Wednesday, November 28, 2007

November 28, 1989

Eighteen years ago today my baby sister died of SIDS. I mentioned her a while ago, but on the anniversary, I wanted to take the opportunity to share my memories of that day.
Thanksgiving fell on the 23th that year. We’d had a lot of family in town, and once they all went home, the weekend was quiet. We always liked to get into the Christmas spirit right away, and in that particular year we got our tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. After leaving it in a bucket to hydrate for a couple of days, we brought it in and decorated it on Monday the 27th. Amy loved looking at the decorations and touching the twinkling lights. That night she said her first (and only) word: “lii” (light).
Mom had a meeting Tuesday evening, so we five kids (myself, age 8, then my sister, two brothers, and of course Amy-9mo) were home with Dad. I don’t remember anything particular about the evening, so I’m sure it was quite routine. Amy was always a mommy’s girl, and she struggled to calm down for anyone else. That night, she finally fell asleep in Daddy’s arms. When Mom came home, Amy was not breathing. Dad began CPR, the ambulance arrived 4 minutes later. Shortly afterwards someone (I don’t even know who) arrived to stay with us older (sleeping) kids, and Mom and Dad went with Amy to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The official cause of death: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (which is the medical term for “we don’t have a clue why she died”).
Mercifully, the older four of us slept through everything—the ambulance sirens, the paramedics running past our bedroom doors, everything. In the quiet of morning, our parents came and gathered us all into their room. We all sat on their bed and Dad said “we have something we need to tell you.” I knew what it was before he told us. All my siblings have told me that they also knew before being told. Amy had died in the night. Children have perfect faith, and while we knew we would miss Amy, we also knew that she was in Heaven, with Jesus…so what’s to mourn?
I remember sitting in the rocking chair next to the wood stove. Neighbors and people from church came and went all day. Mom was weepy I guess, although I don’t concretely remember that. I do remember that it was raining (typical for November in western Washington), and the day was cold and grey. I had just begun reading a novel, so I continued (and finished) reading it that day…that novel (“Summer of the Swans”) is not very happy to begin with, and now that I associate it with that day, I will always consider it depressing.
Someone from church offered to make a burial gown for Amy. She made a long white dress trimmed in pink ribbon. There was a matching slip and bonnet. (Thanks to the bonnet, we were able to take locks of Amy’s hair for each sibling to keep.) Mom said she was relieved when Dixie called and said she would make the dress—Mom could not have handled doing it herself. There was some leftover fabric and ribbon, so Dixie made a little pillow for mom to have for remembrance.
Mom had been breastfeeding Amy of course, so there were physical pains to go with the emotional ones. Her body continued to make milk, and without a baby to feed, she became very engorged. (I have experienced some engorgement as my body adjusts to my baby’s varying feeding needs, and it is very uncomfortable.) Of course, my nursing baby relieved the pressure on a regular basis, and I could also pump away extra milk to ease the pressure. With no nursing baby, Mom needed her milk to dry up, so could not even pump. She has told me that she would stand in the shower, letting the milk drip with the warm water, as though her body were weeping too.
Amethyst, “Amy” was our family’s precious jewel. She lived 9 months and 3 days. She has now returned to the Father* who sent her to us. We miss her here, but know she has work to do on that side of the veil. In her baby blessing, she was told that she would be a missionary to millions. Mom originally thought that phrasing was born of Dad’s penchant for exaggeration, but we now realize that it was not. Her tombstone reads “The Crown Without the Conflict.”

*We believe that little children are pure at birth, and remain so for the first eight years of life. During this time they learn right and wrong, but are incapable of true sin. At 8 years old, they are baptized, and then become accountable for their choices. If a child dies before the age of accountability though, they are still perfect, and therefore return directly to Heavenly Father’s presence.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Want to Believe…

If you’ve ever seen the X-Files, you’ve probably seen Mulder’s poster. It’s a classic. In fact, Hubby even got a copy of it for his classroom.
Well, I want to believe. Not in aliens (I think the whole alien thing is goofy); but I believe in other things.
I believe in Sasquatch. No, I’ve never seen him, but I think that with millions of acres of wilderness, even a moderately intelligent creature could avoid ‘discovery’ indefinitely. I also read Rawitz’ book “The Long Walk” and his description of his sighting of a Yeti (the Himalayan Bigfoot) left me with little doubt as to the likelihood of such a creature.
I believe in Nessy. This one isn’t so much a realistic belief, I guess it’s more of a ‘want to believe’ belief, but I just love the idea of the Loch Ness Monster. And, after all, they found a coelacanth, so why not a plesiosaur?!
I believe in ghosts and angels and conspiracy theories.
I don’t believe in leprechauns, gnomes, trolls, minehooni, fairies, or other little people (although I pretend to!)
But Bigfoot, yeah, I definitely believe in Bigfoot. Go ahead, make fun of me. Hubby does. But I still believe, because I want to believe.

Dr Weil’s “Shot in the Dark”

From Dr Andrew Weil’s column at www.aarpmagazine.org/health
I wanted to post this here because I respect Dr Weil as “a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine.” I don’t agree with him 100%, but I think he is widely respected, and thus his opinions carry some weight even in mainstream culture…

Italics are mine.

Q: Some say that vaccines—or the chemicals used to preserve them—can be risky. Should I avoid them?
A: My opinion is simple: the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks. And yes, there are risks, mostly of immediate adverse reactions. But these are much lower than the risks of the diseases that the vaccines prevent. If we still lived with diphtheria, polio, and tetanus, no one would question the wisdom of preventing these diseases.
Immunization facilitates a natural process by simulating encounters between the body’s immune system and killed or weakened viruses and bacteria (or pieces and products of them). In early life, such encounters can enable the immune system to defend us against these pathogens. I understand some people’s resistance to the idea of injecting toxins and germs into children (or themselves) but I think they have not considered immunization’s very favorable ratio of benefits to risks. The risk varies from vaccine to vaccine, but it always a miniscule fraction of one percent. And I take very strong exception to those who believe that febrile illnesses of childhood are necessary for optimal lifelong health. That is nonsense.
That doesn’t mean I’m in favor of every vaccine though. I’m not sure universal vaccination against Hepatitis B is a good idea. The people are risk are in well-known subgroups, so the shots (and the small risk) should be limited to them. Nor am I sure we should vaccinate all children against chickenpox. For most people, getting chickenpox confers lifelong immunity, but the vaccine does not. And catching the disease as an adult is more dangerous than getting it overwith in childhood.
I’m glad that mercury preservative has been nearly phased out of vaccines, though I have not seen credible evidence that it causes autism, as some claim. I hope that genetic engineering will bring us better (and even safer) vaccines.
Finally, for the record, I keep current on my own immunizations—I had the pneumonia vaccine along with my flu shot—and my 15-year-old daughter has had all of hers.

Of course, he neglects to mention a couple of things:
1--vaccines have imperfect efficacy, meaning that they may or may not provide the promised protection, and that outbreaks actually frequently happen among fully vaccinated populations.
2—he makes the common mistake of referring to vaccinations as ‘immunizations’ which, of course, they are not. The actual shot is a vaccination. Immunization may result from vaccination, but immunization can also come from natural infection, and with some things (such as tetanus) actual immunity is not possible (although the vaccination seems to bring some degree of protection).

I find that he is very pro-vaccine BUT even he feels that some vaccines are not appropriate for everyone (or even anyone). The two he mentions (Hep B and Varicella/chickenpox) are both on the ‘required’ list for most schools, and yet he points out that mass administration of those particular vaccinations is pointless and even harmful. (For what it’s worth, those were the first two vaccines that I knew I didn’t want either.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sweet!!!

I just ordered one of these:



A babywearing poncho! It has a little flap that lets out a hood on the front OR the back (perhaps I should say AND the back!) so I can hang a kid on either side (or both!) and have a hood for each of us on the rainiest of days!
Oh I'm so excited. This was the one thing that was missing for a nice winter here in the rainforest...I walk everywhere, so good raingear is essential!

Monday, November 19, 2007

What "Natural" Means

A dear friend of mine recently gave birth to her second child via c-section. Her first child was born this way after a long and unproductive labor, and she dearly wanted an HBAC (HomeBirth After Cesarean). She found a midwife who had experience with HBACs, who was a master herbalist and able to supply her with herbs that would help tone and prepare her body to labor better this time: but after 32 hours of labor and only minimal dialation, they realized that a second surgical birth was the only option. She is an advocate for homebirth and natural birth, so this has been a major blow to her.

A year ago another friend of mine gave birth to her second child. Her first birth experience had been traumatic, and she ended up not being able to breastfeed her child. The subsequent years left her feeling that her failure to breastfeed stemmed from lack of education and lack of support, and she was determined to not repeat those things. She studied extensively, and when birth time came she surrounded herself with lactation consultants and experienced breastfeeders. In the first hours after birth, the baby struggled to nurse. In subsequent days, my friend pumped to try to bring in her milk and boost her supply, friends tried nursing the baby to help her (the baby) learn proper technique, and my friend referred to everything she had learned in her her studies. By a couple of weeks old, the baby was losing weight and becoming sick, so my friend finally relented and began to feed her baby formula. Many of us donated breastmilk to her, but that baby has hever been able to really breastfeed.

Are these mothers failures? NO! Are they less natural than the mother who has a successful homebirth or who breastfeeds for 3 years? NO! Because occasionally (very occasionally) nature doesn't allow 'natural' to happen. So one of my friends nurses her baby with a bottle...she holds her little one close, rocks her, talks to her, looks in her eyes, bonds with her...and feeds her the best things she can via a bottle. My other friend chose a hospital that would support co-sleeping and skin-to-skin contact, had a spinal rather than a general so that she could be awake to see her daughter immediately when she was born, and nursed her soon thereafter. These mothers are not any less 'natural mothers' than the uber-crunchy hippie moms who give birth unattended in the woods or breastfeed two or three kids at a time. They are mothers who have been dealt a harder hand, but who are still doing everything they can for their kids, based on what they've got to work with.

My hat goes off to you ladies, Alisa and Chandelle. It's a hard thing to take, but you are handling it beautifully. I hope I can continue to support you however I can.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Resume of a Baby

Official Resume of S
living in the bush of Alaska
age 10 months

EDUCATION
I'm a baby. I was born knowing how to nurse and grab stuff. I have now progressed through rolling, crawling, sitting, and am a walking intern.

EXPERIENCE
**Nursing
**Eating
**Pooping
**Peeing--in diaper or toilet or mommy's freshly-laundered jeans
**Splashing--in tub or doggie's water dish
**Smiling and laughing
**Playing with dog

SPECIAL SKILLS
**Pinching when and where least expected
**Nursing from any angle, including upside down, sideways, and while standing on my head with my bottom way up in the air. I am a genius at this.
**Getting into everything.
**Stealth pooping: this is exactly what it sounds like. I can poop without anybody realizing I have done it. This leads Mommy to be utterly unprepared when she opens the diaper to change me. I usually giggle a great deal about this.
**Making anybody fall in love with me with just one smile.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How We Met--Peru

Here is another installment in the "How We Met" series:

Hubby was doing a special 2 week study abroad program in Peru. He had wanted to do somthing longer, but because he had a toddler son, and couldn't bring him to the backwoods where he was going, he had to settle for the short trip, and leave the little guy with grandma. I was there with the peace corp, and was one of the leaders for one of the projects his class was working on. We became friends, started writing emails, and when I got back to the states a few months later, we started dating...

How We Met--Library

When we met, Hubby was living in Utah (going to school) and I was living in Washington (also going to school). There was no logical reason for our paths to cross, ever.
We met online.
That's the truth.
However, it's not exciting enough, so we tell stories.
It started one day when we were engaged, and attending a church gathering where most of the folks were the age of Hubby's parents. We knew the internet story would probably freak them out, so when it came up that we'd been in separate states, the inevitable question came up "oh, so how did you meet?!" Hubby, being the fast-thinking mastermind that he is, made up a story on the spot. Since then, it has been our tradition that whenever someone asks how we met, I defer to him, and he makes up a new story, on the spot. Some of the stories have been a whole lot of fun, so I thought I would share them with the world!
Today, I share the one he told that first night...

I was a student/teacher in Washington, but I was in Utah attending a conference at the college where Hubby was a student. He was working as an intern in the library. I came into the library during a break, and asked him if he could show me where to find the books on dating. He intentionally took me to the wrong part of the library, indicated an empty shelf, and then said that all the books were checked out, but would I go out with him instead...

(other stories will follow, I promise!)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Vaccines--Polio--update

In the interest of accuracy, I wanted to share that I recently learned that the US government (the FDA I suppose?) is no longer saying that they expect to see polio eradicated by 2010... eradication is (at this point) not in the forseeable future.
Of course, polio still exists almost exclusively in just a few small geographic areas (none of them in the western hemisphere)...but that whole eradication thing, yeah, no longer accurate...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Costumes

Wolf aka Harry Potter


Me and Bear, as kangaroos


Hubby as Adam Savage from Mythbusters. Yes, he bleached his hair...it's pretty wild.


And our pumpkins...the one on the left is Bear's--made to look like him with smiling eyes, one tooth, and dimples. The one on the right is Wolf's, his own design...I don't know what it is except that it has fangs.

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