Earth Day

The morning of our scheduled c-section I got up early hoping to take a long, peaceful shower and have a little time to myself. Having had two newborns before, I knew this would be my last chance for a little me time for a long time. I figured Allen would get up when he heard the kiddos. I was wrong.

I was in the restroom, preparing for my shower, when he poked his head in.

Me {totally offended by his interruption}: "UM, DUDE!"

Allen {super excited}: "Trace, I'm going to run out quick and plant that ash tree."

Me {now totally irriated, forgetting I'm on the commode}: "You mean the @#!*% tree? Are you on crack? We're going in to have a baby, it's still dark outside, and the kids are going to be up in about 30 seconds and you're going to do what? Where the heck are your priorities?"

Allen {exasperated}: "Don't call it that! I don't know why you're so frustrated. I'll be just a few minutes."

Me: "Whatever. You suck."

And, he did. He planted a dumb tree the morning we were going to have a baby. I had to rush in the shower and get the kids out of bed while he played Tom Green Thumb. Needless to say, it happened to be Earth Day so it was fitting even though it was entirely inappropriate considering the activities we had planned. As you may have gathered from all the mentioning about having a baby that day, Emily's birthday is also on Earth Day.

Allen, Emmy and the infamous @#!*% Ash Tree.

Chokladbollar (Swedish Chocolate Balls)

Growing up, our family hosted a few foreign exchange students. Looking back, I see what a wonderful experience that was for our family. Our first, Hilde is from Norway. I remember lots of things about her stay, but one of the things I remember the most clearly are these cookies. In fact, a couple of years ago, I had a craving for these things. But, we had fallen out of touch and I didn't know the name of the recipe. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't find the right one.

Thanks to the miracle of Facebook, Hilde and I now are able to stay in touch. The recipe she sent had metric units, but I finally had the name to these awesome little guys. I did some searching, found a recipe that had similar ingredient ratios but listed in American measurements. I made them today and Oh. my. gosh. I love them. I'm sure there is some childhood nostalgia associated with my infatuation, but I gave them the Allen taste test and he said they were rockin'. 

They are super quick and easy to make. They do not require cooking so they are perfect for these warmer months. Kids can easily help. The recipe is quite adaptable so you can tweak it to serve your own tastes. Sounds like a winner, right?


1/4 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons softened butter (not melted, though)
1 Tablespoon vanilla (of course, the real stuff)
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats (not the instant bags, though)2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon coffee*
Pearl sugar (the big sugar used to top cupcakes or decorate with) or shredded coconut for rolling in

*Now, we are not coffee drinking folks. I found a website the recommended using chocolate milk for a substitute. I opted to use a tablespoon of regular Hershey's syrup. Hilde said many folks use orange juice. Basically, you need to put a tablespoon strong, concentrated liquid in. You can decide exactly what that may be. Hazelnut or almond flavored stuff would probably taste really good, too.

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add oats, cocoa, and coffee (or substituted liquid). Mix thoroughly. Roll into balls about the size of a meatball. Roll in topping of choice. Put in fridge to set (takes about 1/2 an hour minimum) or you can put them in the freezer if you like. Store in fridge or freezer. This recipe makes about 15 so strongly recommend doubling.


Ponder This

"Take sides.
Neutrality helps the oppressor,
never the oppressed.
Silence encourages the tormentor,
never the tormented."

--Elie Weisel (holocaust survivor, author of "Night")

I found this quote here.



In 2007, I was scouring the Craigslist pet ads and I saw one for a free Doberman. I thought it must be some psycho case of a dog 'cause Dobies are rarely free. Rather, I discovered a woman who was down on her luck with a genuinely nice dog who just wanted the best home for her baby. When she brought Mia out to visit, we found common ground as moms and horsewomen - she had grown up riding Arabians. I offered to have her come out and ride and that was that. Mia came to live with us a couple of weeks later.

From the start, it was clear Mia was a lover and protector of kids. Lexi took right to her. Everyone who came to visit fell in love with her on the spot. She was patient and kind and extremely sweet. She was a quiet dog and very obedient. 

On more than one occasion, Lexi used Mia as her prop. She did her hair and dressed her up. Mia lavished the attention and never got frustrated. 

About a month ago, Mia started behaving a little differently. She wasn't eating as well and was moving just a little more slowly. She developed a cough that told us her aging heart was getting tired.

While we were in the hospital on April 24, my mom sent me a text message. Mia had crashed. Allen sped home, saw how sick she was, wrapped her up in blankets and made his way to the vet's office. I had called to let them know he was on the way. When he got there, he ran inside to let them know he had arrived. He and some of the staff went back out to get her, but by the time they got back outside, she had already passed. 

In the midst of the birth of the baby and all of the chaos that surrounds such an event, we haven't had the proper chance to mourn Mia. She was the perfect family dog. Loyal, kind, quiet, sensitive and fiercely protective when necessary. She's a once in a lifetime kind of dog. We feel privileged to have had her in our family. We miss her terribly.

 Mia Moo
"The phrase 'working mother' is redundant." 
~Jane Sellman

thanks MMB for another great post


Emmy - One Month

This last month has been a total blur. I know one reason is for the first 2 weeks of it, I was high on percocet and ibuprofen. The second reason is that I've had both grandmas and the Mart-eye here full time and a part time nanny twice a week. They've taken a huge burden off of me so I've actually been sleeping so the days haven't seemed so long. The other part is that having three kids is like racing around with your head cut off - even when you have a village of people to help out.

So she has the refulx, dysphagia and food allergies. We caught it early and it's made a huge difference in many ways. Oh, and she's not a power puker! She is a silent refluxer. I've rather enjoyed not having the steam cleaner out all of the time. That's been nice. And, she's not a spitter either. Bonus.

She is, however, a colicy baby. From about 7-11 every night it's been straight crying. And not just by me. This kid can wail. She is hoarse from crying so much. Up until yesterday, she was also the kind of baby that would not stand to be put down. She wanted to be held all. the. time. However, her feeding schedule is great. The minute she came out, we woke her up every 3 - 3.5 hours to eat and just kept doing that. She has kept that pretty well and has even slept as many as 6 hours straight at night. She did have her nights and days mixed up for a few weeks. That was horrible, but now she's settling into her routine pretty well. She sleeps sound after a little wake time until her next feed, too. All in all, she's been great that way.

She was so miserable during the nights, I thought we had maybe missed something reflux or allergy wise. She also has difficulty eating during the early evening and dream feed times. Then, I rememberd Addie's little issue with poop. As in she couldn't go because of the formula she was on. Emmy's on the same formula. It's not constipation. Rather, the elemental formula leaves so little in the gut that the kids have a hard time getting anything to come out. The remedy? Suppositories. And lots of them. (Again, only one at a time. Geez. You think my kids are pez dispensers or something?) Every feed when we change her diaper, she gets one. It really makes a difference in her comfort level. Last week, I took her to the chiropractor, too. Who takes a baby to the chiropractor? This desperate mama, that's who. Two nights later, no more crying and she slept for 6 hours straight.

It's so interesting to see how different these three girls are! She is so fair and has red-blond hair. Both Lexi and Addie had olive skin tones and dark brown hair when they were born. Little Emmy is about as white and pink as a person can get. And blue, blue eyes. Not only is her hair color totally different from the other two, but she has tons of it. And it grows straight up. I've tried putting gel in it to give it some direction, but it definitely has a mind of it's own.   

Her sisters absolutely adore her. Lexi loves to help and is very good with her. I was a little concerned about Addie because she is so young, but she has been wonderful. She is careful and very protective. She stands guard over Emily when we go out. In fact, a rather stout boy about 7 or 8 was trying to look at Emmy and Addie got between them and gave him the good ole stink eye. It was pretty funny to see this little 18 month old ready to fist fight a big boy to keep her little sister safe. 

It's always an adjustment to add a new person to the family. For us, going from two to three has been way easier than one to two. I'm sure having the constant help has made a big difference. The worst part for me was recovering from the c-section. I couldn't help with kids and felt like a total loser. I wondered why I had a third kid when I couldn't even care for the two I had. Now that I'm on the other side of the recovery, I don't feel overwhelmed by the kids (ask me in a month or two if I feel the same). The work load feels the same to me. The sheer amount of time it takes to care for a new baby is tough and things get a little out of control when I'm feeding Emmy and the other two have run of the house. At least now I have some perspective, though, and know within a few months things will be much more manageable. 

I'm excited to see what kind of person Emmy will be and how she'll interact with her sisters. I love seeing how unique these little spirits are and how they each have such distinct personalities. I'm sure as she grows older and becomes more independent, we'll get to have lots of fun as a family.


She Graces Us With Her Presence

Well, with @#!*% Week behind us, we looked forward to meeting the girl. We did not have a name picked yet, but had it narrowed down to a few of our favorite choices. I was really nervous about the recovery from a c-section and kept wondering if I should call off the whole thing and try for another VBAC. Each time I would do this, I'd look at Allen and say, "But..." and he would shake his head in an emphatic NO! No more pitocin, no more laying in the hospital wasting time, no more wondering if we'd even be successful at a VBAC, No. No. NO!

I've never had a scheduled c-section before. With Lexi, it was in the middle of the night after 72 hours of Pitocin, zero food, dilating to a 10 without any sort of pain medication and pushing for an hour before I cried uncle and begged to be done with the whole process. I remembered how uncomfortable the spinal was, but as soon as it was administered, I fell asleep on the table. They woke me to show me her cleft chin and she was gone. I didn't see her for another day and half since she was in the NICU and I was in a narcotics haze. I vaguely remember excruciating pain the first time I tried to walk. And, that is that.

Of the whole thing, I was dreading the spinal the most. I tried to stay calm. I started shaking as we made our way into the operating room. The anesthesiologist had promised me he would drug me up a little before he stuck the needle into my spinal column, so I was really hoping it would take the edge off. Um. Thanks, but those drugs so did not take the edge off. I tried to stay still and tried to be quiet. And, it's kind of important that the patient doesn't jerk around and act like a dolt because, hello, they are putting something in your SPINE! I did neither. I said, "OUCH! OUCH! PLEASE TELL ME YOU ARE DONE!" more times than I want to admit. My legs starting jerking and burning. The whole time, he's loudly and firmly asking: "Is it getting better? Is it better now? NOW?" Finally, the feeling would subside. As soon as it seems like the process has worked, they lay you down and fast so the drugs stay in your lower half. He kept testing me to see if I had feeling from the rib cage down. I knew we were ready when he pulled out a pair or scissors and pinched the @#!*% out of my legs and hips and I was none the wiser.

They put the blue tarp up and brought Allen in. Allen seemed so excited and had our camera in hand. Why shouldn't he be excited? He's not getting filleted on the table! Anyhow. There was a lot of jerking and pulling and some quiet conversation. Then, when the pressure mounted in my chest and breathing became a little big difficult, I knew they were pulling the baby from my womb. She started screaming immediately. That was new to me. Both of my others had lung problems and the rooms had been quiet for what seemed like forever. Everyone exclaimed, "Oh my gosh. Be glad you didn't try to birth her!!!" I looked back over my shoulder to the warming table as they ferried her across the room. Allen and I looked at one another both said, "It's totally Emily." Allen told me he thought she looked like Addie. He cut the cord while I cried with joy. Welcoming your newest family member to this Earth is a rush like no other. The feeling literally swells up in your bosom and comes flooding into your chest and is so pure and overwhelming it has to come out as tears. It's got to be the closest thing to knowing heaven while still living on this Earthly plane.

While I sobbed, they closed surgery and Allen hovered around the baby. My doctor looked at me and said very sternly, "Your uterus lining was extremely thin. You have to wait at least 2 years before you can try to get pregnant again." And with that, he was gone. I had a great nurse who took me into recovery. Things got a little tense at this juncture as I kept bleeding. And bleeding. And bleeding. Now, in my personal experience, a V-birth usually has more blood loss than a c-section. The doctors do a lot of cleaning up in the operating room for sections. So, I was surprised to hear them talking about blood loss and slowing things down and frowning every time they came over to me.

Anyone who has birthed a child knows they massage your tummy (essentially your uterus) to help it contract back down before they turn you loose. It is uncomfortable to say the least. And, they keep massaging until they feel secure with the amount of blood loss they see. In this case, they started referring to my massage as "mashing" and came back every 20 minutes to mash on me. And, every time they mashed, they would need to change my bedding. That entailed me rolling over to one side and then the other. I was there for 3 hours. Lest we forget that I just had my gut spliced in half, too? At first, I was still quite numb from the spinal and all of the drugs so pulling myself up and turning over wasn't a big deal. The mashing wasn't that bad either. After about 2 hours of it, though, I started to feel it all. I mentioned how uncomfortable I was getting and the nurse said to me, "Honey, with how we've been treating you, I'm surprised you're even conscious." They kept dosing me with morphine every 10 minutes and I got at least two shots of Demerol in my thighs to help manage the discomfort. My doctor came in toward the end and expressed his concern while the nurses discussed my situation in hushed whispers. Thankfully, after a while, they felt like things were slowing down and released me to my room.

Several days later, I registered everything that happened after surgery, I felt like I had made the medically sound choice to have a c-section. My uterus lining was thinner than most and could have more easily ruptured. I had already been on pitocin for 30 hours the week prior and the longer a woman is on pitocin, the higher her risks of hemorrhage are. Considering that I had a c-section and still lost that much blood, I wondered a bit about if I had gone VBAC and what could have happened. I probably would have been worse. Of course, that is all unknown, but it seemed like for my safety and Emily's we did the right thing.


Hell Week - Thursday

So where were we? Ah, yes. The part where they put a balloon catheter in my nether regions in an effort to force my stubborn cervix gently prompt my body into labor. At this point, I'm dilated to a 1.5 and have been on the Pitocin (which shall now be referred to as "Satan's drug") for about 20 hours. I'd been having regular, but totally useless contractions. After consulting with the on-call doctor, the determination was made I had better than a 50% chance of dilating to at least a 3 or 4 with this balloon contraption. Once I was at a 3 or 4, they could break my water, see if I progressed, if I had, we would eventually have a baby and if I hadn't they could then officially make the "failure to progress" determination which would lead to us having a baby. Either way, we were going to have a baby. So, at 5 something in the morning, they put this torture device into place and we all held our breathe in hopes that something good might come of all of this.

Allen and I had a "feeling" that this dumb thing probably wouldn't work, but we were there and decided we should try to inflict as much abuse as possible upon my body while we were in there. Hell, why not? I was getting chicken broth and jello every 12 hours...who wouldn't want to stay? Anyhow. They put this dealy-o in the proper locale and we set ourselves a time limit of 6 hours. If we hadn't achieved the level of "openness" so desired, we were out.

My doctor paid us a visit in the morning hours while we were waiting for the magic to take place. When he walked in, he exclaimed "I didn't even know you were this far along!" Screech. Like a record player coming to an ear-piercing halt. Say wha? In his defense, I hadn't seen him in the last 2 months as I was seeing the midwife. But, dude, YOU WROTE THE FREAKIN' INDUCTION ORDERS! He did the normal OB checks and asked me to try to wait it out for at least 8 hours. He also said our only other course of action was to schedule a c-section for the following week after the induction if we didn't have a baby by the end of the day.

Once again, we girded up my oh-so public loins and prepared to stay the afternoon. Now, it's around 11 a.m. and we made the choice for Allen to head home since all we were doing was laying around in a stuffy room. I wasn't going anywhere and it looked my cervix was in this for the long haul. The kids were on the fritz and Nana could use a break. With that, Allen took off.

Not more than 20 minutes later, I had this, um, well wet feeling back there. Again, if you're squeamish or don't want to hear about bodily fluids and cervices and other nastiness, please, don't continue. My doctor just happened to be back for another embarrassing visit and he suggested my water might have spontaneously burst and then we would have "lift off" and no turning back. They came in with those little strippy things and they tested and guess what??? It was testing positive. Yay hoo! Now, we had to have a baby one way or the other. Just to be certain I hadn't accidentally peed myself without knowing, they tested two more times. Positive! I made the phone calls, felt like there was hope in the world, and mentally prepared myself to make it through labor.

Another couple of hours passed. The deal with this catheter is that once you have dilated to the proper place, it just falls right out. Mine wasn't falling anywhere so the midwife came back in. She didn't look too comfortable. She had the "I'm going to drop a crap load of bad news at your feet and I wish someone else would just do this because I know you're going to go ape sh*t when I tell you the deal" look on her face as she approached my bed. She began: your contractions had not gotten stronger or closer together. Yes, thank you for clearing that up since I'm the one having them and could have easily told you that myself. The balloon thingy was still firmly wedged in there. Again, thanks for the clarification. Like you can just forget something like that is sticking OUT OF YOU. And, they didn't think my water had really broken because of said contractions. They were going to test again and then look at the fluid under the microscope because that is the definitive way to see if you have a broken water bag. If the water did not break, they were sending me home.

In a matter of minutes we went from absolutely having a baby to pack your junk and get the heck out. I was getting my eviction notice. It had now been 30 hours on "Satan's drug". While the contractions had not yielded any measurable results, they were annoying enough to wear me out. The bed was totally uncomfortable. My kids were stressed. The Nana was stressed. Allen has missed valuable time at work (hello, people, the man is working two full time jobs and one of them is in another state. Like he needs to miss work. I don't think so.).

When she broke it all down for me, I just laid there. I didn't say anything. I had been cheerful and chipper and quite pleasant, through the whole ordeal, but when she said all of that in one long winded breath, I was p.i.s.s.e.d. To say the least. She looked at me like any person would look at a caged, rabid animal. I think she thought I was going to fist fight her right there. She offered to have the doctor come in. I simply said, "No." I requested they unplug everything and take everything out of me and let me get on my way. "What should I do next?", I asked. Well, call the appointment line and try to get in to see your doctor on Monday. Call the line?!? Really. I've been here for 30 hours, poked, prodded, violated, and humiliated and you can't make the damned appointment for my section before I leave? No. I had to call the line and make my own appointment. Not even for the surgery. Just to see the doctor.

I called Allen. I called my dad to tell him we had no baby. I called my in-laws to tell them we had no baby. I was so embarrassed I didn't want to even tell anyone what had happened. How could I have let this get so far? Why didn't I make a scene and force them to take the baby? I'll tell you why. Honestly, I knew from the start, that the induction probably wouldn't work. I knew this would end in a c-section. I knew we could try labor, but for whatever reasons, this child would come by way of the knife. I didn't want to humiliate myself any further by having a temper tantrum in the hospital. Allen came and got me and we rode in silence back to our home to try and make sense of what we were going to do next.

The following day was business as usual. Allen went to work. My mom and I took the girls up for their annual well checks and immunizations (which could be my Friday installment of Hell Week, but I just don't have the time to write a whole entry on shots and crying and my aching uterus). I was beat all to hell and felt like crap, but I had a family to run and quite frankly didn't want to submit. And we didn't.

We did go in to see my doctor on Monday. When he walked in he exclaimed, "I thought you delivered!" followed up by, "Who ordered your induction anyways? It wasn't me!" as he read my chart. After seeing his jagged signature on the order, he then laughed, "HA! It was me!!!!" Allen and I sat in shocked silence. Honestly, we could have yelled at him, but what would it have accomplished? When he saw our faces, his flippant attitude changed. He cautioned me against another c-section. He said it was much better to try for a vbac. When we explained our concerns about my long labors, more induction, a huge baby, etc. etc., he agreed a c-section would probably be the best thing to do. He then offered to tie my tubes while he was in there. I told him NO. He gave me a look of disapproval and said, "Why not?!?" I said NO again. He pressured me further. I got pretty loud and stern and said, NO!!!! He let it go and put me on the calendar.

I don't think I had ever felt so insignificant in all my life. I feel like Allen and I chose dignity over our pride (and who wants to piss of the guy who will be cutting you open in 3 days?) but came out of this feeling like we need to make some different choices in our health care. I also have a much stronger conviction about my gut feelings. I knew how this would play out and instead of directing my care, I let others steer the boat. I did this pretty willingly, hoping to avoid what I knew would be our final outcome - a surgical delivery. I hope I've learned to trust myself a little more in that regard. I mostly wish that our birth stories would have a little less drama and little more dilation, please! But, in the end, we got our Emily here safe and sound and that is really what matters the most.


It's Not Quite "The Story" But It Will Have To Do

Yah, I know I haven't even finished the hell week story. I will. Someday. I haven't written the birth story, either. I promise I'll give you all the nitty, gritty details when I have time. Quit laughing, already. I will have time. Someday.

I would like, however, to update all of our loyal readers (all 3 of you) on where we're at currently.
  • The grandmas have been here to help with the load. Thank goodness. Honestly, that is a one to one ratio for kids to adults and it's barely managable. 
  • Emily has reflux. Prevacid was employed on day 4 and she is doing fine.
  • Emily has a milk protein and soy allergy. While in the hospital, she was FUSSY and CRANKY and started vomiting (no. not spitting up and for those of you who have blessed enough to witness my children in action you know that there is no such thing as "spit up" in my house. Full on hurling from day one.) curdled milk. So, I requested the special formula for her and was told it doesn't exist. Really. It doesn't exist. By the pediatrician and NICU in the hospital. Idiots. I'll include all of the details later, but let me tell you it involved some yelling and cussing and the Nana running around Albuquerque trying to locate the nearest pharmacy to purchase our special formula before the next bottle was due (1/2 an hour's time, by the way).
  • Emily has a good suck reflex. She does not have the whole suck-swallow-breathe thing down. Thus, she is now on thickened formula and is doing much better. No choking and gasping.
  • She has not blown chunks since that day at the hospital. She has set a Riddle World Record of 13 consecutive days without long distance barfing. Yay, Emily.
  • Addie is all jacked up by this new addition.
  • She wails and yells almost constantly.
  • The only word she'll use is "no". 
  • Lexi has handled the whole thing pretty well, overall. 
  • C-sections suck. 
  • I hemorraged for 3 hours after the surgery. I saw the "fear" in the nurses eyes about 2 hours into the whole thing and started to worry myself. 
  • They had to "mash" on my uterus every 20 minutes to try and get it to contract and stop bleeding during those 3 hours. My stomach is still black and blue. And hurts a lot.
  • They wanted to do a blood transfusion a few days later because I'm severly anemic, but I requested not to and am taking Iron pills like candy.
  • You all do know the side effects of iron, right?
  • Sucks to be me. 
  • When they took the tape off of my c-section incision, they took my skin with it. No, I'm not kidding. Blisters and oozing and nasty-ness ensued. 
  • Again, sucks to be me.
  • Until yesterday, Emily was the cryingist baby I ever did meet. I finally thickened her formula last night and we actually slept for 2 consecutive hours. 
  • It was heaven.
  • Allen went to CA yesterday. 
  • I cried the whole day. Even though Grandma was here and did everything.
  • I'd start sobbing and then the hanging skin around my belly would start jiggling and taking on a life of it's own and I would get so upset by that, I'd sob harder but that was so uncomfortable, I had to stop crying all together. 
  • He has to go back in 2 weeks. 
  • I have help thru all of May, though. Thank my lucky stars, right?
  • Oh, yeah, my dog died while I was in the hospital. 
  • Has everyone caught onto the "sucks to be Traci and Allen" theme we've got going on here?
  • Emily is sleeping and Grandma has the other two for preschool and shopping. I need to shower. But, I'm going to sleep instead. 
  • The end.

About Me

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What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.