Archive for August 2010

Summer and Fall 2010

August 23, 2010

It has been a crazy summer with air conditioning and dryer vent issues, twenty baseball/teeball games, at least as many practices, two parties, one unplanned out-of-town trip, one First Holy Communion, a new baby, and two out-patient surgeries.

Somehow we did manage to accomplish a few homeschooling things in there.  For the first two weeks of the summer semester, Bailey and I are reviewed the finer points of Singapore Math 1B, so she could retake the “final exam”.  Then we started on Math 2B units 1, 3, and 4 which mostly consist of weights and measures.  Bailey also completed her Explode the Code Online.  Lately she’s just been doing a few social studies and phonics pages from her Brain Quest Grade 2 Workbook.

But today was the first day of our new homeschooling semester.  So, here is the over-view of our plans.

-Fall 2010-

Math will be Singapore Math 2A five days a week; hopefully we’ll finish before the end of the semester.  Logic practice will continue with the next book in the  Mind Benders series (A1), one day a week.  As mentioned in other posts, history will explore the Medieval period (400-1600 AD) twice a week.

I realized a while back that the Word Study series Bailey started this past year maybe be discontinued, so we will be switching to using the Grammar Practice series two days a week.  I did decide to do spelling instruction using Sequential Spelling five days a week.  I think that increasing Bailey’s spelling skills will enhance her enjoyment of things she already does such as creative writing.  Bailey will also probably work in her Brain Quest workbook a few days a week, just for something fun and different.

One subject especially tailored to Bailey’s interest in second grade will be music composition.  She’s been “writing” her own songs since she was about two and has built up quite a repertoire of catchy tunes.  The goal will be to help her start learning how to translate her tunes onto paper.  We’ll start with Ready to Read Music and the basics of sight-reading and practice with a hymnal from church and a Beatles songbook and a keyboard.  Then perhaps in the spring we’ll start some home-instruction lessons on the recorder flute to build up her ear.  Hopefully, this will lay some groundwork for piano/keyboard lessons next summer.

As for Piper, this will be her last semester of completely optional schoolwork.  Because her birthday is in October, she would not qualify for kindergarten until Fall 2011 if she went to regular school.  This spring, though, I plan to start a “pre-session” with her just so we can both work out the routines and logistics of introducing her to required schoolwork.

It should be an interesting semester with a new baby in the mix, keeping the toddler entertained, and my recent health issues.  So, let’s see what happens….

Postpartum Complications (part 3)

August 19, 2010

I spent a lot of Friday talking to God about things before, during, and after my scheduled D&C and the emergency uterine artery embolization.  I tried to be thankful that if I had to endure all this I at least had my Sabrina, whereas most women receive a D&C due to miscarriage.  I tried to offer up my physical and emotional suffering for those women, for souls in purgatory, and for anything I could think of.  I asked for a priest twice in the hospital, but it never worked out.  I really felt like I could use the sacrament of Healing.

I tried to stay positive for the most part.  I talked with people about homeschooling.  I watched Sabrina get treated like a superstar, especially in departments that weren’t used to seeing many babies.  Rick constantly reassured me that everything would be OK.  It was really only when the possibility of the hysterectomy was first mentioned that I lost it temporarily.

We came home on Saturday afternoon   Our three older girls were happy to see me and Sabrina at home, but they’ve had a hard time understanding that I am basically useless at this point.  I’m under strict orders to do nothing but sit or lay down (with the exception of bath room trips) for at least a week.  This also means that we can’t attend our village’s Jubilee festival this weekend.

Rick and his mother rearranged their work schedules so that I am not left on my own with all four kids at anytime.  Rick is trying really hard to be everything to everyone while gearing up for his school semester to start.   I’m trying to learn to let go of my household control and let everyone figure out how to do things their way instead of expecting them to do it my way.

I am basically camped out on the main floor.  I sleep on the couch at night, and sometimes I camp out on a palette on the floor during the day.  Or I sit in the armchair or at the computer.  I try to manage the kids as much as I can from the couch, and we’ve had to demand that they step up and help out more.  Rick has hands full trying to keep up with all of the requests for food and drinks from me and the kids.

Physically I’m not feeling any real pain.  I just feel tired, achy, and a bit sore along my right hip and leg.  As for my bleeding, the first hurdle was to see what would happen once the foam in my arteries completely dissolved.  It was a good sign when I didn’t start to resemble a victim from a horror movie again.  But I’m kind of in a holding pattern otherwise.  I am still experiencing some light bleeding.  We’ll see what my doctor says tomorrow.  She may want to give it more time to taper off on its own.  If it does, then I’ll be in the clear.  If it stays consistently at this level (which is where I was before the D&C), then we are looking at another procedure.

If this bleeding does stop on its own soon, then next month I have to have a full ultrasound with a radiologist to determine the extent of my uterine fibroids.  Then we’ll have to determine what, if any, treatment those require.

It has been a really rough summer before and since Sabrina was born.  I’ve learned a lot of lessons in humility and love and trying to live in the moment and accept things as they come, good and bad.  There are times when I’ve been angry and frustrated and just plain scared.  But I’ve really tried to use all this to refocus myself on God’s will and that “God’s will hath no why“, at least not a why that we can always discern.

Postpartum Complications (Part 2)

August 17, 2010

This past Friday I was due to report for a D&C at 7:00 am thanks to 8 millimeters of remaining placenta in my uterus.  Due to construction it was actually 7:25 when Ricky, Sabrina, and I rolled into the Same Day Surgery department.  Sabrina was in her car seat in the double stroller.  Rick and brought a bag of books to keep him occupied.  Then we had the diaper bag with three diapers, wipes, a changing pad, and one sample bottle of formula “just in case”.

They put us in a small room, as opposed to other patients who just got a curtained area.  The nurse warned me that she might ask us to take the baby out so as not to upset another woman who was having a D&C due to miscarriage.  Mainly we sat around for an hour while they went over paperwork.  Then it was time to put in my IV and wheel me downstairs in my bed to pre-op.  Rick and Sabrina followed us down before being pointed to the family waiting room.

I met a variety of nice nurses and the anesthesiologist.  I answered questions about homeschooling.  Then it was time for the show.  I remember very little for awhile after that.  I woke up in recovery with Rick and Sabrina next to me.  After a little bit of time there, I was taken back up to Same Day Surgery.

The doctor had told Rick that the D&C had gone smoothly, but the nurse in Same Day Surgery started to get concerned that I was doing too much bleeding.  It soon became obvious that it was going to be another few hours before I would be allowed to leave.  Somewhere in there I received a shot of antibiotic in the hip and a Cytotec suppository (fun, fun, fun!!).  But, finally we did get the OK to go with instructions to take it super easy at home and visit my doctor within a week.

But as soon as I stood up to get dressed blood flooded down my leg.  The nurse walked me to the bathroom where I passed a gigantic clot.  She left me in the bathroom, shut the door, and ran to catch the doctor who was just leaving.  I heard the doctor tell the nurse to send Rick and Sabrina out immediately.

After changing the bedding, my doctor and the nurse set up a make-shift gynecology table.  Basically, they propped my butt up on a bedpan while the doctor examined me and the nurse pointed a flashlight at my nether regions.  Then my doctor packed gauze in my uterus, hoping the pressure would stop the bleeding.  The blood started to really gush, though.  Twice they had to change the bedding because I was literally sitting in a puddle of my own blood.  A blood draw was ordered.  My IV was reinserted.  Another shot was given in the hip.

My doctor said that she could find no reason for the excessive bleeding.  It was not to the point that I needed a transfusion, but that something was going to have to be done to stop the bleeding immediately.  She said she had put in a call to a radiologist for a surgical procedure to temporarily cut off blood flow to the uterus.  It was either that or start talking about a hysterectomy.

That’s when I lost it.  While I had held it together as things slowly fell apart, I knew that we were approaching hysterectomy territory.  Hearing it said out loud was the drop in the stress bucket that made it overflow.  It wasn’t the idea that I wouldn’t be able to have any more children.  After all, I’ve been blessed four times with healthy babies.  The idea of a hysterectomy at age 33 was just overwhelming for some inexplicable reason.

I started crying uncontrollably.  I could see the concern and pity in my doctor’s eyes and those of the nurse.  They tried to console me, but I really just needed to get it out.  I pulled it together for a little bit, but then I made the mistake of calling my mom to tell her what was going on.  And my longing for my mommy broke me down again just at the radiologist appeared to explain the procedure.

I was starting to get scared and creeped out as he tried to explain what he was going to do.  I asked to be as unaware as possible.  I just didn’t think that I could emotionally or mentally take it.  I asked about feeding Sabrina afterward, and they didn’t seem to think I’d be up for it.  They said they would try to round up more sample bottles of formula and find a room where Rick and Sabrina could stay with me all night after the surgery.

When I was wheeled down to Interventional Radiology, they gave me something they described as the equivalent of “two glasses of wine”.  I have vague memories of babbling and singing along to the radio while the radiologist inserted a tube through my femoral artery and filled the blood vessels to my uterus with a foam that would act as a blocking agent for the next 24 hours (Uterine Artery Embolization).  Afterward the radiologist said that he had discovered benign fibroid tumors.  My OB/GYN said that it is possible that she may have unknowingly nicked a fibroid during the D&C.

I was transported to the maternity floor and given a private room.  They kindly supplied us with some extra diapers.  I had to keep my right leg straight and lay flat for six hours.  Rick tried to get Sabrina to take the formula, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with it.  With a little finagling, I got Sabrina latched on and she nursed contentedly.  Once my positioning was no longer restricted we snuggled in as if we were at home…except for the IV and the hourly checks by the nurse.

We were glad to be on the maternity floor.  We were familiar with it, and it’s such a positive place to be.  (We think we were in the same room that I was in after having Katie.)  Rick stretched out on the pull-out chair/bed.  And we waited to see if the foam had worked or if I would start bleeding excessively at any minute.  Thankfully, I was only expelling a little bit of “old” blood.

The next morning my doctor came in.  She said that I could go home as long as the radiologist cleared me.  She had already told Rick, though, that I had to take it extremely easy for the next week.  The first 48 hours would be critical.  I was told to pay her a visit within a week and then in a month or so we would deal with the fibroid issue once everything else had settled down.  The radiologist left instructions for me to set up an appointment with him in two weeks.

I got dressed.  We loaded up our stuff in the stroller and Sabrina in her car seat.  Then Rick followed my wheel chair down to the patient loading zone and we headed home…

Postpartum Complications (Part 1)

August 16, 2010

I have a story to tell.  I’m not looking for sympathy (although prayers are always welcome) or attention.  I just feel the need to write it all down and tell my friends what’s been going on in my life these past few days and weeks.

As my Sabrina approached six weeks of age, my lochia (aka postpartum bleeding) had failed to clear up completely.  I knew this was not normal, but I figured it was because I had just overdone it during my “recovery” period.  As I approached seven weeks postpartum, though, the bleeding started getting heavier.

I felt like something was wrong.  I would sit around half the day thinking that maybe I just needed more rest.  Then I would start to panic because the house was disgusting and do too much.  I felt conflicted and unbalanced.  It made me very frustrated and depressed; I just wanted to get on with my life without this lingering bleeding.

At that time I was schedule for my postpartum check-up with my midwife.  She expressed some concern about my bleeding and after consulting with one of the doctors prescribed for me to take an ulcer medication called Cytotec for three days.  This medication not only causes the stomach and intestines to contract but the uterus as well.  The idea was that the Cytotec would wring out my uterus.

After three days of cramping, my bleeding reverted to the previous lighter flow but still showed no signs of ever stopping completely.  So, last Tuesday I went in for an internal ultrasound with one of the doctors at my OB/GYN office.  She found an 8 millimeter piece of placenta inside my uterus.  She said that I had a 20 to 30% chance of passing it naturally, but if it didn’t pass in two weeks I would have to have a D&C.  Or I could go ahead and have the D&C immediately.

While I was not keen on a D&C, I was more worried about how the procedure might affect Sabrina…like how/if I would be able to breastfeed her the day of the procedure.  They assured me, though, that I could feed her before and immediately after.  So, after talking about it with my husband, mother, and mother-in-law, I decided to get it over with immediately, especially since my husband’s college was getting ready to start back up.  We scheduled the D&C for this past Friday.

We went to the hospital with all four kids in tow on Thursday for registration and pre-op testing.  They drew my blood to check my platelets, hemoglobin, and blood type (in case a transfusion was needed).  And I provided a urine sample to prove that I was not pregnant.  They told me to report at 7:00 the next morning for 9:00 surgery.

They said that we should expect to be at the hospital for five to six hours for this routine outpatient surgery.  We could not anticipate that it would turn into a much longer day and stay…..

July 2010 Reading List

August 4, 2010

1.  The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp:  This book was the basis for musical and movie The Sound of Music even though the story has so much more to it.  The two greatest themes of the book and Maria’s life seemed to be “Thy will be done” and “God’s will hath no why”.  Those are two things that we all need to keep in mind.

2.  Homeschooling Our Children Unschooling Ourselves by Alison McKee:  This is a homeschooling memoir of how Allison McKee came to homeschool her two children and how they excelled at home.

3A Mom Just Like You by Vickie Farris and Jayme Farris Metzgar:  This memoir is as much about Christian parenting as it is about homeschooling.  It’s just what I needed to read right now.

4.  I Learn Better By Teaching Myself by Agnes Leistico:  This is a memoir of how Leistico turned to homeschooling her three kids, specifically using mostly interest-led learning (aka “unschooling”).

Edited to Add:

5.  Teach Your Own by John Holt and Patrick Farenga:  This edition of John Holt’s classic is updated in content and commentary by his associate Patrick Farenga.  I found it interesting that the man who is considered to be the father of “unschooling” really meant the term to be interchangeable with “homeschooling”.  While he advocated interest-led learning, he did not demand interest-led learning alone.  He just felt that formalized schoolwork should be tailored towards the needs of the individual child, not that it should be completely abolished.