My template

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I want to know why?

Our family has really been put through the ringer in the last few years. My granny died, Jenna was stillborn, my sister was arrested for meth. I thought that was the end of it. I thought things could only go up.

Yesterday, my little brother tried to commit suicide by hanging himself in the shed behind their house. His wife was going to be moving out in the next few days because they were going to get a divorce. When I talked to him on Friday, he seemed to be doing well. My mom works at Wal-Mart, and he called her earlier in the day to ask her if she would pick him up some sleep aids. She said she would.

I was eating supper when the phone call came in. My sister-in-law asked me to come to the house because my brother had tried to hang himself. I said Oh my God, no. I scared Tessa to death, and she knew instantly something was wrong. I guess part of it is because of how much has gone wrong in the past few years. She wanted to go with me, but I convinced her not to.

I called my sister in law while I was driving. She told me to go to the hospital. I did, but I was so scared. I alternated crying and talking to my granny, begging her to let him be Ok. I don't pray anymore, but I do talk to my granny. On the way to hospital, someone, not even sure now who, calls me to tell me he has a good pulse and heartbeat. I feel better. As I'm getting out of my van, my mom calls me back and says they are lifeflighting him to Vanderbilt. I get out of my van and run (and running is not something I do easily) into the hospital. I was too late. They already had him on the helicoptor.

My mom, aunt and cousin came in a bit later. They had been at water aerobics and were in the emergency room in their bathing suits. We decided to go home, let them get changed, and me say goodbye to the girls before going up there. We also had to take my nephew to Brian before we could go.

All the way to Nashville, I cried and talked to Granny again. Growing up, my brother and I were very close. My stepdad favored my half sister, and my mom didn't do anything to stop him really. It always felt like me and him against the world. He even lived with Brian and I for a few years after we got married.

We get to the hospital, and it's bad. He is on the ventilator and was non-responsive. He was posturing, which the nurse said was the final stage of brain damage. I got to go see him. He looked horrible, and it made me sob. I found out more about what happened. He gave his wife a kiss and told her goodbye. She wanted to know why goodbye, and he shook his head. He went out back and she walked to the house. As she was going up the stairs, she turned to look behind her and saw him kick the cooler he was standing on out from underneath him.

She went running, calling 911 as she went. She shut the door to the shed to keep their boys from seeing, but her seven year old and his friend peeked in the window and saw. I hate that my nephew saw his daddy like that. I hate that his friend had to see it. My sister in law kept holding him up, but as he weighs 180 pounds, she had trouble. By the time the police and the paramedics arrived, he was dead. They brought him back around, but he was without oxygen for a while. Our cousin was one of the police officers who responded.

I don't really know how he is today to be honest. They had him sedated because of the posturing from last night, and they tried to remove it. As he came back up from the sedation, he became agitated and had to be sedated again. Before being sedated again, he was breathing at 60 percent on his own, but the rest was the ventilator. The neurological team views the agitation as a good sign. They did say he could walk out without any problems, but he could also be like he is now forever. He is responding, but most of them are reflex responses, so we don't really know if he is or not. My mom seems to think he is.

I don't know what to think or what to do. I just know my heart is breaking for my brother, my partner against the world as a child. I don't want to lose him, but he would not want to be hooked to machines for the rest of his life. My sister in law said they had discussed it, and he would want to be removed from the machines. If my mom thought there was a chance for him at all, even if the doctors tell her otherwise, she will fight it tooth and nail. I don't know where to stand.

We will know more tomorrow after he has his brain wave activity scan done. My family prays. They are all Christians. I am not sure what I am, but I don't feel like a hypocrit asking for prayers since they all believe. I just want your positive thoughts.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Tomorrow is Oct. 15, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. At 7 p.m., people all over the world will light candles in remembrance, creating a wave of light. I would love it if you could light one for Jenna.

I never realized how much losing a baby would change your life. I knew it would hurt, but I never thought it would make me a completely different person. I never knew I would think about it every single day. I never realized I would think about Jenna every day for the rest of my life.

I didn't think it was something you would get over, but I didn't think it would affect you like losing a child who has lived outside the womb. While I can never compare my loss to the loss of a living, breathing child, I think having a stillborn baby carries with it its own unique type of grief.

We have no memories. We never saw them smile. We only got to hold them for a few minutes. The only pictures we have are a few taken at the hospital. Those things make having a stillborn baby a unique type of grief. Someday, if I can get through school, I hope to help women and families going through that unique grief.

If you know someone who has lost a baby, either through miscarriage, stillbirth or infancy, please leave me a comment. I will remember them as I am lighting my candles tomorrow night.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Co-ed sleepovers or camping trips

Tessa's best friend is a little boy who is a grade ahead of her in school. I am very good friends with his mom. In fact, I now consider her one of my best friends. They live in the neighborhood, and we see them every single day.

This friend, who I will call E, is the one who is going camping with Brian and Tessa. Some of my family members, and a few of my friends, have expressed concern about the two of them sleeping in the same tent. I think this is crazy. They are seven and eight, for goodness sakes.

Tessa has spent the night at his house, and he has here, too. They are together just about every single day, but definitely every day after school. They ride the bus home together and play until dark. He calls my mom "Nana." They are actually more like cousins than best friends.

People have expressed concern about this. They said kids know more today than they did years ago, so they shouldn't be having sleepovers together. I think it's a bit sad and maybe even a little sick to give sexual connotations to innocent children's fun.

Maybe I am the crazy one though. Would you let your seven year old have a sleepover with someone of the opposite sex? If they were 12 or 13, I would definitely not allow it, but I don't have any problem with it at this age.

Time...You ain't no friend of mine

I need more hours in the day. Twenty-four just isn't enough. Between 16 hours of classes, homework, housework, taking care of two girls...I feel like I never have enough time for anything.

Brian is taking Tessa and a friend camping this weekend. I have two Power Point presentations due to Monday night plus a major test Monday, too, so Ella and I are at home while they camp. I hope I can get it all done.

I know it's just for two more semesters and then I will be done with my bachelor's degree. I can handle it for that long.

Parking is getting better now that some have dropped classes or are skipping. I love the classes I'm taking, too. I just wish I had more time.

Speaking of time, I can't believe how fast it's going by. Ella turned 10 months old yesterday. In two more months, my baby will be one. I know I will be bawling my eyes out that day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to school

Saturday was my first time in a classroom as a student in 12 years. I was excited and nervous. That class was great. It was Foundations of Mental Health Counseling, and it is actually a undergraduate/graduate class, which means it has some students who are undergraduates and some who are graduate students. We learned what we will have to do in order to become counselors and a brief history of the field. I had no trouble parking.

I was more nervous about Monday. In fact, I was so nervous I was sick to my stomach all weekend. I was afraid of not finding parking and not finding my way to class, but I left the house at 7:30 a.m., found parking in the first lot I went to and was early for my class. It is Sociology of Families. I had this teacher last semester, and I loved that class. It was online though so I had never met her in person. My night class was at 6 p.m., and of course, I had no problem finding parking. That class was behavioral modification, and I know it's going to be interesting.

Today, I left at the same time but had to stop for gas. This put me a little behind, and I had to go to three parking lots before I found a space. It wasn't that much farther away than my first choice, so it was ok. I made it in plenty of time and was able to re-read some of the article assignments for the class. I absolutely love this one. This teacher is fabulous, and I can't wait to dissect societal norms for what makes a family.

I have just gotten started the last few days with my online classes, and I think they will be interesting, too. I still hate parking, but I am glad I took some on campus classes this fall. I think I'm going to like interacting with the students and the teacher.

Friday, August 27, 2010

You've been through worse

I have been texting my friend and my cousin all week about MTSU's parking. They both attended there, and my friend is currently pursuing her master's degree. Yesterday, I went to buy my books and asked about the parking lot where I want to park and was told it fills up by 7:30 a.m. Yeah, right. I have a kid to get to school. There's no way I can get there that early.

After I texted my cousin about another spot, she called me. She told me I was worrying too much about parking and overthinking it. She said it would be hard for the first two weeks and after that, people would start dropping classes. It would be easier to find a parking spot then.

Then she totally summed it up for me. She said, "You've been through worse. You can do this." She's right. She totally put it in perspective for me. I have been through worse. I made it through that, and I can make it through finding a parking space and finding my way to class.

Tomorrow is my first day, and I know I will be able to find parking on a Saturday. I'm looking forward to this class because of it's Foundations of Mental Health Counseling and that's what I want to do when I finish school. I also have to admit I'm a bit nervous to be 33 years old in a classroom full of kids.

Please wish me luck. I know I'll be fine tomorrow, but the panic is still there about Monday. I am just trying to remember that I have been through worse, and if I can get through that, I can get through this.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ella's insurance issues are fixed

Yesterday, we received Ella's insurance cards in the mail. I have been fighting to get her covered since the day before she was born last November.

My husband's job pays pretty well, but the benefits stink. It doesn't offer insurance for family members, just the employees, so the girls and I can't get on it. Our state offers a program called Cover Kids. For children a year old and older, the income range for free coverage is $21,000 to $55,000. I think this is wonderful because so many people fall into this income bracket and can get good health care coverage for their children. If your child is under a year old, the income bracket is $40,000 to $55,000. What I also like about this program is that it's mostly for people who are middle class, who work really hard and pay taxes, but find it difficult to get help when they need it because they make too much money, and if someone says anything about government assistance and them paying for our healthcare, I can pull out our tax return and show exactly how much we paid in taxes last year and the year before.

I hate talking about how much we make, but we do make over $40,000 a year. When I signed Ella up, I was nervous about being induced as I was doing it just a few hours before I was to go into the hospital. I looked at Brian's paycheck stub wrong and put down his take home pay instead of his gross pay. The insurance company would not do anything though until I received Ella's social security number, which took almost two months. So, I put her number in and at the end of January, I find out we didn't make enough money for her to be under Cover Kids. They said she was eligible for TennCare, our state's version of Medicaid.

So, I go and apply for TennCare. They told me then they thought I would probably not be eligible based on Brian's pay. A few weeks later, we get a letter, telling us exactly that. At this point, I'm wondering why we aren't eligible for either one. I decide to do some investigation and in mid-April, I figured out my mistake. I corrected it in the computer and waited for a response.

Nothing came. I called in May, and they told me that since they had just opened up re-enrollment that it would take a while to get back to me, but they would eventually. So, I waited and waited. I paid out of pocket for medical expenses. Ella became sick in July with the adenovirus and had an ear infection. It was only $85, but I knew something else might happen. My patience with the people at Cover Kids was running thin, and I thought I had waited long enough.

They checked their records and said I was supposed to be told to provide proof of income. In all of the phone calls I made, no one ever told me that. I never got a letter, nothing at all. So, I faxed a paycheck stub to them and waited. However, just about two weeks after the adenovirus, Ella was sick again, very sick. She had a very high fever of nearly 104, but her ears weren't infected. Her throat wasn't red either. Her doctor wanted blood work, a shot of massive antibiotics and a urine sample, which would require her to be catharized. He wanted to rule out sepsis.

I was worried to death about the costs, because he was sending us over to the hospital. I knew it would be a huge bill without insurance. However, I wasn't worried about her getting treatment, because it was a hospital, and they are required to treat, right? Nope, wrong. They demanded full payment up front and gave me a rough estimate of $400 to $700. It would have taken everything I had in liquid cash to pay that, and I would have had to go to two banks to get enough out of savings to cover it. We are building our savings back up after emptying it to buy a car in February, but it's slow going right now.

Well, I complained (my mom was there and was awful about it), and they allowed me to make a $150 down payment. Luckily, Ella just had a bad virus, and it had to run its course. I was not willing to risk this happening again, so I called Cover Kids the next day to find out what was going on. They said they had received the paycheck stub and was processing it. I would hear something in the next week. Well, the next week came and nothing. I called last week and was told that since it had been a month since I had enrolled her, I would have to re-enroll her. I was furious, but at least, she will have coverage starting September 1.

As anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows, I am pro-universal heatlth care. Even after all of this hassle, I still feel that way. Tessa has been on Cover Kids for almost two years now, and all we have had to pay out in medical bills is co-pays and prescription costs. It is a wonderful program, and I have never had a problem getting them to cover something or pay. Brian, who is against universal health care, said all this trouble with Ella was why he was against it, but I reminded him of how well it has covered with Tessa. He had to admit I was right.

So, Ella's coverage starts next Wednesday, and we go Thursday for her nine month well baby visit. It's a little late, but that's ok. I am just so glad she has coverage.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I have geographical dyslexia

I am not even sure if that's the correct label for it, but I think it's close enough. I can get lost in a paper bag. I have trouble telling my left from my right, which I am a bit ashamed to admit. I am terrible at reading maps, and truth be told, I failed every test over them when I was in school.

When I have to go somewhere new, I always have to print out the directions from MapQuest. I can't just read them and remember which way to go. I have to have them right there in front of me to read, and the little map that comes with it, forget about it, I don't even bother to print it out anymore. Even after I go to a place once or twice, I still need the directions, especially if it's not a place I drive to every day.

My aunt asked me once how I found people's houses when I was working at the newspaper and would have to go there to do a story. I handled it in two ways. One, I asked them to come to the paper. If that didn't work, I mapquested it.

So, next Monday, I start my senior year at MTSU. The campus is huge and scary, especially to someone who gets lost very easily. Brian and I went today and walked my route to class, but I am so scared that I will get there on Monday and won't be able to find parking in the lot where I plan to park. If that's the case and I have to go to one of my back ups, there is a good chance I will never find a way to my class. Parking is a nightmare on this campus, and it was one of the most frustrating things I ever experienced when I went there in 1998. In fact, it, along with a few other factors, was one of the reasons I quit when I did. I could never get to class on time, no matter how early I got there, because I could never find a parking spot and when I did, I couldn't find my way to class because of my "geographical dyslexia."

Add in the fact that I have a very real phobia of driving long distances, especially in inclement weather. I had a very bad wreck in 2001, and since then, I am terrified of it. I have almost had a panic attack if the rain is so heavy I have trouble seeing. Slowly but surely, I am getting better, mostly because I have forced myself to drive, but I am so worried about days it rains. It's a 45-minute drive from my house. I really wish I could have gotten all my classes online.

I am excited about my classes this semester. I am taking Sociology of Families, Behavioral Modification, Learning Theories, Research Methods and its lab and Foundations of Mental Health Counseling. I know I will love these classes and succeed in them, if I can just get past this fear. Luckily, I only have two classes that meet regularly on campus, which helps because I won't have to try to find my way all over campus. Those two classes meet in separate buildings that are very close together.

I can't believe I'll probably graduate in May. I have made the decision to probably start my masters next fall instead of waiting and taking a break. I have also decided that I want to get my doctorate, too. I know I'll be heavily in debt, but it will be worth it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

When good things happen

I met with a friend of mine on Thursday. I have mentioned her on this blog before. Back in February, her little boy, who was only four years old, was tragically killed in a car accident as the family traveled to visit other family members in Louisiana. They were, of course, devastated, as were anyone else who met the family. Here's a link to my original blog post,

She took her tragedy and turned it into something for hope. She is starting a support group in our area for families who have lost children. I know it makes her feel productive and as if she is doing something to help others, just the way I feel about my future career as a grief counselor. Since I still have contacts at the local newspaper, she wanted me to write the story, and I couldn't tell her no.

We talked about Logan at our meeting, and I brought up Jenna. I told her that I knew it wasn't the same thing, as we didn't have her for as long as she had Logan. I have always felt so funny talking to my friend about her, because I was so afraid she would feel as though there wasn't any comparison. While we were talking, she said, "I know it's different, and you didn't have Jenna as long as we had Logan, but she was still your child and it still hurts." I needed to hear her say that, because I feel like it validated my grief in her eyes. I don't know if that makes sense or not, but I guess I just want people to see that, yes, I did lose a child, even though she hadn't been born yet.

Well, tonight, my friend texted me about the story I wrote and gave me some of the most wonderful news. She is pregnant. I am so happy for her. I told her this baby was her rainbow, the beauty after the storm. She loved that. I love when good things happen to people, especially those who have experienced something so tragic as her family has. No baby is ever going to replace Logan, just like Ella or any other baby couldn't replace Jenna, but a new baby offers hope and happiness where there might not be any from before, and my friend so desperately needed that new hope and happiness.

If you could keep her in your thoughts, I would appreciate it, and since she's a praying person, I'm sure she would appreciate prayers, too. I hope she has the easiest pregnancy and delivery imaginable.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I don't think I'm cut out for this

I have been a full time stay at home mom since the summer started. Before that, I was taking classes online, so part of my time was devoted to that, not just to being a mom, even though I was here with Ella all the time and with Tessa after school.

I can't wait for my school to start back. I don't think I'm cut out to be a full time stay at home mom. I don't enjoy housework at all, and I know since I'm not working outside of the home, it should mainly be my responsibility. I'm not a little Ms. Homemaker, never have been, never will be. I also feel as though I am a more productive parent when I'm working than when I'm not.

I feel like I have lost myself this summer. I haven't been Tamara at all. I've been Tessa and Ella's momma. While I love having that title, there is more to me than that. I want to have something for myself, besides my house and my girls.

Maybe it's because I've worked since I was 16 years old. Maybe it's because I used to have a career. I miss making money on my own. It doesn't help that Brian's job makes enough for us to pay our bills with only the smallest cushion, and I hate being broke.

It also doesn't help that for the last three weeks or so, Ella has been sick off and on, so I have gotten very little sleep. She also would not nap while she was sick unless I was holding her, so now, I have that bad habit to break. I can't even try to do it right now because she is congested and croupy, and if I let her fuss even for a few minutes, it makes it worse.

I don't have a break during the day at all, because I'm having to hold her while she naps. By the end of the day, I am so worn out that all I want is for her to go to sleep so I can have five minutes to myself. And, then, I feel guilty because I feel this way.

Starting back to school should help. I'll have two on campus classes and the rest online. I'll have that to be mine, and I'll be able to get back to being Tamara a bit more, instead of just somebody's mommy, although there is nothing wrong with that either. I also think if I had a part time job that might help, too. Yet, I also know that I will miss my girls like crazy when I go back to work full time. It's such a double edged sword, isn't it?

I think it's a noble thing to enjoy staying home. I just don't, and I wish I did.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Some people are just idiots

I do a lot of debating about the issue of abortion and medical termination. I mainly do this on the's debate team board. Most people understand why someone would choose to terminate a pregnancy, but there are some who don't. About half of those are nice about why they don't understand, but the other half are downright cruel.

I posted something like this last night on one of the debates, and I will repost it here as an education for people.

1. People who terminate a pregnancy due to a poor prenatal diagnosis aren't doing it because they don't love their babies. They do. It isn't about wanting a perfect baby. A perfect baby doesn't exist. It's about making sure their babies feel no pain and don't suffer. These babies are very much wanted and very much loved. Parents are devastated when they received the diagnosis, and it's an agonizing decision to make. No one makes it lightly, and when those babies are gone, they are grieved for and missed. I just truly hate to see and hear, "It doesn't matter to me. I won't have that testing done. I'd love my baby no matter what." People need to realize how painful that is to a lot of families.

2. Over the past two years, I have often heard, "My aunt, cousin, sister, teacher, mother, etc., had that testing done, and it showed the baby had something wrong with it. When the baby was born, s/he was perfectly healthy." This only happens when a woman gets the genetic screening, not genetic testing. These screenings are the AFP and the Nuchal Fold, and they measure a patient's risk factor for having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality. They usually give a risk factor, such as the 1 in 10 that I had with Jenna, but both tests are well known for having false positives.

The people who say this DO NOT have family members who have had amniocentesis or CVS testing done. These tests are 99.98 percent accurate. Mistakes just don't happen. If these tests say a baby is going to have a chromosomal abnormality, they will. If it says the baby doesn't, then the won't. My maternal fetal medical specialist said he had never in all of this time of practicing seen or read about a mistake being made with the amniocentesis or the CVS.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One little life

It's amazing how one little life has touched so many over the years. I can't even express the amount of comments I have received on this blog about how Jenna's story has touched them. I have gotten e-mails about it, too, and whenever I debate medical termination on Baby Center, I often hear from people there, too.

Representatives all over our state have heard her story, and I'm sure they have repeated it to others. Her story has reached all over the world, not just the United States. It's hard to believe that a baby that barely weighed half a pound could touch that many people.

It's also hard to believe that it's been two years, two years since I held her in my arms, two years since I gave her body up, even though I know her soul and the essence of her had long since flown away. I have learned so much in that time, and I have changed, too. She changed me for the better. In her honor, I am going to help people who might be going through a similar loss or any kind of situation that leaves them grieving. In honor of her birthday tomorrow, Aug. 12, please do something kind for someone else, and tell them it's in honor of a baby girl who touched your life.

I can't be profound tonight, not on the eve of her birthday. Since I can't come up with any profound words, I will share the poem that was read at her memorial service. It means a lot to me. Also, if you see any dragonflies over the next few days, please let me know. I love to hear stories about them.

The Dragonfly
Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads,
there lived a little water beetle in a community of water
beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond
with few disturbances and interruptions.
Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of
their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and
would never be seen again. They knew when this happened, their
friend was dead, gone forever.
Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irrestible urge
to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would
not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what
he had found at the top.
When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the
surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so
warm, that he decided he must take a nap. As he slept, his body
changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful
blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body
designed for flying.
So, fly he did! And, as he soared, he saw the beauty of a whole
new world and a far superior way of life to what he had never
known existed.
Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking
by now he was dead. He wanted to go back to tell them, and
explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been
before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended.
But, his new body would not go down into the water. He could
not get back to tell his friends the good news. Then he
understood that their time would come, when they, too, would
know what he now knew. So, he raised his wings and flew off
into his joyous new life!
Author unknown

Monday, August 2, 2010

Two years ago

Two years ago today, I sat in the waiting at an abortion clinic, the last place I ever expected to be. Two years ago today, I clutched my worn copy of Harry Potter, reading the Order of the Phoenix as if my life depended on it, and I guess, in some ways, it did.

Two years ago today, I learned more heartache and confusion were ahead for me. I made a vow that day, and again the day Jenna was born, I would do something to make sure no other woman had to go through what I was going through. I honestly haven't made as great of strides in that area, but I am trying.

I think, no, I know, I have changed people's minds about medical termination, and I am proud of that.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jenna's story

I have a lot of new readers on my blog who might know that we lost Jenna to Trisomy 18, but who maybe don't know the whole story. That's one of the reasons I'm telling it. Another reason is that Jenna's two year "angelversary" is coming up, and I want as many people to remember that day as possible. The third reason is because of a new blog,, which features the stories of women who have lost babies, and I plan to submit my story to them.

Jenna's Story

This story is a long one, so please bear with me. I was so excited in the spring of 2008 to find out we were expecting again. My oldest daughter was almost five years old, and I was ready for another baby. My daughter was over the moon about being a big sister. My family had also experienced the loss of my grandmother just four months earlier. She was the backbone of our family, and we were devastated. We were all ready for something happy to happen, and my pregnancy and the new baby were going to be just that.

The pregnancy progressed very normally. I wasn't sick like I had been with my older daughter, just extremely tired. I was so glad to get out of the first trimester, and my 16 week appointment was scheduled for the Monday after Fourth of July. The cookout at my aunt's house that weekend is one of the last times I was truly happy without any bittersweet feelings popping through.

At my appointment that Monday, my doctor asked if I wanted to have the AFP done. This tests for Trisomy 18, Down Syndrome and Spina Bifida. I took the test because I liked to be prepared. If I was going to have a baby with Down Syndrome or Spina Bifida, I wanted to be prepared for the birth. I didn't allow myself to think about the possibility of Trisomy 18. A diagnosis like that just didn't happen to us.

Two days later, my doctor called me herself to give the results of the AFP test. I had a one in 10 chance of having a baby with Trisomy 18. She reassured me that this test had a lot of false positives, and this did not mean our baby had it. It just measured the risk factors, but even so, she wanted me to go for a level 2 ultrasound with a maternal fetal medical specialist and had already called them. I had an appointment for the next day.

My husband took the day off to go with me. At this point, I was nervous but not scared to death yet. The night before, I researched the AFP and the rate of false positives. Besides, the odds were in my favor. I had a 90 percent chance of having a healthy baby. I wasn't going to be that one. My fears came on stronger the next day after the ultrasound.

Jenna was measuring behind, and she was curled up in a ball for most of the ultrasound. The ultrasound tech and the MFM thought they saw a cystic hygroma (a fluid-filled pocket on the back of the neck) and a clubbed foot, but he couldn't be sure. He recommended an amniocentesis. He explained the baby could have Trisomy 18 or even one of the other chromosomal disorders. We opted to have it done, but because my amniotic sac hadn't yet fused to the uterine wall, I had to wait a week.

Even though I hoped for the best, deep down, I knew she had it. I knew I wasn't going to be able to bring her home. I spent the next week doing my research, reading about women who had been given a diagnosis of Trisomy 18. Some carried to term, while others "said goodbye early," which is what the Trisomy 18 Foundation calls ending a pregnancy due to the disorder. My husband and I discussed our options and went for the amnio.

We decided we would say goodbye early if our baby had a disorder deemed incompatible with life. If she had Down Syndrome, Turner Syndrome or any of the other non-fatal chromosomal disorders, we would carry to term. Even though I am not religious, I prayed for a non-fatal diagnosis. I wanted her so bad. I wanted my older daughter to be a big sister. I wanted another baby. I had always wanted a houseful.

My FISH results were due on Wednesday. I was at work (at the time I was the Lifestyles Editor at a newspaper), and I carried my cell phone in with me during an interview. I told them I was waiting on my amnio results, and the lady made a joke about me being excited to find out the sex. I didn't tell her any different (later, she sent me a sympathy card, reminding me of that day). Just an hour later, while I was still at work, the call came. The FISH results showed she was a girl who had full Trisomy 18. This meant all of her chromosomes were affected.

My doctor wanted me to wait to make any decisions until the final results came in. I told her we would probably be terminating the pregnancy. She said she knew we wouldn't be able to do it at her hospital because it's Catholic-affiliated, but we should be able to do it in Nashville. I left work soon after, sobbing all the way home. I just remember saying over and over again, "She was so wanted. I wanted her so much." I was devastated. I didn't eat, and I couldn't sleep.

I had to tell my five year old, Tessa, that her baby sister, the one she wanted so much, was very, very sick and wasn't going to live. We decided that night we needed to give her a name. I suggested Mary Grace, but Tessa didn't like it. We made the decision to let Tessa choose the name since that was going to be her only connection with her sister. She chose Jenna Grace.

The full results came back in the next week, and we met with my doctor. She wonderful and was apologetic, explaining that because of the political atmosphere and the state laws in Tennessee, none of the hospitals in the area would end the pregnancy for us. I wanted to say goodbye through a labor and delivery procedure, so I could have pictures of Jenna and hold her, trying to make memories that would have to last a lifetime. Instead, she said we would have to travel to a clinic in Atlanta, four hours away, to have it done. I wouldn't be able to see her, hold her, have pictures made or get her remains back in order to have her cremated.

Brian and I discussed it. Even though I really wanted all of those things, I also wanted to do everything in my power to keep her out of pain. That was my job as a mother, to keep her from hurting. If I was selfish in wanting those things and carrying her to term, I couldn't guarantee that she would never suffer. We decided to go to Atlanta.

When I made the appointment, I was asked a ton of questions, one of those specifically being my weight. I told them twice. I also informed them this was a case of much wanted baby who had a chromosomal abnormality. I had to have my doctor's office fax my files to them, which also included my weight. We left on Friday to go to Atlanta. I felt like we were sneaking away to do something wrong, something illegal. I didn't tell many people what we were doing because I knew I would face judgment when that was the last thing I needed.

I know some people would say I was doing this out of selfish reasons, that I surely just didn't want a special needs baby. That is so far from the truth. First and foremost, I didn't want Jenna to suffer. Most doctors won't do any kind of medical treatment on babies with Trisomy 18. Parents who make the decision to terminate a pregnancy are doing so out of love, making one of the most selfless decisions a parent can make. I wanted her here with me more than anything, but my love for her allowed me to over ride that in order to do what I thought was the right thing.

The clinic we were going to had a separate plan for women who were terminating due to medical reasons. I was supposed to be separated from the women who were ending their pregnancies due to "social reasons." That didn't happen. I was called back to verify my weight, which I told them again. I thought we would be separated and taken to a special waiting room, but we weren't. The waiting room continued to fill up with women, some of them laughing and giggling and talking about getting it over with. There they were, happy to be ending a pregnancy when I just wanted a baby who would live. I wanted to shout to them and tell them I would take their babies, but I didn't. I just buried my head in my Harry Potter book, which is kind of like comfort reading for me.

I was called back again to be weighed. I had lost 12 pounds in less than a week. I thought then we would be separated from the rest of the women, but again, I was wrong. Brian was starting to get mad, wondering what was going on, when I was called back a third time, this time by the ultrasound technician. She explained to me that they had made a mistake in regards to my weight and how I was treated. I didn't qualify for a one day procedure like I was told over the telephone. I would have to do a two day procedure, and they couldn't do it that day. I would have to come back if we wanted to end the pregnancy.

She decided to do an ultrasound to date the pregnancy and asked if Brian would want to come back. He was furious when we explained the situation to him. She did the ultrasound, which showed Jenna's growth was even farther behind. She had very little fluid, which indicated her kidneys weren't working, and the tech said she had very little brain matter. Brian and I just sobbed on the table.

After meeting with the counselor, we left. We knew we wouldn't and couldn't go back there. After a lot of soul searching, we made the decision to carry Jenna as long as she lived. It wasn't the choice I wanted, and I still don't feel as though it was the right one for me but I had no choice, really. No one in Tennessee was willing to help me.

The next few weeks were agonizing for me. Because her fluid was so low, I had trouble feeling her move. I often wonder if that would be the day she died and if I would walk around with a dead baby inside of me. I often felt like I was losing my mind. Two weeks after our trip to Atlanta, my aunt and I went to our specialists office to do an ultrasound to see what birth defects we would be dealing with exactly. Brian couldn't go with me because he had to take Tessa for her kindergarten check up. The tech was chatty, and she knew our situation. She told me up front that because of what we had gone through, she would tell me exactly what she was seeing on the screen and then let the doctor elaborate. She ran the wand over my belly and said, "Oh sweetie, there's no heartbeat."

I cried a little, but over the last month, I had done more than my share of crying. At that point, I felt kind of cried out. I didn't know I had a lot more tears to come. I met with my doctor who told me to come back later that night to be induced. I had to tell Tessa her sister was dead, which is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. We went back in that night and had wonderful nurses who attended to us. The next morning, I knew Brian wouldn't be able to handle seeing Jenna, and because of everything we had been through the last month, there were kindergarten things for Tessa that we hadn't gotten done. I sent him to do it and had my mom come to the hospital.

Jenna Grace was born at 11:50 a.m., Aug. 12, 2008. She weighed 4.4 ounces and was 6 inches long, much smaller than what she should have been for her gestational age, which is common for babies with Trisomy 18. She did have a cystic hygroma and a clubbed foot. Also, her brain and skull never developed, and this caused her skull to collapse during the birth process. Luckily, the nurses covered most of it up with a little hat, but I still saw more than a mother ever should have. We had her cremated, and her urn, along with her pictures, sit in a small curio cabinet on my wall.

I have learned a lot since that day. I vowed to make a difference for Jenna. I first wanted to change the laws here in Tennessee so that hospitals would have to perform abortions in the case of health of the mother, poor prenatal diagnosis and rape and incest. I wrote a ton of letters, and I even gave a speech in front of some of our state representatives about it. That is one of my proudest moments. I have often heard, I won't do prenatal testing. It doesn't matter what it shows; I'll love my baby no matter what. I loved my baby. Women who terminate due to poor prenatal diagnosis aren't doing so because they don't love their babies and don't want them. They do. They just don't want them to suffer. One of the things I have learned is that no matter what, the decisions a parent with a baby with Trisomy 18 make always come from love.

Because of Jenna, I am back in school. I am going to be a grief counselor and help women who have gone through similar losses.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Winner of the Brandy's Bald Baby Bands

The winner of the Brandy's Bald Baby Bands give-away is Breaking Hearts, Kaycee. She has been notified and will recieve her product soon. Check back because I'm going to be giving away a beautiful piece of jewelry next.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Poor Tessa

We went back to the doctor today about her medicine and her incontinence issues. Her test results for her bloodwork, urinalysis and x-rays to check for constipation all came back normal. They are working on getting her an appointment with a urologist at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, which is wonderful for me. It's the best hospital in the area.

We switched her medicine to Focaline. One of the reasons we went to this one is because it can be opened and sprinkled on applesauce, making it easier to take. Tessa has had trouble swallowing them. I hope it will help her without making her flat or weepy.

Tessa has had a cough for almost two weeks now. Last week at the doctor, he listened to her lungs and said it wasn't bad and to just give her Robitussin. I did that, but it has gotten worse every day. He was going to give her an antibiotic and then he heard her cough. He listened to her lungs and said she had a touch of bronchitis, and it is causing her to have asthma symptoms.

She is on an inhaler now and has to use it three times a day. I hadn't noticed her wheezing, and she hadn't really mentioned it either. I paid closer attention tonight, and it was bad after she coughed or if she ran. I feel so bad that I didn't notice it sooner. He said the asthma will go away once the bronchitis clears up.

She had a bad coughing fit tonight, and we did the inhaler. She stopped after doing that, but as she was trying to go to sleep, one nostril stopped up and the other started running. I felt so bad for her. I hope she doesn't start running a fever and get really sick. She has had too much going on lately, poor thing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Second grade, here she comes

Tessa's principal finally called me yesterday and apologized profusely for not getting back to me sooner, saying he had taken two weeks off. I totally understand that, and I don't fault him for it at all. I just wanted to talk to him sooner because I am impatient.

I explained to him what the test results showed and also what the psychologist and the pediatrician said. I told him I wanted her to go to the second grade, but to be placed in the resource reading group. I also said I wanted her teacher to give her a bit of extra time with the work she has to do and offer additional instructions if needed. He agreed.

When I get the reports from the psychologist, I am supposed to call him so we can set up a meeting with her second grade teacher and the resource teacher. We will write up a plan of action, although we have decided not to do a formal IEP at this point.

If I see that our plan isn't being followed, I will insist on getting one then. Last year, the school had a tutoring program in the afternoons, and if they receive the funding for it again, Tessa will do that, too. Her psychologist did warn about doing too much school, so he recommended we only do tutoring once a week.

I feel comfortable with the decision to let her go on to second grade, a lot more comfortable than I did with the idea of holding her back. She is going to need help. I know that, but I know for the sake of her self esteem she needs to go on with her classmates. The principal said he thinks the medicine will help with some of her problems, and I think they will, too.

Speaking of meds, we go back to the doctor tomorrow, and I am going to ask him to lower her dose. Some days, she is really good, basically herself but calm, but it's the other days that bother me. On those, she is either flat with no emotion whatsoever, or she is prone to burst into tears with no apparent reason. I don't want that for her.

Her pediatrician told me last week we could lower the dose if I wanted, but I wanted to try it for two weeks. Now, I wish I had done it. If lowering the dose doesn't work, I am going to ask to try another drug.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ready for fall

I am so ready for fall. It's always been my favorite time of the year. I have said it before, but I always associate fall with new beginnings, mainly because of school starting back. And, this fall, I will be starting my senior semester of college. That means, I'll be graduating next May, baby. Yippee.

I can't tell you how excited I am about this and how proud I am of myself. I am planning to go back and get my masters degree, but I want to work a while first. I am looking into working for social services or a local counseling center. Social services pays more, but I'll get better experience with the counseling center.

I am so proud of myself, especially considering what I went through the last two semesters. I was pregnant during the fall semester and in October went on bed rest. Luckily, I was going online, and I was proud to bring home three As and a C. The C was in Astronomy. During the spring semester, I was adjusting to life with a newborn and a six-year-old, along with taking the hardest class of my life, statistics. I managed to make two As and two Bs.

This fall, I am taking 16 hours. My classes are Behavioral Modification, Foundations of Mental Health Counseling, Learning Theories, Research Methods and its lab, and Sociology of Families. Two of my classes are on campus, and the rest are online. I hope I don't kill myself.

I finished my financial aid stuff last night, and it said that I am eligible for a grant. It doesn't mean I will get one, but if I do, that will be great. It will mean less to pay back in loans.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Brandy's Bald Baby Bands Review and Give-A-Way

***If you are viewing this at, please visit my blog at to enter the contest.

After two little boys, Brandy Peck was super excited when she found out she was having a girl. People asked her if Rylee was a girl or a boy, even if she was rocking all pink and earrings. "I decided if she was wearing a huge flower on her head on her head, then no one would ask me anymore," she said, "and it actually worked. Finally everyone was telling me how cute my little girl was."

Brandy's Bald Baby Bands were born. The idea for the name came because Rylee is still pretty much bald. Brandy loves making the items, and she has branched out from just flower headbands to butterfly and bow headbands, flower barrettes and adorable tutus.

Brandy sent me a brown headband with a pink flower to review. I loved the stretchy material of the headband. Tessa put it on, and it stretched to fit her seven-year-old noggin. It looked pretty cute on her, too. The flower is securely attached to the headband.

Ella did not find it to be annoying at all. She left it on for quite a while and wore it out to eat with the family. We got tons of compliments on her newest accessory. It went adorably with her pink and brown outfit. Isn't pink and brown the most awesome color combination for baby girls? The headband is a dark brown with the flower graduating from light pink to dark pink.

One lucky reader is going to win a headband. Even if you have a little boy, these would make a great gift for someone with a little girl.

To win, you must first do the mandatory entry. Go to and then leave a comment here about what product you would want and in what color combination.

Extra entries (leave a separate comment for each one):

1. Become a follower of mine on here (if you are already a follower, just tell me) 2 entries

2. Vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs 2 entries

3. Like Brandy's Bald Baby Bands on Facebook 2 entries

A winner will be chosen July 17 by Thanks so much, and thanks to Brandy for providing the headband for the give-a-way.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Two years ago today

When I think back to the last day I was truly happy without a tinge of sadness or without a bittersweet feeling, my mind drifts to Fourth of July weekend 2008. We went to my aunt's house for a cookout. We shot fireworks. I was looking forward to my doctor's appointment on the following Monday because I knew we would set up my big ultrasound to find out what I was carrying. I was 16 weeks.

Dr. McGowen asked me at that appointment if we wanted to do the AFP test. I wanted to do it, mainly thinking of Down Syndrome and Spina Bifida. I did it because I wanted to be prepared if I was going to have a baby with one of those disorders. I didn't even really think about Trisomy 18. I wasn't going to have a baby with a fatal disorder. That kind of thing hadn't happened in my family in years. Our babies had almost always been healthy.

Two days later, July 9, I received a call at work about my AFP results. A one in 10 chance of Trisomy 18, she said, and started to reassure me about false positives. I just remember saying, "That's the one that's incompatible with life, right?"

Everyone tried to reassure me about the odds. A 90 percent chance she didn't have it, they said, but I knew deep down she did, especially after we went to the level ultrasound the next day.

Today starts a bad time of the year for me. Last year, I went into a funk that started July 9 and lasted about two months. I don't want that to happen again this year. I read on another deadbabymomma's (our name for ourselves for my blogger friends who don't know) blog about not just grieving their deaths but also celebrating their lives. I really want to do that with Jenna.

She lived, even if it was for just a short period of time. She changed my life. She changed my focus and made me see what life is really about. Her life pushed me to change mine. I am back in school, pursuing an old goal because she existed. I don't avoid people who have experienced a loss of a child, even though I used to. Now, I offer my support. Her life did all of that for me.

So, I am trying to think of small ways to celebrate her life between now and Aug. 12, with some kind of bigger celebration that day. I want something people all over the world can participate in because her story touched so many people all over the world. She was so small, yet she touched so many. I am open to ideas if anyone has any.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Week one of ADHD meds, update on incontinence issue

I honestly admit I was a little scared about what kind of change the medication would have on Tessa. She is very spunky and high spirited, and I did not want to change that. I just wanted her to be a bit more compliant when I asked her to do something, not have so many meltdowns and do better at school.

Her first day on the medication was a Friday. She usually goes and plays for a few hours at my aunt's house (she lives across the street), because my aunt's grandchildren stay over there while their mom is at work. I didn't let her go over there because I wanted to see if she had any kind of reaction. She didn't eat much that day and was very calm, until late afternoon. We were getting ready to go eat with our family, and we were at my aunt's house because she always rides with us. Tessa had a meltdown of epic proportions. She was crying, rubbing her eyes and scratching her cheeks. I almost called the doctor right then.

I decided to give it another couple of days to see if she had another reaction. She had a small meltdown on Saturday afternoon, but nothing like Friday night. She had another meltdown on Monday afternoon, but we are doing well since then. Most of these meltdowns have been late in the afternoon when the meds were wearing off.

I almost can't believe the change in her. She's still spunky, but she minds me so much better. She doesn't pitch fits if she doesn't get her way. She can sit and play with one set of toys for hours at a time instead of bouncing between them. She also doesn't get frustrated. Yesterday, she was playing with her Barbies and dressing them. The strap broke on one of her outfits. Before the meds, this would have been the cause of at least a 30 minute meltdown. I suggested a fix, and she was fine with it.

While Tessa loved to be read to, she would never volunteer to read on her own at all. Yesterday, she grabbed some books out of her room and sat down on the couch and read them. She needed help with some of the bigger words, but she read most of them on her own. I do think the meds are going to help with her problem of processing information.

My biggest issues were her not eating after she takes it, the meltdowns in the late afternoon and how calm she was. She was never zombie-like at all, just a lot more calm than what I am used to. My cousin said it's just because we are so used to her being loud and up. We saw the doctor today, and he agreed.

Tessa had lost four pounds. He said that while she's not overweight, it's not going to hurt her to lose a few pounds. She weighs 69 pounds now, and he doesn't want her to get below 60. I have to weigh her twice a week to keep an eye on it. We go back next Thursday.

We talked about her incontinence issue today. She had to pee in a cup, which she found totally disgusting. She also had to have blood drawn. I was honestly dreading it so much, but she didn't even cry. I thought we might need, oh, 10 people to hold her down, but she did wonderfully. He also sent her for an x-ray of her stomach to see if she's constipated which could cause the incontinence.

He is making her an appointment with a urologist. He thinks she might have something called reflux or a problem with the neck of the bladder. We will see. I just hope it's an easy fix that doesn't require surgery.

Offline for almost a week

Last Friday night, I was all set to write two blog posts, but I first wanted to put a color on my hair and do a little laundry. When I finished, I came back in the living room, sat down at computer and couldn't do a thing.

I had gotten a virus called AV Security Suite. If you see this on your computer, run a virus scan on it before you click on anything else. I use AVG Security for my virus protection, and I probably clicked on the AV Security Suite without even thinking about it.

It wouldn't let me do anything at all. In fact, the only thing I could do was turn my computer on and off. I took it to my computer repair guy, and to make a long story short, he did more harm than good. I finally wound up taking it to someone else, and I got back today. It's like I have a new computer, but I lost a ton of stuff.

Most of it, I had backed up, but some freelance writing I did back in May and June is gone along with the pictures of the day Ella was born. I am heartbroken over the pictures. The writing, not so much as I might be able to salvage some of it from e-mails.

I can't believe how out of the loop I felt without my computer. I felt totally cut off from the outside world to some degree because I get my news online and communicate with a lot of my friends online.

But, now, I'm back and I'll be having my first give-a-way in the next day or two. Keep an eye out for that.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A new pediatrician and about meds

We saw her new pediatrician today, and I loved him. He came into the room and began talking to Tessa first before he said a word to me. This really put her at ease, and she also loves him a lot. I feel like he totally listened to my concerns and didn't blow us off.

He is prescribing her Vyvanase. Has anyone had any experience with it? My neighbor took it, and she had horrible sweats with it so she moved on to Adderall. My only worry with it is how expensive it is, but if it works and helps her, I will gladly pay the price.

I also wanted to discuss her incontinence issues with him today. Any time Tessa laughs really, really hard, she pees on herself. She tells me that once she starts peeing, she can't stop herself. Brian's mom and a cousin both had an issue with the tubes going from the bladder to the kidney being too short, and my cousin has the exact same thing, too. Brian's mom actually had to have one of her kidney's removed as it had "died," as she put it.

We have to go back next Thursday to see how she is doing with the meds, and he said we would discuss the incontinence issue then. He was afraid it would be too much stress on her today, but he did want to talk about it since the problem always happens during the day and never at night. She has never had one over night accident since she potty trained.

I am very happy with this doctor and am glad my friend recommended him. I just hope we will see a good difference with the medication. When I said in my last post that I was afraid of her being a zombie on medication, I didn't mean I was totally against it. I feel medication has it's place.

I take anti-depressants. I've suffered from depression since college. It helps me, and I take it. I reason that if I had a headache, I would take something for it. Since depression is as much an illness as a headache, I will take the meds for it. I feel the same way about the medication for ADHD.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tessa's test results

I met with the psychologist today to discuss Tessa's test results. I had a serious case of deju vu on the way down there because we found out Jenna had Trisomy 18 on a Wednesday. I heard some songs on the radio that made me cry, so on the way to Murfreesboro, I cried and got it out of my system. I didn't want the psychologist to think I was a dork or anything.

We first went over her IQ testing. She scored a 100, which is average. IQ falls on a Bell curve (so funny that I just studied this last semester in statistics and cognitive psychology), and anything between 90 and 110 is considered "average" or "normal."

The testing scored her IQ and then went on to test her ability. After this, the two were compared for any discrepancies. On the ability testing, she did well in her working memory, math skills and verbal comprehension. She actually scored above average on her math skills. She lagged behind with almost all of the reading.

One of the biggest discrepancies came with processing information. The way they tested this was at the top of a piece of paper was a bunch of shapes. Inside the shapes was a symbol. Below that, empty shapes filled the page, and Tessa had to fill in as many as she could with the correct symbol. Her doctor said most kids finished the entire page in the allotted time. Tessa was only able to do three lines.

In order to say she has a learning disability (dyslexia), the discrepancy would have to be at least 16 points. Tessa's was 14. The psychologist feels she does have a learning disability, but he can't diagnose it at this time because of the scores.

He did diagnose her with ADHD -- ADHD-Nos to be exact. This means ADHD-non-specified. She got that diagnosis because she isn't hyperactive and impulsive but is instead inattentive and impulsive. He recommended medication, and we go tomorrow to her pediatrician (a new one because her former one told me Tessa was just yanking my chain when we went to see her back in February) for a prescription.

He recommended we not hold her back in first grade. He said if it was him, he would allow her to go to second grade, put her in a Resource or Title 1 reading class and get her an afternoon tutor. At the end of the school year, we would test her again, either through the school system or through him. I have a call into the school now, and I plan to push to have her moved to second grade. I will tell the principal it is what the psychologist recommended.

So, now I have a bit of a plan, and after tomorrow, we will have a partial strategy for coping with the ADHD. I don't want to do meds that are going to make her sleepy and a zombie, but I want one that will actually help her. Let's hope we can find it right away.

I promise I'll never....

My best friend and I were discussing our moms last night, and we both said there were several things our moms had done that we weren't going to do to our girls. As I was trying to go to sleep last night, I thought this might be a good thing to post about regularly. This first one happened over 15 years ago, and I can just now, barely, laugh about it. You, on the other hand, will probably have no problem laughing.

I promise you, Tessa and Ella, that I will never come out on Madison Street in my nightgown looking for you in the midst of lockdown, standstill Horse Show traffic. I have to set the scene on this one because you totally won't understand unless I do. Each year, our town hosts the World Championship Walking Horse Celebration. More than 100,000 people pour into our town that normally holds a little under 17,000. Each night, when the Horse Show lets out, Madison Street, the main road, is worse than rush hour traffic on the Interstate. It's just deadlocked.

So, during Horse Show 1994, I was 17 years old and had just broken up with my boyfriend. At the time, I had a thing for guys who wore skin tight Wranglers and cowboy hats. Throw in a pair of dusty cowboy boots, and I was hooked. One guy in town fit this mold to a "T." He was the real thing, had even competed in a few rodeos and had the cutest behind I had ever seen. We'll call him JF.

The main past time for kids here during the 80s and 90s was riding up and down Madison Street. It was how I passed many a Friday and Saturday night. It was how I met my first boyfriend, and it's how I finally got to talk to JF. This Saturday night, I was riding around with my cousin and my best friend, and JF had seen the car load of girls earlier in the night and had flirted with us ever since, especially at red lights. He finally motioned for us to pull over at Sonic, and we did. He asked us to ride around in his truck, and we did.

I had a certain time to be home, so my cousin, who didn't have a curfew, invited my friend and I to both spend the night. We called my mom (from a pay phone, no one had cell phones back then) and asked if I could. She let us, but I didn't tell her we were riding around with JF. About this time, we remembered we had to pick up my younger cousin who was at the horse show with friends and take her home. We thought it would be funny to pick her up in his truck and surprise her, because she also knew who JF was. When we picked her up, she wanted to ride with us, but we told her no. She was so mad.

When she got home, she called my mom and told her a bunch of BS about JF. I can't even remember now what all she told her, but it propelled my mom out the door, in her nightgown, into the big brown station wagon and onto Madison Street.

We were oblivious to all of this, having a good time talking and laughing with JF. His personality was just as good as his looks. It was especially good because we were stuck in the middle of traffic and would be there for a while, giving him plenty of time to get to know us.

I was looking out at the traffic when all of a sudden I spotted her. I couldn't help but say, "Oh my gosh, that's my momma."

I guess she heard me, because she yelled out, "Tamara Shea Green, all four of you, get to our house. NOW."

Imagine a sea of cars, a sea of people inside and their heads snapping around all at once to look at the screaming banshee in the big brown boat hanging half out the window, shaking her fist and in her NIGHTGOWN.

My cousin told JF to take us back to her car, and we would handle it, but he wouldn't hear of it. He went with us to my parents house to listen to my mom berate us about getting in the vehicle with a man who was known to take advantage of innocent young girls (this had to be from my cousin, because my mom had never heard of him before this night). All he did was stand against the wall, his hat in his hand and said at one point, "I see my reputation proceeds me here."

To top off the embarassment, my stepfather couldn't let my mother do it all alone. Here he comes, out of the bedroom, in his tight whiteys and sits down on the couch for God and all to see. I was mortified.

Several years later, my husband worked with JF. When JF found out who Brian was married to, he said, "I feel so sorry for you. I would have asked her out, but I didn't want to deal with her crazy mother."

So, I promise, I will never, ever, ever do that to you, girls. EVER.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baby Bukies -- The Icing on the Cake, free shipping for my readers

When Shannon Mattocks was just six years old, she was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. Within days of starting treatment, her pretty long blonde hair began to fall out, on her dinner plate, her pillow, just about everywhere. "I was so embarassed," she said, "so my mom went out and had this lady hand make these pretty little hats for me. Needless to say, this is where my love of hats came in."

On the cancer ward, she was normal, but out in the real world, people stared at her. "My hats gave me a shield against all of the stares of the world," she said. As she grew up and overcame cancer, she knew she wanted to give back to cancer patients someday -- through the gift of hats.

She teamed up with a college friend, Joy Gatz, and Baby Bukies was born. "Joy does all of the graphics, posting to our sites and helps in the design of the hats," she said. "She is a very colorful girl and pushes me to incorporate bright colors."

Their goal is to have the company become successful enough to be able to afford to make extra hats and donate them to all the boys and girls that need their own shield against the stares, just as Shannon did. She hopes to someday have a Web site for moms to come in and post a picture of their child who is going through cancer. "Then everyone can see as they purchase from me what we all are working towards -- putting a little hat on a cancer patients head," she said.

The hats are beautifully made and come in a wide variety of colors and styles. They come in sizes from newborn to 4T and are hoping to add hats for four to 10 year olds next year.

Photographers, listen up. You can increase your profits by taking pictures of a child with these hats and include the hat as part of the package. Mothers will love the photographs and having a tangible memory of it.

Their items can be found at"> or"> So give your little one a little icing on the cake with a Baby Bukies' hat. If you mention Smiles for Jenna or Motherhood the Sequel, you'll get free shipping.

Perfect Family

I can't tell you how many times I've had someone ask me "Are you going to try again for a boy?" since Ella was born in November, making me feel as though people value boy babies more than girls.

My answer is always no. For one thing, my doctor has said I don't need to do another pregnancy. I've had one baby who developed IUGR, lost a one to Trisomy 18 and then had my placenta break down early and blood pressure skyrocket enough for me to have to go on bedrest with the last baby. My body is just not cut out to have babies, and the people who ask me this are often ones who know my history.

I have so many other reasons for not having another baby, money, room, time...I could go on and on. But, if I wanted to have another, it would not be to have a boy. My family is complete; I don't need a male child to have it be so.

I've also heard that the perfect family is a boy and a girl. Why is this so? I thought a perfect family was one that loved each other, no matter what the dynamics were. I think we are perfect just the way we are.

One person even went so far as to tell me Brian deserved a son. Does a man have to have a son to feel complete? I don't buy this. Brian has told me more than once he is happy with his girls. He doesn't want a son because of how bad his own relationship is with his dad. Besides, men are ultimately the ones who are responsible for whether or not their children are male and female, even if it is unintentional.

All of this makes me feel women and girls are highly undervalued in our society. I don't feel like I've failed as a women and a wife because we've had all girls. I don't think we are any less of a family because females outnumber males in this household. We make up a perfect family because we love each other; we don't need a male baby for that to happen.

Besides, with our track record, three pregnancies -- three girls, we probably would never have a boy anyway.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Just a few more months --- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

My long time readers know how much I love Harry Potter. A co-worker turned me onto the books in 2000, and I have been hooked ever since. I geek out on Harry Potter. When the final book came out in 2007, we dressed Tessa up as Hermione and took her to the release party. She had a great time, and so did we.

Since there are no more books to be released, I eagerly look forward to the movies. Last year, we went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince for my birthday. This year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out two days after Ella's birthday. I can't wait to see it, even though that means my baby will be one, sniff sniff. The trailer came out today, and I'm going to attempt to post it here. How lame is it that I got goosebumps and teared up over it.

In 2008, I truly believe the series, along with the TV show The Golden Girls, kept me from losing my mind when we lost Jenna. It was escapism, pure and simple. I re-read the books the entire time, from the time we received the AFP results to the trip to Atlanta to the day she was born. When we came home, I kept reading. JK Rowling is my literary hero, and one of these days, when I can do it without bawling, I'm going to write her a letter and tell her how much her books mean to me.

Monday Minute

I got the idea from this post from the funny man at He is hilarious. I just discovered him this morning, and I'm glad I did. I'll be following him and reading every day. Since I'm hopeless and horrible at HTML and getting these buttons to work, I cheated by uploading the pic and including a link to the blog. Here are the questions and my answers.

1. Has anyone you've known personally lived to at least 100?

It depends on how you define personally. None of my close family members have, but my granny's sister came close at 98. However, when I worked for the newspaper, I interviewed people who lived to be 100 all the time. These were my favorite stories. I even interviewed a man who was 106 once. While I don't really miss the newspaper business, I do miss talking to these people and telling their stories.

2.What material possession do you value the most?

Besides pictures of Tessa and Ella and Jenna's urn, I have two items that rank right up there. One is the quilt my granny made me. She made one for each of her grandchildren, and it's hand sewn and hand appliqued. I so wish I had gotten her to teach me to quilt before she died. I used my quilt so much that it's starting to get frayed, so now it's put up. My other is my dragonfly jewelry collection. At Jenna's memorial service, we read a poem about a dragonfly. So many people have given me dragonfly jewelry, and I have bought several pieces. They remind me of her.

3. What do you think happens to us after we die?

I think if we've lived a good life and been kind to people and tried our best not to hurt anyone, we go to Heaven and join our loved ones there. If not, I'm not sure what happens. I have a hard time with the idea of hell, but being raised as a Christian makes it hard for me to give it up.

4. Most embarassing item in your house?

Hmmm, I don't really know. Maybe my husband's Playboy magazines that he got before we were married. They are put up in the top of the closet so Tessa can't find them, but he insists on keeping them because he says they are/will be collector's items some day.

5. If you could rename yourself, what would your name be?

Probably Laura. I want something simple, easy to spell and pronounce. No one ever gets Tamara right.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Getting to Know you Sunday

I've stolen this idea from a couple of the blogs I follow, but I thought the questions were cute. So here goes. I'm supposed to put a button here for you to go to her blog, but I couldn't get the html to work, so here's a link --

1.If you had 5000.00 to spend on plastic surgery what would you have done?

Right now, I would get my tooth implant. In 2001, I was in a serious car accident and hit my face on the steering wheel. I damaged a couple of teeth on one side and wound up having to a have a root canal. Fast forward to March of this year. I was eating a salad, and the tooth I had the root canal on broke off to the root. They had to go in and remove. Since we didn't have dental insurance at the time, I couldn't afford to get an implant, but I did get a flipper, which no longer fits very well now because my teeth had shifted. If it was one of my back teeth, it wouldn't be a big deal, but it's the one right next to my two front teeth so it shows every time I smile. One of Tessa's friends asked me if I hadn't brushed them very well. Oh well, insurance goes into effect July 1, and I am going to be getting my implant.

2. Do you watch Soap operas and if so what is your favorite and why?

No, not since college, although I did tune in for Mrs. Horton's funeral on Days of Our Lives as you can see from the post below. I don't think I even watch any of the night time soaps, unless you count Criminal Minds or House.

3. Favorite Clothing Brand?

I don't really have a favorite brand. I know that's terrible, but I don't look at name brands when I'm buying stuff. I do love the clothing at Lane Bryant, but I am such a cheapskate that I either buy it at consignment stores or at Goodwill. I can, however, be a clothes snob when it comes to my girls. For them, I love Gymboree, Osh Kosh and The Children's Place.

4. An afternoon shopping spree at your favorite store or maid service for a year?

Maid service for year. I would take soo advantage of that. I might be a stay at home mom, but I'm not the typical one, who cooks and cleans and loves it. I like cooking, to a degree, but Brian is so much better at it. I HATE cleaning. It is one of those necessary evils of life, so I do it, but if I can get out of it, all the better, especially if it's free.

5. Would you ever vajazzle?

Ok, I was totally clueless, so I had to look this up. Seriously, women do this? What do they use to make the jewels stick? Wouldn't that hurt trying to get them off? From what I gather, they do a design, but what about if some of the crystals fell off? Wouldn't that look awful, therefore defeating the purpose of vajazzling in the first place? I just don't really get why anyone would do that, so I guess my answer is no.

6. Favorite Disney Princess?

Hands down, it's Belle. She loves to read, she's smart, she's funny, she solves problems on her own. She isn't wishy washy and doesn't need a man to protect her. In fact, she tries to protect her own father. Love her.

7. Last movie that made you bawl your eyes out?

Don't laugh, but Toy Story 3. We took Tessa to see it on Father's Day, and I cried my eyes out over the end. I was happy to learn I wasn't the only one who did that. It's a great movie; you really should see it.

8. Have you broken any bones and if so, what?

Hahahahaha. I used to be the accident prone queen. It all started my sixth grade year when I broke my leg playing football in the yard with my brother and other boys in the neighborhood. I went on to have broken my thumb, my wrist, my foot three times (twice for the left, three times for the right) and my collarbone. My medical bills nearly broke my parents there for a while.

So, that's it. I hope my readers will do this, too.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Happy Anniversary to me

On June 27, 1998, my life changed forever. I became a wife at the young age of 20. I have had moments where I wondered what it would have been like to have waited to get married until I was a bit older, but it has all worked out in the end.

We met in June 1996. I was almost 19 at the time, and he was 26. A huge age difference, I know, but I always so much more mature than most girls my age. And, we all know girls mature faster than boys. He totally wasn't my type. I liked dark hair and green eyes. He was blondish with blue eyes. The one thing Brian has always managed to make me feel is special, and because of this, all thoughts of my usual type flew out the window.

We've had our rough times over the years. Stress lead him to a breakdown and depression about four years ago. Two years later, we lost our second daughter. I was afraid those two things in such a short period of time would break us, but it didn't. I think it made us stronger. We no longer sweat the small stuff, and we don't fight as much about inconsequential things. I think we both realize there are more important things than who forgot to take out the trash or forgot to pay the phone bill.

Brian is such a hard worker. He works 12 to 14 hour days so that I can stay home and get an education. Of course he says he's going to be a stay at home dad after I graduate. In spite of the fact that he works those hours, he still helps me around the house and is a fantastic daddy to the girls, who just adore him.
Don't get me wrong; he drives me crazy sometimes. I hate the way he goes into the bathroom and stays for 30 minutes and no one bothers him, while I have Tessa and Rosie, the dog, barging in with Ella whining in the background, all the while I'm trying to take a simple pee. But, when I see him playing board games with Tessa and peek-a-boo with Ella, all of that fades away.
So, Happy anniversary, Brian. So many said we'd never make it, and we have.

Easy Summer Recipe -- Fruity Chicken Salad

I hate cooking during the summer months. It makes the house so hot, and so many other activities are more fun. I try to look for any recipe that doesn't require the oven to be running.

Fruity Chicken Salad is a perfect one. I came up with it after getting recipes for chicken salad from two friends of mine. I mish-mashed theirs together and came up with my own. I don't really know exact measurements, because as my husband says, "Measurements? I don't need no stinkin' measurements when it comes to cooking." And, yes, my husband is a wonderful cook.

This recipe makes a huge batch, but it tastes even better after it's sat in the refrigerator. I use it to make our lunches, and it lasts about three to four days.

Fruity Chicken Salad
About 3 to 4 pounds of boneless chicken breasts
celery salt
2 chicken bouillon cubes
3 or 4 apples
a big bunch of grapes

Place bouillon cubes in a cup of warm water and allow to dissolve. Lay the chicken breasts in a crockpot. Sprinkle liberally with the celery salt. Add water to cover the chicken. Pour the buoillon into it. Cover and cook on low for about six to seven hours until chicken is tender and following apart.

Shred the chicken with a fork. Cut the apples into small chunks and add to the chicken. Sprinkle with celery salt and stir. Cut the grapes into fourths and add to the chicken and apples. Stir. Add enough mayonnaise to coat the chicken. I like a little more mayo, so I used about half a jar.

Serve on potato bread. It is even better after it sits in the refrigerator a day or two.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Fan"-tastic Fridays

I am starting a new feature on this blog. Every Friday, I am going to do a review of a product, a book, a television show or a movie that I absolutely love and share with you why I do. I would love to hear what some of your "fan"-tastic favorites are, too.

I love for my laundry to spell good and feel soft, especially Ella's clothing. I always have to be worried about what I use to wash our clothes because Brian and Tessa both have sensitive skin. Years ago, we went with All Free and Clear detergent, which works great, but our clothes have no smell at all when they are clean.

I was afraid I would never be able to find a fabric softener that wouldn't bother their skin, but it seems I can pretty much use anything without it bothering them. I have tried out various scents to find my favorite, but none compare to the Ultra Downy Spring & Renewal Fabric Softener with Febreze. I buy the 30 fluid ounce bottle, which is good for 35 loads. I use it in the Downy Ball, throw it into the washing machine and forget all about it. When my laundry is finished, it smells wonderful and doesn't bother Brian and Tessa's skin at all.
I highly recommend it. My only problem is I can't find it at the store where I usually shop. I have to go to the Dollar General, but it is cheaper there than I could get it elsewhere, so I guess it's just a winning situation anyway. I recommend this product for those who like their clothes to smell wonderful and be soft all at the same time.

Days of Our Lives

Certain television shows just remind me of my childhood, and Days of Our Lives is one of them. A soap, you're thinking? A soap opera reminds her of childhood? Yes, it does, and it all has to do with my granny.

She never missed an episode of it. Since we stayed with her during the day during the summer months and every day after school during the school year, we watched it with her. Not that we minded, we all gathered around the television each afternoon to witness the going-ons of the people of Salem.

Here are some of my specific memories of Days of Our Lives:

1. Megan getting electrocuted in the hot tub at the gym by a blow dryer.
2. Bob kidnapping Hope when she was going to marry another man and taking her to that romantic Southern plantation.
3. Bo and Hope's wedding and the gawd-awful headpiece veil she wore
4. Kimberly and Shane falling in love. I still have a crush on Shane to this day
5. Jennifer and Jack making love for the first time in the cave. I loved them as a couple.
6. The Isabella-John Black storyline was the saddest, most romantic one ever. Just before she died, John bought a star for her and named after her. He carried her out to see it, and she died in his arms. My cousin and I watched this on a Saturday night (recorded on the old VHS VCR) and cried like babies.

I don't think I've watched the show in at least 10 years, maybe even more, since Swamp Girl or Jungle Woman or whatever she was called was on there. My brother still watches it; I think because it reminds him of Granny. He called me yesterday and told me Alice Horton was about to die on the show. Frances Reid, the lady that played her, died months ago.

My granny always reminded me of a combination of Alice Horton and Dorothy from Golden Girls. My family reminded me of the Hortons. A bit dysfunctional in a lot of ways, we always came together when we needed each other, just like the Hortons. We might fuss and fight, but we always make up, just like the Horton family on the show.

In spite of the fact I knew I was going to cry, I decided to watch yesterday. It brought back so many memories of losing my granny almost three years ago. Mike Horton even missed his granny's death, just as my Uncle Bobby wasn't there when Granny died. Today, at the beginning of the episode, Hope asked, "What am I going to do without you, Gran?," and I said the exact same thing when my granny died.

I doubt I'll start tuning in again. I had to ask my brother a ton of questions to find out what's going on. But, Days of Our Lives was always a wonderful part of my childhood, the intrigue, the feeling I was doing something naughty by tuning in and mostly the time spent with my granny. So long, Alice Horton. Thanks for the memories.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tessa's appointment

Today brought back so many memories of two years ago when we were undergoing the testing with Jenna. I even brought Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban with me, and while we were going through everything with Jenna, I sought comfort and escape in the world of Hogwarts. The big difference this time is I wasn't the one undergoing the testing, and the results won't be life or death.

Just like with the amnio, we have to wait a while to get the results. I go back next Wednesday to discuss with him what is going on with her. She gets to stay at home with the babysitter, and luckily it won't be as early as it was today.

Ella woke me at 6 a.m., but I didn't mind as I had my alarm set for 6:15 a.m., anyway. I got myself ready, packed Ella's diaper bag for my aunt's house and packed Tessa's lunchbox with her snack that the doctor said to bring since we would be there for most of the morning. For once in her life, Tessa wasn't in a grouchy mood in the morning. I swear, she is always a grump in the morning, and she will even say that.

We made it there with plenty of time to spare. In fact, we were even a little early and had to wait on the doctor to get there for just a few minutes. I didn't mind. It gave us a chance to relax, and we even got to see a bird chase a squirrel.

I had to wait in the waiting room while the doctor did the test. He gave me some paperwork to fill out concerning Tessa's behavior. I am pretty sure this had to do with ADD. The answers to the questions were never, sometimes, almost always and often. Some of the questions, like "Cries Easily, "Is Easily Frightened," and "Disobeys Parents," fit Tessa, and I had to answer almost always. Others, like "Sets Fires," "Is Cruel to Animals" and "Steals," didn't fit at all, and I had to say never.

Tessa's first grade teacher hasn't gotten her end of the paperwork back to the doctor. I hope she gets it back to him soon, and if she doesn't, I hope it doesn't affect the results.

Tessa didn't say much about the testing. I asked her questions about it, and I got a lot of "I don't remembers." I know they did some math, and she had to read some "hard words," as she put it. They also had some testing she did on the computer. Her doctor called it achievement testing to check for dyslexia. If anyone has any experience with this kind of testing, can you please tell me how it's done?

So, now we just wait. I called my mom after it was over and was telling her about what was on the list and how I answered. She kept saying, "She doesn't do that here," or "She's not bad about that here." I felt like saying, "Way to say I'm a bad mother, momma."

The fact is, she does do it over there. She had a meltdown at her house on Sunday. My mom is bad about selective memory. And, Tessa only spends the night over there about once every six weeks lately. Momma has just really hurts my feelings lately. Like when I told her we were sleep training Ella. She said, "You are doing things with her the way you should have done with Tessa." I told her that I didn't think I had messed up too badly, just in the sleep department.

Tonight, she said, "I can't believe you are letting her sleep all by herself in her room when you never let Tessa," like I was being unfair to Ella. I just can't win for losing with her.

I hope we get some solid answers next week. I'm not going to say how I wish for this to go. I wish with all my being that Tessa didn't have the trouble in school or the meltdowns or anxiety problems, but she does. If getting a solid diagnosis gives us a way to treat this, I'm all for her being diagnosed with something. I just wish we didn't have to go through this at all.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day Whatever of Sleep Training -- They Don't Really Need to Cry, Do They?

All my life I heard that babies needed to cry, that it was good for their lungs. My mom always said crying developed their lungs and made for healthier babies down the road. I always had trouble believing that.

Fast forward to when I was pregnant with Tessa. I did a lot of research, especially on the Dr. Sears Web site and his books. He is a firm believer in co-sleeping and the attachment parenting method and does not believe babies need to cry.

Tessa cried a lot as a baby, and I picked her up every time she did. I wanted her to be happy and healthy and well attached. My family told me numerous time that it was Ok to put her down and let her cry if I needed to get something done. Babies need to cry, it's good for their lungs.

I grew sick of hearing about it, but I learned to accept that my family bought into the old wives' tales. Well, now Ella is here. I am a little more relaxed with her than I was with Tessa. Ok, that's a lie. I am a lot more relaxed with her. Comparatively speaking with Tessa I was a paranoid schizophrenic, and with Ella, almost nothing worries me.

I still don't think babies need to cry, and I chalked that old wives tale up to something the older generation believed, kind of like babies need cereal to sleep through the night. I thought people my age would KNOW it wasn't really true, but I was wrong.

We were discussing sleep training with a friend, and he said that it had to be done. I have mixed feelings about that, but I knew I needed to do it if I wanted a better sleeper than Tessa was and is. I also knew I needed to do it so Ella wouldn't wind up in the bed with us (and honestly, if my husband was up for it and we had a king-sized bed, I could totally go for the family bed thing).

Then he says, "They need to learn to be independent." I agree. Children do need to learn to be independent, but not babies. She's seven months old, for goodness sakes. She NEEDS to be dependent on me for a while yet.

And then the kicker, "Besides, babies need to cry. It's good for their lungs." Ugh, he's only a few years older than me, and he believes that. The only time a baby really needs to cry is right after they are born. I don't believe it's good to just let a baby cry, because it's good for their lungs. I'm just wondering if more people believe this to be true.

As for the sleep training, it's coming along. We had one night where she fell asleep really quickly (Sunday, I believe). Monday night, it took an hour. Tonight, it took about 40 minutes. I will admit that I let her cry for a bit longer than normal, but not because it was good for her lungs. Brian was in the shower, and I was in the kitchen doing something for Tessa and couldn't get into Ella's room right away. She didn't calm down, and she didn't fall asleep. In fact, she was sobbing when I got in there. I patted her, got her calmed down and went out.

I think it will probably take less and less time for her to fall asleep as we go through this. It might not be as fast as crying it out, but it is working. She is also sleeping through the night. Last night, she slept from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. I am extremely happy with that because she had been waking up at 3 a.m., before we started the sleep training. We will get there.

P.S. If you do believe this old wives' tale, no offense. I still have a few I believe in, too, especially ones my Granny introduced me to.