Saturday, June 25, 2011

The survivor

I've been having a hard time these past few months with something. My sister was expecting her third child the second week of July. She would be having another little boy, to join my other two nephews. I had been doing OK around other pregnant people, but this one hit a little close to home, and a little close to Everett. I gradually came to grips with the fact that she would be having a little bundle of joy to bring home, while my arms are still empty, and still aching. It's just the way things worked out.

The plan was for my dad to come out and be here with her during labor and to help out with caring for the little guy afterwards. My mom wasn't able to get off of work, so she would be staying home. My sister was scheduled to start the induction process on Monday June 27th. We would all go visit with her and the baby after he arrived. But Mr. Jack, my nephew, had a different plan. I got a phone call Friday (June 24th) the late afternoon, asking if we (hubby and I) could pick up my dad Saturday instead of her and her hubby. I said, sure, but why? Her water broke and she was headed to the hospital. I asked her to let me know if she wanted me there or needed anything.

Later that evening, after she got checked in, I got a text to come on over to the hospital. So I did. She was still in labor, but would like for me to be there when Jack arrived. I was honored, but worried. I felt sort of like a glutton for punishment. Was this stupid for me to go? Did I have any business being there after loosing Everett less than a year ago ? Was this going to bring up my "baggage" and would I fall apart? Or pass out? That certainly wouldn't be beneficial to anyone! I got in my car and made the drive over to where she was. Thankfully, she wasn't delivering at the hospital where I did! When I got there she had been placed on some oxygen and was relatively calm. That made me calm.

Labor went very quickly and it was time for her to push. I helped on one side, while her husband helped on the other. Next thing we knew Jack West was entering this world. I know, kind of sounds like a cool movie star name! I can't believe how calm everyone was. No yelling, no crying, just peace and calm in the room. The doctor had to unwrap Jack's cord from his neck and placed him for a second on my sister's belly. He was purple and he wasn't crying. Then she pulled the rest of his umbilical cord out and there was a knot. It wasn't tight like Everett's, but it was still a knot. I thought in my head, 'are you f-ing kidding me'? I lost it when I saw the knot and briefly broke down crying. The nurses quickly whisked little Jack off to his warming station and worked in a calm, but driven manor to get him breathing on his own. My sister was very concerned, and had a look of terror on her face. A look and feeling I know all too well. I tried to block her view of what was going on and reassure her that he was going to be fine. I had to believe he was going to be fine. I could see his belly moving up and down. I started praying (quietly) to God and to Everett, to let this little boy be fine. I prayed to not let another tragedy happen. Not to this little boy! They had to bag him, and probably worked on him for about 10 minutes, until he finally started breathing on his own. His skin pinked up and the room returned to calm.

After some more checking, apgar testing, temperature taking, and making sure Jacks' well being was stable, my sister was able to finally hold her little boy in her arms. He is perfect. He self soothes, by sucking his thumb or on his fingers. He was starving and ate almost 3/4 of an ounce his first feeding, in about 2 minutes time. I remember it would take Lilli 1.5 hours to eat that amount. She'd always fall asleep! After I was certain all was well, I hugged everyone and said my goodbyes and headed home for my bed. What a night. What a survivor. It's the happy ending I needed to see. Now if I could just experience that for myself, minus anymore drama...


~Steph

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Photo's

Yesterday was Father's Day and it felt like a half way normal day. We were still missing Everett immensely, but as time moves forward each "first" seems to get a tiny bit easier. I was doing OK, until we saw a family out at a restaurant with a little girl and a baby boy. Everett would be a little over 10 months old now, and while I don't have quite as hard of a time looking at baby boys, it still hurts and I can't help but feel a little jealous that those families have their precious boy with them. I guess that's normal.

The thing that brightened up both of our days was we went to Wal-Mart to do a little grocery shopping and a woman wearing a very colorful "costume" (aka: moo-moo) serenaded Dave in the deli section, singing Happy Father's Day in the tune of Happy Birthday. It made him blush and feel a bit weirded out. I laughed hysterically. Let me tell you, she could really sing!

I took some photos of Lilli and "Everett" for Dave for Father's Day. I sent some out to my dad too. I was trying to figure out something creative to do instead of a traditional gift. I selected the photo below as the "winning" one that went into Dave's special frame. I used a simple, white, shabby chic style frame, and added a star to the upper left corner of the frame painted the same color as the blanket Lilli was sitting on. This was the blanket Everett was wrapped in at the hospital. It was one of the last things to touch him. Then I met with our awesome jewelry designer from The Silver Dragon Fly, who made one of our pendant designs into a charm she affixed to the center of the star. It is a silver tear drop charm with Everett's sailboat and the word Faith below the boat. He loved the gift.

The winning photo for Dave!


I thought this one was a sweet shot,
this blankie is her best friend,
so of course it had to be in the picture.



She is such a good big sister to her brother.
She loves him so much!

P.S. If you want to order the charms, Terri is donating 25% of all sales from each charm to Kate Cares! If you have experienced a baby loss she can make a pendant for you from your child's foot prints. Just mention Everett to her and she'll still donate 25% of your sale to Kate Cares. What a generous and awesome lady she is! Check out her other designs too! www.thesilverdragonfly.com

Hoping everyone had a good Father's Day!

~Steph

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In Limbo

Being a stay at home mom is HARD, to say the least. Some people are cut out to do it for a "living", and they do it well. I have some friends and family who are those people. Me, however, well, I've always been a worker of some sort. Now before you start bashing me, let me clarify that doesn't mean I'm saying that being a full time mom isn't work (hard work), because I know first hand what work it is. I am really missing my work life, outside the home, though. I have LOVED being able to have time to stay at home with Lilli. To watch her grow into this little person, with a strong mind of her own. By the way, I have no idea where she gets that (snicker, snicker). But I constantly feel like I'm in limbo. This was never meant to be a long term change. Just enough time for me to get adjusted to two kids, and without loosing all of our income on child care expenses.

I have been working (for pay) since I was 11 years old. That's when I started my baby sitting business. Back in "those" days you could babysit at that age. Just as long as you were responsible, I guess. I got my first "real" job at 16 and have worked pretty much non-stop since then. I put myself through college. I took classes as I could afford them and worked my ass off each summer to pay for the upcoming fall semester. That's partly why it took me double the traditional time frame to finish (I changed my major one too many times too). It's hard when you are 18 to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life! Some people just know, and while I kind of did too, it took me some time to find the right fit in college course work. However, when I entered into the criminal justice program, everything just clicked. I was already working in the professional/social work/criminal justice world at this time. I just needed the degree to go with my experience. I ended up quitting my job and focused on school full time for a year and finally finished. I continued in the social work/criminal justice world with work and spent about 10 years working in Domestic Violence Advocacy in one way or another.

That line of work takes a toll on you emotionally and physically. I developed a pretty good protective barrier and learned, over time, how not to take my work home with me. But after working crazy hours, carrying a 24/7 crisis pager, and having a pregnancy from hell, it took it's toll on me. Dave and I decided it would be best for me to leave my job, once I was put on full time bed rest. That was such an agonizing decision. I was scared to join the ranks of the unemployed. Would I be able to find another job? There were so many unknowns and I tend to be a bit of a planner. This was very scary and new territory for me. So July 30, 2010 was my last day of work. I had been discharged from the high risk unit just a few days earlier. I went in, cleaned off my desk, said some goodbyes, and after 5 years at the agency I worked for, that was it. Kind of an anticlimactic end to my DV career. It felt bittersweet. I focused my time on Everett arriving soon. I was told from my OB's that I probably wouldn't make it past that next week.

Fast forward to now. At the end of next month I will have been a stay at home mom for a year. Wow. I honestly never saw that coming. I am glad I have had time to heal, mainly emotionally, from Everett's death, but I feel so ready to get back to something. Some of my fears with finding a job have played out recently as I have applied for several positions I'm well qualified for, and never received a phone call, let alone an interview. I know the job applicant pools are saturated with people, mainly overqualified and employers are taking advantage of being able to hire someone with more education than necessary for the job, at a lower pay scale. I experienced that with a job I interviewed for back in November. It required a bachelors degree. They ended up hiring an attorney for the position. I guess I can't blame them.

I am considering applying for grad school for next year (2012) if I continue to not find something. It seems so many positions that used to require a 4 year degree are requiring more now. It's hard to justify spending that kind of money (on tuition) when I most likely wouldn't get enough of a pay raise to cover the cost of the student loans. I know everything happens for a reason, well almost everything. And I'm hoping in the not too distant future I will find what I've been looking for. It's taking a lot longer than I expected, but I tend to be a little impatient.

~Steph

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The lawyer stuff...

Warning: This is going to be a long one! But please bear with me, it will be so informative!

I've debated whether I would blog about this subject for quite some time. And had things gone differently yesterday, I think it's safe to say I wouldn't be blogging about it at all. But they didn't, so I feel compelled to talk about what happened.

Some people have asked us over the course of things, and some have wondered but been afraid to ask, if we were going to sue over what happened to Everett. That isn't really a simple yes or no. When many of our family members found out he had died, they went straight to anger and asked immediately if we would sue. I couldn't even think about it. I was so much in shock, and devastated. I couldn't go there. But then time passed and the anger over what happened to our little boy settled in. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I couldn't stop thinking about everything that happened. About how my doctors blatantly ignored every and all warning signs he was giving off, for over four weeks. How they ignored me when I expressed extreme concern over what was happening in my body and asked to be delivered, several times, and was continually turned down.

I understand that through the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the push is to deliver after 37 weeks, however, when almost every single non-stress test wasn't passing, and I was having bad biophysical profile readings, and decrease in movements, an exception should have been made to deliver earlier. My son was obviously in distress. Hell, I was in distress every time I'd go into the doctor office, have bad testing, get sent to the hospital, or specialist(who really didn't listen to me) and get sent home. It was maddening! I had no control over what was happening inside my own body. I can't even begin to tell you how helpless, and hopeless that makes you feel.

The thing that sealed the deal with wanting to talk to a lawyer was that we were granted a meeting with all four physicians involved in our son's death, along with a "higher up" at the hospital and a person from risk management. This was last year. I came armed with research I had done on cord accidents, a list of very direct questions for the doctors and a little bit of hope that some compassion would be shown towards us over what happened. I also brought a framed picture of Everett, and Lilli holding Everett, showing them who was missing from this meeting. I needed to know that these physicians had learned something from what happened. Not to make them feel humbled in front of us, but to know they learned SOMETHING from our sons death that they could take with them for future patients. And I told them that. We needed to know they would not repeat the same mistake with other patients and have other babies die senselessly. We needed them to know how loosing your child is some of the worst pain you can imagine, and how it changes you for the rest of your life. And no matter how much time passes, you never forget your child or stop thinking about them. The reason we needed them to know this is because up to this point they hadn't shown us an ounce of compassion that they had learned any of this. Maybe it was that their lawyers had told them not to show compassion. Maybe they were taught this in medical school? All I can do is speculate and hope that somewhere deep inside they really are human and felt something over what happened.

What we really needed to hear from them in this meeting was that they were sorry about what happened. I'm not naive, I didn't expect them to admit any fault. Just a simple, "I'm so sorry this happened, and I'm so sorry for your loss". We didn't get that. One out of four physician's told us they were sorry, and that they would remember our son and take that into consideration with future patients. One. It would have made the WORLD of difference to us to hear them all say it, or at the very least an "I'm sorry". Show some form of compassion. I called out several of the doctors for not even coming to my room to see me, after I had Everett. They had taken part in caring for me for over 8 months and didn't even come to my room to look at me face to face to pay their condolences. There were many excuses given. Some even stated they were at the hospital, but thought it would be best to let us grieve privately. All I wanted them to do was sit on my bed next to me, hug me, tell me they were sorry he had died, and show some compassion. That's it. If I didn't want them there, I would have told them, and they could have left. Note to any physicians or future physicians reading this: It is so INCREDIBLY important to show your patients compassion. It's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign you are human. That will take you further than you can imagine in your career.

My husband and I left this meeting thanking them for being willing to sit in front of us and listen. We got exactly what we expected we would from them. It still didn't make me feel a whole lot better, but at least they knew where we stood. Even though they didn't tell us to our faces, I'm hoping something about our story and our son penetrated through their skin, and their hearts.

It was after this meeting that Dave and I felt more certain than ever that we owed it to Everett to have everything investigated and looked into. We decided to have an attorney review my medical records. We picked a legitimate injury attorney, not an ambulance chaser, who holds a good reputation. They looked over my medical records in office with their team. After a couple of months it was determined that medical standard of care was NOT met in our case, and determined had they (doctors) delivered me sooner our son would have been here with us. However, it was too big of a risk to take on the case, not knowing that they would get a settlement. Too much grey area. This is how injury lawyers make their money. These cases are typically long, and expensive, so it was turned down. I was upset, my husband was upset. We wanted justice for Everett, and any future families and babies out there who could suffer the same poor "judgement calls".

We decided to let it go and move forward, after some grieving over that decision. That is until another physician looked over my medical records and pointed out that medical standard of care was absolutely not met, and with my testing I should have been immediately delivered at a certain point. We decided we would get a second opinion. Early this year we met with another law firm. The attorney was nice, and understanding. Unusual for an attorney! He had his reasons for being this way though. He agreed to give our case a second look. It was reviewed by someone in house who agreed it needed to be looked at by an expert. So off to the expert it went. After waiting many months for some answers we were told that the expert had come back with a decision. We were called to the office for a meeting. I felt sick, and I think my husband did too. I was a mess from the time I found out there was a decision until the time of our meeting. My dad asked me what my biggest fear was, and I responded with "I'm afraid that they will say no, and that will mean that Everett's life didn't mean anything to anyone but us". My husband and I felt like we knew what the outcome was going to be and that's why we felt so sick. We felt like they were going to say no.

10 months to the day Everett died, we went in for our meeting and the attorney nicely told us that the expert felt our case was defense-able. Meaning, there wasn't a clear cut "smoking gun" that pointed to Everett's death. Could the law office have over-ridden this decision and taken it on anyways? Yes. But that would have been a bad business decision on their part, and we understood that. They already spent a lot of money preparing all our documents, paying for the expert opinion, and getting nothing in return from us. I was devastated. I understood completely, but I was still devastated. He offered to give us the names of some other attorneys that we could contact to get another opinion. They may look at things differently, another expert might view my medical records differently. My husband and I agreed a while back, that whatever this decision was, we would leave it be with that. Good or bad. If it was a yes, we were ready whole-heartedly to fight for our son. I was so ready to fight for our son! If it was a no, we agreed we would find some peace with that decision, eventually, and move on with our lives. So, even though we have slowly, but surely been moving forward with our lives, now we really are, as this is no longer hanging over our heads.

One thing we did get for certain from the expert reviewing our medical records, is that we are even more committed than ever to get the message of Kate Cares out there to other families. This program could have given us additional answers and input into Everett's death we didn't get, and there are still many questions we will never have answered since we weren't given an option. You see, the hospital where I delivered does not participate in Kate Cares (and they won't). Kate Cares is so incredibly helpful to so many families going through a stillbirth. Most of the hospitals in our city do participate in it, and know the importance of having a program like this available to families who need it. By not having this program available at the hospital where I delivered, they are hurting the most vulnerable patients, the ones who are lost to stillbirth, and the families who are left to pick up the pieces.

Dave and I were already committed to this cause, as soon as we found out it existed last year. We are even more committed to raising funds for this important organization, and to continue to grow Run 4 Everett year after year. Thank you to those of you who have supported us, and Run 4 Everett through this entire past year. We are really looking forward to August!

~Steph

note: While I will not openly name the hospital where I delivered, I will say that where I attend my grief support group is NOT at or affiliated with the hospital where I delivered.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Everett's Garden

We started a small garden for Everett this spring. We have garden's all over our yard, but this is a special spot with special plants that will make us think of him every time we see it. It's just in the beginning stages so it is small, but will certainly grow in years to come.

An overview of Everett's garden, still a work in progress. The little boy sculpture was given to us by a dear friend of my mom's. He's reaching up to the sky, and has star cutouts on him, as well as stars dangling from his hand.



There's a blue hydrangea, the kind that's supposed to bloom all summer, and the angel was in his floral arrangement at his funeral. There is also a butterfly bush, some shasta daisies, coneflower's, and a pretty red plant that Lilli picked out.



A close up of the sailboat, Everett. Everett's room was sailboat themed and we built a large sailboat with his name on it for the wall behind his crib. I found this boat last year and painted his name on it along with the star and heart and gave it to Dave for Christmas.



Everett's room, so you get the idea of the significance of the sailboat. We couldn't find a stencil we liked, so Dave made the sailboat border and hand painted each of those boats around the room.

~Steph

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hot Days are Here Again!

We hit a record high yesterday as far as temps go here. Yay for us. (note the sarcasm) 95 degrees was a wee bit too warm for my liking. Not to mention the humidity was horrible to match. I'm thinking we need to move somewhere other than here to enjoy more even keeled temps. It gets so cold, windy, and snowy in the winter and then we get to experience polar opposites in the summer. I think the humidity is the worst of all. I can say that having experienced heat, without the humidity. My parents live in the mountains in Arizona and enjoy nice weather most of the year. Whenever we go out to visit, I NEVER experience a bad hair day. Which is no small feat for me considering my natural curly/wavy/unruly hair. There just isn't any humidity out there. It's so weird. We do find ourselves sucking down bottles of water and applying massive quantities of lotion to our skin during our visits. So I guess it's a trade off. Oh yeah, and they have a small water table problem. But did I mention I always have a good hair day out there?

As the temps have been soaring this week, I've been taking Lilli to the pool to swim, which has been a nice, welcome relief from the temperatures. I have a feeling it's going to be a really hot and humid summer, mostly because it's always a hot and humid summer. So many more visits to the pool there will be! That's much better than being cooped up in the house. The longer I get stuck in the house, the more likely I am for depression to set in, and while it's always there in the background, I do a pretty good job keeping it at bay, as long as I'm busy.

With all the heat in the air, it feels more like August around here then June. Before you know it, before I know it, Run 4 Everett will be here. I can't believe it's just 2 1/2 months away. We are really looking forward to this event and promise to have a lot of cold water, power aide, etc. for our participants!

~Steph