Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jackson's Story

While this blog was started for family and friends to be able to keep up with what was going on with the kids, it's also a journal of sorts for the boys. My dad died when I was seven, and I don't remember a lot about him. I want my kids to know who I am. I want them to know that I was funny, and weird, loving, hateful (!), compassionate, crafty...well, I want them to know everything about me...in case something happens to me, they'll know who I am. So I wanted to take a bit (okay, I'm going to need more than "a bit") to tell about Jackson's entry into this world.

Chris went to Colorado to (are you ready?) Great American Beer Fest, a last hurrah, if you will, before Jackson was born. It's a big transition going from one child to two (or more!). So off he went. He'd planned this trip a long time before. I was 33 1/2 weeks pregnant. I had just been to the doctor and we had scheduled my c-section for November 10 (my due date was November 18??). He and three friends drove our car.

Thursday night (October 9, 2008), my mom came to babysit Dalton so that I could go to get my hair cut. It was a last minute plan...I had just measured my hair and had the ten inches I needed to cut and donate to Locks of Love, something I do every two years. So Mom arrives, and I leave for the salon. I only got about 1/2 mile from the house. I was on a road that has no turning lane, and the guy in front of me was stopped to make a left hand turn, waiting on traffic. I stopped behind him, and then, WHAM! I got rear ended. The kid (yes, he was a 16 year old kid) hit me hard enough that I then slammed into the guy in front of me.

I had left my cell phone at home, in case Mom needed to make a call for some reason (we don't have a home phone). I tried using the phone of the guy in front of me to call her, but I didn't realize that he had a different area code, so each time I tried to call I got some weird lady's voice mail. :) The paramedics came and asked me "How you feeling?" and at the time I felt fine, so they left (so very thorough, they were!).

We got the cars moved to the side, the cops came and took statements, and about an hour and a half later, I got to leave. I went home, where Mom's first words were "I thought you were getting a hair cut?" with a kind of disgusted look on her face. So I explained what happened, and she suggested over and over that I go to the hospital to get checked out, which I promptly shot down. I sure didn't want to sit for five or six hours in the ER waiting room when I felt fine!! I called Chris and left him a voice mail that went something like "Hey, got in a car wreck, but I'm okay, the Blazer is pretty messed up, though, call me when you can..."

A few hours later I started having contractions, although they weren't regular. By this time, it's pushing 9:00pm. I called my friend Marcie, who is an OB nurse in Houston, and asked her if I should go to the hospital (let's face it, it's night, our local hospital SUCKS, and I had a three year old already in bed asleep...). We talked at length, and it finally boiled down to her telling me to call my doctor in the morning to get checked out, but if I started to bleed, go the hospital immediately.

Chris finally called me back late and, speech slurred, asked if he should come home. I told him again and again to stay there, no worries, I'd be fine. I'd call him tomorrow after I saw the doctor. I went to bed, and continued to have irregular contractions through the night, but that was it. They weren't even big contractions, just minor stuff, nothing I couldn't handle!!

In the morning, I called in to work (I didn't have a car to get there, after all!). I called our insurance company. I called a tow truck to take the truck to a dealership to begin repairs. I called my doctor and made an appointment for 11:00. I called my babysitter who so graciously came to our house to pick up Dalton (thank you Betsy!!). I called a rental car company to arrange for another car. My sister showed up to continue to paint the outside of our house. So mind you, I'm still having minor, irregular contractions FOR HOURS before I can get to the doctor. I talk to Chris again, and reassure him that he does not need to come home (I am such an idiot!!).

Then I realize I have no way to get to the rental car place, so I call a girl that I work with and she comes and gets me and takes me to the rental place (thanks, Lindsey!!). And finally make my way to Fayetteville to the doctor.

I was texting my boss through all of this, apologizing for not getting to work on time. I was told later by another girl that my boss, at the time, said it was fine as long as I didn't have the baby, yet, because I hadn't yet trained the people that were going to cover my job while on maternity leave (why, yes, he is a jerk, thanks for noticing!)

So I get to the doctor and they hook me up to a monitor, and they confirm that I am having contractions. What I didn't know, though, is that they were regularly spaced contractions, I just didn't feel them all. So they tell me that I have to stay for 30 minutes on the monitor. So I sit and wait. Thirty minutes roll by, and they come in and tell me that I am still having very regular contractions every two minutes or so, and that want me to check into triage, where they will start an IV and give me some meds to try to stop the contractions.

So up to triage I go!! I call Chris, and again we argue on whether he should come home, and (again) I tell him, stay there! It's your last trip, you're having fun, I'm fine...


So I get my IV and my meds started...Lindsey calls me from work, and I tell her what's going on. Bless her heart, she decides that I shouldn't have to sit there at the hospital by myself, so she arranges to get off work to come up there. She also goes by my house to get my phone charger (as it's slowly dying!) and tell my sister what is going on. Finally, my first (girl) knight in shining armour arrives!

So we've been sitting in this hospital triage room for three hours or so, IV slowly dripping, when the nurse comes in and tells me that they are speeding up the IV drip and I should get to leave in 45 minutes or so. YAY! Not five minutes later, the doctor comes in (not my doctor, the on call doctor), and decides to do an exam real quick before they discharge me (a great plan, right?). Now, let's recap...ten minutes ago I was told that I can leave in 45 minutes...). She says: "Well, you're dilated to four, and 80% effaced. You can't go home, we're checking you in to labor and delivery." I'm sorry, can someone please pick my jaw up from the floor? WHAT?!?!?!?

And that's when I lost it. :) I start crying. Because all this time Chris could have been on his way home....and Dalton is at the sitter, who's going to pick him up?....and my dogs and cats need to be fed, and medicated, and who's going to do that? I have no clothes, I have nothing with me but a cell phone, charger (thanks to Lindsey!) and my purse. At that, Lindsey starts making phone calls for me...she calls my best friend Heather (whose husband is with Chris in Colorado). And then I'm moved upstairs....to Labor and Delivery. CRAP!

We get all checked in up there. It's now approximately 5:00ish (I honestly don't remember the exact time). I call Chris to update him. It is now officially decided that he will get on the next flight home, and the guys with him can just drive our car home. The first flight out doesn't arrive in NW Arkansas until almost midnight. But you know what? It doesn't matter, because I'm still in denial. I'm NOT having a baby. It doesn't matter what time his flight comes in, because I'm NOT in labor.

A nurse comes in and gives me a steroid shot to try to speed up Jackson's lung development. The plan is to increase the meds they are giving me to try to stop labor, so that they can make it to 24 hours from now, so they can give a 2nd steroid shot. Meanwhile, the monitor showing my contractions is going crazy... What's that you say? I'm having BIG HUGE contractions every minute or so? Phooey. I can't feel them, so it must not be happening. I am NOT having this baby.

Heather arrives at the hospital. Now, the next little bit is very blurry to me, it all happened so fast. Heather and Lindsey decided to possibly go get something to eat...or maybe Heather left to get something for both of them, and Lindsey stepped to the hall to call her husband to see if he could pick Chris up at the airport and bring him here. I can't remember. But I remember that both of them are out of the room, and a nurse and the doctor come in for another exam. And the conversation went a little something like this:
Doctor: "I see you're having big, regular contractions..."
Me: "Am I?"
I think I may have just heard her snort a laugh...
Doctor: "Well, you're dilated to 8 and 100% effaced."
Me: "So, I guess I'm not going home tonight, am I?" At this point, I'm still in denial, even after hearing that last part....I really thought it could still be stopped!!
Definite laugh out loud from the doctor...
Doctor: "Um...no. We'll begin prepping you for surgery right now...the anesthesiologist will be in shortly with paperwork for you to sign."
Me: "What? But my husband's plane doesn't land for another five hours. Can't this wait?"
Doctor: "No, this can't wait. This baby is coming now, and we need to do the surgery."
Now I'm outright sobbing. I'm terrified. What?!? How the hell am I going to surgery without Chris? Are they saying now, as in right now?? Who's going to keep Dalton? Who's going to let my dogs out? Who's going to feed the cats? I had told my sister when she was done painting to just leave...
They leave, and Heather and Lindsey walk in, and find me scrambling for my phone to make calls while sobbing and hiccuping with snot running all over my face. Those poor girls... Lindsey calls Chris to update him while Heather calls my mom, I think... I call a friend, Ruth, and ask her to go to my house to take care of the dogs and cats.

Funny insertion here...all my dogs and cats eat different food (yes, seven different kinds) and all three dogs take meds for different ailments. I told Ruth to go there NOW and call me back and I would walk her through everything. When she calls, she says, "What's with all the extra cats in your garage?" Um, what?

CRAP! I completely forgot that another friend, Jill, was getting married the next day and that I had arranged for her to drop off her five or six foster kittens for me to care for while she was on her honeymoon!! She had a key to the house (for emergencies) and when I wasn't home when she came, she just dropped them off according to "the plan". OOPS!

So I tell Ruth there are separate instructions for all of them that Jill left, and then walk her through what she needs to feed and medicate with all of mine. Meanwhile, the nurse has come back in and is checking IV lines and giving me meds, while I'm on the phone, Lindsey's on the phone, and Heather's on the phone. What a sorry bunch we are!! I also call the sitter, and (*sob, sob, hiccup*) ask her if Dalton can stay overnight, which of course he can (Betsy--you are a lifesaver, and I hope to one day get to repay you for all you did for us during this time!!).

Then I get my anesthetic, and off we go! It was decided that Heather would be in the operating room with me, and Lindsey would remain behind to make additional calls.

(HA! I just remembered another funny tidbit....we had planned to have a girl's game night that night (at Heather's house) since our husbands were all out of town drinking it up at the stupid beer fest...when Heather said she was coming to the hospital I said "But what about game night?" I am so retarded!)

I am so proud of Heather for sitting there with me, holding my hand, as the sight of blood isn't too high on her list. And when Jackson made his grand entrance? I remember looking at him, and closing my eyes, and I heard Heather say "He's beautiful" and she cried!! Heather cries at NOTHING. I've known her for over 15 years, and I've never seen her cry.

Jackson Christopher Bane was born on Friday, October 10, 2008, at 8:44pm. He was 5lb, 9oz, and 18 inches long. His lungs were not fully developed. He could breathe, but not well. He didn't know how to suckle or swallow. He was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Luckily, the girls were able to get ahold of Chris just before he got on his plane to tell him all the details, and that we were both doing pretty well. I can barely remember what he looked like when I saw him in the operating room. I was in recovery for a while, and then taken back to my (new) room. Calls were made left and right. And for some odd reason, I was wired. I wish that I had slept, but I couldn't.

Chris finally arrived, and Lindsey's husband brought him to the hospital. Robert also had the good sense to bring a camera for us (you guys are great!!). Chris, Robert, Lindsey, and Heather all got to go see Jackson through the window. I did not. Robert also had gone to the store to get clothes for the baby (which was so thoughtful!!)...Chris didn't get there until either just before or after midnight. The first decent look I got at the baby was on the camera that Robert brought.

Jackson, meanwhile, was in the NICU. He was on oxygen. They put in a feeding tube. All that jazz. :) On Saturday, I finally got to see him, after he was 24 hours old. Dalton did NOT get to come to the hospital because he had gotten a little cold. With Jackson's lungs being under developed, we were taking no chances. Also on Saturday, I got to pumping to that they would have something to put down that feeding tube. We did not get to hold him until Sunday I think? I do remember going in to the NICU for the first time to see him in person...I remember thinking he was so tiny...they had the feeding tube through his nose (because he kept pulling it out when it went through his mouth), he had his oxygen. He had all these lines and leads and just everything attached to him. But he was perfect.

I was kept at the hospital until the following Tuesday, then I was discharged. Without my baby. By this point, Jackson had learned to suckle using a pacifier, and I was breast feeding one feeding a day, and using the feeding tube for the other feedings. But I had pumped enough milk that they had a TON of it stored in the freezer already. So we left on Tuesday. And it was horrible. When we went home that night (which was a horrible ride, by the way...my incision was hurting something very very bad!!)...we went to Betsy's to pick up Dalton, then home. Betsy had been a doll and made us homemade chicken and dumplings to take home for dinner. We got home, Chris set me up with dinner in the recliner (Dalton had already eaten), set Dalton up with cartoons, and then he went to the pharmacy right down the road to fill my pain meds. By this point, it's about 7:30 pm. As soon as Chris walked out that door, I broke down. It was so horrible to come home without Jackson. By the time he got back, I was a big blubbering mess. He asked what was wrong, and of course I told him nothing. He asks if my incision hurt, and I said no (which it was on freaking fire, but whatever...)

I couldn't eat. So I decided to go in and pump. When we were in the hospital, we got to use one of those nice hospital grade Medela pumps, and I was pumping 6-8 ounces of milk every four hours. We had discussed renting one because who knew how long it would be before he got to come home. But we decided that I could use my First Years brand one, that it would be fine. WRONG. What a giant piece of crap! I went to the bedroom, and pumped, and got less than 1/2 a stupid ounce of milk. So of course that set me off again, and I was sobbing and blubbering, and saying "How the hell can I feed him if this pump doesn't work!!" Basically, it boiled down to Chris doping me up with pain meds until I cried my self to sleep. Pathetic, right?

Now don't get me wrong...I know a lot of people don't ever get to bring their babies home. And there isn't anything that I can imagine that would be harder than losing a child. Whether it be in utero, during birth, or at any age, I cannot even fathom what it would be like to lose a child. Ever. And I hope to never have to know what it feels like. But at this point in my life, leaving Jackson behind in that hospital is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

For the next seven days, we went to the hospital during the day. Dalton went to Betsy's, and we went to the hospital for the feedings. We were able to be there for the 10am, 1pm, and 4pm feedings. All other feedings were done with my stored breast milk. The reason we chose those feeding times is that we wanted to still keep Dalton's schedule as close to normal as we could. So he still went to the sitter in the morning, and we picked him up around 5:30 as we usually did.

The hospital was at least a 1/2 hour drive for us (3/4 to 1 hour during rush hour). So on the first couple of days, my sister Ann let us use her house between feedings so that I could rest. (Her house is only 5 minutes from the hospital). One day, we found other stuff to do...went and got new phones, then went to the mall and actually got my hair cut like I intended! On Saturday and Sunday, we had no where to go, and Dalton was home with Chris, and I wasn't allowed to drive yet (which at that point I could barely even walk), so we arranged for multiple people to drive me up there for the feedings. Then we would drive back, and I'd have about one hour before needing to leave for the next feeding. I was so exhausted, and at one point, the nurses even told me to skip a feeding so that I could get some rest. But I just couldn't help thinking...even though Jackson was eating and mostly breathing okay, what if I skipped that one feeding, and something happened?? And I wasn't there for him? What if, what if, what if...

It was so hard to go in there and see him, but not get to really snuggle him because he had all these wires still attached. Jackson stayed in the NICU for a solid twelve days before he got to come home. Seven days after I had come home. But he passed his car seat test, we took a mandatory CPR class, and he came home. And it was wonderful!

Jackson--I love you more than you will ever know. Your Daddy loves you, and big brother Dalton loves you, and you're just the best thing ever. Everything that we went through just makes you that much more special. Even though you're stubborn as all get out, we love you so much!! It amazes me how far you've come, and how far you'll go in the future.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How Easy Is That?

Well, now that I know how easy it is to post these videos, I'm sure I'll be doing it all the time!! Jackson now goes nuts in the Jumperoo, and I'm sure one day I'll find him lodged in the ceiling, his little legs just dangling and kicking. My favorite part, I think, is that in order to stop himself, he just straight legs it, and POOF, he's done. :) Very cute, that kid of ours.

We're In The Army Now

For all of you that have been asking, here's the video on Jackson crawling!! (I'm talking to you, Jil!!) It took me a while because I don't yet know how to download and edit the video from the camcorder (that's Chris's area of expertise) so I finally just broke out our old digital camera which has a video feature on it.

Jackson won't crawl unless he has motivation. So for these videos, I teased him with Dalton's Elmo bouncy ball. :) Enjoy!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Just a Few Days Late

Dear Jackson,

On Friday, July 10th, you turned 9 months old!! I cannot believe how time is flying by. It seems like yesterday that you were in the NICU, and we were worrying that you would never learn how to eat or get bigger, that you'd be on a feeding tube forever. :) And look at those thunder thighs now!! You already have two teeth, with more coming in.

You've been sleeping through the night, twelve hour stretches, since you were eight weeks old. And I guess since you were six weeks early, that means you would have been sleeping through the night at two weeks old, right??

You eat anything that I put in front of your face. Broccoli, carrots, green beans, eggplant, butternut squash, zucchini, mango's, avocados, bananas, pears...those are only SOME of what you've had so far. You will eat anything. The first bite of food you take, every time, you make this horrible face like we're torturing you. Then you smile and open your mouth wide after deciding that, hey, you like it!!

You think your brother is the funniest thing ever. He can always make you laugh. Even if you're in the middle of a big giant screaming fit (which is rare), he can make you laugh. I'm afraid that you boys will be in all kinds of trouble in the future.

You still can't sit up on your own yet, but you're crawling!! Not in a traditional sense; you do the army crawl where you pull yourself along with your arms. You can get up on all fours like you JUST MIGHT crawl, but then crash down. You're not very motivated to get going, unless you see a shoe in front of you, then you haul butt! And high heels? For some reason, those motivate you the most.

Dalton adores you. He always wants to help with you, he wants to help change diapers, and feed you, and most always takes a bath with you. He brings you binkies and toys and blankets, and has asked several times if I will let you sleep with him. Someday, baby, someday!

I love you more every day, more than you'll ever know. Happy 9 months, little monkey!!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July, everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and please be safe!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Turpentine Creek

So I'm still working on updating the blog from my in-laws visit at the beginning of June!! We went to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, which is just outside of Eureka Springs, AR, so only about an hour and a half from home. It really is very cool. Not only do they have big cats like lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, etc, but they also have some bears, and a few goats, pigs, and the like. It was so hard to get good pictures because you're about four to five feet away from the enclosures, and when I tried to focus in on the cat and had it all lined up, the cat would move and then at the last second it would refocus and I would get mostly the fencing!

About half of the cats are in small enclosures, on concrete, and the other half are in large enclosures on grass. I'm not sure if they rotate the cats to give everyone exercise, but on the cats that were in the small concrete "cages", I didn't see any pressure wounds that you would expect if they were in there 24 hours a day. And it's very clean...it didn't really smell at all (not like that horrible smell at the zoo), and the piles of poo were few and far between.

It's such a neat place...all the cats have mostly come from people that got them as a pet, then realized eventually that they were either too much to handle, or the authorities got involved and made them re home them.
They have these really nice placards on each enclosure, made from some kind of metal. Each one has a picture of the individual cat etched on it, along with the cat's name, age, and its story.

Two tigers actually came from a breeder in Bentonville. I cannot BELIEVE that we have someone in Bentonville that is breeding tigers!!

We went in the late afternoon because feeding time is at 5:00 sharp. Wal-Mart, Sam's, and Tyson's donates all the meat (both chicken and beef), over 100,000 pounds per year is needed to feed them!! It was so neat because the cats get very excited shortly before feeding, they seem to know what time it is and start pacing in the enclosures. They call and growl at each other, and it's so loud!

They told us when we first came in that some of the cats would "stalk" us, because we had Dalton, and Jackson was in the stroller. And they did! At one point we were walking by the large enclosures, and there was a cougar in an enclosure that was probably at least 30 yards long. He started following Dalton along the fence, and if Dalton would turn around and go the other way, the cat would too. He even emitted some growls and hisses!! It was neat, but also a little scary! Although, in all the years they've been open (since 1992), they've never had an animal get loose.

All animals at the refuge receive veterinary care, and they do not allow breeding at the compound. Some of the smaller cats, like the bobcats, if they have been hand raised since birth (making them more docile), are used to "tour" local schools to educate children that large cats are not meant to be pets.

Some of the cats' stories are so horrible that it is just heart breaking to read about them. But then I realized that they are in such a wonderful place now, and I'm grateful to these people and this refuge for taking them in.

When we went, Chris had worn his NWA Save Our Strays t-shirt (the rescue that I am with) and I wish that I had thought to wear mine!! Oh, well. I'm sure we'll go back again, it was such a great experience. If you live in the NW Arkansas area, or visit here, I highly urge you to go... and if you're looking for a great cause to donate to, this is a fantastic one. They are a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, and all donations are tax deductible.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

When Chris's parents were here from Cali, we also went to the Pea Ridge National Military Park. I've been there before, when I was a kid, but let's face it...when you're a kid, unless your passion is History or War, you just don't pay that much attention, so I don't really remember much about it. But it really was so very cool! And let me also give credit where it's due...I can't take credit for the majority of these pictures. Chris took almost all of them that day, and he did a fantastic job.

Here's Grandpa and Dalton looking at a cannon that's right out front. Someone needs to tell my child that you don't put your face in front of a cannon...oh, wait, I guess that's my job.

In the back of the building, you can walk out on this patio that is just this huge open plain, and you can see cannons in the distance that are still sitting where they were during the war. Here's me, Chris, and Dalton, posing for the paparazzi.

Chris, Grandpa, and Dalton walked a short trail (150 yards or so) to this lookout point while Grandma and I stayed in the car with Jackson. They have this neat driving tour you can take and there's several stops along the way, with signs posted about what went on at each stop along the trail.

Dalton with the cannon again. He loved them!

Chris really is a good photographer...there's a lot of authentic items throughout the building, like this hat.

And this is actually a, what do you call them, diorama? Is that right? Kind of like a shadow box with these figurines in it...the way Chris took the picture it almost looks real...

Jackson just kind of chilled through the whole thing, and slept a little bit. Of course, here he is, making sleepy eyes and flirting.

I love this picture of Gma and Gpa, Chris and Dalton. Look at the face on Grandma. :) HA! Jil, you always have the best face in pictures!!

This is the sign marking the Trail of Tears. (Well, obviously!)

Grandpa played chauffeur for us when we went on the driving tour.

This is at the lookout point that I mentioned above.

These are a line of cannons in the field. These cannons are everywhere along the trail/tour, along with these split rail fences, too. We were discussing the fences and we came to the conclusion that they probably served as barriers for some protection or something to that effect.

We really had a great time and it was so interesting. I hated history when I was in school; it was, I think, my least favorite subject. It was nice learning about it at this point, now that I'm all grown up and mature and all!!