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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Giving back, especially to The Trisomy 18 Foundation

I subscribe to Google alerts for Trisomy 18 and Edwards Syndrome. These send e-mails to my inbox with stories and blogs where those words are mentioned. When I see the blog of someone who has had a child be recently diagnosed or are waiting on a diagnosis, I visit their site and offer support.

On Babycenter, many people know I have experience with this diagnosis and know that I'm more than willing to share my story and offer help to those going through it. As emotionally draining as this might be, I still feel as though I have to do it.

I didn't have anyone in real life who had gone through it, so I depended on my Internet friends. Not all of them had experience with Trisomy 18. Some had experience with other chromosomal disorders; others just had experience with a positive AFP test or even a second trimester loss. I can't even begin to tell you what their support meant to me, and I guess by supporting the newly diagnosed, I am just paying it forward.

I remember the pit in my stomach when Dr. McGowen called me to tell me about the AFP test. When she said Trisomy 18, I said, "That's the one that's imcompatible with life, right?" Of course, she said it was. Now that I know more about it, I know that it's not always incompatible with life, just incompatible with long life.

While waiting to do the amnio and waiting on the results, I remember thinking it couldn't happen to us, that these kinds of tragedies happened to other people, not to us. We had had our share of hard times, but nothing like this. It just couldn't happen to us. I thought this, even though in the back of my mind, I knew Jenna was going to be diagnosed with it.

I was in a constant state of panic during that time. I didn't want someone to tell me everything would be Ok. I didn't want anyone to tell me it wouldn't be ok either. Not only did I rely on my Internet friends for this, I also found wonderful support through the Trisomy 18 Foundation, founded by Victoria Miller, after she lost her son.

Now, the Foundation needs our help. Back in December, the Trisomy 18 Foundation won $10,000 from the Chase Giving Program, which meant it has the chance to now win $1 million dollars. In order to do so, people have to vote for the foundation. We need your votes. So much could be done to help those parents who have received a diagnosis with this money.

Voting starts Jan. 15. Every child who has ever been diagnosed with Trisomy 18 deserves a vote. All those children who are defying the odds and are thriving deserve a vote, as do all the ones who have gone on to a better place. Please, please take the time to vote, in memory of those children. And, since most of you know me and have been following my story for a long time, do it for my Jenna. She deserves it.

Here's the link to vote. Just three more days until the voting starts and remember, every vote counts.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A few complaints

Brian is in the doghouse right now. Technically, I don't really like to air our fights in public and won't usually tell the reasons for us fighting if people know we are angry with each other. However, since this my blog, I think I can do it.

Brian is overall a good guy, so I hate to say anything bad about him. But, lately, I'm feeling very unappreciated and think he doesn't understand what a stay at home mom does. It's just all been building up and tonight we had a fight.

The first thing that happened was over the weekend we went out to eat with our friends to celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts. He was talking to the husband and said, "My schedule lets me help out in the middle of the night."

If someone said that to you, wouldn't you think he was doing the middle of the night feedings or diaper changes? You would think that, right? Well, he's not. It does allow him to do it, but that doesn't mean he does. Honest to goodness, I don't care that he doesn't do any of the middle of the night feedings. He works 12 to 14 hours a day at a very stressful and dangerous job. I don't want him to do them when he's working like that, but it makes me mad that he's letting people think he's doing all this work when I'm the one who's actually doing it.

I do think he should help out on his days off though. Do you want to know how many diapers he has changed and how many bottles he's given? He's changed four diapers and given two bottles. I know that part of the problem is he doesn't really like this newborn stage. A lot of men don't, but he needs to get over it. Being a parent isn't just about holding a child or playing with her; it's also hard work.

He also complained because Tessa and Ella woke him up the other night. Tessa was exhausted after her first day back at school, and Tessa and exhaustion don't go together very well. She was pitching a fit about everything. Ella had a bit of a tummy ache and was crying pretty loud, too. Brian had been in bed since about 4 p.m., and this was about 8 p.m. He says that because he has such a dangerous job, all he should do on the days he works is come home and go to bed and not be woke up. While I agree that he needs to sleep, when crap happens like it did that night, he also should be aware he's going to get woke up, and he might not get eight hours of sleep. I told him most parents don't get eight hours of sleep a night, and he needed to get over it.

Of course, he wasn't really happy about that response, but he got over it. He thinks I should do everything around here because he's working and school is out right now. I know he was mad when he said it (and he has a bad habit of saying things he doesn't mean), but he said it doesn't matter if I get enough sleep or not because I'm not working and doing the job he does. Honestly, doesn't everyone deserve a good night's sleep?

I know a lot of this comes because he's got a stressful day ahead of him tomorrow when the snow comes in. I know part of it is because he hates his job, truly hates it, which is why I'm back in school busting my butt to get my degree so I can make more money, so he can get a job that pays less and is a lot less stressful.

But I would so appreciate a little appreciation. He said he thinks he could be a stay at home mom, and the house would be spotless and he wouldn't need sleep and all that crap. He didn't say he thinks I don't do anything, but his attitude makes me feel like he thinks I don't do enough. I told him he couldn't do it either because he can't handle a newborn. I feel bad about saying that now.

I honestly hate fighting with him. He'll wake me up before he goes to work and try to make it up to me. He won't actually admit he's wrong or say he's sorry (that probably won't happen unless I insist on it, aren't most men like that?), but he will regret what he said tonight. I just really hate fighting with him and wish he would realize what I do and also realize that I know exactly how hard he works and appreciate him for it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I know I'm doing a lot of updates tonight, but Tessa is in bed early because school starts back tomorrow, so I have a ton of free time tonight.

Ella is a wonderful baby. The only time she cries is if she's hungry, needs to be changed or, very rarely, if she has a tummy ache. She started getting fussy in the evenings when she was about two weeks old, so I switched her to Enfamil Gentlease, and it's been a lifesaver. I was a little worried we would have to do Nutramagin like we did with Tessa, but so far so good.

She sleeps about five hours straight at night, which is really considered sleeping through the night. She'll eat about 10, wake up about 3 to eat and go back to sleep until about 8. That's going to change starting Tuesday since Tessa will be back in school. I hope it doesn't mess it up too much, causing her to stop sleeping through.

When we look at her, she'll copy some of our facial expressions, and the other day, Tessa was talking to her and laughing. Ella smiled back at her. It was so cute. Ella also laughs and smiles in her sleep. A friend of mine says she always heard that means the angels are talking to her. I said that means it was my granny and Jenna sharing secrets with her.

She had her month check-up last week. She had gained up to nine pounds and one ounce and had grown 1.5 inches. Ella drools a lot so I asked the doctor about cutting a tooth, since she already has one already. Sure enough, she's getting another tooth. She told me to use Baby Oragel, so I did. Ella doesn't seem to like it as it makes her drool more.

She's now almost seven weeks old. Her personality is starting to come out a little more. She's very easy-going. The only time she shows her temper is when she is in her car seat which she hates. Tessa didn't sleep through the night until she was about two, and even now, she still has trouble sleeping. She's also always been pretty high-strung and was even as a baby. I think she and Ella are going to be like day and night, but that's fine.

I can see it now. Tessa will be the drama queen, and Ella will be the down to earth one calming her down. That's kind of like me and Brian, to tell the truth. He's the king of drama at times, and I'm the level-headed, easy-going one. I love Tessa for being the drama queen she is, and when Ella gets bigger and shows her personality more, I'll love her for who she is, too.

Excited about school

I start back to school for the spring semester in less than two weeks. I'm super excited. I'm hoping to take summer classes and maybe be able to graduate next December.

I did very good this past semester. I made a C in astronomy and an A in developmental psychology, the psychology of personality and American history. I am really proud of myself and am trying not to worry too much about the C. I did pretty well on the astronomy tests, but what brought my grade down was the labs. While I was on bedrest, we had two outdoor labs, which I couldn't do. The professor dropped one of the zeroes, otherwise, I would have been in real trouble grade wise with that class.

This semester, I'm only taking classes that are directly related to my major or one of my minors. I thought about taking five classes but decided just to take four with Ella still be so little. I'll just have to take one more over the summer.

My courses this time are Introduction to Cognitive Psychology, Marriage and Family, Gender and Society and Basic Statistics for Behavioral Sciences. I'm a little worried about statistics because it involves math, but I'm sure I'll get through it. I'm super excited about the others though. I can't wait to get started.

I always loved all of the sociology classes I've taken. My first time in college, I took social psychology, sociology 101 and social problems. I made very good grades in all of those. Maybe it explains my socialistic tendencies.

I'm hoping to get straight As this time. I hate that astronomy is what kept me from it the last time.

Dead Baby Moms

One of my favorite shows right now is Criminal Minds. It's about a group of FBI agents who work to profile criminals in order to stop them from committing anymore crimes. Most of the time, they go after serial killers. I like the show so much that I debating about going into criminal profiling instead of counseling. I doubt I will do it, but I do find it very intriguing.

The one thing I really dislike about the show is its depiction of dead baby moms. I know of at least three episodes in which the criminal is a woman whose baby was either stillborn or died soon after birth. Criminal Minds isn't the only show that has done this either. In fact, on almost any crime show, the unsub (what the criminal is called) is usually a dead baby mom when it comes to children being kidnapped or missing. Lifetime has several movies that depict this very scenario.

It isn't just limited to fictional television shows either. While I was on bedrest, I watched a true crime show, and a baby was kidnapped. The police officer said they were looking at women who had recently lost a baby to see if one of them might have done it. It isn't just television either. Real life people do it all the time. Several months ago, a baby was kidnapped from an area hospital. My own aunt said she bet the woman who did it had recently lost a baby.

This attitude kills me. When I lost Jenna, I was grief-stricken. I wanted my baby back. I would have done just about anything to get her back, but I'll say it again, I wanted MY baby back. I didn't want someone else's baby. I didn't want to go out and kidnap another baby because it wouldn't have been Jenna.

I also would never have kidnap or killed someone's baby. For one, I would never want to put someone through what I was going through. For another, I wasn't crazy, grief-stricken, yes, but not crazy. Depressed, but not psychotic.

Over the past year and a half, I've met many, if not hundreds, of dead baby moms. None of them have been crazy. None of them have been psychotic. One of the most overwhelming common denominators we all have is that we wish no one would ever have to go through the pain of what we did.

I am sure that it has happened before, where the kidnapper or killer was a woman who had lost a baby, but maybe these poor women had some sort of mental illness beforehand. Maybe they were prone to it, and the death of their child just threw them into a psychosis. However, even though I know it has happened, I don't think it's as common as television makes it out to be.

I wish everyone, especially television writers, would realize that us dead baby moms aren't crazy. We aren't going to go out and kidnap babies. We don't need to be stereotyped in that way. Most of us are just sad, not psychotic.