Monthly Archives: March 2012

prepare to CONTROL the NUMBERS

Everyday I am bombarded with numbers – phone numbers, my case load, the cost of gasoline, the check book, my weight, lottery numbers, and the list continues.  I enjoy watching the show “The Revolution” and one week they focused on numbers and the audience wore the number and it’s significance to a person’s health.  There are some very interesting statistics out there based on various “health” numbers (weight, cholesterol, hours of sleep – I don’t do so well on the weight and hours of sleep, but am thankful my lab work looks like I am skinny – lol).

One unique thing about numbers is that they DO NOT HAVE TO DEFINE ME!!! But that is a true choice… when I get on the scale, I can choose to believe I am still Sheri Wolfe, wife and mother and nurse OR I am a 200+ pound Sheri.  And, it is amazing how that “number” can control me OR could say how can I control that “number”.  It is all a matter of thought.  There are numbers in my life that I cannot control – my age, my height, my birthday – but they still do not have to control me!  I chuckle when people don’t want to admit their age –  every year you have is a blessing to be alive and everyone ages every year – not admitting it does not change it. 

Another area of numbers that are a big topic this week are the MegaMillions drawing and Gas Prices.  I have never bought a lottery ticket, but will admit I bought one for this.  Why not!  (p.s. I did not win).  For some, they believe that the lottery is gambling and a sin.  I do not personally hold that belief for me because it is not an “addiction”. I may have to do a blog on my dreams with the money had I won.   The gas prices definitely affect me more than the Mega Millions (especially since I didn’t win), but I can’t control the number and honestly I do not let them control me.  I may try to cluster errands a little more, but I have to have gas to work.  Do I like pay over $4 a gallon inMorgantown– absolutely not – but is an essential. 

The other set of numbers this week that includes our home is the Autism Prevalence in the US.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its estimate of autism prevalence in the United Statesto 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls). http://www.autismspeaks.org/    Yes, Samuel is 1 in 88 children, 1 in 54 boys… but did that change anything – NO!!! It is just a number, and our son is SO MUCH MORE THAN A NUMBER.  Do I pray it means more funding and awareness – YES!  Do I pray it means that insurance companies will have to pay for the needs that go with it – YES (because mine does not)!  Do I pray it means that educational systems are going to have to step up A LOT to help these children succeed – YES! The interesting thing is that children diagnosed with Autism  is more than children diagnosed with diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down syndrome – combined.  But, I didn’t see anything at either hospital that I work at or either school that our children go to about Autism Awareness Day (April 2) and Awareness Month (April).  But healthcare workers, educators, and even the public, needs to step up their awareness and education…. Anyway…

As a cancer nurse, there were always statistics – the survival rate of various cancers.  Often the topic would come up with my patients and I truly believe that a person has to believe they will be in the positive survival rate.  They can’t control what statistic they will be, but they can control going in as the survivor.   

But I honestly just realized as I typed how contradictory for me – I tell patients to be the survivor statistic, but by not controlling some numbers in my life – my weight, my hours of sleep –  I put myself in statistics that I can control.  I need to PREPARE to CONTROL NUMBERS in my life that I can.  It is time to not be a hypocrite – telling my patients one thing and my life exemplifying another…. I can change my numbers to ensure that I am a survivor statistic – my numbers will NOT define me!  I can’t change Samuel being part of a statistic, but can ensure that he is survivor statistic – Autism will NOT define him!

“Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say.”  ~William W. Watt

prepare to SPEAK NEW LANGUAGES

As a wife to a quiet fireman, a teenage daughter, and a “literal” son, I feel like I always need to speak a different language.  I have been reading 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/resources/books), which I heard about for years but never bought them.  Well, as a mom to a teenager.. I really needed to speak a different language.   For awhile, it seemed arguments was the only language spoken (refer to blog about an Avalanche).  It was the day I knew something had to change – I didn’t “understand” her and she “misinterpreted” me.    That is exactly what happens when people speak different languages. 

The premise of the 5 Love Languages (he has versions for children, teens and spouses – see the end for links) is that there are 5 Languages that are “spoken” to show love.  Languages include * Physical Touch * Words of Affirmation * Quality Time * Acts of Service  * Gifts.   In the book there is a little quiz of 30 questions that you answer (choose between 2 choices) to determine the “language” you need to know you are loved.  Also, by doing this exercise, I learned MY “language” as well.  What generally happens is I use what my language is on other people thinking it is there language as well.

Now that is clear as MUD, let me give you some examples.  After almost 20 years of marriage, Jim still humored me by taking the quiz.  I was not surprised to learn his Primary Language is Physical Touch, but was by the second which is Quality Time – which means that by doing either/both of these I SHOW him love in the way he understands/prefers the best.  However, my primary language is Acts of Service – so if you do an act for me (i.e. empty the garbage, feed the dog, get the mail, watch the kids, etc…) I feel loved!.  So if I practiced my language for him (Acts of Service i.e. washed his truck, did his laundry, fixed supper) it would not show him I loved him as much as if I held his hand, gave him a massage, spent time on a date with him, etc…  So, if I want to best communicate with Jim, I have to learn to speak “his language”.

Mary on the other hand is a Words of Affirmation and Quality Time language.  I would have assumed Gifts and Acts of Service would have been the toppers – until the “Avalanche”, because some of the words exchanged definitely demonstrated these.  I told her I was reading the Languages for Teens version because I wanted to have a better relationship and she willingly took the test.   All this time, I would buy her little gifts at the store (lip gloss, shirts, etc…) because I thought that was how to show her love.  She is a straight A student and I assumed she knew we were proud, BUT she needed to hear that.   I don’t understand the need for “that language”, but when you discover that is the one your daughter understands – YOU BETTER LEARN to SPEAK IT!!! If I don’t learn it, someone else will and she will be more drawn to them. Guess what – Saturday night she cleaned the bathroom (scrubbed the floor on her knees), laundry, dishes – I PRAISE HER BIG (praise spoke her language and her ACTS of Service spoke my language).  Definitely a different place than we were just months ago (=   About the QUALITY TIME – the table is still clean for family suppers at the table almost every night, adventures after church, family supporting her party, etc…

About Sam… although I haven’t read the Languages for Children or had him take the test (Sam doesn’t like tests – lol).  I can tell you without a doubt his love language at this point in his life is GIFTS.  Even if it is small like a Happy Meal Toy or medium toy like a Lego Hero or train… it is definitely the language he speaks.  To him even having the food he loves (and actually eats) is a gift – for instance, big shells to stuff (he likes them cooked a soft crunchy), extra crunchy Jif Peanut Butter, a new box of cereal, Pistachios or Macadamia Nuts, etc…  I would say his others would be Physical Touch as he loves to snuggle (which is odd for many autistic/asperger kids).   His language is still pretty simple.

It is interesting that we all speak different languages… and it isn’t always easy learning a new language.  For instance

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION – really hard for me! To me, when you do chores around the house, I should not have to praise you for doing your job.  In fact, at work they did a survey and I wrote why do we have to “praise” someone for doing “their job”?  But it is Mary’s language – so I am learning to offer “words” as often as possible. 

PHYSICAL TOUCH – really awkward for me!  Jim’s family is a much “touchier” family than mine.  I remember the quick peck on the cheek or lips before leaving, but no big embraces, etc… I now make note and sit closer to Jim than I usually do, hold his hand in the car, give a little longer kiss in the morning (versus not even getting up before).  Is it always natural – NO – but if I don’t speak it, I am sure another woman out there would be more than willing.

GIFTS – not really into gifts.  Jim and I do not exchange them.  However, I love when I find that special little thing for someone – and sometimes it’s a friend – and can get it for them.  I love the expression of happiness on their faces.

QUALITY TIME – another hard one for me!  I am a multi-tasker (whole blog by itself) and so to just sit and not check the phone, or read a piece of mail, etc… was a big adjustment.  But knowing that it is important to Mary and Jim it is so worth it – it says to them you are more important than my to do list.  I am thinking some date nights with Jim and alone shopping with Mary may need to become a routine!

ACTS of SERVICE – Isn’t it ironic that I am the only one in the house that this is their language.  Before I would have thought everyone responded to this and this is the language I spoke. 

SO, now I speak multiple-languages – not always fluently – but with an A for effort.  I am not exaggerating it has made a HUGE difference in the communication in the house – especially with Mary and I. 

“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people. “ – William Butler Yeats

prepare for DETOXING

Well, it all started on Friday… My meals (breakfast and lunch) I had packaged sugar cookies dipped in chocolate.  Then for supper I had cupcakes, cake pops, chocolate covered strawberries at Mary’s party (and let’s not forget the pop).  On Saturday, it continued… we went to the movies so we had movie theatre popcorn with salt and butter and more soda and on work on night shift I had Chinese… All of this and a lack of sleep, equals decreased energy, headaches, stomach aches, and craving more of the crappy stuff — I feel like I need a detoxification from the sugar.  I was doing so well eating, loosing weight, getting up early, walking, cleaning the house, and feeling energetic… Now I feel like a slug, brought down, and drained…

The other area I have really learned about this weekend is PEOPLE – TOXIC PEOPLE!  Some even disguise themselves as friends.  At Mary’s party, I observed (see previous blog) and was amazed: the “friends” that  * lie * are jealous * bring you down to build themselves up * do anything to steal the attention *  gossip * talk behind your back * snitch on you to other friends (and even one to the parents – i.e. me) to try to cause problems, etc…   This isn’t just a problem with teenagers – it exists in my life too.  There are people who their presence brings me down – often it is their bad attitude about everything, the whiners, the complainers, the criticizers, the comparers, etc..   I can’t leave out the ones who intentionally lie or those that are always right and better than me!   I bet if you are reading this, you can put names on all those descriptions too!

Another area that I have really struggled with is television.  I find that I examine the meanings behind shows and movies now.  For instance, I love a good chick flick and one I like is “Bridges of Madison County” but then I watched it again recently with a new perspective.  It is a movie that is about a woman who cheats on her husband when he goes out of town.  And I use to be upset at the end that she didn’t go with the guy she was cheating with.  Well, Mary asked me about it… what kind of message does that movie say?  And I had a dear friend go through the harmful affects of an affair and realize the movie isn’t so innocent.  Then there is Reality TV – I use to love the Bachelor when it first started and now I have to say.. what kind of message does that send to Mary (and eventually Sam)?  There isn’t much left once you start examining television through a different view… It is important for me to set the example.  I have always told Mary that she can watch pretty much anything – even Law & Order that covers some very graphic topics – but the condition is that I watch it with her AND we talk about whatever we see.  IF she doesn’t hear it in the safety of the home and know it is open for discussion — the TOXIC world will interpret for her (and eventually Sam).

TOXICITY – whether food or people or TV – can have lasting effects * physical (headache, drain you of energy) * emotionally (make you depressed, sad, angry) and * mentally (make it harder to concentrate, clog your brain with negative thinking, question your self-esteem and self-worth).

The best thing to do is PREPARE for TOXICITY –

  • if at all possible is to AVOID IT!  For food and TV – that’s possible (well unless of course it is chocolate – lol) .  But with people I am not always so fortunate.  Some of the most toxic are in the workplace and for my kids it is in the school.  So then what…
  • practice MODERATION..  This works for food especially.  Enjoy your favorites, just not for 3 continuous days (:   And I have to remember that even Christ spent time with non-Christians.  The important thing is that He didn’t let them bring Him down; instead, tried to be the influence on their lives.  That’s how I have to look at some of Mary’s “friends” as she may be the only positive influence they have.  However, as a parent, I have to monitor the toxicity levels. 
  • Find REPLACEMENTS..  Replace eating junk with healthy foods.   Replace toxic TV with shows you can watch as a family or an activity or a book… Replace toxic people with friends / relationships who build you up and as a parent encourage “healthy” relationships. And as always…
  • Evaluate the effects of the toxicity and learn from it.  As a parent it is important to have the conversation when the time is right (i.e. not the night of the party).  Help your child evaluate the situation through your eyes – so they can see the “DANGER” signs.  I am learning it is more important to teach than to preach.

You do not have the right to quit trying. (The universe wobbles when you do.)  You have the right to quit Toxic People. (They’re contagious.) ~ Dr. SunWolf ~

prepare to OBSERVE

So many thoughts today… I think the lesson I learned most yesterday was PREPARE to OBSERVE!  Sometimes when you are the outsider looking in you get a different perception.  I hate when people get “morphed” into someone else.  It is like in Star Trek when they get transported to a different galaxy. 

Have you ever been in a situation where you notice that people become “someone else” when they are around other people?  The leader becomes a follower… the level headed person gets sucked into the drama… the self-confident person becomes the self-doubter… the in-control person becomes out of control… the brave person becomes the scared person…   But it is bound to happen – to everyone – at one point in your life.  When you work in environment, often you take on the “role” of the employee… When you go to church, you take on the “role” of the believer… When you go out with your friends, the “role” you take on depends on who your friends are… (Sad but true)!  At Mary’s party last night, some observations… keep in mind I have only had one other “friend” party for Mary when she was young with 5 of her dance friends at a Pottery Shop (the best)… Anyway *  friends I thought would come did not * some friends I thought would be invited are no longer “friends” and not invited * too much drama in the lives of young people – it is “drowning” them * some people will assume the role of the victim to steel the attention of the party * leaders can easier become followers because they don’t have the energy and/or knowledge to maintain leadership * true friends let the party be about YOU * sleepovers after a party are never a good idea * party etiquette needs reviewed before a party to the host/hostess of the party * party etiquette needs reviewed by the parents sending children to a party…

MOST IMPORTANT – EVERY PARENT needs to host a party with about 15 kids to 1. Know who are your child’s “friends”  2. Realize what really is going on in their child’s life 3. Discover how your child interacts with other people (do they “morph” into someone else 4. Experience the drama and attitudes of those your child interacts with (it can explain a lot)  5. Open your eyes to how technology has changed their childhood (especially cell phones/texting) and 6. Foster the friendships that you want to see established in your child’s lives (invite the good influences over to your home more and the bad influences less; put them in situations / activities with the good influences more, etc…)

But I think this is true for WORK ENVIRONMENTS too – Every SPOUSE needs to experience the place their spouse works 1. Know who the co-workers are 2. Realize what goes on in the office 4. Discover how your spouse interacts with co-workers 4. Experience the drama especially in small work areas (even though I work in a large hospital – my immediate work department always has drama). 5. Foster the friendships at work that you want to see your spouse engaging in (when possible).  I definitely know more people at Jim’s office, due to holiday parties and outings, than he does mine.   We went on one last year to a concert and my observations definitely made me reconsider who I would foster friendships with and those I would not.  OBSERVATION- people are different when taken out of the environment you usually know them in!!!

The bottom line is PREPARE to OBSERVE.  Mary comes home from school and talks about people, the stories / drama of the day, etc. and I always listened and made small comments – NOW I will HEAR what she is saying, put a face to the story, and will definitely be fostering different friendships.  Now, if I could just get Jim and Samuel to be talkers about their environments (work and school). When you are in an environment, it is easy to become “part of that environment”.  Easier to BE-come than OVER-come the environment – no matter if you are a teen or an adult!!! 

Now, what do I do with what you observed – I have to think about, pray about, (probably write about) and then will know when the right time to handle will be.   But what I wouldn’t give to * Have an instruction booklet, * Choose friends that are the best “fit”, * Let go and let some lessons be learned the hard way (as long as no one gets hurt)  * Help the ones I love OVER-come and not be-come, and * NEVER stop being PREPARED to OBSERVE.

“You can see a lot just by observing” – Yogi Barra

prepare for a SPECIAL OCCASION

Lately it seems I am doing more reflection – stopping to “smell the flowers” , even carry a camera in my purse and pausing to take pictures of beautiful budding trees and flowers.  Despite the craziness going on around me – working too many hours, saying yes to a 13th birthday party for Mary with a sleep over, pondering some major decisions – pausing for the everyday “little” things.  Like this morning, I noticed my daughter’s braids and then it brought back memories of “dance” days.  Not that long ago I would have just been rushing because we were late and I had to get to work, etc. – and would have missed that moment, that memory, and the opportunity to say something nice to Mary before school.  

It seems also in this discovery, I pause and actually READ things.  My favorite stores for this are Hallmark and the gift shops with all the wooden signs.  I have made some purchases of those signs for my living room and for Mary’s room (future blogs).  I often just take a picture of the sign (also love all the quote magnets in Barnes & Noble) and then I have the quote without the cost (:    But when I made my MUG purchase (see previous blog about Passion) – it was wrapped and placed in a purple bag (my daughter’s favorite color) and it had a saying.  There would have been a day I would have never gone in the store, bought the mug, and likely would have read the bag – NOW, I saved the bag, it is folded up and I have full intention of getting a frame for it… the Hallmark bag said “ LIFE IS A SPECIAL OCCASION.”

Isn’t that a great daily reminder!  So often, I save using the good dishes.. wearing the nice dress.. enjoying the good bottle of wine… eating a good steak… placing flowers on my table… buying something for myself or someone I love… dancing with my husband…  for a special occasion!  Yes, there are special things that I simply can’t afford every day – like going to the beach… but I could print a picture and frame it and display in our home for the reminder.  I have to capture and notice the little everyday things… the blooming daffodils, the budding weeping willow going into my dentist letting flower buds float away with the wind, the drawings Sam brings home and stop and ask him to tell me the story, the posts by my daughter on facebook, etc…Life is made up of all these little moments, unfortunately it has taken me MANY years to get to here…

PREPARE for a SPECIAL OCCASION – every day life… because LIFE is a SPECIAL OCCASION – and just as special occasion call for a celebration – everyday on earth should be a celebration.  Keep and add things/relationships that bring happiness… Change or eliminate things/people that bring you down… My LIFE is SPECIAL OCCASION – I am in control of the guest list, the menu, the entertainment, the music, the reaction, the gifts…  Today I think I will pick some flowers, eat off my grandmother’s good plate, admire the chaos of my refrigerator door that would look cleaner without all the pictures (but not as beautiful), and eat some chocolate for breakfast (p.s. my Dove fortune is “express yourself” … for TODAY is A SPECIAL OCCASION – I am alive!!!

The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions—the little soon-forgotten charities of a kiss, a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment in the disguise of a playful raillery, and the countless other infinitessimals of pleasurable thought and genial feeling.  – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Prepare for PASSION!

Lately I have been on a little retail therapy phase – buying little things that bring me happiness.  I mentioned some things earlier in a Blog about being prepared to remember.  So I am going to do a few blogs about my purchases.  A few purchases that just speak so much of where I am in life and more importantly, at times where I want to be in life.

Let’s say I have discovered the Hallmark store and may never be the same (=  So I was in the store with a friend because it is generally not one I go into and saw a mug that I fell in love with.  Of course, I had to look at the price and say $14.95 for a ceramic mug and I put it back down.  Justifying that I had plenty of other mugs – some of my favorite are big mugs purchased for about $1.50 at Walgreens in bright colors.  So, I left the store, without the mug…

Weeks went by and I thought about that mug almost every morning when I had tea.  I would go out of my way to visit the mug and re-contemplate it’s purchase.  Still not convinced I should spend that much on a mug… Was I saying to myself, I wasn’t worth the $14.95?  Or saying I had enough mugs?   But, every time walking away from the mug.  One time I visited a different Hallmark store and they didn’t even carry the brand… And I was crushed and worried that I had missed my opportunity as I assumed every Hallmark store carried the same products.  Let’s just say, I probably spent more in gas “visiting” the mug than making the purchase.  I finally bought the mug and it has brought a smile to my face EVERY DAY for the past three weeks, approximately.  So what is so special about the mug…. it is what it says. LIVE TODAY WITH PASSION!

I am finding I need to surround myself with positive affirmations.  For instance, I read in Good Housekeeping over a year ago that your computer password should be something positive so everytime you type it, it places a positive thought in your mind – for instance hope4ever, open2pray, etc… Well, this mug is definitely that for me – I read “LIVE TODAY WITH PASSION!” every time I drink from it.  A constant reminder of how I want to live…

LIVE – this does not mean just existing.  That is what I feel like many days.  I feel like all I do is get up, kids ready, to school, to work, to home, etc… Well, that’s not living unless we put our hearts into it.  As a cancer nurse I have seen many survivors and they just survive – and I have seen others who LIVE everyday.  I want to LIVE and SAVOR every moment. I want to make conscious decisions on what would improve my life so I could LIVE more fully. 

TODAY – this is rough for me.  I always seem to drag yesterday’s problems into today.  And, let me not forget the worry I have for tomorrow.  Both rob TODAY of it’s joy.  Yesterday is gone and all you can do is apologize.  It doesn’t mean to me NOT to plan/prepare for tomorrow – but just to put things into perspective.  Take the moment to do the “TO DO” list for TODAY and make it realistic. I can think ahead but write it down and let it go, instead of dwelling on it.

PASSION –  per the dictionary it is a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling… often applied to a lively or eager interest in or admiration..  Often, I do enough to get by.  I think about PASSION and being married I remember those passionate kisses and we hated saying good-bye when we were dating.  Now, we do a quick kiss on the lips – unless of course we are out to embarrass our teenager – LOL!!! I still give my work 100% but remember the day I poured 150% into it and was driven to do more.  I remember going to church and wanting more and more and then for seven years I didn’t go any because of work – and I was okay with it…  Where is my passion for people, for living, for Christ…  I know often it is squelched with tiredness and laziness and settling for how things are instead of changing them.   Also, I let multi-tasking take over – you know you get a minute of time and you have to wash dishes, talk on the phone, listen to the kids.. so nothing gets 100% of me (that is probably a blog in itself).

I want to PREPARE for PASSION!!!  I am going through this life only one time and I should be making sure it counts.  I have heard the saying “GO BIG or GO HOME” – that’s how I want to live my life – going BIG!!!   When I kiss my husband or hug my kids or say I love you — they should KNOW IT and FEEL IT!!! It shouldn’t be a “routine”.  When I work they should know I have been there… When I go to church I should let the Spirit take control instead of holding back… The list goes on…

During the Easter Season I think about the Movie “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004.  I found my copy the other day and it is still sealed.  I have never brought myself to watch it…  maybe I will this year or procrastinate some more… But it is so fitting to be called the Passion – HE lived with passion – He forgave with passion – He loved with passion – and gave HIS Life with passion…

My mug inspires me every morning… sometimes I need that daily reminder – LIVE TODAY WITH PASSION!  It’s time for me to GO BIG!!!

Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”   – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, (Philosopher)

PREPARE to have FAITH

It seems forever since I wrote, but I have to pause today from the busyness of life to reflect on today – March 19th!  Thirteen years ago, we welcomed into our lives a beautiful baby girl – a pure miracle!  She was a lesson in FAITH, hope, and love!!!

This is our story (a brief version)… and I think it is important to stop and remember the stories of our lives, to put them in writing, to put them in perspective, to remind us of how far we have come, to encourage us on how far we have to go, to honor and celebrate those in our lives, etc.   Through Mary God taught me to PREPARE to have FAITH!

Jim and I dated 5 years before marrying in 1992.  I had graduated from nursing school and he was working inMorgantown(his still current employer).  We had talked about having a large family, 4-6 children, and started trying within months after getting married.   We became pregnant but had a miscarriage at 12 weeks and were devastated and heart broken.  And then, we were no longer able to get pregnant.  We did 2 ½ years of infertility treatments.  For those who endure that situation, it is emotionally and physically exhausting and tries every piece of a marriage.  The injections I had to give myself, the timing of everything, the temperatures, the medications, the multiple doctor appointments, the invasive testing, the lab work – it consumes you.  And every month, you hold on and pray that this will be the one — only to discover another month passes without any success.  It also tests you spiritually!  How can God give children to people who abuse them, who do not want them, who do not believe in Him – BUT, will not give US a child?   After 2 ½ years we stopped treatments and were told we would never have children of our own.  I still cry thinking about that.  So, we went on for a few years and resolved we would either be childless or would adopt and began doing research… Then something was different and I decided to pull out a pregnancy test from days of infertility treatment (p.s. you buy them by the case because every month you test a couple times because you are sure the first one is always wrong when it says you are not pregnant).  Anyway, it said I was pregnant – so I did another one and another one… all positive.  So, I went to the doctors and they said it is a true miracle (because my body no longer ovulated)!!!

MIRACLE #1 – pregnant!!!  So, I signed up for a research study (thinking it couldn’t be worse than infertility treatment) and free baby ultrasounds throughout my pregnancy.  So at 13 weeks I go in for the first exam for the study – the faces of the people changed around me, more physicians are called in, and I knew – something was wrong.  I was assured the baby was fine and they should me all the organs, the fingers, the spine, etc… but they explained the problem was ME!! I had already started to dilate and would loose the child without emergency surgery.  They placed me on flat bedrest, I had to do a course of antibiotics for a few days because the baby was already at risk for an infection due to leaking of fluid, and they did surgery in 3 days to basically sew the cervix closed to increase any chance to carry the child.  At 13 weeks, I was placed on strict bedrest for the duration of the pregnancy.  Our goal was to make it to 25 weeks pregnancy, but they did not have high hopes that I would even make it that far and if we did, no guarantees the physical harm to the baby.  My “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” book was replaced with my high risk obstetrics books and my Neonatology ICU book.  I ordered magazine subscriptions and the TV guide to fill my days… Days I spent in prayer… Jim was in EMT training so most days I was home alone all day and evenings… I prayed and prayed and prayed… I made arrangements to get to the doctors twice a week and every time I heard the heart beat, it was a reminder… JUST HAVE FAITH, JUST HAVE FAITH, JUST HAVE FAITH!!  I developed diabetes so started insulin injections, had to take routine steroid injections in hopes to develop the lungs for an early delivery, the steroids caused my diabetes to go out of control so we continued to adjust the insulin.  Every day pregnant was an answer to prayers!  I had a few bleeding scares and since I am Rh- and Jim Rh+ – more injections to prevent complications…  at 25 weeks I began bedrest with legs elevated high – anything to increase our chances.  Every visit, the doctor’s are amazed that no infection had developed and that I was still pregnant – MIRACLE #2 – still pregnant and baby looked okay (I refused all the chromosomal tests, the amniocentesis, etc.. as had resolved God gave us this miracle and I would love the child NO matter what – plus if it was a positive for something I would dwell on that constantly on bedrest).

Around 36 weeks, something changed, the baby stopped moving – this couldn’t be happening.  I remember crying out, Lord I have listened, I have prayed, I have obeyed every order… NOT NOW, NOT our baby!! So I get to the doctor’s and we do our normal non-stress test – the M&Ms and Grape Juice sugar rush don’t even make the baby move!  We are all scared… We repeated it… and still no movement or response.  There is a heartbeat but slowed and no baby activity… we head to the hospital!  March 18, 1999 – induction is started, heartbeat is good, still little movement… PRAYERS upon PRAYERS upon PRAYERS!!! I wasn’t supposed to get pregnant… I wasn’t suppose to carry past 25 weeks… we defied those odds… and now we may still loose the baby.   We needed another miracle…

MIRACLE #3 – MARY FAITH born at 2:47 am on March 19, 1999.  We didn’t know we were having a girl, it didn’t matter. Our lives would forever be changed!  She was tiny at 5 lb 13 oz (especially since I was diabetic throughout the pregnancy.  She came home at 5 lb and in little preemie clothes because she was so small. 

Her name –                                                                 

MARY is after my mother who passed away in 1997.  I truly believe that God took her home first to give me time to care for our daughter.  My mom always said after my miscarriage it would be too hard to care for her and a child.   I also tell Mary that Grandma Mary died and went to Heaven and asked God for a child for us and then hand selected her just for us!  My mom would be so proud of her – Mary is beautiful from the inside out…

       FAITH was the only fitting middle name for her.  My faith was tested and strengthened throughout the pregnancy.

Now 13 years have passed… it seems like yesterday…  HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY FAITH!!!