Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Joy and Pain

When the kids came to see Katie at the hospital for the first time they brought three adorable balloons for her. They also worked at home on making Katie a "Zero Birthday" cake and getting her some gifts. For me they made cards and cleaned up the house. What more could a mom want?

I'm still sort of surprised every time I say "my 8 kids" or answer the question of "how many kids do you have?" I actually got that question quite a bit during my hospital stay. Of course, my hospital stay was longer than expected. Katie was born on Thursday night so I stayed until Saturday afternoon. Then, Saturday night I developed a bad fever that had me sweating with heat and freezing with chills so bad I was going into convulsions. I was laying in bed that night shaking so hard under a mountain of blankets that my muscles seized up and I couldn't control them. I also had intense belly, back, and head pain.

Sunday morning we called the midwives clinic and told them that this kept coming and going and my fever kept going higher. They told me to get examined right away. We spent an hour in the Urgent Care Clinic before they refused to treat me because I'd just recently given birth. So we returned to the hospital where I delivered Katie and they admitted me in the emergency room. I had a temperature of 104 by then. They hooked me up to an IV to start pumping me full of non-stop antibiotics which continued from Sunday until Tuesday night. They also did a chest x-ray and other tests to rule out lots of different kinds of infections or other problems. Periodically they'd come by and inject my belly and leg with a blood thinner to prevent blood clots. (let me just say OUCH!)

Eventually they decided that I had an infection of the uterus that was probably contracted during delivery. By Tuesday I was insisting that I had to go home and could not stay another night. The problem was that hospital rules wouldn't allow me to take care of Katie in my room by myself. With the added broken leg problem, I totally agreed. So Daniel had to stay the night with me so that he could help me nurse Katie and take care of her. Unfortunately we couldn't find any more people to stay with our kids. As it was, Daniel was running back and forth to the house to avoid breaking the "no more than six hours with a babysitter" rule for kids in foster care.

Even if we could have gotten the county to provide respite care that fast for four foster kids and transportation to school (which you can't), there's no way our current kids would have handled that at all well. They'd feel frightened, abandoned, and like disposable kids. And it still wouldn't help us with what to do with our other three. So our midwives managed to get a deal with the hospital doctors (who never once even came to examine me after I left the E.R.) that I could go home Tuesday night at 10 pm since that would be 24 hours from the last time my temperature spiked over 100 degrees. And I had to submit to one more of those horrible Heparin shots in my belly (did I mention OUCH!!!?). Anyway, I'm home now, still have a massive headache, but otherwise seem much improved. Now I just have to wait for my leg x-ray on Friday to find out if I'm headed back to the hospital for surgery. Please pray the answer is "no".

Sharing Katie

It's been hard sharing "Katie time" between nine people. The kids think I've had my "turn" to hold her just because I'm nursing her. Huh uh. No way. That doesn't count. It's way too much fun to just spend time holding her and watching her make adorable faces or snuggling her close on your shoulder and just breathing in that warm wonderful baby scent. She loves to have her hands held and to suck on anyone's knuckle. She's just such a good baby that we're all having trouble sharing Katie.

Welcome Katie Grace!

Name:Katelynn Grace
Nickname: Katie
Born: February 19th, 2009
Time: 7:40 pm
Weight: 8lbs 7.5 oz
Length: 21 in.
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Gray Blue (for now)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Love Day and Adoption Plans

For our annual Valentine's Day tradition we took photos of the kids, not around our neighborhood this year, but around town. Some of the pictures were taken at Pizza Hut and some at the recreation center. I wish we could have been more adventurous, but with my broken leg I'm just grateful that we were able to take photos at all. I wish, too, that we could post pictures of all our kids.

Snow White and Brother had their court hearing this week and everything went well. Their parents voluntarily agreed to the termination of parental rights so the kids are now legally free for adoption. We still have to be patient during the 60 day wait to see if there will be any appeals or objections, but on April 8th we'll hopefully get a court date for the official adoption to take place. Meanwhile, their case is being transferred this week to the adoption unit. They'll get a new caseworker who is already wanting to know when she can come visit us all. We may meet her on the 27th when the kids have their good-bye visit with some of their family members. They also have their case review meeting on Tuesday that we're supposed to go to as their foster parents to give an update on them. On top of that I'm supposed to participate in Brianna's IEP review and parent teacher conference by phone this week. Busy days ahead.

My Due Date

My due date came and went yesterday. So Katie won't be a Valentine's Day baby. We did find out that Miss Lady was also a baby born on her due date, just like Danya.

I've been getting so sick of being cooped up in my bed all this time just laying around with my foot elevated. Yesterday I begged Daniel to take us all out. We went to Pizza Hut since we didn't have a lot of time before we had to get Danya and Thumbelina to their gymnastics class. I guess Valentine's Day isn't a big enough holiday to cancel classes at the rec center. I enjoyed getting to watch their class, too, but the bleachers provided for the parents are in a tiny area and I was constantly having to move my foot and crutches out of the way for people to pass in front of me.

Danya and Thumbelina were tested to see if they were ready to move up to Advanced Beginners, but both of them are going to be kept in the Beginners class. They've only had four lessons so far, but I think they're both doing really well. Thumbelina was one of the only ones to be able to do a chin up on the high bar.

Decorated with Love

We used our heart shaped cookie pans to make chocolate chip cookies for all the kids. Then they got to take turns decorating them with red and white icing. While they were busy making their masterpieces the other kids took turns playing the new Strawberry Shortcake playstation 2 game we gave them as a group Valentine's Day gift. Even Miss Lady liked the game! Kevin was the only one who couldn't figure out how to get the icing to come out of the cans, so Daniel helped him with his. It was so much fun making the cookies that I think we'll do this every year.

Happy Valentine's Day 2009

Daniel and I got a kick out of making Valentine's Day super special this year. All the kids got a stuffed animal and some little gifts like stickers and pens. We also printed out wrappers for the large Hershey bars we gave them. Each one was color coded so they'd know which gifts were for them. We stayed up until midnight decorating so they'd be surprised when they woke up in the morning. It was so much fun seeing their shocked faces in the morning!

Food Co-op Again

Last Tuesday was food co-op day again. We got quite a variety this time around; everything from fruit snacks to chili. We even ended up with 100 lbs. of potatoes! We've been trying to convince people to take a couple bags with them when they come over. We even sent some home with the kids' caseworker. The favorite food item according to the kids so far is the Slim Jim's. I've never liked those, but the kids treat them like candy. The strangest item, in my opinion, was the diet Lipton white papaya iced tea.

Dancing Girls

Gloria and Snow White are enjoying their dance classes. Although, I think half the fun is getting to dress up in tights and fancy shoes. At six and seven years old one of their favorite pastimes is playing dress up. I remember when their Maxwell cousins got a ballet bar installed in their room. My girls were so envious. We'll see how these classes go and if Glory and Snow White want to stick with it.

It's kind of strange for me to see my daughters enjoy this sort of thing. I was such a tomboy when I was little. I don't think I ever wanted to be a dancer. No, I preferred to pretend I was Scarlett from G. I. Joe. She was awesome. She was a martial artist, weapons specialist, C.I.A. intelligence operative, acrobat, lawyer, and generally super smart kick-butt kind of girl. I had hoped that Gloria would be a bit more like me, but I think she is definitely going to stay a girly girl into princesses, ballet, and the color pink. Oh, well, I guess there's always hope for Katie.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What I'm Reading: Ships and Dragons

Since I've been confined to bed rest these past three weeks I've had plenty of time to indulge in my favorite pastime, reading. Daniel has been very good about supplying me with new books. I finished the entire Naomi Novik series of books about Temeraire the Dragon fighting for the British during their war with Napoleon. I think they call that "historical fiction" which is an oxymoron for sure. Daniel chose these books and, I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled with the concept at first glance. She's a wonderful author, though, and I quickly got hooked.

Currently I'm reading the final book in the Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb. I had just finished another of her series when I found this one at the bookstore. We won't mention to my podiatrist that I was scooting around a bookstore instead of sitting at home with my leg elevated. Yesterday Miss Lady asked what I was reading, so to intrigue her into possibly reading it herself when I'm finished I just shrugged and said, "Oh, nothing special. One of the main characters, a 14 year old boy, just finished sawing off and stitching up the leg of the pirate who kidnapped him and stole his father's ship. He might live, if the poison from the sea serpent's bite doesn't kill him."

Hee hee. I'm always trying to encourage Miss Lady to read more since it seems like such a chore to her because she only reads school textbooks. The other day I sat in the kitchen while she was doing dishes and casually started reading out loud from a book about a girl her age who was fleeing from a band of outlaws who were trying to catch her because she could hear dragons and understand their "mind speech". Did I mention that I like books about dragons? When she was finished with the dishes I stopped and told her that since I'd already read the book before she was welcome to finish it. She took it to her room and stayed up that night reading it. Now if I could just find a sneaky way to get her to start enjoying vegetables more...

Purple Foot

Here's the picture you requested, Jennie, in all it's purple glory. I keep looking at my toes and wondering if someone is playing a cruel hoax on me and that's really a fake movie prop and not my real foot at all. It feels tight and swollen and painful pretty much all the time, but it only takes on the deep dark purple shade when I'm standing up. I can actually feel the blood whoosh down into my foot and it hurts like crazy when that happens.

When I'm laying down with my foot propped up (like I'm supposed to be all the time) it's mainly just my toes and heel that scream at me with an occasional twinge of pain where the break occurred. I was taking a generic pain medicine a couple of times a day when it got really bad, but after the midwife casually mentioned that my baby could come out addicted if she got used to me taking it, I decided not to take it at all anymore. Now I only take Tylenol once a day or so when it gets really bad. I wanted to shake the midwife, though, and ask her why she didn't think to tell me that when she prescribed the meds!

Currently I'm just hoping that the swelling in my foot will go away or get much better after Katie is born. I've also asked the podiatrist twice now if I can wash my foot and he says no. I didn't hear a good reason why not except that I might bump it. Oh, the little things you miss.

Gymnasts and Dancers

We signed the four younger girls up about a month ago at the community center for classes. Danya and Thumbelina are taking a gymnastics class together. They both are really enjoying it so far. Danya was in a beginning tumbling class when she was about 4, but this class is part of a real gymnastics program.

Gloria and Snow White just started a tap/jazz/ballet combo dance class. Their first day of class didn't go well. Snow White had an accident in the first 10 minutes and had to come home to change her clothes. Gloria was terribly embarrassed to be sent to the parent waiting room to tell what had happened. They are both looking forward to the second class which is tomorrow evening. Daniel took them out this weekend to buy ballet and (shockingly expensive) tap shoes and black tights that are required for the class. The hard part is telling them that they can't wear them around the house. We are allowing them to wear them if they're practicing, though. Hopefully, Daniel will be able to take some pictures of them tomorrow.

Big Brother in Training

Meet Baby Katie. Nope, not the one I've been carrying for the past 39 weeks. This is the doll that the kids have designated as Baby Katie until the real one arrives. They carry her around, push her in the stroller, dress her, bottle feed her, and rock her to sleep.

Kevin has a special bond with this little doll. He always asks to hold her whenever someone else brings her into the room. He loves on her and snuggles her. It's the cutest thing ever.

Four Year Old Flood

On Tuesday my friend, Deanna, came over to babysit while Daniel and I went to the court hearing for Miss Lady and Thumbelina. She watched five of our kids, plus her two boys, while making lunch and getting Snow White and Brother ready for school.

Unfortunately, she got a bit distracted and didn't hurry to check on Brother when Snow White came and told her that he was making a "big mess" in the bathroom. We arrived home just after Deanna discovered that when she had sent Brother to wash his hands before eating he decided to plug the sink and leave the water running full force.

The entire bathroom was flooded. The water also ran down into the cabinets and drawers and dripped down through the ceiling of the downstairs bathroom. Daniel says that since the downstairs ceiling only has a tiny bit of damage he's going to just leave it alone for now. We're dealing with enough already. He and Brother dried the bathroom floor and Daniel emptied out the entire bathroom vanity and dried everything inside. We told Deanna that at least this forced us to clean out the bathroom drawers we've been meaning to organize for months now. The first thought that came to mind upon seeing this newest disaster, though, was "when it rains, it pours."

Snow People

It snowed not that long ago. Luckily, I didn't have anywhere I needed to be at that time because I don't know how I'd manage crutches in the snow. It was tricky enough in the following days trying to avoid patches of ice while getting in and out of the car. Have I mentioned how much I'm enjoying having the handicap parking tag so that I don't have to make it as far on my crutches? I've got that little scooter, too, now but it's not as helpful as I thought it would be. I mostly just use it when I have to make it down long corridors or inside a store. Yes, my doctor got annoyed that I'm not laying down with my foot elevated enough, but there are some things I'm not missing out on. Like picking out Katie's new changing table or the court hearings for the kids.

Daniel and the kids decided to take some time to enjoy the snow before it was completely gone. They spent a fun day building snow men at the park and in our front yard last week. Brother determinedly built a snowman all by himself that ended up being taller than him. He wouldn't let anyone help. He's a very tough little four year old. Daniel kindly took pictures for me since I couldn't be out there to watch. When I saw them I told Daniel that it's incredibly gross to eat snow, especially snow from a public park, but he disagrees. He said he taught the kids the basics: "If it's white, it's alright. If it's yellow, let it mellow." Must be a dad thing.

Meals on Wheels

This past couple of weeks we've had several meals delivered to us from friends and ladies of the church. It's been so nice knowing that I don't have to worry about dinner on days when Daniel works. We've been receiving all kinds of wonderful things from lasagna to chicken and rice casseroles. I hope the kids don't get too used to this since all of these ladies are much better cooks than I am. Tomorrow night we're expecting a chicken lasagna made with spinach and alfredo sauce. It's also been fun that most nights they bring extras like salad, french bread, and dessert. This has been a double blessing because it's also saving us money on groceries. That's particularly helpful since we've had the added expenses of doctor co-pays and special clothing and shoes for the girls. I don't think I've mentioned yet that the four younger girls have all started new classes that require leotards, tights, and expensive shoes. More on that later.

Miss Lady has also stepped up and taken a much larger role in meal preparation. On the nights that Daniel doesn't work he's been teaching her to cook everything from spaghetti to Shake N' Bake chicken and mashed potatoes. Granted, it's not fine cuisine, but it's all easy inexpensive meals that she may find herself preparing someday as a young adult. She's been really excited about the whole process and proud to serve everyone the foods she's cooked herself. Danya and Gloria have taken a smaller task on themselves. They prepare sandwiches and small microwaveable foods on school days for the kids' lunches before Snow White and Brother have to get on the school bus. I'm really proud of the girls for stepping up and taking over so many of the little "mom jobs" that are difficult for me right now. They are all showing a lot of maturity.

Pool Time

A few weeks ago, after we signed all the kids up for a membership to our local community center, we took the kids to the pool. We had such a great time, that I was really hoping that we'd get lots of opportunities to come back. My leg sort of changes that, but maybe Daniel will be able to take a few kids at a time.

It's a great pool, with a water slide, fountain, wave pool, lazy river, and hot tub. It's all indoors and heated. Today a friend gave us a tiny little bikini for Katie, so maybe by this summer I'll be able to take her to try swimming for the first time.

Cards for Our Nephews

Here are pictures of the cards I made for my nephews, Jason and Judah, who both had birthdays in January. I never did hear whether or not they received them, but then again, we sent them a bit late. I really enjoyed using these new papers, but my favorite thing is the new little circle stamp that says, "A son is a blessing, A son is a gift".

Since I can't get downstairs to my scrapbooking area, Daniel brought up a folding table and set me up with basic supplies. I've been trying to work on the albums for our foster kids. I want to get the one for Miss Lady and Thumbelina finished so that it will be ready for them to take with them when they leave. I also hope to be able to give Snow White and Brother their album as an adoption gift. Once Katie is here, I know it's going to be a lot harder to find the energy to work on either album.

Luau Night at AWANA

Since I only ever posted a picture of Snow White in her butterfly costume from Luau Night, I thought I'd add pictures of the other three girls who dressed up. Although the themes they've been coming up with at AWANA don't seem to have any particular biblical purpose, Danya decided she would have a meaning behind her costume.

So Danya was a tropical flower and on each petal she wrote one of the fruits of the spirit. Gloria was a coconut tree, but sadly her hat fell apart just as she arrived at church. Thumbelina was a bird of paradise, which might pass muster as having a slightly biblical theme, I guess. They didn't win any prizes, but I thought the costumes they made with Grandma Nancy were very cute. I was only able to offer suggestions, not help, since this was only two days after I broke my leg and I was still in a lot of pain. One good thing was that since I can't go downstairs I didn't have to see whatever mess was left after their flurry of creativity. Always a silver lining, right?

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Here's the news in a nutshell. My foot is not getting better. In fact, the doctor seems to think it should be looking better by now, but isn't. He postponed having it x-rayed until after Katie comes. He sounded like he was saying I'm going to need the surgery to screw the metal plates into my leg bone to hold it in place. Needless to say, this terrifies me.

In baby news, I've been having lots of contractions, but apparently they haven't been very productive. The nurse-midwife checked me out on Thursday, but there's no sign that Katie's ready to come yet. I've got exactly one week left until my due date.

As for the foster care situation, we went to court on Tuesday and learned that Miss Lady and Thumbelina will be with us at least until May 5th, but that they will be increasing the transition process to go back home during that time, so that's good news for them. Monday is the court date for Snow White and Brother to determine if parental rights will be officially terminated, making them legally free for adoption.

Regarding general family stuff, I'm hoping to add some more blog posts with pictures tomorrow. The kids are all doing well. Daniel is working from home at night to be here to help me. We've been getting tremendous support from church friends. I'm very encouraged that we'll be able to make it through this rough patch. Thanks for all the good wishes!