Tuesday, April 28, 2009

E-mails From My Dad

E-mails from my dad are always fun to read. He has such a fun sense of humor. He usually starts them something like this...

"Dear daughter" or "To my eldest daughter" or my favorite "Daughter, this is your father e-mailing you."

And usually close like this...

"Love, your Father" or "From your parent with the good genes"

Because of his e-mail etiquette. my e-mails to him usually start and end rather similarly only in reverse(and I tend to add 'favorite' or some other adjective to make me seem more important). Our e-mails are usually just normal conversations, to let me know he wants to buy raffle tickets, or to send pictures of Julianna. My last one was to ask him for some supplies to work on our house. His response to my e-mail was as follows...

"Hello Daughter, I have your plastic you need, Uncle Ed got it for you. And next time you send me an E-Mail, please spell father with a capital F. Thank you and have a nice day my eldest Daughter."

I love getting e-mails from him, and from now on I'll make sure I spell father with a capital F!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Julianna's Big Entrance

This is a long one folks, so get a cup of coffee and take your phone off the hook.

15 months ago, on January 17, 2008, I waited ever so patiently for the school bell to ring at 3:45, for my students to head home for a long weekend, and for me to go home to an already packed up car, and head to Ohio for my baby shower. Joe and I drove 5 1/2 hours (stopping to get Subway for dinner...I had a 6 in tuna sub on wheat if anybody cares) to Wytheville, VA and stopped at a Comfort Inn for the night(the room was freezing by the way!). Then early...I mean early Friday morning (we couldn't sleep on the uncomfortable Comfort Inn bed), we started the rest of our drive to Ohio.

We got to Joe's parents around noon, way before we thought we would. We had lunch and opened our Christmas presents...yes, I said Christmas presents. That evening we went to Erin & Jason's for dinner, and to look through her giant tubs of baby girl clothes (she prepared well for a girl or boy when she was pregnant with Ian). I complained most of the evening of Julianna pushing like mad on both side of my stomach. I had learned over the last few months that she was already an athlete, generally kicking and pushing so hard I would have to take a deep breath(I'm pretty sure Erin told me to suck it up). I was slightly concerned that she was being to violent, but shrugged it off.

When we got back to Joe's parents, I noticed a tiny bit of discharge, but had just read how normal different discharges were and that you shouldn't be concerned except for certain circumstances, none of which I met. So I went to bed. I slept like crap. But in all honesty, what pregnant woman sleeps good? I awoke at 5am, to pee of course, "pregnant me" got up at least 4 times a night to pee, and there was more discharge. This did not set well with me and I woke up Joe. We debated what to do for awhile. I felt fine. I wasn't having contractions (or so I thought). I had had braxton-hicks contractions since 15 weeks and knew them well. There weren't any kind of contractions to be felt.

But I was still uneasy about all of it. So we called my doctor in SC...at 5:30am. The answering service had her call me back (my OB wasn't on call so I talked to another one in the office...one I had never seen). I explained what was happening and she told me it sounded like nothing was wrong, and that maybe I over did it on the drive up to Ohio. She said if it would make me feel better I could go to the local ER and get checked out. I said thanks and hung up. We layed in bed debating, yet again, this time whether or not to go to the ER. After what seemed like an eternity, we decided to go (just for our own peace of mind). I laughed about how I would get there, get checked out, and they would tell me I was a paranoid first time mom. Joe let his mom & dad know where we were going and not to worry. Then we headed off.

I called my sister and my parents to tell them we were going to the ER just to get checked out. I told them all avidly not to come, and not to worry we would call them when we were discharged(so sure we would get discharged). On the way to the ER, I thought to myself, I should have gotten copies of my OB records to bring on the trip, I had read somewhere before we left SC that I should do that...but I didn't. We arrived at Aultman at 6:30am, and its amazing how quickly you get seen in an ER when you are 27 weeks pregnant!

We were taken to a room and an intern(I don't know the actual position, but it was doctor that couldn't do things on their own) took my history and complaint, hooked me up to all the fetal monitors and said another doctor would have to see me. Okay. Another doctor, and I will never forget him, Dr. S came in and examined me, and told me I was already 6cm and would have to be admitted immediately. He left the room for a few minutes and then and only then did I cry. This is a very important moment to me. That is the only time throughout the entire experience that I cried. I was so scared.

I was taken to L & D. I had a fabulous room (not that I noticed until sometime the next day). There were like 900 doctors and nurses in my room (ok, not quite that many, maybe 850).I was getting IV's, shots to stop any contractions I was having (still none of which I felt) and shots to mature Julianna's lungs, and had like 5o papers to sign (I had no idea what they were, they said sign and I signed). I was scared, but I knew doctors could stop labor. And I had NO problems during my pregnancy, not even morning sickness, so everything would be fine. I felt even better, once there was some family there(my sister hadn't listened to me when I told her to stay home).

Then they brought in an ultrasound to check on Julianna, and this is were things went really bad. There were in all seriousness at least 5 doctors in my room, and I remember one turning to us and saying "You know we are concerned when there are this many doctors here". WHAT?!?!? You shouldn't tell a pregnant woman things like that! I immediately started to panic! Ok, not outloud, but in my head. Outwardly, I was still relatively calm. I think I was in shock to the point that I didn't know how to make my thoughts come out in actual verbalized sentences. I heard everything that was being said but only comprehended a fraction of it. Anyway, during the ultrasound they realized Julianna was breech and was in immediate danger of delivering her foot and umbilical cord. Should that happen she would suffocate in a matter of minutes. I was to be taken to the OR right then to have an emergency c-section. Joe had managed to call his parents and mine to come to the hospital right after we found out I was being admitted. His parents got there just before I went to the OR, mine got there just after.

At this point things get a little foggy. I remember sitting up for the spinal, and vaguely remember the surgery. I do vividly remember the anestesiologist asking if I wanted a certain drug during the procedure. I looked at Joe (he being Medic Joe) and asked if I wanted it...his reply was "oh yeah, you want that, its good stuff". At that point thigs get even more blurry. I can't remember if Julianna cried (Joe's said she did), I don't remember them wheeling her isolette passed me so I could catch a glimpse of her (Joe said they did), and I don't remember being taken to recovery (obviously they did). On the good side, I don't remember whether or not the c-section itself was uncomfortable in any way.

One thing I do remember, is the ridiculously long time I was in recovery. Ok, I have no idea how long I was actually there, but it seemed like forever. I think it was because I was told when I left recovery they would take me to the NICU to see Julianna. The nurses in recovery so wonderfully called the NICU whenever we asked, but we were never told it was ok to come. Eventually, I was taken back to my room without seeing Julianna & was told they would let us know when she was stable. I was so glad to see my family when I got back to my room. And we all waited...waited for news about Julianna...waited until we could all see her. At one point I thought, if she still isn't stable, should we call Fr. H? Will she need to be baptised right away in case...I tried not to think about "in case".

Finally, (I don't know what time) we were able to see her. And this is what we saw.

Our little baby girl, weighing just 2lbs 11 oz and 13.5 inches long, was on a ventilator, had umbilical IV's and more tubes and wires than I wanted to count. This was not what I thought my first visit with my baby would be like. I wasn't allowed to hold her and could barely see her from my wheelchair.

Thanks to surfactant (a drug discovered thanks to March of Dimes research) Julianna was only on the vent for 13 hours! That is absolutely amazing for a 27 week preemie! March of Dimes is also responsible for many of the things women do during their pregnancy like taking folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. Their current mission is a campaign against prematurity. I have an increased risk for having a preemie in future pregnancies, so I want nothing more than to help them reach their goals and give babies a better chance of being born full-term and to avoid the unfortunate stay in the NICU.

Please sponsor Team Kieffer when we March for Babies in 2 weeks.

Friday, April 24, 2009

This Week is Over *Sigh*

We have had a crazy busy week! It was one of those weeks where you look at your calendar and just take a deep breath in preparation.

Monday...well Monday was actually pretty low key. Joe worked on the house, Julianna and I took him lunch, went grocery shopping, & basically we just did things that needed to be done.

Tuesday, Julianna saw a new neurologist, we'll call him Dr. A (simply becasue his last name starts with an A...I'm not in a real creative state of mind right now). Julianna had been seeing the neurologist who was called in to consult on her MRI in the NICU...we just didn't mesh with him (actually we didn't really like him, his bedside manor, or the fact that we were never actually told anything about Julianna...we would get a letter like a month later with his opinions of the visit...oh and did I mention we would call and leave like 90 messages at his office and never once did they call back, we would just call until someone finally answered...but I digress). We loaved Dr. A. He was so friendly, he played with Julianna and told us what he was doing when he did it and what he thought right then...imagine that! On top of all that, he actually made us copies (himself) of some of her records and explained the MRI from the NICU (no one had EVER done that). He said he was "amazed" at her progress and she is "remarkable"...words that made us soooooo happy. Anyways, we see him again in September.

Wednesday, was Julianna's 15 month check-up. There were good things and there were bad things. Lets get the bad, or really just slightly not good, things out of the way first. Julianna has only gained 12 oz in the last 3 months...our ped, Dr. M (again not creative) said it isn't a major concern yet, but she wants to keep an eye on her weight gain. She also said we need to get her off her bottle...I don't know about how you other moms did it, but I really don't feel like angering my baby right before we transplant her into a new house and room...maybe I'll just wait until after we move. Good news, Julianna is doing very well developmentally, she is right on track for her adjusted age...yay! We will see Dr. M again in 3 months for her 18 month check-up...wow! She's getting to be an old maid!

Thursday was insane! We were supposed to start the day at 8:30am for Julianna's IFSP (individual family service plan) review with our Help Me Grow service coordinator Erin. This, to my joy and excitement, got cancelled...but unfortunately...at 8:30am. Then I took Julianna to my sister's (also an Erin) house. She watched Julianna so I could go to work. Then after work I went to watch Erin's kiddos so she could go get her scooter temps (she passed...yay for Erin!) and go to kick-boxing. Then we came home, and basically went to bed.

Today, I got to go to work again, Joe watched Julianna, went to the grocery store (I know that is twice in one week...I did a piss poor job on Monday), got new plates for our truck, and a few other misc. errands. When I got home from work, Joe headed off to our house to start putting up drywall in our bathroom. Once Julianna wakes up from her nap, she gets to go hang out at Springwood with her Aunt Steph, Uncle Daryl, and cousin Jeremy in this incredible weather. I, sadly, get to go help drywall.

Thus ends a crazy week. Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday, and going to be 80 degrees!!!! Julianna and I are going out...where, I don't know...but we're going out!!!

(Keep your eyes peeled for a post coming soon all about Julianna's birth, and why she thinks you should sponsor us for March for Babies...only 2 weeks until MFB!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Steps!

Last Friday, Julianna took her first steps! She was sitting on a couch cushion on the floor(purposely set there to help her learn to crawl up onto things...one of the activities the PT wanted us to do) and she stood up and took 3 steps towards me! I was so surprised! Since then, she has started crawling onto the cushion and then turning to walk to the ottoman. She takes a few steps each day (usually in 2-3 step increments), but like everything with Julianna, if she doesn't want to do it...she won't. So that means very few people have actually seen her do it. The video below is from Sunday (sorry for the poor quality...it was taken with my cell). So proud of our baby girl!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Picture Monday

Bath time mohawk!

Smiling at "Max & Ruby"

Just blowing air...she does this a lot.

I just think she looks so sweet in this picture!

Playing with a balloon from Uncle Daryl's birthday.

Drawing a picture for Stacy before last OT session.

...& then she took a bite out of the green crayon.

Friday, April 17, 2009


We have been working for 1 week exactly to make our new house livable. Unfortunately, it had been a foreclosure and no one lived there for about a year and even then most of the house was original (1959)...so needless to say, it was in dire need of cleaning and updating. Since Julianna is still at risk for lung issues, we decided it would be better to have everything done before we move in. Our goal was to be in the first week of May(well, it was mostly my goal, Joe is much more realistic). Here is just a sampling of the work we have done so far to let you see the "progress" we have made, do you think we'll meet our(my) goal?

Master Bedroom


(Can you see the turquoise tile and flowered wallpaper?)
(actually this picture is a few days old, now it has new plumbing and floor)
Living Room
(that's paneling above the fireplace & yes, blue carpet)
(You have to admit, even without drywall this is an improvement already, check out the hardwood floors!)
This doesn't even include the kitchen cabinets we ripped out (the remaining ones have all been painted a nice clean white), the door we cut (from the living room to the dining room), and the numerous random cabinets we have taken out from around the house. So, I ask you is this actually progress?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

No More Therapy!

For awhile we weren't sure when this day would come. Julianna has just been discharged from both occupational and physical therapy! She has been seeing Stacy (her OT) since last August.

Julianna on her very 1st day of therapy.
when we took her to the NICU follow-up clinic last August, she was able to roll from her back to her belly, but that was it, and she had some issues with her muscle tone, so it was recommended that she start with OT to help her meet her developmental milestones. (I should clarify that it was for her gross motor skills. Julianna has a always had amazing fine motor skills, pointing and picking up tiny things.) Julianna was not a Stacy fan at the beginning, crying for most of the whole session each week(I even gave her Tylenol for a spell to keep her calm because she would get so worked up), but Stacy kept stretching and playing with her.

Pretty soon, Julianna was rolling both directions(Sept).
She started sitting on her own and she kept rolling...(Oct)
And sitting...(Nov)
And rolling...(Dec)
And sitting...(Jan)
We started to get concerned because she was falling farther and farther behind in her gross motor skills. Stacy suggested we start working with a PT in addition to seeing her. Then, as if Julianna heard us and just didn't want more therapy, she suddenly crawled! The end of February, Joe and I were watching TV and Julianna just took off across the floor! It was as if she had always been doing it.
Finally crawling! (March)

We continued with PT and OT for the last 2 months and now Julianna is cruising like a champ! Yesterday, the physical therapist came out to evaluate Julianna and discharged her (saying she would be surprised if she isn't walking on her own in the next week or two!). Today, Stacy came for our last visit. Julianna greeted her not with tears (as was the case for the first couple months) but with a great big smile. Stacy discharged her from OT saying she was her poster child and she was so proud of her. After 9 months of therapy, it will seem weird to not see Stacy or Tammy on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, but we will see Stacy again next January at the NICU follow-up clinic. WAY TO GO JULIANNA! We are so proud of you!

Cruising! (April)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy "Should've Been Your Birthday" Julianna!

I can't believe I forgot to post this yesterday. Yesterday, April 13th marked what should have been Julianna's 1st birthday had she not be born so early. Last year, we went to my parents that day and had a dinner for Julianna's "Should've Been Your Birthday". It is so hard to believe she was still so tiny just a year ago(7lbs. seemed huge to us then). Even though it's not actually her birthday, April 13th, Julianna's "Should've Been Your Birthday, will always be a special day to our family.
On her due date last year, Julianna weighed 7lbs. 14 oz. & was already 12 weeks old.
1 year later, she's much bigger and is 15 months old.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Picture Monday

Today is all about pictures from Easter.

The goods...from the Easter Bunny of course.
Checking out her basket.
All smiles.
Playing ball with mommy.
The Easter Bunny brought a swing for our new back yard.
Easter basket from Grandma & Grandpa K.
Loving the Easter grass.
Seriously, she loved the grass.
There's that new red ball again.
The best family picture we could get.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ignorant People Make Me Angry

This post is going to be one kind of written out of anger, so I will apologize ahead of time if I offend anyone.

There is a levy on the May 5th ballot for Stark's MRDD. This levy will keep 2 important schools open, one of which is Eastgate Early Childhood and Family Center. This levy will cost someone with a $100,000 home approximately $44 a year...a year! That's only 83 cents a week! I am personally in support if this levy, simply because Julianna may be eligible for services at Eastgate. Services that could be SOOO beneficial to her. Without the levy passing, Eastgate will close. Without Eastgate, Julianna and many other children(some babies that were in the NICU with her already attend Eastgate) will not have many of these crucial services available to them.

And now for my angry part...

I just read an article from the Repository about this levy. The article itself didn't anger me(well maybe a little, it was kind of one sided), but so many of the comments left there did! I completely understand if you have legitimate reasons to oppose the levy, but people are against it for the silliest reasons! And they are using those reasons to try and get others to vote no. For example one gentleman (I would have liked to call him worse) said why should he pay taxes for a school his "gifted" child doesn't attend...why should he have to take on the burden for someone else's kid...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?! We pay property taxes(now that we own a house) for a school district that Julianna very obviously doesn't attend right now...and when she does go to school, we are considering Catholic school (if I teach there we get a mad discount!) so we would still be paying taxes for schools she doesn't attend. I am not complaining. This argument is ridiculous!

Another "lovely person" wrote that why should they give up their own luxuries to pay for the levy., why should they have to give up cable or a cell phone. I want to know what cable and cell phone company they are using, I want that! But seriously, what luxury only costs $4 a month? That's all this levy would cost. Maybe you have to give up 1 pack of cigarettes a month, or 1 cup of coffee a week, or 1 McDonald's meal a month...so sad. They continued to say that maybe the parents of the children needing these services should be the ones to give up luxuries instead. SERIOUSLY?!?! We know first hand what medical expenses can cost. I am sure that many families with special needs children would agree that financial sacrafices are being made already.

A few other choice comments (too ignorant to even argue against): "Unless there is a very obvious disability why should most of these kids get help?"..."There are too many (kids)labeled 'special needs' too early from social dysfunctions created at home by poor parenting."..."Be responsible. Do not procreate and expect someone else to take care of and pay for what YOU have created and do not want to, or know how to deal with." Some people are so ignorant I want to throw smelly fish at them! (somehow, smelly fish seems appropriate)

There were also legitimate arguments against the levy, but not many...mostly ignorant ridiculous statements. And then there were the wonderful stories from people personally tied to the schools to support the levy.

If you live in Stark Co. please consider voting YES for Issue 1. If you are unsure visit the website for more information. If you decide to vote against it, that's fine but please, please, please have a good reason.
*Update 5/7/09: Issue 1 passed by a huge margin! Thank you to everyone who voted!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Amazing Power of the Internet

I just had to write about how in awe of the internet I am right now! Yesterday, I posted about little Madeline, and her very sudden passing, after what her mom thought was just a cold. For anyone that tried to use the link to her mom's blog and it didn't work(the server couldn't handle the number of visitors it was getting), today it is up at a new address. Check out some pictures, she's so cute! Today, I googled her name, and WOW! There are so many things about her online now(over 6,000!) including stories on the Today Show's site. For a little girl that so many people didn't know, she has touched a lot of lives in the last few days (mine being one of them).

Not only have people, including myself, written about her on their blogs to show their support for the family, but her parents asked that instead of flowers or other things people make a donation to March of Dimes in her name. Since yesterday morning, "
Marchers for Maddie"'s total donations went from a few hundred dollars to over $18,000!!! Since I am relatively new to the whole blogging world, I had no idea that they reached out to so many people. I am sending good thoughts and prayers to Maddie's family, and hope you will too.

**Update 4/16/09 March for Maddie's Team total is over $30,000 now!!!
***Update 4/25/09 Today was the March for Babies in LA, March for Maddie rasied over $50,000!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let the Demo Begin!

Well, it finally happened...we closed on our house! Last Thursday, after many weeks/months of anticipation we finally closed. Joe and I are now the proud owners of a house (again). How does it compare to our last house you might wonder...umm, well it just doesn't. We, unfortunately, need to do some major work before we can move in. For example, it was foreclosure and the wonderful people who used to live there took the toilet with them when they moved. Who does that?!?! We plan on spending most of this weekend pretty much demolishing most of the previous owners "work" and starting our own. I have already stripped most of the hideous wallpaper in our bedroom. The bathroom is going to get gutted and new plumbing, drywall & fixtures will be put in. The kitchen also is in some desperate need of work(the cabinets are original 1959 and have been painted two lovely shades of pukey orange-brown), but we are going to put that off for a while (it's at least livable). If anyone want to help, feel free to call us, we have plenty of hammers available!

A Truly Sad Reminder About Preemies

As I was checking my March for Babies page this morning (by the way feel free to visit it and make a donation!), I saw a blog entry for today entitled "For Sweet Little Madeline". I don't usually read these blog entries because they are about easy ways to raise money and such (I'm not big on just calling people up to ask for money), but decided to read this one. Madeline Alice Spohr who was born just 3 months before Julianna, and a week older gestation, died yesterday at only 17 months old. I felt compelled to check out her mom's blog to find out a little bit about her. From what I have read, Maddie has dealt with issues related to her prematurity for most of her short life. This past weekend she had a slight cough and seemed to have a cold. Monday, her mom took her to the pediatrician who sent her to the hospital, and sadly yesterday she died. I couldn't help but cry. It struck my "mom of a preemie" chord.

We have been lucky enough that Julianna has dodged just about every preemie related set back so far. Sure, she sees a neurologist regularly(a new one this month!) and there is still the possibility of CP, she has undergone 8+ months of occupational and physical therapy (almost done!) and she is very susceptible to pneumonia if she gets a cold(had it once already), but there are so many other and worse things that she could be dealing with. She is such a great little girl and has overcome so much in her life already!

Reading about the death of a little girl so close to Julianna's age, was a sad reminder that preemies are still preemies even after they grow and meet important milestones. I like to think that Julianna is no longer a preemie, that she is a normal little girl. Part of me is like, hey, she's crawling, eating solid foods, doing the things full-term babies should do, but I'm kind of just fooling myself. I know she will always be a preemie. There are issues from prematurity that don't even show up until school age, puberty, even adulthood. Stories like Maddie's make me appreciate her even more, and if possible, make me even more thankful that she has been doing so well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Our Family in 150 Words or Less

Just in case I someday become popular enough for random people to be reading my blog, I thought I will give some basic details about our family. Joe and I have been married for almost 3 years, which seems amazingly long, but I think its partly due to the fact that 2008 seemed to drag on forever. 2008 began with the birth of our daughter, Julianna, at only 27 weeks. She weighed 2lbs 11oz, and spent the first 66 days of her life in the NICU, but now she's a healthy and active 14 month old. We have spent the last year in limbo waiting for our house in SC to sell and now waiting to close on our new house here (but that drama could be a whole new post in itself and probably will be!). We are very excited to finally have our family together in a place of our own.

Julianna is constantly on the go!

Never Say Never

I remember the day Joe told me he had a MySpace page, I laughed at him and called him a nerd. I said “I’ll never do it”. After almost 2 years, I caved and almost instantly became addicted. Then a friend of mine started a blog. I thought blogs were silly. “I’ll never do it.” Who really cares about people’s everyday life and random thoughts? Umm, apparently I do. I have recently become hooked on reading and keeping up on friends/family members’ blogs. I actually joked to one acquaintance that I was her blog stalker. It really is amazing how I know what days people post new entries and look forward to seeing what they wrote, no matter how mundane or exciting. As you can see (or read) I now have a blog. I apparently am a push-over. Every time I say I won’t do something, I manage to get talked into it, and inevitably enjoy myself in the process. I hope everyone enjoys my blog and I am excited to share “Our Ordinary Stories” with you all!