Saturday, January 21, 2012

Books Read in 2011

This was a fun year of reading. I didn't get to read as many books as I had hoped last year, but I did spend almost 2,000 pages with Alexandre Dumas, which will be 2011's reading achievement. Here's the list:

Books Read in 2011

Babyhood - Paul Reiser ^
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - F. Scott Fitzgerald ^
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
A Wind in the Door - Madeleine L'Engle
Three Cups of Deceit - Jon Krakauer
Theodore Boone: The Abduction - John Grisham
Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie ^
A Swiftly Tilting Planet - Madeleine L'Engle
Many Waters - Madeleine L'Engle
An Acceptable Time - Madeleine L'Engle
The Chosen - Chaim Potok
Bossypants - Tina Fey ^
A Separate Peace - John Knowles
The Litigators - John Grisham
EntreLeadership - Dave Ramsey
The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

^ Listened to the audio book

Monday, January 09, 2012

Time Off

I was able to take a few days off of work over Christmas and when combined with work holidays, I ended up being home for 12 days. It was wonderful and so refreshing after a really busy November/December at work.

We were able to spend Christmas at Jamie's parents house and her brother and Danielle even made it up from New Orleans for the night. It was so fun to all be together and have fun with Jillian opening her presents and playing with all of her new toys. She loves her Gram and Pops!

We headed from there to Birmingham to celebrate with my family, while my sister and Jesse were still in town with them. She opened more fun toys and was completely overwhelmed with all the choices! Mary Lynn, Mark, Amy and my grandmother all joined us for 24 hours and we loved hanging out with them and playing ping-pong, cornhole and ladder ball.

One of the best things about being home for so long was getting to spend so much time with Jamie and Jillian. I do feel like I miss so much being at work every day. Skype has helped that, but it is not the same as being home. Jillian's big accomplishment over the week was that she started walking! She has been walking with her walking toy for months, and almost even running, but she didn't have the confidence to step out on her own. It was really fun to watch her try things out and then to celebrate when she'd walk across the room back and forth between Jamie and I. She is all over the place now, being her adorable toddler self.  We did get a video of her walking over to her new kitchen that Jamie and I got her for Christmas. She loves it!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than laying on a blanket looking up at the trees and clouds. I didn't think she would be up for it, but she lasted about 15 minutes. She was so adorable!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Birthday Craft

For Jillian's birthday, we had taken pictures every month on/around the day she was born so we could see how much she had grown. It was really fun to see how little she was in the first one and how busy she seemed in the 1 year picture. We kept all the pictures to ourselves so we could reveal them at her birthday party, but we hadn't figured out how to display them. We ended up with a wall of Jillian, with a big flower and her pictures hanging from wires with little clothespins. I thought it turned out great and was proud of my craft project!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Two Milestones

This is my 200th blog post! Once I realized that my next post would be the 200th, I wanted to wait until the other milestone to post them together (which explains the lengthy delay between posting).

The second major milestone is that I finished reading the full, unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas.

This has been a goal of mine for several years. So many people had recommended that I read the book and after looking at it several times in the bookstore, the 1243 pages just seemed insurmountable. On my second trip to Paris several years ago, we visited the Shakespeare and Company bookstore and I saw it there. I decided that since I already had normal souvenirs from my previous trip, this would be the perfect one, ensuring that I would read it since I bought it in Paris. Fast forward 5 years and I finally attempted it. It took me 4 months, but it was definitely worth it. The book was fantastic! Even though it was all about revenge and retribution, the complex story line and characters kept me into it the entire time. Having seen the movie several years ago, I had an idea about the plot, but the book was totally different than everything I remembered, which I was glad about. I would definitely recommend it for a lengthy read if you have the time. I enjoyed it so much that I went out and got The Three Musketeers which he also wrote to read later this year (it is only 700 something pages though). It feels so good to have finally accomplished it and checked the book off my list.

Back to the blog, I started posting here on January 31, 2006 and averaged over 40 posts for each of the first 4 years. I've started trailing off these last two years, using the blog to mostly keep track of what I've been reading. I just haven't been feeling there was time to do much else with it lately. That being said, I'm not really sure where the blog is headed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Books Read in 2010

Here is my annual post of what books I read over the last year, so I can remember what I read early in the year and keep track of them. My goal last year was to try to read more than the previous year and I'm excited to say that I succeeded! Here is how I did compared to last year:
2009: 24 books
2010: 30 books

This is in part due to being in a book club since late 2009. We meet every six weeks so we are able to make it through a good number of books in the year. I've noted those in the list with an asterisk. Other notes on 2010's books:
- I enjoyed reading some memoirs this year which are always interesting.
- I revisited my favorite books from middle school, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. I was curious if I would still enjoy them so many years later and they did not disappoint!
- A coworker recommended The Pillars of the Earth to me, though I was intimidated to read a 1,000 page book. The story really drew me in, which surprised me because it is about building cathedrals in the 12 century. This has inspired me though to try and tackle the other 1,000+ page books that have been on my list. I started reading The Count of Monte Cristo after Christmas and am enjoying so far. I think that reading these next two big books will hurt my count for 2011, but I will be proud of the accomplishment if I can do it.
- Lastly, I've been trying to read through books that I've had on my shelf for years and never picked up. I enjoyed making my book list for 2011 and hope to make it through them all!

Enough writing though, here's the list from 2010.

Books Read in 2010
Sarah's Key - Tatiana de Rosnay *
Open - Andre Agassi
Ford County - John Grisham
The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards *
Counterfeit Gods - Tim Keller
Pirates Latitudes - Michael Crichton
Unveiled Hope - Scotty Smith
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer
Jim the Boy - Tony Earley
The Power and the Glory - Graham Greene *
Stones into Schools - Greg Mortenson *
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
All Over But the Shoutin' - Rick Bragg *
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters - Meg Meeker
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
Crazy Love - Francis Chan
This Present Darkness - Frank Peretti
The Knitting Circle - Anne Hood *
Let the Nations Be Glad - John Piper
Who Moved My Cheese? - Spencer Johnson
Piercing the Darkness - Frank Peretti
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer - John Grisham
The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz *
The Confession - John Grisham
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford *
The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
The Sword in the Stone - T.H. White *

* Books read for book club

Monday, January 17, 2011

Long Overdue: Part 2

Here is the rest of the story of Jillian’s first few days.


I left the family in the waiting room as I wanted to be back in the recovery room when Jamie was brought in after surgery. When they rolled her in, she was really out of it. She was coming out of the general anesthesia and was in a lot of pain. They had ordered the pain medicine prescription and were waiting for it to come up. I still don’t understand why they waited to order it until she was out of surgery instead of while it was happening as we knew she would need it. It was pretty rough seeing her in so much pain, not fully understanding all that was going on. Plus it didn’t help that they kept coming over to press on her stomach where the incision was, not cool. They finally got the meds going and she was able to push the button whenever it turned green to administer more. Thankfully after not too long, she was feeling less pain, but still not fully there enough to talk coherently.

I think I forgot to mention that they had given Jamie a steroid shot earlier in the day that was supposed to help Jillian’s lungs develop quicker since they were worried about that with her being a preemie. Sadly that was also now causing her pain on top of the surgery. Because of the preeclampsia, the doctors had her on an IV of Magnesium Sulfate for 24 to 48 hours, which had the unfortunate side effect of making her extremely drowsy and likely to fall asleep at totally random times, even occasionally mid-sentence. I stayed with Jamie in the room until I was given the okay to go in and see Jillian. I gave the parents a quick update as I passed them in the waiting area, but I couldn’t wait to go in and see my daughter.

These couple of hours ended up being some of the most stressful of our time in the hospital. I was torn between being by Jamie’s side as I wanted to care for her and no other family was allowed in the room, being at Jillian’s bed and asking the doctors and nurses lots of questions on how my daughter was doing and what was going on, and spending time with both of our parents who were still sitting in the waiting room, not really getting any information from anyone and were worried about Jamie and Jillian.

I followed the nurse into the NICU and she showed me how to scrub in and where everything was. She then took me into Jillian’s room and my heart swelled and tears welled up in my eyes. She was so tiny, they told me she weighed in at 5 pounds, 5 ounces and was 17 ½ inches long (which was actually a good weight for being six weeks early). I just couldn’t believe that I was finally seeing my daughter, for more than the minute or two that I had seen her roll by earlier. She was in a crib that the nurses nicknamed a condo, the box with holes in the side and a lid that lifts up. There were cords and sensors all over her little body, a hat that held her c-pap in place and a feeding tube that went into her mouth. The doctor explained that overall she was doing well, but because her lungs were not fully developed, they would deflate too quickly after taking a breath. She was breathing on her own, but the c-pap was providing a little puff of air afterwards to keep the lungs inflated.


I had hopes of holding my daughter shortly after she was born and seeing Jamie with her, but that was not to be. I was not allowed to hold her that first day as they didn’t want to over stimulate her with human touch. So I was only able to stand in the dark room, next to the crib and marvel at the work that God had done in bringing her to us safely.

I quickly gave the grandparents an update on things and then went back to be with Jamie so I could tell her that Jillian was in good hands and share with her all that I had learned. I don’t think she remembers much of that though. Another effect of the Magnesium Sulfate was that they do not let mothers that are on it hold their babies until they have been off of it for 4-6 hours. With Jamie needing to be on it for 24-48 hours, this meant she might not get to hold Jillian until Wednesday night. We were both not okay with that. But being told that is how it works, I at least wanted her to be able to see her daughter on the day she was born. Thankfully the nurses were generous and when they were moving her to her regular hospital room, they wheeled her, in her hospital bed, into the NICU so she could see Jillian through the side of the crib. They normally will not do this as there wasn’t much room in there considering how big the bed is. We were so grateful that even though she could not hold her, she could at least see her (though sadly because of the all the drugs, she doesn’t remember being in there). Now that she was settled into her normal room, Jamie’s parents were able to go in and see her in there.

The NICU was very strict on visiting hours, they would close three times a day for 2 hours during shift changes and so we would have to leave. They also only allowed 2 people in for each baby at a time, with visitors being escorted by either Jamie or myself. Thankfully they made an exception for grandparents who could go in together without one of us. I walked each of my parents through the process of scrubbing in and introducing them to Jillian and then they switched with Jamie’s parents and I showed them how to do it. Now I wouldn’t have to worry about being in several places at once, they could go in and visit Jillian when they wanted to without me, since Jamie was still unable to go in.

Rachel and Jesse made it in from North Carolina around 11 pm or so, and thankfully I was able to take them in to meet Jillian right away. I was so excited that they were able to make it down so quickly, especially since it was so last minute! Everyone left a little after midnight, all of my family was going to be staying at our house since we would both be at the hospital all week. I took them all home and was able to get a bag together for us since we still didn’t have any other clothes or our computer or cameras! I settled in to sleep pretty late that night in the surprisingly uncomfortable folding chair bed in Jamie’s room.

Another quirk of the NICU those first few days was that we were only allowed in during feeding times, which was every three hours, as they wanted her to sleep as much as she could otherwise. We understood why, but it was so hard because I wanted to be in there all the time and often feeding times would fall during their closed hours and so we would miss out on our chance to get in and sit with her for hours at a time.

I got up early Tuesday morning to make it into the NICU for the first feeding and I was finally able to hold her! She was swaddled tight so the cords wouldn’t come off and she didn’t open her eyes, but it didn’t matter, I was finally holding my daughter for the first time. I still get emotional thinking about that time, sitting in the NICU looking at God’s precious gift to us while Jamie was still in her room, unable to make it down the hall.


They took her off the c-pap that day as well, saying that she was breathing on her own and her lungs were improving! Rachel and Jesse were able to see her and actually hold her briefly that day and then they headed back to North Carolina. Rachel had class that she needed to get back to and we realized that we weren’t going home any time soon.

Tuesday afternoon, they decided to take Jamie off of the Magnesium, earlier than we had expected, which meant that she could finally sit up and hold herself up in a wheelchair. We took her down to see Jillian again, now that she was back to herself. Unfortunately she was still unable to hold her, but they did lower the side of the crib so she could touch her. It was so wonderful to finally see mother and daughter together.

I got up even earlier on Wednesday morning to get back in the NICU and when I came in, Jillian was under an oxygen tent. I asked the nurse what was going on and she said that several times overnight, Jillian’s oxygen levels dropped below what they wanted them to be. She was still breathing on her own, the tent was just controlling the amount of oxygen in the air that she was breathing. They hoped that she would only have to be on it for a day and thankfully that was all it took. It was just so sad though, seeing her in her plastic bag inside the small crib.


Jamie and I were able to spend some time together in the room that afternoon and it was so good to celebrate Jillian’s life and be together as a family of three now. One of the hardest parts though was seeing her cry/scream in the crib. She would turn really red and would be screaming at the top of her lungs. It was so sad because we were unable to really comfort her in any way. To lighten the mood, Jamie joked that Jillian was in her own glass case of emotion. Thankfully it helped us to laugh and the nurse was able to come in and help out.



That evening, Jamie was finally able to hold her, a little over 48 hours after she was born. What a wonderful time it was for Jamie and her mom who got to be in there with her.


We were to be discharged on Friday, thankfully Jamie was healing well and was able to leave. However we knew that Jillian would not be joining us at this time. On Friday morning, I went in to check on her and her room was empty. The nurse ran up to me and said that they had just moved her to the Intermediate Care nursery down the hall as they felt she was improving. She showed me where it was and I was able to get familiar with it before going back to tell Jamie the exciting news! This nursery was definitely less intense than the other, though the visiting and closing hours remained the same.

As we expected, Jamie was discharged Friday afternoon. We were grateful to finally be leaving the hospital, but heartbroken that our baby would not be joining us. It was a hard night but we were so thankful to be back in our comfortable bed, rather than a hospital bed and chair, so we slept great. The next two weeks are somewhat of a blur, we spent much time in the car driving back and forth to the hospital. At home it felt like we didn’t have a baby as it was still just the two of us. At times it was so surreal and felt like we were visiting someone else’s baby very frequently. My work was great and I was able to work remotely for the first week and then did some flex hours the second week. It was tough working from the hospital when we had to leave the room so often, but I’m just so grateful I was able to be there with Jamie.


After two weeks of trying to help Jillian learn how to coordinate feeding from a bottle, instead of the tube, and swallow what she was getting without choking, as well as not wearing herself out and forgetting to breathe, she finally got it! We were given the all clear to take her home on Tuesday, September 21st, a little over three weeks after she was born.