications strategist)

  • ‘The days of individual achievement are over, now it is about community achievement.’
  • Social media = an online representation of our offline behavior
  • Meet people on Twitter, learn their stories, shut off your computer/put down your handheld, share connections and stories with others in real life and… create amazing collaborative stuff that you wouldn’t have been able to do beforehand!

Dave Murr’s talk on community has re-spurred my thoughts on what to do the money that was donated in Atticus’ name. More on that tomorrow though…

tense moments made way for an ok night

Seems like problems arise when we make plans. We planned to stop in and do a couple hour visit today and then we were going to exchange this rug we’d gotten for Atticus’ nursery. We were there by 2:30pm and wanted to stay through his 4pm CARES and then we were going to stop home and load up the rug, etc.

We saw the doctors doing their closing out rounds at 3pm and afterward, the doctor came in and explained where we were at for the day. Atticus’ carbon dioxide readings in his blood had been trending high and they were worried that the PDA valve in his heart had reopened. If I understand this correctly, while in utero, this valve is open and blood travels from the heart to the lungs and closes soon after birth so that the baby can breathe. When this is open, the oxygen rich blood from the aorta mixes with the oxygen poor blood from the pulmonary artery. No bueno.

The doctors thought this might have reopened (his had been closed) and this was why our son had not been getting enough oxygen. They could not verify this until the last Echo came back. So until then, they started setting it up with a cardiologist that Atticus would have surgery in the morning and were considering switching him to an oscillator respirator rather than the one he had been on. This new one would make him breathe much faster, but more shallow, allowing him to receive more Oxygen at a smoother rate. The new machine would make it easier for him to breathe but would have some other side effects.

Doctor also mentioned that Atticus has a 40% chance of making it. That is a number we had purposely not asked about. Once it was mentioned though, it was all I could focus on.

The nurse went back over everything he said, if I didn’t relay something here accurately, it isn’t because the staff hasn’t been great at explaining, we’re just trying to absorb as much as we can to the best of our ability. At the end, I told her how hard it was to hear that 40% number, that I could accept that an open PDA was common in these tiny babies, that the surgery they started scheduling was common, but 40% was a number I didn’t want to hear.

Nurse Karen looked at us very straight and said, “We don’t lose our babies very often here and we certainly don’t plan on losing your son. We are nowhere close to losing him.”

And after crying over that number, I believed her.

The Echo came back that his PDA was still closed. The nurse said that he just sounded tight when he tried to breathe. They ordered a medicine that they will administer every 8 hours that opened up his lungs and the numbers started to level out within 20 minutes. His oxygenation went up and the carbon dioxide went down to a more acceptable level.

By the time we left tonight, he was in much more stable condition.

I’m grateful that in his first 8 days, that he has done so well, that today was our first scary day. I realize that this is probably the first of many. I walked out of the hospital feeling confident in the staff and respected as his parent… we’re going to take each curve in the road as it comes, praying for the best outcome.

We love you so very much, Atticus darling. We’re so proud of all your hard work.

-Mommy and Daddy

Reminders:

1. Adequate sleep=good
2. Ice cream tastes good even if the temperature is slightly colder than it ought to be to warrant it
3. The Girl is joy (you know who you are)
4. Patterns!Patterns!Patterns!
5. Grace. Humility. Respect.

-JTB

we’re really just alike… Kurt Vonnegut and me

1. Both of our birthdays are on November 11th (his was in 1922 and mine in 1977)

2. We both lived in Manhattan and we both lived in Iowa.

3. More to come… possibly.excerpt from Slaughterhouse Five

Happy Birthday, Jared!!!