Friday, June 30, 2006

Calling all parents...

... who worry their kids watch too much tv. Gather them up and show them the pictures below and tell them...

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Chilling out...

and watching some T.V. Read more!
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I forgive you...

The other day – while in passing my husband made a comment that hurt my feelings. It was not just what he said – but also the manner in which he said it. I felt blamed for something that was not my fault. I realized that in truth he did not mean it was my fault but still… I felt a little hurt.

As I prepared for bed, I mulled it over. “Really,” I thought; “I should point out to him how he has hurt my feelings.”

I began to plan out the conversation and just exactly how I should gently point out to him that “while I am sure you did not realize you had hurt my feelings you had, in point, done so.” As I brushed my teeth vigorously another question posed itself.

“If I was so certain that he had not intended to hurt my feelings – why should I point it out to him?”

I knew he was very stressed over how a few things had gone wrong recently and very preoccupied and what good was it going do to tell him this, except to upset him more? In truth, I was only satisfying my hurt pride by pointing out to him that something in his tone had suggested he blamed me and while I knew he had not meant to blame me, well he should just know that his tone made me feel that way…”

As I flossed slowly, the selfishness of my desire to make sure he knew this sunk in and I resolved to not say anything. Not a word, not even a tiny peep.

And if anyone wants to know what he said is such a way as to hurt my feelings… I can't tell you because, well, because I actually can’t remember anymore.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Prayer to the Infant Jesus

Divine Child Jesus
In my difficulties: help me
From the enemies of my soul: save me
In my errors: enlighten me
In my doubts and pains: comfort me
In my solitudes: be with me
In my diseases: invigorate me
When others despise me: encourage me
In temptations: defend me
In difficult hours: strengthen me
With your maternal heart: love me
With your immense poer: protect me
And, into your arms, when I die: receive me
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I have received much comfort, strength and graces from this prayer. I have pulled it out again. I am worried that perhaps my post from yesterday (the 26th) seemed negative. That was not my intention. I meant only to share how sometimes, despite all that God has done for me I still struggle and I get frustrated with myself for being so like Elsa at the pool side - unable to just let go and trust. I also get frustrated with God.

I get frustrated with God because Hugo and I have been struggling for four years to understand and know His will for us. Some would say with the difficulties we have encountered with the business that perhaps God is speaking to us through the continued struggles we face with this business. Yet, we have asked God repeatedly that if this is not His will for us to please guide us in the right direction. Inspire us with an idea, open a door. Send us a sign we cannot possibly fail to see and understand.

I do not know if it is spiritual ignorance on our part that we have not been able to hear God or if it is that, for now, God is silent. I do know we have learned much from the struggles and challenges we have been through the past four years. I learned some rather upsetting news almost a week ago and while all appears to be working out - I still do not have a clear and resounding YES, all will fall into place and all will work out.

Therein lies my struggle with trust. God has NOT let me down yet. God will never let me down. Still - I have this fear in the pit of my stomach. Yet - what if the answer is no... Hugo and I will still live. Our children will still live. My husband and I will have to re-group and change our plans. What is so terrible about that, I wonder.

I am consumed with the what if instead of focussing on my duties, not just of the day, but of the MOMENT. I am living with my head in the future while my body tries to cope with the present, very unsuccessfully.

I have more thoughts on this swirling about, but I must lead the children in our daily Rosary and I am letting my wants get in the way of my duties. Read more!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pick a hand...

Emma walked up to me with one arm behind her back.

"Pick a hand!" she exclaimed, with a big grin and her eyes sparkling.

There was only one hand to pick - so I did and surprise. It was the right one! Imagine that!
In the hand behind her back was a bright purple pen with a fluffy feather on the end.

Her delight in surprsing me was contagious and I was very glad for it because today has been very hard. I think that if life was a huge classroom and God the teacher - I would have been wearing a dunce cap most of the day given my inability to grasp the lesson that He has set before me.

My lesson for today has been the same one he has been tutoring me in for the past four years. Trust. Trust and remembering to pray when I feel that I can not endure the stress I am surrounded by for one more second, never mind possibly for years to come. It is time for me to get out one of my favorite prayers and keep it close by.

Thankfully,God is a merciful and kind teacher and I am not wearing a dunce cap - that I can see anyway. Read more!

Friday, June 23, 2006

In and Out...

In and out, in and out, in and out. Elsa just could not make up her mind about the pool we were playing in during our overnight stay in Savanah last night. Since Tuesday we had been on the road, by 3 pm Thursday we knew we had had it and pulled off in Savanah, Georgia and started searching for a hotel - preferably one with a pool and two tvs in our room. We do not have tv here at home so we prefer not to have to fight over the remote with the kids the few occaisions we can watch it. It did not take us long to find one that met our few basic needs.

In a jiffy we had the knapsacks, diaper bag and extra pillows heaped on the couch in the sitting area of the hotel room and we were in line for the bathroom - suits in hand. Thankfully we only had three children with us so I knew we were in for a relaxing time in the pool. I tossed Hugo a little swimmer as I took my turn in the bathroom but while I struggled to squeeze into my pre-Elsa bathing suit we decided he should go ahead and leave with Bethany and Nathaniel. Once I won my battle with my bathing suit I quickly slipped the swimmer onto Elsa's chubby little bottom, slipped her dress off and scooped her up. She and I grabbed a few pool towels from the front desk and then hurried to join Hugo and Elsa's two older siblings.

I couldn't wait to play in the pool with Elsa - she had loved the water so much the last time and this trip we had left Emma, the pool hater, behind! This was going to be a blast - just three kids!

As I approached the side of the pool Elsa's arms tightened around my neck and Hugo turned to greet her. As he spoke I heard a gurgling sound from behind him and Bethany's head emerged as she spouted water like she was a whale and before Hugo could even move to reach for her, Nathaniel chose that moment to be brave and step out beyond his height - dissapearing from site. Given the smallness of the pool Hugo had them both out in a nano second, but for Nathaniel the damage was done. He clung to side of the pool bewailing his plight and Elsa's grip around my neck tightened even more.

I cheerfully ignored the pleas to leave the pool that Nathaniel made to no one in particular and began to descend into the twinkling blue depths but Elsa is no dummy. In fact, she is quite an observant child and had taken in all that had passed in that nano second. Still, I continued to labor under my delusion of a peaceful dip with only three children. Bethany - far from being intimidated by her near brush with drowning continued to try and stretch her 4 foot 3 frame above 4 feet 6 inches of water and Nathaniel continued to wail from the pool steps.

With Elsa's scream of terror as her feet touched the warm water I finally gave in to reality. I placed her on the side of the pool and scrambled after her as she tore into the furthest corner from the pool. Then she turned and I could see the shimmering water tempting her. She watched her Daddy playing with and alternatively rescuing Bethany. Nathaniel, realizing no one was going to acknowledge his whines to leave the pool, had decided to join the fun.

It was too much for Elsita and she toddled to the edge and reached her arms out to me and we desended the stairs again. But as her toes touched the water she squirmed and cried to be released back on solid land once more. I let her pull herself over the side and back onto the cement. Hugo and I both flinched as she dragged her knees across it and then stood up. I was especially tense as she bounded away and towards the chairs. She scrambled onto one and not content with the heart attacks she was giving me each time she toddled towards the pool's edge - she had to stand up and grin at me. Hugo kept telling me to relax, that he would watch her - but no one can watch a baby like a mother so I ignored him and continued to suffer my heart attacks.

Over the next twenty minutes she toddled back and forth and backed up towards the edge of the pool on her knees and carefully let her legs into the water as I watched her from the poolside and Hugo guided her from behind. Each time as soon as the water got to about her ankles she would scramble back out. Exasperated, I watched her and wondered - how many times is she going to do this before she finally relaxes and trusts Hugo to hold her in the water?

At that moment I was stuck by the similarity with what Elsa was struggling with and my struggles to trust God. Again and again Hugo patiently helped her into the pool and then back out while I, like her gaurdian angel, stood close by as back up. How many times has God stood patiently by; holding me as I dangle at the edge of dispair, afraid to let go of my problem and let God take care of it because maybe, just maybe, this time God won't take care of it? Yet just as Hugo stood there carefully and patiently helping her in and out of the pool, God is faithfully waiting for me to just jump in and let Him take care of me and what ever problem I am facing.

Eventually, Elsa did let me carry her into the pool and she relaxed as I gently swished her about softly talking to her as I reminded her that just 14 months ago she lived in the water and floated about in it for nine months. Now I just have to try and let go and relax, and let God gently guide me through life. Read more!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What's THIS from Mummy?

This question is usually followed by what is to me some obscure quote from a movie a I vaguely remember seeing. However - recently Emma challenged me to this game AND I actually knew the answers.

"What's dis from Mummy", she asked as she squirmed through her face being washed.
"Wockyyyyy? Giiiingerrrr?"

"Chicken Run?!" I shouted with glee.

"Yes!" she grinned.

"And dis? What is dis from? I like ta move it, move it! I like ta move it move it!"


Look out quiz shows - here I come! Read more!

Thank you Saint Anthony

We were asking for God's blessings of the new (to us) van through the intercession of Saint Anthony, and our Priest suggested this as a Novena of Thanksgiving.

O holy St. Anthony, gentlest of saints, your love for God and charity for his creatures made you worthy while on earth to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited upon your word, which you were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, we implored you to obtain for us the favor we saught through a novena. The answer to our prayer required a miracle; even so, you are the saint of miracles. O gentle and loving Saint Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, you whispered our petition into the ears of the Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms, and the gratitude of our hearts will always be yours.

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we fogrive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit in honour of Saint Anthony, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.


I decided that, as well as praying this daily, I would keep this up at the top of my blog for the nine days. Please if you care to - join us in this prayer of thanksgiving!
Thank you everyone for your joyful congratulations!!

(Originally posted June 18th, 2006)

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Monday, June 19, 2006

From the living room couch...

...came words of wisdom and common sense as my 15 year old daughter, Gabriela, perused a commerical insert that had come in the mail.

"What's this? Oh, a chart for choosing the right hair colour for you... Hmmm - I would have thought God did that when he created me." Read more!

Oh the tangled webs we weave...

...when first we begin to deceive.

Ever tell a little white lie? Just a tiny little story ... so as to distract a child, or to get him or her to do what you want. And then have it come back to bite you in the umm... derrière?

Months ago, several months ago, we began to encourage Emma to go play with a sister or brother by saying... "Oh - but you don't want her to be LONELY, do you?" This worked so well that it slowly evolved to stories like; "Oh, but your Teddy Bear is lonely, he is MISSING you - you really need to go to bed so he won't be LONELY." This worked very well.

But now Emma is lonely, oh so very lonely. She is lonely when it is time to go to bed. She is lonely when she is sent to put her cup back in the kitchen. She is even lonely when she needs to the bathroom.

"Oh, but Mummy - I am wonely. Pease tum wit me. I CAN"T be wonely. I just tan't be all alwone!"

I have tried leaving the bathroom door open so I can keep working.
"But look I can see you. YOU can see ME!"
I have begged and pleaded. I have told her her gaurdian angel is with her. All to no avail.

And then the other day she bounced off my bed in the wee hours of the morning after announcing the call of nature and began cajoling me to join her.
"Tum on Mummy. I just tan't be wonely! Peeease tum with me."

As she reached my bathroom door she turned to demand my presence, and an idea hit me. I whiped my toes out from under the bed covers and wiggled them.
In a falsetto voice they said to Emma, "We can see you from here, you won't be lonely!"
A miracle - it worked. But now my toes have to watch her every morning. But that's okay - it's progress. And it is one less bathroom call that I have to attend personally. Read more!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

and heeeere it is!

Our NEW TO US 1994 van! How did this happen? Well - I can only attribute it to Saint Anthony's prayers. Our new cheque arrived on his feast day and the money was available this morning - the cut off date! So we are off in a few minutes to Wednesday night Mass to thank GOD and maybe have Father bless our van if he has time!

God is Good!
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I have a BIG SURPRISE to share that I learned about yesterday. Check back later today for pictures. Read more!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Careful - Her Bites

A few weekends ago we had carefully made plans to do a barbeque at a nearby park – the one we discovered on Memorial Day weekend. I loved that park. It was clean and pretty, the play equipment safe and not overly busy. I do not typically enjoy parks but this one really appealed to me. So after preparing the food, packing up the van and settling kids into their car seats, we headed off. Thankfully it was only a ten minute drive as when we got there – we discovered that a local festival was taking place. Complete with pop corn stands, cotton candy and people. Tons and tons of people.

Neither Hugo nor I felt like having to beat our way through crowds with so many younger children in tow – no matter how many teens and pre teens we might have to help. So we made a quick u-turn and high tailed it out of there. Within ten minutes we were safely parked in our own driveway again and busily prepping our own little barbeque. After all a picnic is a picnic if you are eating outside.

The kids were happily playing with the badminton rackets that I picked up at the dollar store to make up for not getting to swing and slide at the park and I was happily burning calories right along with them.

The only downside was having to dodge little heads that were often weaving between us and I was relieved when Nathaniel, Emma and Elsa settled down to play near the front porch. Keeping my eye on them, I continued to chase that elusive birdie around the yard with the older kids. After a bit I needed a break and decided to try and catch some snap shots of all the fun we were having.

I snapped pics of kids running and jumping, twisting and giggling and I caught a one of what looked like Nathaniel hugging Elsa. But suddenly there was a high pitched scream causing all heads to turn ensemble, towards the front porch - where I thought Nathaniel had been cuddling with his baby sister.

Instead, there on the side walk was Nathaniel with several fingers stuck in Elsa’s mouth and she showed no signs of loosening her hold on his hand. A pit bull might have had a weaker grip than she did at that moment. By the time I got there she had finally relinquished his hand and Tanny clasped it to his chest and between sobs explained. “She has somefing in her mouth!” Surrounding her, were little crumbs of Styrofoam – lending us a hint as to what she had been so fiercely defending.

We got Nathaniel some ice for swollen little fingers and praised him for his attempt to protect his baby sister. Several minutes later I noticed that Elsa had once more stuffed something in her mouth. As I bent over to try and dig it out, Nathaniel passed by, his bag of ice still offering relief to his wounded fingers.

“Careful!” he warned me, “Her bites!”

Read more!
All in day's work, Tanny Paul tends his wounds after taking his job as big brother very seriously and risking, if not his life, than at least his limbs to keep his baby sister safe!

Having been forgiven, Elsa enjoys a ride in Tanny Paul's favourite truck.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

What did you do for Memorial day?

First Place ~ Celebrated with my family.

Second Place ~ "A combination of the above" tied with "I did nothing at all".

Third Place ~ Went on a picnic with my family.

Our family celebrated with a picnic in a nearby park! It was a great time, as evidenced in the photos posted below...
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Our picnic was fun from the start.... the finish.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Asked for a Gift...

...which I have been reluctant to give.

I have not been asked to contribute for a shower gift, nor asked to give of my time for a volunteer project. I have not been invited to a birthday for a person to whom I do not wish to buy a gift. In fact, it is not a human that has asked me for a gift.

It is Jesus, my Lord and Saviour, who has smiled down on us with so many blessings through His Holy Image of the Infant of Praque. And now He has asked me for a gift. Just a little sacrifice, and only in a material sense.

You see, we had a little money coming from Canada, money we are able to receive each year out of our retirement savings. And each year within 5 - 6 business days of receiving the physical cheque we have had the funds so there was little reason to think it would be different this year.

With the cheque safely deposited, we searched the state auctions to see what might be available in the line of vans. Ours is really on it's last legs, or should I say wheels? The heater grinds and moans while churning out heat and when set on the a/c mode, still whines and moans as it churns out... heat. The brakes, at best, are iffy and the transmission thinks for a little while before it shifts gears. Gas mileage, well we just won't state anything here in case the Environmental movement is monitoring me. When it rains, the wipers don't make that much difference because of all of the leaks that drip down the inside of the windshield.

And there it was - my van. A burgandy coloured van. I was thrilled to see it had the same combination of doors that I have always wanted on a van and have yet to have. (You can see my priorities!) And it was right here, just a few miles away which would allow us to check it out and make sure it was operating fine.

As sson as we had a spare moment we drove over to the State Surplus Building. Hugo showed me where I had to stand in line to ask for the keys to the van. It was hot in this building - despite the huge fans and a trickle of sweat made it's way down my neck. I got to the front of the line and asked for the keys to auction number xyz123.
"Oh, I'm sorry - but those keys are already out. Ask back in about, ummmm, 10 minutes." Dissapointed and worried someone else might actually win my van I sat down, nearby, at the table people used to write out their bids. There were binders with old bids in them so I flipped through to see what other like vehicles had been won for. While thumbing through the worn pages I kept my eye on the door. Soon two young hispanic men returned a key. Trying not to look too interested, I asked again for the key to the vehicle I wanted to see. It was they who had had it.

With the key clasped in my hot little hand I caught up with Hugo who was scouting out possible bargins to bid on. We headed back out into the heat, and over to the car lot. We unlocked the van and I checked out the interior. It was clean. Hugo checked out the motor and was happy with it. And we were both tickled to see that the A/C worked. I sat for a while enjoying its cool breeze before we headed back to place our bid.

Back inside the large building I sat back down at the table and Hugo gave me a bid to fill out. As I carefully filled in all the appropriate sections the same two gentleman that had just checked my van sat down. One was chatting eagerly on his cell. In spanish, of course. Little did he know we were bilingual and Hugo and I exchanged glances. I could tell he was listening in case the fellow should let it drop what he was going to bid on and how much. I twiddled with my pen until the fellow hung up, nodded to his companion and they left. "Well?" I hissed in Hugo's ear.
Apparently the felow had not mentioned my van at all. We settled on a number we would use as our bid, high enough that we felt relatively sure of winning, but still well below the street value. If we won - it would be a bargin indeed.

Then began the twenty four hour wait. I felt completly confidant that we would win. So much so that I did not actually worry that much about it. I woke up the next morning with that Christmas morning feeling and when I came downstairs I saw that the screen of my monitor was showing the State Bids. Hugo had already been checking them.

We had won his bids and...we had won the van. That afternoon, counting my chickens before they had hatched, I bought liners to place under the children's carseats to help protect the ulphostery of my 'new to me' van. Little did I know that Jesus was going to ask me to give it back to Him.

The deadline for the payment for the van is this coming Wednesday, the day after we will finish our St Anthony Novena. I was confident that the money from Canada would be in the bank in time to pay for the van on St Anthony's feast day - it just felt so fitting that we would complete the purchase on his special day. But day after day there was nothing in the account. Still confident that all would be okay I called the bank to determine what the delay was.
This began an exchange of phone calls that would spread over several days, with each day bringing us closer to the deadline. A little pit began to grow in my stomach. Doubt knawed at meduring the night. Maybe it would not be okay. Maybe I wouldn't get my van... Maybe Jesus was asking me:

"Do you love me enough to say yes? Enough to say, Yes Jesus, I accept your answer of No. "

I balked at this. Surely after allowing us to win the van - Jesus did not mean to take it back. Did He?

Well, as it turns out, there is no way that this money will be in the bank in time. In order to stop a series of errors in judgement made by banking personel and other mistakes they made - we have had to ask for a stop payment on the the cheque. Then a new cheque will be cut and mailed to us. Even overnighted - it will not get here in time to clear.

But the land lord has agreed to wait yet longer for our cheque. We have been able to pay our Hydro bill. Before the insurance is past due some other smaller cheques will have cleared and we will be able to pay for it. The small auctions my husband bid on, and needed to win for the business, have been paid. It is very, very clear to me that Jesus wants my yes.

And so, reluctantly, I have said yes. Those two liners for the car seats are still sitting on my shelf and later I will place them under the carseats in our current 1984 van. It deserves a little love after all. I think my biggest regret is that I am not more joyful about saying yes. Little by little the past two days - it has hurt less and I have even been able to laugh at myself - a little.

And, hopefully, someday when Jesus says no, I will be mature enough to accept it without the pout. Read more!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A stroll down memory lane...

Part two and the conclusion are posted directly below part one which I have reposted at the top of the blog for the sake of continuity. Read more!

A stroll down memory lane.

Sometimes the joy of giving birth is marred by the news that your baby is ill. I remember a miracle that we received following the birth of our third baby and first son. It had been a normal pregnancy that had taken me through the hot Canadian months of July and August with our son finally announcing his presence in early September of ’85.

The labour had been the normal 8 - 12 hours of pain and misery that we get through with the hope and wonder that you will soon actually get to meet the little person who has been playing football for the past months with your bladder. Finally after many false attempts Jonathan crowned and was born. Although my third – he was at that point my smallest baby. Our second baby, a daughter, had weighed in at 9 lbs so this little fellow was almost a full 3 lbs less – a significant difference on the newborn scale.

The first few hours after his birth, so many years later, are now blurred for me but I do remember the first time that I changed his tiny little hospital gown and disposable diaper. His little arms seemed so fragile in comparison to dressing 9 lb baby, never mind my more recent experience with a chubby little 18 month old and a very self sufficient 3 year old. I gently folded his arm back, afraid I would hurt him as I fitted his fresh gown on him. I laughed at myself, imagining that anyone seeing me would think I was a first time mother, and not the mother of three.

I then settled down to feed him, but he was not as vigorous in his nursing as the first two babies had been. Despite my experience we were not falling into a good rhythm. All too soon I learned why when a sergeant major, disguised as a nurse, appeared at the door and gathered my son up and announced; “Your baby has jaundice and needs to be under the lights.” She efficiently wrapped him in his blanket and whisked him out the door in her arms. Shortly after my pediatrician appeared and assured me that all was fine and just a few hours under the lights would right everything, but in the mean time our nursing time was to be strictly regulated to 15 minutes every three hours. Not a great recipe for successful nursing and certainly not a regime I was happy to follow. I felt as though I was only getting to borrow my son for those few precious moments during which he suckled only half heartedly while a nurse would fuss over him with a cold cloth trying to wake him enough to eat. Then off he would be whisked again to settle under his lights like a Floridian bathing under the hot sun, with gauze pads for sunglasses. I was not even allowed to sit beside him in the nursery as I would be in the way. If only I could have just been able to sit there and watch him – it would have been so much easier. Instead I sat with my arms empty; hungrily waiting for my chance to hold my delicate little son, who was growing more yellow each day. It did not help to be the only one in my ward who did not get her baby each time the train of bassinettes passed by. My husband was busy with the two older children at home and unable to visit, but called often to see how his first son was doing. My progress report was never filled with progress.

My pediatrician was very dedicated and stopped by often to reassure me, but not even he could convince the nurses to break their strict rules about access to babies in their nursery. Eventually Jonathan’s bilirubin level leveled off and while it had not yet started to retreat – I was able to convince Dr. Simo to release Jonathan with the promise I would return to the lab in 24 hours for a blood draw to ensure his level had not begun to increase again. Anxious the doctor might change his mind, I called Hugo and urged him to hurry and pick us up.

Once home we settled in a happy routine of being a family of five and the girls happily dragged toys out to show their baby brother while I tried hard to keep him awake long enough to nurse. I tried all the tricks the nurses had shown me but little seemed to work. I tried not to worry too much, but worry I did. And rightly so – as time would tell.

To be continued...

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Part Two of my stroll down memory lane...

Our 24 hours were up and we made it to the lab and had the necessary torture of a blood draw performed by pricking the tiny heel of our now very yellow son. Still ignoring the knot in my stomach, we returned home and I continued to try and entice my son to nurse. His big sisters were disturbed by my waking the little fellow and making him cry with cold face clothes and sprinkles of water on his face. I too hated it, but did it repeatedly in hopes he might actually nurse for more than a minute or too before drifting back to sleep.

Friday, shortly after noon, the phone rang. It was our pediatrician’s nurse who informed us that our test results were in and we were needed in the doctor’s office immediately. With the knot that had been ever present tightening even more in the pit of my stomach, we quickly loaded the children into their car seats and, without delay, headed downtown to the office.

Dr. Simo met us with a very serious face and ushered us into his office. The grave expression on his face froze the knot in my stomach. He quietly explained that in the 24 hours plus since Jonathan’s release his bilirubin levels had increased to dangerous levels.
“I made a most grievous error in listening to a mother’s heart, and not my head, by letting you take Jonathan home before his levels went down. My mistake might have cost you your son. The neonatal staff is waiting for you at CHEO. You must go directly there and Jonathan will be admitted and a double blood exchange will be done in hopes of saving him from permanent brain damage. We can only pray that we are not too late.”

Hugo’s eyes caught mine. The guilt I felt was immense and the doctor’s following words cut even deeper. “You must not nurse him any more. It appears you have ABO incompatibility and as a result have built up antibodies during your pregnancy and these are attacking your son’s blood still.”

“What?” I gasped. “Do you mean I can never nurse him again?” My husband stared at me incredulously; unable to believe I was questioning this when our son was so ill. Dr Simo replied, “It is too early to know, but for now the Doctors at CHEO have recommended that you not nurse him any more. In 24, 48 hours this decision will be revisited.” Stunned, I gathered my son up and stared at him – was my own milk actually harming him? My husband asked if we might use the phone to call a co-worker so as to arrange to leave our daughters with him and his wife.

“Actually you do not have time to do that. They are waiting, as we speak, for Jonathan. Every minute is essential. You must go directly to CHEO with the baby. I’m so sorry. I feel I have failed you.”

Wordlessly we directed the girls back out to the car. Sensing the stress, sadness and tension, the girls were remarkably quiet. Even 18 month old Jenny was silent in her hated car seat. I strapped tiny Jonathan into his car seat, barely able to keep the tears back. My mind was whirling. Not only had I begged to have him home as soon as his billi was stable, perhaps my persistent efforts to nurse him had actually been harming him. When I shared my fears and guilt with Hugo, he was too worried to be able to discuss it. Ultimately we just continued the half hour drive, in what was now rush hour, to CHEO in silence, each lost with our personal worries and feelings of guilt.

When we finally made it there we were whisked up to the NeoNatal Unit where the double doors loomed ominously before this tiny family of five that suddenly felt so fragile. I held Jonathan while Hugo clasped each our daughters little hands in his. We were all quiet.

The nurses on duty were huddled together watching for our arrival. One of htem came forward and greeted us and took Jonathan from my arms. My eyes filled with tears as Aimee suddenly cried out "Hey - why are they taking my baby!??" Not 'our baby' but my baby. She so clearly felt very protective of her baby brother. Another nurse stepped forward and knelt down to her three year old height. "It's okay honey." She reassured her. Your baby is sick and we are going to make him all better. She took Aimee's hand and brought her to the window of the room they had taken Jonathan to and lifted her up to see. A nurse was undressing him and doing the perfunctary examination, heart rate, pulse while another was preping him for an IV. He was too weak to protest.

She put Aimee back down and we then followed her to the room one usually passes by extra quietly when the door was closed. The family consultation room. This is where you usually saw the extended family of someone critically ill, consulting with a doctor and one instintively walked by more quickly while lowering your voice out of repsect for thier sorrow. This time we would be the consultees.

We waited anxiously for the doctor who would be handling our son's neonatal stay and, we prayed, his recovery. I do not even remember his name or his face. I only remember his voice, somber, as he broke the news to us.

"At this point your son's billi levels are so high that is almost inevitable that he has brain damage. The question is how much. The only option is to do a double blood exchange using a universal donor blood type. Then it will be ‘wait and see’ as we must then hope that your son does not reject the new blood and/or develop a blood infection. I'm sorry - I really can't tell you more than that."


My husband cleared his voice and I struggled with our 18 month old as she got bored with sitting still in this quiet, low lit, small room. It was littered with well thumbed magazines, but despite this being a Children’s hospital – there were no toys scattered about. Aimee sat quietly on the edge of her chair swinging her legs to and fro – her eyes clasped on the adults’ faces as her 3 year old brain tried to assimilate all this grown up talk about her baby. Hugo’s low voice broke through the silence as he asked he could please be the donor for his small son. We were at the peak of the AIDs scare and just in the doorway of the beginning of pre-testing blood supplies. His request was flatly denied as even if they were of the same type, his son’s weakened state especially required that we use a universal blood type, O negative, to try and eliminate as much as possible the chance of rejection of the donor’s blood. I felt the same helplessness, crowded in my chest, which I saw on Hugo’s face. There was little left to be said, so after murmuring a few more words of reassurance that we were doing the right thing, the doctor shook our hands and left to see how Jonathan’s prep for the procedure was coming along.

We gathered up the girls and ushered ourselves to the elevator and then to the lobby. Hugo held the girls hands while I fished for quarters in the bottom of the knapsack that doubled as my diaper bag. I happened to have my address book in there and we began making calls. I no longer remember the order in which we placed them but we called my parents in New Brunswick, a very religious couple in Fredericton, and a co-worker of Hugo’s. The co-worker and his wife invited Hugo and the girls to dinner and the couple and my parents agreed to pray and to ask others to do so. Our friends in Fredericton, we knew, were part of a very large prayer chain and in that we placed all of our hope. Tearfully I waved good bye and then headed back upstairs to take my place of vigil by my son’s window. Once more we were separated by a pane of glass and this time my sadness was overshadowed by my guilt.

As before he looked so peaceful, stretch our in his little cot – sleeping. It seemed he slept more now, than he ever had while tossing about inside my belly the last weeks before his birth. It was hard to believe that he was so ill. A nurse noticing me came out with a smile and a hug. She encouraged me to try and rest – your son will need all your strength once this is over and you need to learn how to pump your milk.

She had my attention now. I did not want to leave my son’s side for a second but this first hint that perhaps I might actually be able to actively do something for him, I was willing to go else where. She lead me to a room that was just for parents of seriously ill children where they was a sleeper sofa that could be pulled out for the night. Thoughtfully someone had already placed an electric breast pump in the room for me. The machine and I were about to become best friends. The nurse quietly explained to me how to use it and also reassured me that soon I would be able to try nursing my baby again but for the first 24 – 48 hours he would be on formula as my milk would surely have antibodies in it and in his condition his liver could not handle them. She tried again to get me to rest. She explained that Jonathan would sleep through the whole process and, once it was completed, they would wake me and let me come and see him. “You are looking at being here at least ten days, if your son progresses normally so you really must try to rest while you can. I can not promise this room will be always available for these ten days. “

I traipsed out one last time to see him before calling Hugo to ask for a few things that I would be needing him to bring me in the morning. Then I settled down for what I was sure would be a sleepless next four hours. But my fatigue took over and I fell into a deep and dreamless sleep punctuated only by the hallway speakers that called doctors from here and there.

A gentle shake woke me and I scrambled up, confused, and stared at the nurse. She smiled.
”Jonathan is awake, would you like to see him?” She pulled me out of the middle of the springy mattress and I hurried to the nursery with her. At least here I would be allowed to touch and hold my son while he recovered. They wanted me near to him as much as possible as they felt his mother’s contact with him would help him to recover. I couldn’t agree more. There was a rocking chair waiting for my tired body and I sat into it gratefully as I reached through the port holes of his incubator. I gazed at all of the tubes and flashing lights, while his nurse explained what they were all for. I leaned my head against the plastic of his bed and stared at my small son as his chest rose and fell slowly. I stroked his tiny hand and relished the softness of his skin. I prayed for forgiveness at my impatience to have him all to myself that had lead to his being released too soon. If only the nurses at his birth hospital had allowed me to sit by him, instead of claiming him all to themselves, I sometimes justified to myself. Then I would not have pushed so hard to have him released and then we would not be here.

In this quiet room with the lights generally down low, beside Jonathan was his little roommate, a beautiful baby boy who had been born full term, but had suffered severe brain damaged and had been airlifted to CHEO, his parents too far away to be able to be with him. My heart went out to him and his parents. The room was designed for four neonatal patients and of them all Jonathan was the smallest, even though at 6 lbs he would have been typically on the large size for neonatal patients. Across from us was an 18 month old who had lived her life to date in that room. Her family came once a month as they hundreds of miles away. She had been born with a heart and lung condition that would keep her confined to a hospital all her living life. The fourth baby was abandoned. His parents could not deal with his infirmities and he was now a ward of the province. Our son’s difficulties as serious as they were, suddenly paled in light of what these tiny children, and their families, were facing.

By Jonathan’s second day they were ready allow him to try nursing again. I was elated and scared. Would he reject nursing after two days of nipples and formula? Hugo had enjoyed a turn or two of feeding his tiny son but was happy for me that I could try nursing my baby again. Jonathan and I cuddled together in the rocking chair, practically my home by now, and immediately, with great gusto that was similar to how his older sisters had attacked their first attempts to nurse, this little boy settled into a good lunch. I was elated. Content, with a little drool of milk hanging about the corner of his mouth, Jonathan continued to sleep when I slipped him back under the lights over his incubator. Carefully I arranged the pads of gauze over his eyes to protect them from the bright, warm therapy lights. I was full of joy – such a radical change from just 24 hours earlier. The doctors were amazed at the quick recovery Jonathan was making. Instead of ten days they were now thinking he might actually be able to return home in five. They could not believe how quickly his billi levels were dropping. There were no signs of infection or, as importantly, of rejection of the donated blood. I tried not to think about AIDs.

Finally on day five our daughters, with the pictures of Jonathan that the nurses had sent home for them clasped in their little hands, arrived with their Daddy and better yet, also with Jonathan’s car seat. Even though surprised with Jonathan’s extremely speedy recovery, the doctors did not feel the need to question it and were ready to release him. While they might have been puzzled, I was not. I knew without question that we had been blessed with a miracle through the prayers of family and friends at home. God had seen fit to answer them. It was a long eleven years before the question of question of whether the blood had been tainted by AIDS or not would be answered. A few children from that time frame, and same hospital, did go on to develop this terrible disease, but we are very grateful to say that Jonathan was not one of them. Neither did he ever show any signs of the irreparable brain damage that they thought had occurred when his Billi levels hit such sky rocketing levels. Sometimes when reminiscing over this miracle Hugo will tease Jonathan that “Now you know what’s so wrong with you.”. In truth though, we just feel ever so grateful for this huge miracle that was handed to us on a silver platter. God is Good!

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

My Knight in Shining Armor

Clearly my continuous remarks, self criticisim and frequent whining about the baby weight I have yet to lose from my last two pregnancies has been noted by my third son. Either that or my son has a career in politics waiting for him.

Last night as my husband and I were engaged in a breathtaking and dazzeling badmiton match on the front lawn Noah, 11, was on the sidelines enjoying my grunts and groans as I alternativly missed and hit that miserable little birdie. Suddenly as I swung my rack and was about to connect with that little blue birdies bottom Noah's voice broke through my concentration.

"Huh?", I asked wiping the sweat, err, perspiration off my brow. I turned to Noah and looked at him. He stepped closer to me and pointed to his hips and said "I've been waiting for the pants to get looser and now they are."

My jaw hung as I stared at him increduously, stupidly wondering why he was waiting for his black windbreakers to get loser? Noting my lack of understanding, Noah tried again. This time he pointed to my hips, notably larger than his, and repeated himself.

"The pants. Yours! I've been waiting for them to get loser, like your black ones. First they were tight, and now they are loser."

Choosing to ignore the adjective tight and accepting the rest, I smiled my thanks and resumed play, but with just a little more energy and enthusiasm than a moment earlier. Yep - I have quite the knight in shining armour in that boy. He just needs a little polishing. Read more!

Monday, June 05, 2006

From Chigaco to Ireland

Here is a really cool blog that was sent to us by Lorcan. Through it, one can follow the adventures of these fellows as they sail across the Atlantic to Ireland. There is a live map that is updated reguarly showing their (more or less) current location, photos of their adventures as well as video clips.

These sailors are familiar that areas that are dear to my heart, the St Lawrence Seaway, The Gaspe and even the city of Montreal. All places of which I have fond memories.

Following this blog could make an interesting geography unit for the summer.

Sailing to Ireland

I will try as soon as possible to add this as a permanent link on my side bar. (Please note I have not checked every post by these men on thier blog so if you should come across anything objectionable as you read their posts, strong language for example, please let me know.)

Hats off to Lor for sharing it.
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Saturday, June 03, 2006

It's interesting ...

...what a little less internet can do in your life! Today I am caught up with my laundry, we ate our meals on time, my rugs have been steam cleaned and the down stairs is all picked up. The fact that I am hoping this trend will continue is proof as to how much I live in fantasy land!!

After a fantastic electric storm that just would not go away - we lost our internet and our phones. But to be honest, I was already caught up with laundry and I had just finished cleaning the rugs when the neighbouring electric pole was, if not out right struck, than was swept by the lightening strike that shot sparks through the air and gasps of awe and shock from our mouths. The thunder was almost simultaneous and rocked the log house we live in.

Seriously though how then, if it was not the lack of internet that freed up all my time so that I could carch up with the laundry AND wash the rugs on the main floor? Desperation and determination that was shored up with prayer.

We have declared condition alpha in our home and are determined that through God's help and Mary's intercession we will obtain control over our domestic lives and the business. It has been a very long, long haul and we are still struggling and will for some time yet. However - I thank God for this struggle because in our weakness, and sometimes our failures, we are showing our children what prayer and faith can do. More importantly, I hope we are showing them that we can not do this alone, but must depend on God for ALL things - even our strength.

Now - I must go to bed - or I will not be able to get up on time and the child who has been appointed monitor for this week will have to mark an X beside Mummy on her report sheet. And if I am not well rested, then my hopes that this trend will continue really will only be a fantasy. Read more!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Thank you Anonymous!

Anonymous left a great idea for a poll. Something built around Pentacost, family traditions, parish celebrations.

It would be great if we could have traditions etc shared so I could put them on the poll. This would serve two purposes - it will allow us to see what others are doing and perhaps inspire us as to what we can doas a family or parish. And it will also let us see if what we are doing as family or parish is quite common or somewhat unique.

My readership extends into Germany, Great Britian, Austraila and Canada and possibly some other countries with the bulk of my readers living in the US. I am hoping that we will get all kinds of ideas and traditions that I can include in my poll.

I'll be waiting....

mum2twelve aka Christi Read more!