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My experience as a NICU mom

On Saturday, September 24th, 2005 at 11:22 am my son was born. However, far from being the best day of my life, it turned into one of the scariest. The delivery went pretty easy, just about ten hours. The scary part came when the doctors were doing their post-delivery tests. The APGAR was perfectly normal, but the doctors thought his breathing was in distress. They were going to have to take him away to run more tests. For one brief moment, I held my son before they whisked him away to the NICU. 

Scared, tired, and worried, it would be hours before anyone would tell us anything. Two other babies had also been admitted to the NICU within minutes of my son. That information did little to calm our nerves. Finally, after many hours the staff pediatrician came to tell us the news. A tiny air bubble had burst in my son’s lung, most likely from the trauma of his birth. This was causing air to leak out. He would be on pure oxygen for the next 24 hours and then we would see. They told us the medical term was that my son had been born with a pneumothorax, also known better as a collapsed lung.

Since my son was in the NICU, I would have a room to myself. When they moved me from the delivery room to my hospital room I was confronted with baby balloons. However, they were not for me. The nurse assured me that the new proud parents would be leaving within the hour. Still slightly numb to everything I turned on the television to reports of Hurricane Rita and the damage it raged on the Gulf. That was nothing compared to the gurgling of a child not my own. The nurse had spoken the truth. My roommate was discharged with her bundle of joy. A few hours later, thanks to an error on the part of the nurses’ station, they started to prep the room for a new roommate. Thankfully, my husband intervened before anyone could be moved in.

Why are mothers of babies in the NICU not given roommates? Let me describe what happened the next night.

All the scans had come back good, but it appeared that my son was developing jaundice, possibly from being on nothing but oxygen for the past 24 hours. As long as the bilirubin levels stayed low, we would be allowed to leave in the morning. He could even stay in my room with me overnight. At the same time, they moved another NICU mom and her son into my room. Not a problem, I finally had him. I was happy. Happy until around 9pm that night when they tested my son’s bilirubin level again and decided it was too high and he would have to return to the NICU. The worst sound in the world is the cry of another woman’s child when your own son has just been taken away. It was a sound that lasted for most of the night.

That is why NICU moms have no roommates.

They discharged me that next morning. He stayed. The bilirubin levels were dropping, but slowly. After ten days of back and forth travel from home to the hospital, of constantly scrubbing and donning the sterile yellow smocks, the doctors let him come home. He was discharged with the caution to follow up with his pediatrician and have more blood work done. Thankfully, he did not have to return.

Today he is a happy, healthy teenager. It is hard to believe this was fourteen years ago. Though, the happiest day of my life is not the one when my son was born. The happiest day of my life is the day I got to take him home.

nicu

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See you in September…Wait! That’s today!

I had a bit of a shock last week as I realized that school would be starting and September would be here. It has been a very busy summer and time has just gotten away from me. Back in May, we began the transition of finding another rental in our price range that would accept dogs. Thankfully, I found an awesome place, though it was a bit more than our previous rental. The pluses were that we wouldn’t have to deal with oil heat and there was a Swim Spa (which the landlord describes to us as a 8 person hot tub). This place is my dream house. It has a covered wrap around porch with a swing perfect for watching thunderstorms, a great back deck, plenty of room in the kitchen and bedrooms, plus an office! The downside to all this is the move wiped out my savings. Thankfully, I was still teaching this summer, but the check was late getting to me so we did have several bills that were paid late. Fun times, fun times!

I haven’t posted anything since May, but between the move, teaching, and the dissertation, I have been extremely busy. I attended my third American Library Association Conference, but I got very sick while there and two months later, I am still recuperating. This has left me with very little energy to do anything. We have eaten out a lot this summer just because I have had little energy to do shopping let lone cooking. I still haven’t even finished unpacking from the move! So there has been no Instant Pot experiments happening. Oh, but I have plans on all the yummy stuff I want to make.

It hasn’t been all chaos though… We met our new neighbors at National Night Out. Everyone is really nice and it is a very dog friendly street. I even remember everyone’s names, but that is mainly because the neighborhood representative gave us a sheet with everyone’s contact info on it and I studied that sheet for days leading up to the street party we had for NNO. My son also has classmates that live in the neighborhood. That is the first time in his life that we have ever lived close enough for him to walk to a friend’s house.

I wish everyone a good start to another school year and hang in there! Change is an opportunity…at least that is what I keep telling myself. 😉

May is Mental Health Month

A lot of this blog is about finding balance. I focus a lot on how creativity and happiness can reduce stress levels, but sometimes you do need to seek professional help. With everything going on in my own life, my anxiety levels have been soaring. I talked to my doctor and we are trying the med route to see how it goes. It is not instant, magic, you are cured. It takes patience. I have been borderline anxiety attack mode at least three times this week, but managed to talk myself down from it. Since I am a researcher, I know that this can be a side effect during the first couple of weeks. Unfortunately, too many people stop taking meds when the side effects kick in. This is never a good idea. It is important to talk to your doctor and never stop a med without medical advice. 

So what has my anxiety flaring? Well, we are moving to a new rental in the next couple of weeks which is never fun. Our landlord has decided to sell the house rather than extend our lease. This is the second time this has happened to us in the past three years. Finding a rental in our price range that also lets us have the two dogs was a daunting prospect, but thankfully it all worked out for us. I am in the field research stage of my dissertation study and scheduling all the interviews that are needed will now probably not happen until after the move. We are also moving on to the hearing stage of the disability process for my husband. So of course money is tight on the one paycheck, thankfully I have side hustles to help supplement the income. Oh, and we have a teenager at home with all the mood swings that come with him. Yay!

So if you are feeling overwhelmed in life, know that you are not alone. Reach out to some to talk be it a friend, relative, or professional. When stress builds up, it can manifest in physical symptoms as well as mental ones. It is important to take care of your mental health just as you would your physical health.

You can find more information about May is Mental Health Month at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net.

What I Read: Spring Edition

I know I have been promising an update on my latest reads and impressions, but honestly, I have not really been feeling it. That is not to say that everything has been wasted effort…I am half the way through interviews for my dissertation field research (transcribing, edits, and coding are a whole other story). That is, of course, awesome news considering that most of my field research time in the last six months have mainly been spent waiting. But hey, lots of reading can happen when you are waiting.

So what have I read?


Outer Order, Inner Calm in many ways reminded me of reading a blog about organizing. The sections were short and sounded very personal, almost conversational. A lot of what Rubin had to say has been said by many other authors before her, but I found myself energized after reading the book. In fact, when I finished it, I was a little shocked and wanting to know more. My Easter plans consist of doing a little organizing and there will be no discussion on if something brought me joy but rather does this thing still hold value to me. At least that is what I got out of the book and Rubin does mention Kondo and Morgenstern as other resources to consider when it comes to organizing. I like it when an author acknowledges stuff like that.


I will fully admit that I like the arranged marriage trope and all the subsets like mail-order brides…in fiction, not real life. I am not saying that it is a practice that should still be followed, but imagine the courage these women must have had to leave everything they knew to marry a stranger. You definitely need faith in who your future spouse says they are cause it might turn out that they are on the run from the law which is the case with Saving the Mail Order Bride. I really wanted to like this story. It started out great with the outlaw and the bride ending up on the same stagecoach and not realizing at first who the other is…but then it turned out not so great. Really, how many times can you put your protagonist in danger and have him come out alive? I really feel like the author said “Challenge Accepted”. The poor man was tossed from a stagecoach, shot, bit by a snake…


Okay, meet cute stories are my second guilty pleasure. So the title and cover of Meet Cute caught my interest right away. Then the storyline of a celebrity crush meeting not once but twice. I loved the book! Plus there was the whole family angle to put another dynamic on it. There was only one part of the book that I did not like and that was the conference scene. I felt like Kailyn was being a little selfish and insensitive to Dax. It just felt off compared to the rest of the book. Other than that I would highly recommend it.


I feel like this one has been mentioned before, but I couldn’t find a post for it. Full disclosure, I read this one months ago. However, I have put it on the list because I overheard a friend say that she was tired of reading about women falling in love with rich men or the dashing hero, that she wanted to read a story of a woman who fell in love with a bum. Well, this is a story of a woman who fell in love with a bum. My third guilty pleasure read (and probably my favorite), the “let’s pretend we are together” storyline. In Marry Me Tomorrow, Emily has basically created a Bunbury husband in that she told her mother she got married to stop the discussion of when was she ever going to settle down. Her mother lived in the states and she in England, so no problem on keeping the truth hidden…until her mom says she is coming to visit and expects to meet the new spouse. So Emily asks one of the homeless men she sees on her morning commute to pretend to be her spouse. The story has some dark moments and tackles some mental health and societal problems. Sam was just such a nice guy who got dealt a raw deal. You will be rooting for him!


I really wanted to like No Other Duke But You. The Amazon description does not do it justice because that description is only a small part of the story. What the book is really about is two friends, one who says he is not ready for marriage and the other who is too busy matchmaking to focus on her own love life. What made me cringe was how obviously friendzoned the guy was and how he manipulates the girl into realizing that they are perfect together. Normally, I like the stories where the guy and girl realize they are more than best friends, but this was not it. As I write this, I actually had a flashback to one of the prequel Star Wars movies where Anakin is *maybe* unconsciously using the force to get Padme to love him.


Say No to the Duke was the third book in a series, the Wildes of Lindow Castle by the fabulous Eloisa James. Each book gave you a glimpse into the relationship that would be highlighted in the next book and I have to admit that I could not wait to read what would happen after the billiards game in book two. I am honestly not sure how to give my opinion on this one without giving you a spoiler. At the end of book two, there is a billiards game that may result in a compromising situation, no matter who won. If the woman won, then she got a London adventure in men’s apparel. If the man won, then he won a night with the woman with no marriage attached. All I will say is that the person who I wanted to win, did win, but I did not like the outcome of that win. Okay, the theme here is storyline tropes that I like and the next one is when a woman (or even the guy) has to disguises their identity. I really like the genderswap stories a la Shakespeare and as a Shakespeare scholar, I was looking forward to how James handled that plot. And that is all I am going to say about that.

If you click on any of the links I have provided, you will be taken to Amazon where you will see a more detailed description of the books listed here. Hey, these are just my opinions and you might love the books I found issue with. It happens. My husband thought Hunger Games was an awesome book and I thought Katniss was a horrible person. To each their own. Happy Reading!

Perfect Pesto Potato Pizza

When I was in high school, I used to spend my days at this small mall in Princeton. It had a Barnes and Noble and a movie theater. There was also a small pizza place that sold some interesting combinations. I was going through a limited meat phase, so usually opted for veggie pizza. They had a pesto and potato pizza that sounded interesting. It was so good. I wanted to try it again, but then the mall went under renovations and the pizza place was gone. For years, I said I was going to try and recreate it. So last night I finally did.

Family Pizza Night is a standard in our house even though it doesn’t have a strict schedule. If we are making pizza, then that means all three of us are making pizza. We buy the dough pre-made or sometimes my son will prep it for us. We have even made pizza on nights where he had a friend over. My husband usually tries to make a calzone with various results. So I decided that this would be the week we made pizza. I bought three packages of dough from Walmart through their grocery pickup service. Let’s just say that that service is a lifesaver. In and out in less than twenty minutes. I just wish they had same day pickup. The closest I can ever do is 24 hours, but it is way better service than I got at the nicer supermarket in the area, Harris Teeter. Plus it is free!

Last night was an experiment night. Usually, we do the standard pepperoni pizza. Maybe I do one with olives and peppers. This night I used some leftover pesto sauce I had still in the fridge. I thinly sliced a potato and voila! Perfect pesto potato pizza…try saying that three times fast.

I made a small personal pizza, but you could always adjust the recipe to make a larger pie. The coarse sea salt was a perfect touch because there were small pockets of flavor intensity. Yum!

So here is what I did:

Materials:

  • Pizza pan or large baking sheet
  • Rolling pin
  • Spreader/spatula
  • Knife
  • Potato peeler
  • Pizza cutter
  • Ingredients:
    • 1/2 package Pizza dough, pre-made
      1/4 cup Pesto sauce
      1 small Russet Potato
      1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
      1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
      Olive oil
      Flour
      Garlic powder
      Sea salt, coarse ground
      Black pepper, coarse ground
      Italian seasoning

    Procedure:

    1. Let your dough sit out for at least 1 hour for it to come to room temperature.
    2. Peel potato and slice into thin slices. These slices should be almost translucent. The thicker they are, the longer it takes to cook and you run the risk of cooked crust and raw potato. Place slices in a bowl of water mixed with a dash of salt. This will prevent them from turning brown and oxidizing.
    3. Pre-heat oven to 450F.
    4. Once your dough is ready, flour a large flat surface. Take your dough and split it in half since you are only making a small pie. You can use the other half for another pie or even breadsticks. Roll your dough out into an oval or rectangle shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect, call it rustic!
    5. Once dough is rolled out, transfer to your pizza pan.
    6. Place dollops of pesto sauce on your dough and use your spreader to spread it out.
    7. Arrange your potato slices around your pie. Don’t overlap any of the pieces.
    8. Drizzle olive oil over your potato slices.
    9. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic over your potatoes. The amount varies depending on your preference, but I recommend coarse ground sea salt and pepper.
    10. Sprinkle your cheeses over your pizza. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the cheese. Again, the amount of seasoning you use depends on your preference, but remember that pesto already holds a lot of flavor.
    11. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes. You should start checking it at 15 minutes, crust should be slightly brown and the potatoes soft enough for a fork to pierce them.
    12. Let rest for at least 10min outside the oven to cool and then slice.

    What are your favorite non-traditional pizza toppings? Yes, I do like pineapple and ham. Bacon of course is better. Share in the comments.