The birth of our newest miracle   Leave a comment

We knew the holidays would make the last trimester of my pregnancy fly by. And it did, the closer we got to Christmas the more I realized that baby arrival was right around the corner and we weren’t ready at all! There was a lot of scrambling and joking about how the baby could truly come early enough to be a Christmas or New Year’s baby. While that would be special for the birth I wanted Baby Rhino to have his or her own day without having to compete with a holiday. I didn’t want Baby Rhino to compete with Baby Jesus or that chubby New Year’s kid. With Lydia I really didn’t have noticeable Braxton Hicks but they were there this time and occasionally made me worry that it might happen, especially after I took a fall in an empty Christmas wrapping box two days before Christmas.


Officially my due date was January 15th, but originally it was January 12th and that was what I was going by. When Lydia was born I had no idea I was in labor. There was no “I know” moment until shortly before my water broke and she was born about three hours after that. The only reason we were safely at the birth center was because of an early pre pocket leak. This time everyone warned me to pay very close attention to all signs. The concern was that since Lydia, a first time baby, came so fast Baby Rhino might come even faster. Since the birth center is about 30 minutes away, if I didn’t pay attention we might end up with a dramatic side of the road delivery or at the very least a very uncomfortable ride into the birth center. No one was more aware or nervous about this than me.

I woke up the morning of January 7th with some light leaking and stronger tightenings. I suppose I should call them contractions but they were not nearly as intense as a contraction and just felt like the muscles across my belly and back were tensing. Those tightenings were what I felt with Lydia all the way up until she was almost here, so this time I knew they were early contractions. I got all excited because it would have been 39 weeks and 2 days, the same day that Lydia was born. But I didn’t feel like “this is it” I just was being careful to report all the signs.

I called Chrystin, my doula, and told her about the tightening and the other signs. She said it sounded like I might be in early labor. I called Steve and let him know, just in case. He’d left his phone in the car that morning and it gave us both a bit of a jolt because while we knew that Baby Rhino was coming soon this was a real wakeup call that it was really happening.

Tuesday came and went and there were more signs but nothing certainly. I probably would have disregarded what happened if I had not been lectured repeatedly by everyone to pay very close attention to all possible labor warning signs. I wasn’t even worried about delivery at home if things went fast but I was terrified about hitting transition in the car ride, so I listened.

By Wednesday afternoon my cough, which had mostly cleared up, was back with a vengeance. I could barely breathe for all the coughing and was miserable. For the first time ever I called mom and told her she had to come get Lydia so I could lie down because I couldn’t breathe. I was petrified of going in to labor in the condition I was in, I just knew it would be a nightmare.

Thursday morning I had a midwife appointment with Char Lynn. She agreed that I was in no shape to try labor as bad as my cough was. She did a careful check to see if I really was in early labor. I was 60-70% effaced and the baby was “right there.” She didn’t want to check more closely for fear of “stirring things up” and having labor occur while I was struggling to breathe so much.  I was sent home with strict orders to get in bed with some pregnancy safe medication and sleep. Walking to the kitchen to cook dinner was “too much activity” and I wasn’t to drive by myself anywhere. Mom took Lydia home with her and I went home and crashed.  My goal was to get rid of the cough as much as I could so that the baby could come in a quick, easy delivery.

Thankfully sleep worked wonders on my cough because by Friday afternoon I started feeling more tightenings. This time I timed them. They were coming about every two and a half to three minutes and were a minute in length. I told Steve that he might want to come home soon although they were not very intense. He ditched a work lunch and headed home.  When Steve got home he called Char Lynn who said we should come in. I called Chrystin but told her to hold off because we weren’t sure. Family  was staying home till we got the news that this was for real because I still wasn’t sure.  I was excited to see everything set up for go time but I didn’t really feel it was for sure time, although I wanted it to be.



I was checked and the baby had moved back up, probably from the bed rest and because I felt unready to have the baby. It’s amazing how your body works with you. We were advised to take a nap (which we did) and then Chrystin arrived. We tried to get things to kick into gear so we went for a lot of walks and I rocked on the birth ball while taking some delicious (sense the sarcasm here) tinctures of herbs. My contractions were the right length and space apart but weren’t really sticking if I rested or sat down. So we went home to wait for baby.

I felt like the boy who cried wolf but I was reporting every little thing, even when I wasn’t sure this was it. Lydia’s birth had us all a little jumpy. When we left Friday I felt it was the right call but it scared me to face that possibility of that long drive in labor again. My Nana nicely offered to get us a hotel down there but we decided to go home and get in our own bed. I figured this was more time for my cough to clear even more.

Saturday morning I woke up and said to Steve, “Today is the day, my cough feels better. Let’s have a baby!”

Moments later Lydia walked in our room looking miserable and says, “I is sick.”

Our day became about making her feel better and I was worried I’d go into labor and have to leave her at home when she felt so bad. And that she wouldn’t feel good to greet her new baby brother or sister.

She slept in our bed and in the middle of the night her fever broke.

Sunday morning, the twelfth, I woke up and again said to Steve, “Well it’s good we didn’t have the baby yesterday but everyone is better today. My cough feels even better. Today is the day. Let’s have a baby!”

Moments later I got a text that my stepfather was being sent to the ER for high blood pressure and because of his cough. My mom said to try not to have the baby while they were unable to be there.

For some reason it felt like there was no more putting Baby Rhino off.

We went for one fairly short walk around the block, but otherwise did nothing to encourage things. I got the ornaments taken down from the Christmas tree, but not put away, before deciding to rest. Spent the evening snuggling Lydia before we headed to bed.


I was feeling some pressure so I decided to take a bath around midnight, Steve was not concerned as this had become pretty regular in the last month. Since I noticed the tightenings were there I timed them. A minute in length and two and a half minutes apart. I did notice they were a bit stronger but I figured they’d go away while I took a bath. They slowed a bit but didn’t stop. It seemed they were getting a bit stronger. I went out and did some of the yoga poses to move baby to a better position since we were getting posterior signs on Friday, still no stopping. I figured if I laid down they were either going to stop or I’d get a little rest in before it was time for the big show. Steve woke up as I lay down and he agreed to the plan. I think he thought it was another false alarm.

At two thirty two I woke Steve up and told him it was for sure this time, we needed to go.


They weren’t painful or particularly strong but they were still there and definitely stronger than when I laid down. Plus there was a feeling of “this is it.” We packed up, called Chrystin and the midwife and headed in.

My friend was going to stay with Lydia in case we had a middle of the night birth center run but this was the only night she couldn’t do it. So we had to call mom. I was kinda bummed because I wanted mom at the birth this time but it was our only option. She said she’d pack Lydia up around seven and they’d head down there.

When we arrived around 3 30 Char Lynn checked me and said the baby was once more “right there” but I wasn’t as progressed as she’d expect. That didn’t concern me much since I went from 4cm to pushing in 20 minutes with Lydia. She said she knew this was it because I had the hormonal shakes. Her suggestion was to lie in bed and take a nap but I didn’t want to do anything to slow things down. So I went and got settled on the birth ball.  I stole Steve’s warm shirt and at first we were talking and joking between and through some contractions. After a bit they got so that I had to focus.


It was probably an hour or so later that I had to focus and didn’t want Steve to leave me. He was trying to make coffee between contractions and when Char Lynn came in to check on us he joked that he knew the contractions were less than a minute apart because he couldn’t get away to get caffeinated.

Steve kept rubbing my back or holding my hand during contractions. He would give me breathing patterns to help keep me focused. Chrystin offered suggestions on changing positions or kept reminding me to drink my water while she snapped some pictures. They both reminded me to relax when they saw a muscle tense.


Around five or five thirty I started focusing on wanting my mom and Lydia there. I asked Steve the time and worried that it was too early to wake up Lydia. Steve asked me if I wanted them to head down and I said it would be nice but it was too early. He knew me well enough to know that I really did so he called mom to suggest she get started down.

Right after that I was ready for something different and asked if I could get in the shower. From last time I knew the tub was supposed to be saved for last. When we headed to the bathroom I felt like I had to use the bathroom, and I did, thankfully (every woman is afraid of the whole going while she’s pushing thing).

It was taking me a few minutes to get up and get into the shower. Mostly because I was concerned that I still needed to use the toilet. Apparently everyone thought my contractions were intense enough that I couldn’t really get up and move to the shower. So that was their indicator that it was nearly time. They were right, it was nearly time, but it’s funny to me now that their “sign” wasn’t what they thought it was.

Char Lynn asked if I wanted to have the baby in the shower or the tub. I laughed because that was a no brainer and said the tub. She said than we should probably head that way. That got me excited because I didn’t know I was that close.


The hot water felt so good.  I was so excited to be in the tub both for the relief it offered and because it meant we were almost there. With Lydia’s birth I got in the tub and sat on my knees and it felt “right”… not good necessarily but productive and as comfortable as it would get. This time it didn’t feel right and I bounced back and forth trying different positions. Finally, I looked at Chystin and laughed and said, “I guess there is no point in trying to get comfortable is there?”

I had a few more contractions but mentally I was waiting for transition.  Kept analyzing how I felt to see if I was there. Suddenly I felt a pop and a gush, even though I was in water I knew my water had broken and I said so. Steve must have noticed the water rippling because he said he could tell as well. So odd to feel it breaking even thought I was in water. Char Lynn checked me and said I was there but still a little posterior.

Nausea rushed over me and I asked for a bowl. I got sick, no fun. Char Lynn was listening to Baby Rhino’s heartbeat, Chrystin had her hand on my shoulder to remove the bowl, and Steve was rubbing my back. Everyone was doing something nice for me and I suddenly wanted everyone to go away. Too many people were too close and in my head I wanted to scream “Go Away!” As soon as I thought that I laughed because I realized I’d just hit transition. As soon as I realized it the feeling went away and I was excited because I knew it was go time.

With Lydia the pushing came on fast and my body did it on its own, out of my control, so I was waiting for that. Char Lynn suggested I lay on my side, which I did and I remembered that was the position I was in when the pushing started with Lydia. Sure enough no sooner did I lay on my side then the pushing took over my body. There was no urge about it; my body was doing this with or without my help. However, I had wanted to sit up and be in a different position to push. That was not to be since from the first push baby’s head was so “right there” that I couldn’t really change positions very well.

With Lydia I felt like I was pushing through and everything felt productive. Perhaps because my cervix was still a bit posterior  or the position I was in or that baby would turn out to be bigger but it felt like I was pushing a different way, like pushing to use the bathroom rather than pushing a baby out. But I pushed. Char Lynn gave direction. Chrystin had such a calm encouraging voice as she told me I had this. Steve held me and gave me encouragement. Physically I needed him there, like an anchor. With both births his physical presence was simply so much help and he was so great about reminding me to breathe and to focus in a gentle way. He was firm with what he was asking of me without irritating me by being bossy.

With Lydia it was just a few pushes for her head and then she “shot out like a torpedo”. This time I pushed for the baby’s head and got frustrated because I didn’t feel as productive. Char Lynn was giving me directions on how to breathe or push but they weren’t making sense to me. I rolled over from my side into Steve’s arms so I was sitting back against the tub after the baby’s head was born to push the rest of the way. It felt to me like this part took longer than I would have expected. Char Lynn wanted me to lift my legs up to push but that felt like wasted energy when I needed to concentrate on pushing so I ignored that request. She did tell me something I responded to with “yes ma’am” but I don’t remember what it was.

I sensed people arriving and wondered if it was my mom, but it turns out it was the birth assistants. I hated waiting for a contraction but it came and I pushed and there was baby. This time I could see the baby as she was born which was wonderful and different for me. I helped lift her up and put her on my chest.


She was so cheesy and covered in vernix and seemed bigger than Lydia had (turns out she was).  She had this beautiful round face, moon like. Steve and I laughed and I hugged her to me. We both were touching her and checking her out. After a few moments I remembered to check. For a second her cord, which was lying between her legs, looked like we might have a boy but it only took a moment to realize we had another beautiful little girl. She only cried a moment, yawned and then settled in. While everyone was doing clean up and moving around we realized she’d fallen asleep in my arms! I couldn’t believe it!

There was concern in Steve’s voice when he said I was bleeding quite a bit. Char Lynn came over and I heard her call for a Pitocin shot. She checked me out and said they’d watch, thankfully everything sorted out. That was the only scary moment as I imagined having to go to a hospital or have a shot.

I held our little girl who was born at 6:24 am. Shortly after her birth my mom and Lydia arrived. They would have made it for the big show but Lydia was grumpy getting up and mom had to promise her chocolate milk. She stood by the tub and looked thoroughly confused about why mommy was in a bathtub holding a baby. She was quiet and unsure as I told her that this was Baby Rhino who had come out of mommy’s belly. She just nodded and said “yeah” as she sipped her chocolate milk.


Steve took her to get her set up in the other room as the placenta was delivered (side note, I actually wanted to check it out this time after hearing the hype but didn’t really get to) and Steve came back to cut the cord.  He whisked baby away while the ladies helped me get cleaned up and into bed.

Clinton and Nana arrived around that time. From pictures it seems Lydia was more interested in baby once she woke up a bit more.


We weren’t sure on names so she had to be Baby Rhino for a bit longer while we decided between Penelope and Vivian, with me still campaigning for Sadira/Sadie.

She was a little talker and was quite happy to suck her thumb. Breastfeeding was no problem for her and we got lots of cuddles as I got to speak to Mark at the hospital and Dad on facetime.

I did have to have some stitches, the least fun part of the whole experience. I think it was from her position more than anything else.

ImageDSC_297814-01-13 B020

Once we got her home we looked for signs that she should be a Penelope or a Vivian. I think we were both leaning towards Vivian initially but she just looked so round and happy and relaxed we both kept almost calling her Penny. Steve made the final observation that settled her name. Lydia got the name “Rhino” from the movie Bolt… the little girl in the movie is named Penny. Even though no one would ever know by choosing the name Penny we were honoring Baby Rhino as well, so that settled it.

Penelope Ivey Derry turned out to be 8 pounds 8.5 ounces and 22 and a half inches long. The midwife paperwork says my water broke at 6:15 and she was born at 6:24 but Chrystin said she thought my water breaking was around 6. Either way, thankfully, she made a quick appearance at the birth center. I know that pushing was just around 6 minutes or so. Overall time wise both girls took about three hours of noticeable labor to arrive.


Two random side notes- Char Lynn said Penny was probably the cheesiest baby she’d ever seen and there was no way she was a day “past due”… she actually looked early.

Since I only gained five pounds and I’d been told baby measured small but Penny was bigger than Lydia who was 7 pounds five ounces and 22 inches.


The births were actually pretty similar when I think about it and now we have two wonderful little girls. Again, I truly loved our experience at the birth center.


Now we are a family of four!


Our wonderful midwife and doula 🙂

14-01-13 B021 DSC_3002


Posted March 17, 2014 by etainl in Uncategorized

Cera’s Eye Surgery- The Best Laid Plans   3 comments

First of all… if anyone wants to donate here is the link :

So it has been a while since I updated on Cera’s condition. Mostly because I was confused and we weren’t sure where we were heading next.

We received about a fourth of what we needed for the surgery and a fifth of what we needed to take care of her good eye overall. Which is amazing!

We were optimistic and called to schedule the surgery. That was when we received the first bit of confusing news. The technician told me that the surgery had 70% chance of curing the glaucoma, which we knew. What we didn’t know is that it might not save her sight, in fact, it might cause her to lose her sight.


During the surgery they go in and laser up the flows and drainage on the eye to prevent them from getting closed and causing the eye to swell. This is how she lost sight in her right eye… the swelling caused the nerve to pop and damage the eye and sight was lost. The surgery delicately burns those open so that it will always flow. However, it takes about a week for the canals to heal and the surgery to start working. During that week her eye may swell and the nerve damage can cause blindness. If we can get through the week without that excessive swelling and the surgery cured the glaucoma she is fine and so is her sight. But there is a chance that the glaucoma could be cured but her sight would have been lost because of the surgery.

If we do nothing she will lose her sight anyway. But to pay $3,500 so the eye looks good but doesn’t work seems like a bad idea.

The center could not give us any indication of her odds. They said they don’t know, but that having blue eyes could put her at a disadvantage.

Steve and I talked about this over and over.

Our options at this point were:

A. Pay the 3500 to try to save the sight of the left eye. We would hope that she falls in the 70% for it to cure the glaucoma AND the unknown odds that her sight is also saved. Later we would have to still remove the right eye, which is sightless ($1000).

B. Keep her on medication, which is running about 100 a month on average, until it starts to fail and then have both eyes removed when she goes blind ($2000).


We were discussing it. I read about how blind dogs did fine. I heard from people about how their dogs did all right blind. We had a blind dog briefly and he did all right. But I kept thinking of how Cera loves to chase squirrels, not that she is the most active dog but she does love this. How she watches me closely when I cook. I just wondered…. she is already a fairly inactive dog and most of the things that make her active involve her sight.

While we were discussing it and waiting and praying I took lots of pictures. Particularly of her and Lydia. Or Baxter and Lydia (by the way he is still doing great! We are excited we’ve had this much time with him!) or the two of them together.

We discussed how if we did not do the surgery we would contact those generous enough to donate to ask them if they were ok if we used the money for the eye removal surgery and if not we could return it or donate it to an animal group.

Over Thanksgiving we ran out of one of her meds (it has a false bottom so it’s hard to tell when it’s getting low). I thought we could go the day after Thanksgiving for more but they were closed and we had to wait till Monday.

Over that weekend she went blind. She could not see from either eye.

She slunk along the walls. She laid against my legs. She jumped at every noise. She was clearly depressed.


Beyond that she got around ok. She didn’t follow me from room to room like normal. But she did follow me. She made it in and out of the house for potties. She dealt with the toddler that could decide to bestow kisses or hugs at any minute.

Steve and I didn’t really talk about it. Part of me felt relieved that the decision was taken from us. Part of me was depressed with her.

On Monday,when I refilled her medication, her sight came back.

I took her to her ophthalmologist, he called the weekend an “episode”. He said that the next one would likely be permanent. Surprisingly, there was no real nerve damage from the episode and she was still an excellent candidate for the surgery.


I talked to him about our concerns. About putting her through the surgery without knowing the odds. Steve had pointed out it was like putting $3,500 (that we don’t have) into a slot machine, we don’t know the odds and it’s all on one spin. I also spoke to him about her depression.

The doctor understood. He said the depression usually passed for dogs, they learned to adjust and they went back to normal, for the most part.

As to the odds of it saving her sight, he said that they can’t give odds because each dog reacts differently and they don’t want patients upset with them if it doesn’t work. Which I understand but knowing some sort of percentage would really help with a decision. He said in the last year or two he had sent three dogs to them for the same surgery. He said two of them had full sight afterwards and one had obstructed vision, but had obstructed vision before the surgery so it wasn’t really due to the surgery.


Well, that story made me feel better.

Steve and I talked about it again. He said that her depression had made him depressed. We both felt that we had failed her by not giving her a chance to fight it. She has overcome so much in her life that maybe this was one more thing that she could do…. beat the odds again.

So we have decided to go ahead with the surgery. As of now, it is scheduled for next Wednesday, December 19th. I will have to have her at Ft. Myers at 8 am and I will bring her back to our vet for observation that afternoon.

I am praying that if this is a bad idea something will stop us. We still have to do her blood work and other things to prepare for it and make sure she is a candidate.

I’m nervous. I’m questioning my decision. I’m hoping she will be fine.

IMG_9124 IMG_9131

She is my fuzzy baby.

Unfortunately money is still an issue.

I’m reposting the link to the donation site if anyone wants to help us.

If you can’t help financially we understand. Please repost or just pray for us.

Pray that the doctor does a quick job so that her chances of swelling are slim. Pray that her swelling is low and her results are good.


And even though this post is about Cera, here is one of my favorite pictures of Baxter. He is sleeping in front of Lydia’s bed… you can see her in the background 🙂

Posted December 12, 2012 by etainl in Pets, Sickness & Health

Autumn Terror   5 comments

Fall is here!!!

As much as fall creeps into Florida. Unfortunately we are deprived of the nicer aspects of fall… but still Starbucks is selling Pumpkin spice so it must be fall. Plus the grocery stores are selling those yummy cinnamon brooms so it smells like fall. If it sells and smells like fall I’ll call fall! Generally my favorite time of year.

I also know it is fall because I now need to go on my annual television boycott/remote control vigil. Not my favorite time of year.

Every year between mid September and the end of October I will be safely watching a warm fuzzy child appropriate (but adult program) or some innocuous day time television program and suddenly (and without warning) there are disturbing and scary images on my television.

I’m not sure if the rest of the country is inundated with commercials for Busch Gardens Hallowscream and Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights but we sure are. At least one commercial out of every break seems to have a blood dripping clown, zombies, people with shattered faces grabbing unsuspecting victims and people running in terror. Oh and screaming… a lot of screaming.  They frighten me so I sure as heck don’t want my two year old to watch them.

They would have terrified me up until the age of 8, at least. Yeah sure, I may have been a sheltered child but I was a CHILD and I shouldn’t have to be exposed to that sort of thing.

These commercials used to irritate me during the fall season. I don’t like them. I don’t want to see them. But because they are commercials there seems to be no avoiding them. I also hate the giant billboards that are in the same vein and the signs everywhere… but that’s another issue.

However, now that I have a child they make me angry. Very angry.

It’s not fair that I have no control over them. This isn’t like “Well if you don’t like it change the channel”…. they pop up usually BEFORE you can change the channel. And besides the kids channels they are EVERYWHERE.

I try to limit her television viewing period and when she does watch TV it is usually a DVD, something from the DVR or on a kids channel so she is safe. But God forbid I want to watch something while she is playing in the room. Yesterday my grandmother was over and wanted to watch The Chew and The Doctors…. there was a scary commercial nearly every single break. Thank goodness LA was sleeping. But what if she hadn’t been?

And how do I avoid all those billboards….? Don’t drive down the road?

Ok, so I can avoid the billboards or hope/assume my child won’t see them as we zoom past… it is the commercials I really object to.

Don’t these things have ratings? Shouldn’t they be confined to evening television? After 8 at the very latest?

There are ratings for television programs but it seems any terrifying 60 second ad is allowed on at any time of the day. It’s not fair and it is something I dread every year. I think it’s very irresponsible of Busch Gardens and Universal to put them out to be shown during the day time at all. I think it’s more irresponsible for stations to air them at all times of the day. If they were on in the evening I personally would still hate them but I’m a grown up I can deal.  Children don’t have the same abilities to deal with scariness.

We are always talking in this country about loss of innocence and children growing up too fast. About desensitization and violence. Um, hello? We are showing commercials that some adults find disturbing when any child could see it on accident. And there is no way (short of not watching any channel other than Disney/Sprout/etc) to avoid them. If there is please tell me how?!

Right now LA is dealing with night terrors. I can’t help wondering in the back of my mind if it has started because of something she has seen on these commercials, signs, posters or statues that are put out in the fall. I know that they would have given me night mares when I was a child.

I don’t know what to do. Contact the stations? The parks themselves? Up until recently I thought I was the only one who dreaded this time of the year for any television watching… but apparently I’m not.

Look I get that Halloween is a fun time for a lot of people. And I may even be in the minority because while I love the imaginative dress up aspect of Halloween I hate the open grave, rotting faces, jump out and say “boo” aspect of the holiday. People love it… great. But I don’t want it forced on me and I really don’t want it thrust on my child. I think the commercials are disturbing enough as is but if you are safely watching “Dancing with the Starts” to suddenly see people being chased by zombies or pulled into open graves is not the program I signed on to watch. It’s not fair to us adults who are forced/tricked into seeing it but it’s absolutely irresponsible to have it on when children could see it. There should be a time limit or certain station so that parents can do what we can to shelter our children from it.

I’m honestly shocked that they haven’t been sued yet for causing nightmares or distress etc. This is such a litigious society and this actually seems like something that could cause children trauma or at least some unnecessary fear.

Usually I’m a shrug “Well just avoid it if you don’t like it” sort of person”… but I have no idea how to successfully avoid all of this. Every year it is absolutely everywhere. I truly hate it.

Every year I’m disappointed in both Busch Gardens and Universal Studios…. these are supposed to be family friendly places. I think it’s great/fine that they do this. Awesome… if it’s fun for you then have a great time. I object to how they advertise it.

So anyway… that is my fall pet peeve.


Posted October 4, 2012 by etainl in Culture, Life, Mommy-hood

On your Second birthday- A letter to my daughter   Leave a comment

To my sweet baby,

You are two!

I wonder how long I will be able to get away with calling you sweet baby. If you ask me to stop I promise I will…

….at least out loud…

…. or at least in front of friends.

We had quite a year! Last year I marveled how you went from a tiny, squirming bundle of love to a stiff, legged baby toddler beginning a great adventure. I thought I knew how subtlely time marches on… but this year… oh, this year taught me a thing or two about subtlety. You took your first steps shortly before your first birthday and by my birthday a few weeks later you were fully mobile. Every day you lost some of the stiffness in your walk, your gait became smoother and more confidant.  Now when you are excited you run! And you don’t just run… no boring run from here to there for you… you gleefully dance and run at the same time, your arms waving wildly in the air.

There is pure joy about your every movement! (You run so much like Phoebe the character from one of my favorite television shows I have to wonder if I taught it to you somehow in the womb). Of course Daddy says I have a funny run too so maybe you learned it from me… but you definitely have me beat!

Your joy is not just in running…. you are so full of happiness and sweetness! It just radiates off you.  You love life and those around you so much you glow… and you make others glow. You are so kind and giving with your beautiful energy you make me so proud of you. When we were at Disney you bravely walked up to a woman you didn’t even know and threw yourself in her lap and hugged her for a good five minutes.

This woman, this total stranger, laughed and cried confessing that she had been watching you and missing her own children. She said that she needed that hug so badly. How did you know? I stood there twisting my fingers, so proud of you for knowing and so scared that you were so trusting of a stranger.

And you love your friends. You cried in my arms when the bad guy took Elmo’s blanket when we watched Elmo in Grouchland calling “Mo! Mo!”…because he was upset, so were you. You love to visit your friends and shower them with kisses, whether they want them or not. And you take such good care of your “baby”… so sweet.

You are happy to take the hand of a stranger or a friend to show them a flower, Elmo, music, or anything else that makes you happy. You are a happy child and you just want to share it with the world. Out of all the things about you that amaze and delight me this is the biggest. Because to me this joy, that you so willingly share, is a glimpse I get of your beautiful soul. It’s who you are, fundamentally, and I couldn’t be prouder.

It also terrifies me because I know the world and I hope it never puts a damper on your light. I hope some stupid, ungrateful boy never uses it against you. I hope you keep your love of others but learn to protect yourself a bit because I will not always be able to stand by and stand guard you. Although, I am more than willing to follow you around and do so, but I strongly suspect you will not want that.

So no matter what the big world throws at you my little LA please always remember how good and kind and full of light and love that you are. And that’s who you are at your core and it’s a rare, beautiful thing to see. Daddy and I are both so proud of how happy and loving you are, we hope it is the love we give you reflected back… it is a lot of love by the way.

You are still so brave… this year has taught me that not only are you a ray of sunshine but a little monkey in training. You certainly like to keep me on my toes. You arrived the day after the midwife said you would most likely be late. You always liked to do the unexpected. Sure enough, just after Daddy and I gained confidence that we had the house appropriately baby proofed you went vertical!

Scaling couches, climbing tables and toys and any other option to get you higher in the air became your favorite pastime. And clever, you knew that if you climbed on something and called my name I would come rushing to you. So diabolical, you would wait until I was working and climb on something and proudly shout “Mama!”  with a look of pure mischief on your face. You knew that I would come to sweep you into my arms. And you were always right.

You are so amazing physically. Daddy and I have joked many times about how you are sure to make the gymnastic team of 2024!!! You have been going airborne in your jumps since you were 16 months and when you started taking gymnastics lessons you were swinging on the rings so long you even impressed your teacher. But I know I will tell the reporters how I knew you were in love with the sport when we were late for our first class because you were so busy hanging from the bar in the car that I couldn’t get you dressed!

Still not much of a talker yet but I enjoy getting to see little glimpses of how your mind works. You know over thirty signs so that we usually know what you want or think. At 15 months you told me that the planes in the sky were birds and just last week you rushed in to blow on the stove because I told you it was hot! I cannot wait until you are willing to tell me more about what you are thinking!

When I think back on this year I picture you flashing by me, pigtail flying and giggling maniacally. I remember you rolling over in your sleep, giving me kisses and then rolling back saying “mama” as you drifted off to sleep. I picture you curled up in your daddies arms as you make him hold you like a hammock to watch Elmo. I think of laughing with you as you made Elephant and animals noises and how you pretend to be a cat so you can eat your food from a bowl on the floor.

I’ll always remember how you curled against me and stroked my back (something I do for you) while we watched Tangled for the 437th time.

You are even more than what I listed here… artistic, compassionate, funny, unique, stubborn, clever… the list goes on. Everything I could have dreamed a daughter would be… and blessings I never would have expected.

I feel the same as last year about you growing up. It is a strange bittersweet journey to be a parent. I strive and reach every milestone with you and I am so happy for you, so proud, and yet a part of me mourns the loss that goes with the achievement. Every achievement is wonderful but means that another part of your babyhood or toddlerhood has passed…. and I’m not always ready. To be honest I still miss your toothless grin 😉

Part of me just wants to keep you this way forever and another part can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for you next. I do want to keep you my dancing, singing baby toddler and yet I’m so excited for you when you act like a big girl. Especially since a sweet, clever, kind big girl. Watching you put on your helmet to sit on your tricycle in our living room made me positively teary.

I feel so honored to be your mama. You keep your Daddy and me laughing every day and we both talk about how lucky we are to have you. It sounds trite to say, although it’s true, you reaffirm my belief in this world. You are so pure and so good and I am so proud that I had anything to do with you.

I love you so much baby girl…. I hope you always know how special you are.


Your Mama

PS…. thank you so much for my first flower gift… it is safely pressed in your baby book.

A lot of adventure…

What a smile….

Learning and loving…

What a sweet goofy girl you are…. I love you

Posted September 19, 2012 by etainl in Celebrations and Milestones, Mommy-hood

Lessons from a One Year Old – Year Two of Parenting   Leave a comment

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I wrote about the 50 things I learned in my first year of parenting. Rereading it made me tear up a bit, in a good way. And I was surprised by how many of the lessons still apply for the second year 🙂

I actually wrote most of this list as things happened throughout the year. After reading last years list I have repeated myself! Totally unintentional. I guess that just makes it all the more true! (and I deleted some of the ones that were repeated… so I could get that magic 50 number. Wouldn’t want an uneven blog post list!)

So this year, in addition to writing about what we’ve learned as parents I wrote about what having a one year old in the house has taught me about life… You can learn a lot from a one year old!

We have learned as parents:

1. I have to say it, even though I said it last year, you will be amazed by how much you can love.

And just when you thought you couldn’t love any more….

….you do.

2. A two day runny nose for a 1 year old will turn into a deadly lieonthecouchalldayandsuffer week long cold for Daddy. (and sometimes mama too)

3. Be prepared for repetition. Be prepared for repetition. Be prepared for repeition.

If Wheels on the Buss was annoying for you/fun for her the first time…. just wait till you have heard it 50 times!

4.  Poop still happens, less frequently but more stink and stick!

5. Just when you think you think you’ve got a handle on this walking thing they go vertical… Or at least mine did. Little monkey!

6. You have to reevaluate your baby proofing when your toddler becomes a mountain goat and a hanging monkey.

7.It is  amazing how in the middle of the night you will find yourself in your childs room and not even remember getting there. And if you are like us and room shared for the first year, it is amazing how far away their bedroom seems when they begin to sleep in their own room. So very, very far away….. sniff…..

8. It’s incredible how excited you can be for the sound of pee hitting a toilet!!

9. They will make you laugh…

again and again….

….. and again…

and again….lol

10. Toddler’s are a lot less easy to change than they were as a baby. Which means when they have a poopy diaper it still gets ALL over!

11. If it was your child’s favorite food last week and you just purchased/prepared a lot of it…. they probably don’t like it anymore.

12. You will find yourself more excited than a child to go to Disney world (or theme park or zoo)…. only because you know what is coming (and they don’t!)!
And it will probably be the last time that you are more excited than they are!

13. Someone will say something like “Oh you have a little girl?” When she isn’t around. You will marvel at their perception until you realize your shirt is covered with flowery stickers.

This will also happen to your husband and his golf bag earning him the nickname Princess from his buddies.

14. If a crawler shows you just how dirty your floors are a walker shows you just how slow and old you’ve become!

15. Nothing in the world is sweeter than a full body, baby monkey, toddler hug (you know if you’ve had one of these… if you haven’t, you are missing out!)

16. It would be easier to try to put an octopus in a tuxedo than to fully change, wipe and dress a toddler who doesn’t cooperate.

17. Your dogs are no longer just dogs, they are pillows, pony substitutes and excellent toddler lunch clean up devices.

18. You brush your dogs hair to discover that the root of the matt is….. a sticker!

19. Tears and tantrums are an excellent way to reduce stress… This explains why they are so smiley immediately afterwards. It sometimes works for moms too 🙂

20.   Those things you said you’d never do. You’ll do at least one of them.

We are still holding pretty firm on the no junk food, but sadly have relaxed a bit on the TV rules, although from what I hear we are stricter than some 😉

21. Mama spit works.

22. Just when you think “I’ve got this” they will change it up on you.

23. You suddenly are sure that she will be a veterninarian or a doctor because she loves to play with a stethescope!

24. Sleeping through the night feels so good.

25.  Not sleeping through the night feels even worse when you have recently been reintroduced to sleep.

26. As they develop that amazing personality you will also run into some differences of opinion….

…And you learn what a tantrum is.

Oh did I mention tantrums already…. get used to them. They happen, more frequently than you’d like.

27. You learn that it doesn’t make you a horrible parent if you find some tantrums kinda funny.

28. You hate when they get hurt but you love how they immediately come to you for comfort.

29. You will marvel as you see their own unique personalitites develop. They are truly their own person… my little one has a “thing” for sunglasses 😉


…. and unique…

…and oh so cool 😉

30. You’ll want to swoop in and do things for them, but if you give them a minute they will do it…..

31. They will amaze you with what they can do. 🙂

32.  I know I said this last year but watching your husband bond with your child just makes you love him all the more, especially when he puts aside his dignity to do it…

and just for how he loves her…. and how she loves him…..

(And housework is still an aphrodisiac… in case you were wondering. Men take note!)

33. I can’t speak for little boys but little girls will start being little girls. LA now has her baby that she carries around and kisses. She wants to brush my hair, daddy’s hair and the dogs hair… she is just so very girl 😉

34. You will want to beat another child for taking a toy, hitting your child, or just being a “bad” kid.

35. You will cringe and want to crawl under a rock when your child takes a toy, hits or just generally is misunderstood 😉

36. If you planned a meal made up of things that they previously loved to eat and that has some nutritional value they will not touch it. Here is an actual example….

 btw… this is an after picture… notice how it is completely untouched.

and this is a bowl of apples she attacked, just a few bites each 😉

Oh and you will spend weeks trying to get them to try something (in my case chicken) only to have them crawl up on their Poppy’s lap and down his chicken curry of all things.

I swear to get her to eat more I should just leave food around on the floor… then she’d be sure to eat!

37. You will learn all of the characters on their favorite show. In our case we know all of the Sesame Street characters. Steve jokes that he now knows what a gerbicorn is, he never knew he would need that information.

38. You will find yourself thrilled when an episode of Sesame Street (insert your child’s favorite show) comes on that you have never seen before.

38 part two… you will also become very appreciative for all that Elmo (or other character) teaches your child. Here is LA wearing her helmet, she has to have it on because Elmo does…. Go Elmo as good role model!!!!

39. Your house has been hit by a TOYsunami! It’s amazing how one little person can make so much mess.

 We have about 497 balls in our house… we live with a ball addict 🙂

40. In your pre child life you got catchy songs from the radio stuck in your head. Now you will wake up singing “There are Three Primary Colors,” “The Wheels on the Bus” or “Potty Time”… or something else hip like that.

41. I did know I had OCD until puzzles entered my life. It drives me crazier than I can describe wanting to keep all the pieces together.

42. You will come to hate stuffed animals.

43. If you have just cleaned a room and/or put all the toys away understand that to a toddler this is the equivalent of waving a red flag before a bull. Try not to cry as they trash all of your hard work (or at least try to cry privately).

44. You may have spent big money on that gift you just got them but it is guaranteed they will prefer the Styrofoam it came in. One of LA’s favorite things at the moment is a rock she found at the park, she carries it around and kisses it. Baffling.

 This looks like a loving picture of the two of us…but is actually kissing a rock, her new best friend.

45. You will learn about creepy toys. Toddler toys start to sing in the middle of the night… for no good reason!
You will struggle between wanting to hire an exorcist because you are just THAT creeped out that Oscar the Grouch is asking if you want to play at 2 am and being seriously angry that it may have woken your toddler. And you are angry enough that if it is some malevolent force playing with your child’s toys it should really run and hide….

46. You learn what toddler problems really are. At the beginning of the year LA decided she had to have her pony to go to bed. One pony quickly became two…..

…. then we added baby….

…. another pony, a baby Elmo, a stuffed doggie, and now a musical baby Minnie Mouse. Other animals make the “list” from time to time. Remember when I said you will hate stuffed animals, yeah, well your child will not. They will develop problems concerning how to hold all of their precious babies in one go. Or even bigger crisis like how to carry them all!

Thank God we have not had to deal the tragedy that is losing a favorite friend. Knock wood!

47.  I cried watching the Olympics because they had those adorable/sappy commercials concerning how the parents supported their child to get there. And how to a parent they still look like a two year old standing up on the high board, track,etc….

For the record my LA is currently training for the Olympics 2024… or so she thinks. 🙂

48. You will appreciate your parents more… and love watching your family and friends love your child.

49. Having a child will teach you the true definition of pride, love, wonder and definitely joy.

50. You get to do fun things because you are with your kid! Steve and I love jumping on the trampoline and going to the bounce house place 😉

…. apparently I stink at sticking to 50… here are a few more….

51. They will develop a skill you don’t love. LA has the ability to ignore me (or anyone else) that rivals the most petulant teenager. I shudder to think how this skill will have developed in 10 years or so.

52. You won’t mind sharing your favorite foods (at least not as much!)

52. They will want help. When this involves helping put lotion on me (or her) I smile and laugh. When it involves helping me “sweep” or writing on my work pad I struggle to smile 🙂
…. although it is still pretty darn cute.

53. They will force you to think outside the box!!

54.  They will teach you a sense of wonder you didn’t know you had forgotten.

….and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t learn from your child. Just watching her grow up has taught me so much about life….

What my one year old taught me about life:

1. If you’re happy show it!

2. If it was exciting to do the first time…. do it 50 more times!

 This is LA washing her hands for the gazillion-th time in a day….the girl loves clean hands!

3. Even if you look or sound silly people will be happy if you try (example  when mama sings “lalala”  and LA sings “Wawawa” everyone is delighted, even if it’s not “right”)

4. Toddlers don’t hold grudges … Neither should we. They forgive.

5.  If mommy or daddy like it… I must have it.

6. It is just as exciting to see your good friends (the dogs, the fish, Imma, Poppy) today as it was yesterday…why not show it?

7.  Do everything at full speed and 100%!

8. It doesn’t have to be a real toy to be totally awesome! (i.e. water fountains, pens, boxes, water bottles, pans, etc)

9. Forget mistakes and just move on.

10. Nothing is better than snuggling with one of your favorite people.

11. Life is one big adventure… enjoy it!

Just like I said last year parenting is an amazing journey. I can’t even begin to describe how blessed I feel. Parenting is a rewarding experience for all of the joy and love you receive. It is terrifying because you want to protect them so very much. And it is bittersweet as you look forward to the future while missing the past. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

But how did we get from this…..

to this….(a year)….

To this little girl who breaks my heart with her beautiful heart and smile….

Happy birthday baby girl!

Update on Cera   Leave a comment

Yesterday I took Cera to the veterinarian ophthalmologist for a followup concerning the situation with her eyes. It was basically to see how her eyes were responding to her medications and for any follow up questions regarding our options. I also was waiting for a call back from the surgery center in Ft. Myers about our payment options and what we would need to do if it works out.

To sum up the day I got good news, er news, and confusing, frustrating news.

Good news- Her eyes are responding well to the medications. They were at level 13. When I took her in the first time they were 25 and 29…. anything over 25 is abnormal. Anything over 30 is painful. So she is responding well to the medication. That takes SOME  of the urgency off of us. He still recommends we do the surgery sooner rather than later if we want to save her sight because the meds will stop working and when they do they usually stop working quickly and then it’s too late.

Er news- I was disappointed that we were charged another $90 for a follow up appointment. Plus after her surgery she is supposed to come back and stay there for a few nights…. about 160 dollars. That all plus the total we’ve already spent puts us out about an additional 700$.

Confusing/frustrating news- I was still walking out of the office feeling pretty good. I have been really encouraged and touched by the donations we’ve received and we’ve only been collecting for a week. I’ve been amazed that our two biggest donations came from people who don’t even know us. I’ve had hope.

Well the universe couldn’t have that 😉

So I received a phone call from the surgery center to shake things up. The woman explained that they have to have the full amount of money in advance of the surgery, but they do take a care credit program. That has ridiculously high interest after a bit of time. So that was ok.

Then she says that the surgery has a success rate of 75% of successfully removing the glaucoma but she could not tell me at all what the odds were of her keeping her sight. Well that came a as a shock, to say the least. I guess some people can pay 3500 to just keep the eye there, looking normal, even without vision to avoid the glaucoma drops or having the remove the eye.  If she cannot see out of it our best option would be to remove the eye. It wouldn’t make a difference to her…. while I love her beautiful eyes it would be vanity on my part and of no benefit to her.

BUT she says they may be able to save her sight but they can’t tell me the odds without seeing her. Ok, that makes sense, I think. To see her is a consultation and that is NOT included in the price of the surgery. But even if we just wanted the surgery we would still have to drive down there for a consult. That would cost us $80, plus $80-200 dollars in test, plus gas.

After that they could tell us if they could save her sight, and what the odds would be.

Those costs, plus the hospitalization costs, plus the costs we’ve already paid put us at a grand total of over 5,000 if we do the surgery. Or about 2,500 if we just let her go blind.

Look…. I love animals. And I think vets have it really rough because their patients can’t tell them how they feel and they treat a variety of species but I’m beginning to feel that specialists and some vets (not my vet, we love him)…. really take advantage of the love people have for their pets. If I could buy real insurance (that covered specialists and surgeries and allowed me to change vets) it would be somewhat different. But most insurance plans I’ve looked into don’t work for us.

I guess I’m feeling down…. feel like we can’t catch a break.

We were feeling really optimistic at the donation situation. I’m still amazed that our two biggest donations came in from strangers. But we haven’t had a donation in a few days and I’m worried that is all we will to raise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m terribly grateful for as much support as we have…. it’s just difficult to make these decisions on money.

We have the situation with Cera’s eyes, paying for Baxter’s pain medication and the hole in our roof…. lol… and of course all of this is right when we could see the top of the debt hole we had crawled out of, almost.

Anyway, there is the update.

My feeling at the moment is that we should take her to the consultation with the Ft. Myers office. If they can’t save her sight it’s all a moot point. If they can, we have tough decisions to make and it’s going to be very dependent on our ability to being in extra money. And I hate that. I hate asking. I hate not knowing and I hate the time crunch.

So excuse my down-ness today. And I was even more down last night, if you can imagine, so that was why no Cera update.

I do have hope… and it is because of wonderful people in my life.  Every time I feel like we have a handle on this, and the financial situation in total, something has to come flying out of left field to whack me in the head. But that’s life I guess ….


Posted August 16, 2012 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Pets, Sickness & Health

Tagged with , ,

Faith in Humanity   Leave a comment

It takes so little to restore my faith in humanity.

I’m usually fairly optimistic… or I put a lot of effort into being positive. But all of this with Baxter and Cera has me a bit overwhelmed and down.

There are people in our life who owe us the money that would pay for a good chunk of Cera’s surgery and we are doing everything we can to get it……. but I cannot hold out hope because it just fills me with anxiety and anger to know it’s right there. But that is a seperate thing. It has caused me to feel overwhelmed and a bit negative this week.

I think it’s understandable, not acceptable though, for me to feel negative.

However, last night Steve checked our donation site for Cera and found that someone we don’t even know donated $100. Just the fact that someone, who doesn’t know us or owe us anything, would give so much put hope in Steve’s eyes. Which made me feel so much better about the situation. We are still a long way off but I’m so grateful.

The quantity was wonderful but it was truly that a total stranger would reach out to help us.

So with that in mind I will be renewing my efforts for small acts of kindness. Smiles, opening doors for people, a kind word, listening more…. all go a long way.

Posted August 10, 2012 by etainl in Life, Pets