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Friday, July 29, 2011

Pregnancy Update - 33 Weeks

I am at the point where I can no longer say "its a few months away" when referring to the birth of my first child.  Things are starting to get real.  Like really real.  Since its been quite a while since I've done a post about the general status of my pregnancy I figured I would summarize how approaching the latter half of my third trimester is going...

1.  I can't wear ANY of my shoes except flip flops and a pair of wide sneakers one size bigger than my pre-pregnancy size that I had to buy for work.

2.  I've had no food cravings lately, whatsoever. That kind of disappoints me.

3.  When I eat I can't eat more than half of my normal portion size at a single sitting.  I just fill up so easily thanks to my squished stomach.

4.  God forbid I have to get down onto the floor to look for something or pick something up.  If I do then it is a nearly impossible feat to get back up. 

5.  This has to be the hottest summer ever since I have been in Vermont...what gives? 

6.  My belly is still stretch mark free!  ...but I do actually have stretch marks elsewhere.  Sigh.

7.  The baby has turned into a nonstop gymnast and it doesn't always feel the greatest when she 'performs'.  There is definitely no need for me to do a kick count.

8.  I've had to go up two sizes in scrub shirts for work just to cover my belly and I honestly fear that even the large size I am in now isn't going to be big enough in a few weeks.  

9. Whenever I am talking with Shawn all I can talk about is the baby!  I can't help it. Literally every sentence is about being pregnant, the baby, or something baby related.  There is a possibility I'm driving him nuts. 

10.  I've had quite a few Braxton Hicks contractions in the last couple of weeks.  About one every day and they aren't exactly comfortable.

11.  My feet by the end of any given day resemble a hobbit's.  

12.  I've heard enough labor horror stories from friends and strangers a like to make me never ever want this baby to come out.  Seriously... if you've had a rough labor DO NOT share your story with a first time mom in her third trimester.

Doesn't pregnancy sound wonderful by all of this?  Actually, I am quite loving it.  It must be the hormones, but I am seriously enjoying this butter-ball stage of pregnancy.  Oddly, as I approach the end part of it I am beginning to feel sad that its almost over.  The belly, the movements, the conversation and joy that people share with you... its going to be over soon.  While the end result of a beautiful baby girl sounds just as amazing I know there won't ever be moments like these again.  I may have more children, but its always the first born and the first pregnancy that seems to get everyone more excited than the moon landing.  

So, I am content to continue to glow for a few more weeks.  Funny story about the shirt in this photo... my mom insisted I buy it, demanded it actually, when I  was about 4 months pregnant and barely showing compared to now.  It was huge, bulky, and anything but form fitting and feminine.  I hated it, but bought it anyway not seeing how I'd every fill out such a shirt.  "You'll see...this will probably be your favorite shirt in a few months."  Well... don't tell her I told you, but it kind of is. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to Tell a Good Person from a Bad Person.

While this post really has nothing to do with anything in my life directly it does have a lot to do with the type of people I come across everyday and the type of people I work with or take care of.   I've been dealing with a lot of personalities lately and, just like you'll see below, the Good people can make everything wonderful and amazing while Bad people can deliberately ruin your ambitions.  So, because of this literal battle of Good and Bad that I've been watching unfold this week I found this example to illustrate clearly the two different types of people in this world....

What better way to demonstrate such an example than by using baseball?

The Good:

The Bad.

Hopefully you're like the little boy! 

And, well, that's about the only point I was trying to make. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Made the Paper

Its nothing short of unexpected that if there is a 2nd alarm fire in town that it will make the front page of the paper. Press Photographers line up the perimeter of the hose lines snapping photos of the firefighting action in hopes of capturing a great shot in time to make the morning papers.  

And where am I during these great photographing opportunities?  Why see for yourself...

That's me in the bottom left hand corner of the screen!  I am snapping photos inside the fire scene perimeter, yet safely away from any danger, thanks to the Chief's blessing.  If you look closely you'll also see that my husband is operating the turn table on top of the ladder while talking to another firefighter on the ground.  

Not only is this the first fire scene photo appearing on the front page of the paper that I've been in, but it also happens to be the first fire scene photo that both Shawn and I are in together!  Granted I am not dressed in fire gear this time, but rather a skimpy summer outfit since were relaxing at a friends BBQ when the tones went off for the fire.  

As silly as it sounds I am saving this photo for the baby book.  Part of it will be about all the adventures her and I went on even before she was born.  I want her to see that her and her momma did some pretty darned cool stuff and hope that we can keep adding to the adventures once she's here!

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Attempt at Being a City Girl.

I am about as far from the city as a girl can get.  Growing up in the middle of a corn field and moving to the mountains of Vermont is how I've lived my life.  In fact, I ended up in Vermont to begin with because I found the bus system to get to class at the University of Maryland too overwhelming.  Two mile walk or take the gold bus to the purple bus to get to my physics class?  No thank you.  I'll just stick with living in the middle of nowhere.

So I did.

However, my best friends growing up did not.  Shortly after high school graduation they left the rural eastern shore we called home and moved to the big streets run by public transportation and 24 hour restaurants.  Now, almost a decade later, my friend Megan decided I needed to become acquainted with the urban ways of the world before I brought a child into the world and smothered her in backwoodsness.  

She called it "culturing me in city ways"

So early in the morning I headed across the Chesapeake Bay.  Its the great divider between the farms of the Eastern Shore and the urban jungle that is the rest of the state.  I had to park in the only place I was remotely familiar with, a mall parking lot, and hop in her car so she could drive the rest of the way to the city.  There was no way I could have figured out where I was going on my own....  

We didn't even park close to DC, because you don't want to.  Instead we parked somewhere across the Potomac near the Pentagon and took the Metro.  It was from that point on that things got complicated...

From the moment we approached this gadget I was in over my head.  It was some complicated map and payment system to ride the Metro into the city.  Megan did the leg work and sorted out which train to take.  I didn't even understand which side of the tracks I was suppose to be on to determine the right direction into the city.  If it wasn't for her I would have ended up further into the suburbs of Virgina rather than the Capital.  

Being the weird person I am I flooded Megan with questions...  How do I know a train is coming?  How do I know that its my train?  Are all subway tunnels built like a military instillation? Do people actually jump off and commit suicide in front of the train like on Law and Order?  After she told me a horrible story of a woman who fell onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train and crouched in an insanely small space under a ledge at the edge of the tracks narrowly escaping death I decided to not ask any more questions. 

After fifteen minutes spent on the Metro where I consciously avoided touching any surfaces whatsoever after thinking of all the Sci-Fi movies I've seen portraying germ warfare and pandemics we emerged in the middle of The Lawn in the heart of the Capital. 

It was hot, it was dry, and the Reflecting Pool was oddly drained and under construction.  We then proceeded to walk nine thousand miles across the sites of the nation's capital.  Occassionally we stopped for a photo op in front of a couple nostalgic and historic monuments. 

What you can't see in these photos is that I was wearing flip flops, because I am an idiot and am perpetually wearing the incorrect footwear... especially during pregnancy and when one plans to walk several miles.  We traversed one end of the city to the other from the grassy lawn to the cobble stone sidewalks of the city.  At one point Megan brought up calling a cab or even ferrying a ride with this fellow who had some sort of bicycle carriage.  My fear of venturing outside my normal scope of transportation led me to keep walking... and walking... God I should have worn sneakers.

After nearly being devoured by hundreds of Chinese school children near the white house, who were all clamoring for photo ops, Megan and I decided to just head for the Metro and see other parts of the area and grab some lunch since we couldn't get any closer to the White House than in the photo above.  So we walked... again.

One block.  Two Block.  Three blocks... 

We finally reached the Metro station just as I was about to declare a forfeiture and sit on the sidewalk nursing my feet.  That was when we noticed the Metro station was oddly desolate.  Apparently it was a business Metro station and is closed on weekends.  That meant another two block walk to a Metro station.  I put on my big girl panties and trucked it to the next station.  Somehow God blessed my efforts and a train arrived literally the second we hit the platform and I was graces with a comfy subway seat.  

After grabbing lunch, where I discovered how easy it is to ruin a soft shell crab sandwich and hard it is to park anywhere near DC, we set off walking, again.  There was a theme to our afternoon.  Megan was on a mission to find the famous Georgetown Cupcakes that have been featured in a show on TLC.  I personally had never heard of them, but figured any cupcakes worthy of a television show would be worth it.  

While Megan concentrated on getting to the cupcakes I doddled and took photos of the colonial streets.  I looked at it as a way to practice my urban photography where the subjects are oh so very different than landscapes.  It was also a good distraction from the mile journey we took to arrive at the cupcake shop.  

I should have known that any cupcake shop Megan insisted was worth walking a mile to would be packed.  Actually is wasn't just packed... it was crammed to the brim with so many people that it bordered violating a fire code and had a line outside the door a good fifty feet deep.  We sat patiently in line where they gave us a cupcake menu and free water. Forty five minutes later we were finally inside and staring at hundreds of beautifully decorated cupcakes.

After elbowing for a spot at the register and collecting my six cupcakes of varying flavors from carrot cake to red velvet I bolted for fresh air and had utterly had my fill of people.  There were just too many dang people around.  People that stopped right in front of you as you walked.  People that walked three wide on a sidewalk that barely fit two so you are forced into the street.  People that bang into you with their shopping bags or talk loudly on their phones.  Ugh...   I was longing for my life of dirt roads and small towns.  

Megan and I headed back to my car utterly exhausted.  Both of us had exerted way more calories than we intended.  While I may never be a city person or even prefer to visit the city at least I've had a thorough education on urban survival!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Best Welcome Home

 I don't need to tell you how insanely hot its been.  If you live anywhere in North America except Oregon and Alaska you know its been hot, ridiculously hot.  Here in Vermont we've had our first official heat wave since I've lived up here, which has been eight years.  I love how such a remarkable stretch of hot weather for the record books correlated with my third trimester.  

I'm don't mean to complain..

Okay... I kind of do.  

Really, its been awful.  The humidity has been perched near 90%.  Lows overnight are barely in the 70s so when I open the windows at night the air still remains stagnant and humid the next day.  I've been working nonstop since I came back from Maryland in a cement walled building that has no air conditioning.  In short...  I've been dying the last few days.  Shawn and I even spent three hours last night just driving around and wasting gas so we could sit in the air conditioned car rather than our hot home that lacks any cooling device except a fan or an open freezer door. 

Its been pathetic and I've been cranky.

While I was at work today, which my husband informed me topped out at 101 degrees according to our digital thermometer, I sweltered.  I sweated.  And I cursed myself for deciding to wear makeup as it ran off my face.  By the time my shift was over I was ready to move to Antarctica.  Instead, as I walked into my house after my two minute commute, I was greeted with a new sensation.

While I worked away the entire day Shawn had lovingly tracked down a brand new 600sq foot air conditioner for the living room and kitchen in our home.  After going to two other stores first he finally found a third store that had air conditioners in stock.  As he was paying for the unit apparently no less than a dozen people got in line behind him with the exact same purchase.  By the time he got home he checked the store's website and saw that every single air conditioner at the store had sold out.  Boy was he lucky...  actually boy I am lucky!

I flopped on the couch, doffed my scrubs for a more summery outfit, and thanked the lord that I didn't have to spend another evening driving around wasting gas just to avoid sweating through my clothes.  Just a little cool air and the whole world changes.

Its the little things and its also why I love my husband!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Showered with Pink.

This past weekend was my first of two (that I know of) baby showers that are to be held for my little peanut!  I am blessed to have family in two states celebrating the impending arrival of my daughter.  The first shower was in Maryland and the grand work of my mother and two younger sisters.  They spent weeks putting it together and it showed.  I put my obsessive compulsiveness and expectations aside and am so glad I did because it was honestly perfect...

While I didn't have a room packed full of guests I did have my grandmothers, sisters, mom, and some very close friends that I rarely see (one I haven't seen in YEARS... thank you facebook!) in attendance.  And really... what more could I ask for?  Actually... had my great grandmother been able to make the drive it would have been amazing, but she is almost 96 years old and hasn't left her home town in twenty years.  Other than that I can't think of a single thing I could've envisioned that wasn't there.

Warning... This post is going to be photo heavy, even for me!

All the guests!  ...boy, how can you miss me in this photo?

The set up was simple and cute at the country club near our home.

There were games galore!  
Tasting baby food and guessing flavors and seeing who could swaddle the best.  Instead of swaddling myself my mother just gave me a cute book with instructions on how to do it.  She knows I am slightly clueless!

And then there were gifts!

 An amazing home made quilt by my great aunt.  Its beautiful!

 Leave it to my grandmother (soon to be great grandmother) to also gift me some homemade oatmeal cookies.  She is amazing and knows the way to her pregnant granddaughter's heart!

 Books!  Lots and lots of books!
My mother insisted instead of a card that everyone bring a book for the baby.
What an awesome idea that was.  She now has dozens of great books I can't wait to read to her.

 Diapers!  ..and my amazing face exuding my awe of them.

 The cutest clothes you could imagine. Oh my...

And lots of toys, including a couple of moose!

I also had a great chance to practice my "mom" face as my sister calls it...

After three hours of socializing, laughing, hugging, and talking about how motherhood and pregnancy hasn't actually changed much over the generations I was utterly exhausted and happy.  I ignored my feet which were swollen to the nines and happily went home with my mom for an awesome remainder of the afternoon spent hanging out in the pool with my littlest sister.  

My life is blessed and I am so happy my daughter will be born into such a wonderful family!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This is Not How You Want to Start a Roadtrip


Traffic.  Break lights.  Waiting.  Frustration.  

This is Connecticut... New York...  New Jersey... Delaware.  Literally it was my entire drive every 30 minutes or so.  Bumper to bumper along the the entire eastern sea board until I reached my wonderful home state.  To amuse myself along the way I thought of "superlatives", like in yearbooks, that I would give the states I drove through. 

Vermont:  Most Likely to Make You Fall Asleep While Driving
Massachusetts: Most People I Gave the Middle Finger To.   (one)
Connecticut:  Most Expensive Gas for No Reason.  ($4.19 per gallon)
New York:  Worst Smelling Rest Stops
New Jersey:  Most Road Construction Possible
Delaware: Most People Running Red Lights and Nearly Hitting You  (two)
Maryland:  Most Corn Fields and Deer Oblivious to Habitation

Seeing this sign was a huge relief, especially because once I did the roads began to look like this:

Once I reached the open, two lane roads I rolled down the window and found an ever-so-fitting country music station that I cranked up loud enough to make my little peanut start kicking and jabbing in my belly.   While I found she prefers classic rock and nice guitar riffs I figured she should also get a taste for the music of her roots.  

Despite the drive taking almost three hours longer than it should my spirits weren't dampened one bit as I approached the home turf of my youth.  Nothing is quite like coming home, especially when you know you'll be getting to see tons of old friends and family you rarely (if ever) get to see!  Yes, that means the goods about the baby shower goods is coming up in the next post! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

To Maryland and Back... With a Winner!

Did I really just spend the last four days in Maryland?  It was such a whirlwind of a weekend that I am more exhausted at the end of it all than I was when I began my drive down following four consecutive days of working (and my job even called me to see if I could work a couple of hours the morning I left!).  There is not a single thing more I could have packed into my days south of the Mason Dixon... heck, I even visited the nation's capital and experienced city life first hand.  Oh, and of course my life has been filled with teeny tiny pink belongings.

But before I go into all the details, share photos, and vent about the horrible traffic that consumes the eastern seaboard of the United States I do believe I mentioned a giveaway with my last post!

So, onto the giveaway and the question some of you are eager to know...!

How many times did I have to stop and pee on my drive from Vermont to Maryland?

After a nine hour drive stuck in traffic in every state between Mass and Maryland I stopped a whopping THREE times to pee!  I will say it would have been four, but Massachusetts has NO rest stops and I had to hold it in a lot longer than was comfortable.  The guesses ranged from two to twelve, which would have been about every forty five minutes... yikes, but only a whopping two people guessed that I would have stopped three times, Kristen and Anthony Skelton.

Out of those two I picked one of them at random to receive this:

Some old bay!  -- only the most amazing spice every created by man. 

And that's not all...

The winning person is also going to receive an 8x10 copy of this photo I took this weekend!  How nifty is that?  I did promise something straight from Caroline County and it doesn't get more from there unless I mailed you a pile of dirt from this field, but I figured such a prize wouldn't be as enjoyable.  

So to choose the winner, since there were only two people to choose from and I actually personally know one of them in real life, not just on the internet, I decided to let someone else pic the winner so there wouldn't be one ounce of bias... 

As you can see he is taking his job very seriously...

Actually he is wondering why these folded pieces of paper are perched on pieces of bacon-like dog treats and why I am making him sit still to photograph the entire thing.  When I give the word he will leap and choose one of the pieces of bacon first and hence choosing the winner!




Nom nom nom.

Don't worry, he didn't eat the paper.  I snatched it in time! 

  Anthony!  Congratulations on being the lucky piece of bacon! 

And for all the rest of you who weren't as lucky as Anthony's bacon you can at least look forward to a ton more of photos ranging from Abraham Lincoln, traffic jams, pretty pink things, and smushed cupcakes.  Thank you for participating if you did and of course I will host more giveaways in the future!  In the mean time I am going to take no less than a half dozen pillows, prop up my ever growing belly, and attempt to sleep comfortably! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Road Trip and a Giveaway - Pregnancy Style

Right now I am not in Vermont.  I am in my home away from home, where my family tree is firmly rooted some 10 generations or more deep (I'm not over exaggerating either).  I've packed everything up and driven myself to the land of wide open spaces, farms, and my parent's internet-less homestead.  Hence, I am writing this post before I leave and posting it in the future.

But, here's the giveaway part...  
because I never go away somewhere fun without doing a giveaway!

I cannot tell you how the eight hour (hopefully not longer) anticipated uncomfortable drive down by myself and my baby squished bladder was. 

So, any guesses on how many times en route to Maryland I had to stop and pee? 

Out of those who correctly guess how many times I had to stop and pee on my 500 mile drive down I will randomly select one winner to receive a souvenir from Caroline County Maryland.  I'll try and pick out something interesting, promise!  I will announce the winner when I return, Monday night or early Tuesday morning depending on how tired and road weary I am. 

Until then I plan on doing the following...
  • Swim and be a beached whale in my parent's in ground pool.
  • Take photos
  • Walk the fields with my dad like we always do
  • See lots of old friends and family
  • Attend a baby shower... Mine! (which isn't a surprise since I have to plan the trip down.)
  • Spend a day "being cultured" in DC with my best friend from high school who forever insists I am too rural for her tastes.   
  • Enjoy. not. working. constantly. 

Here's to a fabulous weekend.  I can't wait to see what your guesses are on my pee breaks.  I'll take photos of my stops for posterity... if I remember... pregnancy is really hindering my short term memory and concentration! 

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Chasing Summer Storms.

    This summer is no different than any other.  When I first became pregnant I said I wouldn't let it keep me from doing what I always have and so far I haven't, even when it comes to severe weather.  So when a line of storms approached my town I quickly packed up my camera and my husband, who agreed to go with me this time, and headed out towards the outskirts of town in search of higher ground and better views.  

    The clouds were rolling in thick and dark.  A stiff wind kicked up and livestock started flitting towards their barns and cover as we drove by.  Occasionally we could see a lightning strike on a distant ridge line.  I giggled and jumped in the seat while ensuring my camera's settings were accurate.  Shawn, on the other hand, was slightly apprehensive behind the wheel and kept giving me looks as if he didn't like the situation. We were, after all, driving into a severe storm. 

    I quickly told Shawn to pull over in a hilltop field next to an old barn.  When we came to a stop along the gravely shoulder I hopped out of the car and was met with a fierce and persistent wind that nearly blew me sideways.  The old, iron hinged door on the side of the barn was swaying back and forth, banging against the side of the barn every few seconds with a loud clash.  I half worried it would come flying off, but assured myself that after generations standing tall through countless storms the barn and its old door was not very likely to go flying off anywhere anytime soon. 

    Clouds swirled at the peak of the barn as I glanced up to survey the sky above me in a dark and angry way, but it had not yet begun to rain.  The tall grasses of the field bent over like a congregation in repent to the incoming storm that was fast consuming the ridge-line a few miles away.  Lightning struck in the distance and thunder rolled shortly after.  I stepped further into the field while Shawn waited impatiently in the safety of my car a few yards away. 

    The wind enveloped me and smelled so freshly sweet, a hint of the rain a few miles away.  I wanted to stand there and feel like that forever, but as the storm approached Shawn began to holler my name into the oncoming wind.  It reached me at a decibel close to a whisper amongst the howling gusts and rolling thunder, but I still heard it and the nervousness it conveyed.  He beckoned me to return and reminding me that as cool as I thought it was I was pregnant and on a hill amidst an approaching storm.  Before I heeded his plea and ran back to the comforting seat of my car I stood a second longer, snapped one last photo, and breathed in a deep breath of fresh fresh mountain air. 

    Shawn smiled at the relief of having his wife and impending child back in the safety of the passenger seat by his side.  I, on the other hand, was smiling, because I had spent the last few minutes atop a hill, watching a thunderstorm, and being pummeled by the smell and breeze of crisp fresh air like nowhere else.  Not only that, but I had done all that with my ever so tiny daughter.  When she is older I can't wait to share these moments I've already had with her! 

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Woodchuck Adventures

    Even though we are in the middle of a bustling village now we still can't seem to escape the throes of nature.  This spring a wild animal invaded ours and our neighbor's yard.  To our neighbor's horror the little rat-like mammal was eating her beloved lilies and flower buds.  I on the other hand laughed at the site of the furball waddling across our lawn when the dogs scared him.   That is, until he started digging holes under our new fence big enough for our beagle to squeeze under.  Then I was not thrilled and it was time for that little bugger to find a new home.

    Almost like back in Island Pond we seem to have found ourselves access to some unusual resources here in town, like the Animal Control Department's Have a Heart trap.  We promptly borrowed it, placed it behind our neighbor's shed that sat snugly along our property line, stuffed it with lettuce, and waited a week.  Here are the results.

    He doesn't look too happy... 

    But oddly enough seemed content to hang out in the crate, unsure of his fate.

    After chatting with our neighbor, who was so happy that we caught the little fella she paid us with a bucket of hand picked raspberries, we loaded up the woodchuck in the back of our pickup and took a few mile drive out into the woods where there were more than enough wildflowers for him to eat and no fences of mine to undermine. 

    Wearing gloves and standing back Shawn opened the crate while I diligently watched from a distance.  We were being so cautious, because before we left, when we were chatting with our neighbor, she told us a horrific story where her and her brother once caught a woodchuck.  When they went to let it go, like we were about to, instead of the woodchuck fleeing into the safety of the wild it turned and attacked its captors.  I was not about to tangle with a woodchuck.  I don't waddle fast enough to get away...   so I just took photos from a distance.  Naturally. 

    In reality the woodchuck didn't attack us.  In fact, once we opened the door to the trap he just sat there.  And sat there.  

    A few minutes later he finally scampered out and into the bushes to disappear, but not before pausing and glaring at us.  They really are the cutesy animal you'd think they were...

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Three Textured Daisies - A desktop background for you!

    Just because I really like this photo that I took this weekend 

    Just because I love the texture even more.

    Just because its my current desktop right now.

    I decided to post this original sized photo for you to have as your desktop or what have you!  Simply click on the photo below and you'll be able to view it in large size.  Then right click on it and set it as your desktop background.  Ta-da!  

    And if you'd like to know a little bit about how I created this photo or see the original check out my Photography Blog!

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Simply Picking up Dinner isn't always Dull

    One thing I've always loved about Vermont is how unexpectedly beautiful it is.  There's nothing like a drive near sunset to go fetch a pizza that results in a casual hot air balloon sighting over the roads and mountains.  We literally followed it and watched it float off into the twilight as we picked up our dinner. 

    Seeing a hot air balloon so whimsically in the sky is definitely one of those things that easily makes you feel a million times happier.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    One Thing I Never Expected to do as an RN

    A Nursing Story:

    Everyone knows that many people go to a nursing home to spend their last days.  Its no secret.  One with a life ending diagnosis or slowly deteriorating status is kept as comfortable as safe as possible by the young and agile who can't comprehend that these people they are caring for were once like them.  Its a weird and unimaginable thing to face mortality so head on.

    Mortality becomes even more fragile and real when you are watching someone take their last few breaths. 

    After a long shift at work I had known one particular woman was soon to leave this world.  Her alertness decreased and breathing shallowed.  Every time I walked passed her room and her grieving family, who had gathered around her in this last hours, I gulped hard and thought of how just my last shift she was joking with me in her sarcastic way.  How quickly things had changed. 

    While everyone knew she was going to pass no one knew when.  You can never know when.  Its such a deeply mysterious thing that is so unpredictable.  Sometimes a person may hold out for one family member to say goodbye to and other times the person will wait until all the grieving family has stepped out of the room and die alone, in peace.  So, I continued my shift, vigilantly watching this woman say goodbye to the world at her own pace.

    As my shift ended and I handed over my patients to the incoming night nurse the slowly dying woman was still clinging to life.  She looked strong and I figured that she'd at least hang on through the night if not the next day.  When I arrived home I made my self a giant plate of spaghetti (of course) and sat down to enjoy it in front of the television.  It was my meager attempt at unwinding so late at night.  

    Then my cell phone so rudely interrupted my efforts...   it was work calling me.

    Dear lord, what did I forget to do before I left?  I wondered as I answered.  The other nurse didn't waste any time and informed me rather matter-of-fact like that the woman had just died.  Okay... I thought and was wondering why she was telling me this.  I appreciated her letting me know, but I didn't understand why she had to call me at midnight.  Such news could have waited for my next shift.  Then she explained to me why she called.

    There were no RNs working that evening, only LPNs (licensed practicing nurses) and by law only an RN or an MD can pronounce a person once they are deceased.  I was the closest RN to the facility and the obvious person to call for the job at such an hour.  While I tried to digest the bizarre request to come in and declare the woman as legally dead in the middle of the night I changed from my PJs and set my spaghetti on the counter before heading out the door.  Shawn was asleep in his bed and oblivious. 

    Five minutes later I was back at work and walking down the darkened hallway where the residents slept soundly.  Without so much as a word I nodded my head at the night nurse who thanked me for coming in, grabbed a stethoscope, and walked into the woman's room.

    A dim light was on.  She was laying in bed, motionless, with her hands gently folded across her midsection.  I put the stethoscope in my ears and pressed the other end to her chest listening for any indication that life still ticked away inside her.  Silence.  Her pale, motionless face was turning blue around the lips, but her body was still warm.  She had drawn her last breath.  I glanced back at my watch and checked the time, being sure to make a mental note of it, and left the room bidding a mental goodbye to the woman. 

    After filling out a couple of pieces of paperwork required for the funeral home, who was already called and on its way, I headed back home with heavy thoughts of the unknown of death.  Its hard to not think of such weighted topics at a time like that.  My little peanut kicking away in my belly only compounded the irony of the evening.  New life growing, old life ending, and myself balanced somewhere in between the continuum.  

    I never would have guessed that such a steep emotional and physical responsibility would be placed on my shoulders simply because I now have the acronym of RN after my name, but its a responsibility I accept and actually appreciate the sincerity of.  The ability to definitively pronounce one's death is, in my mind, just as remarkable as being able to herald the moment of one's death. 

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    My Independence Day

    Every year since I've been with Shawn we've had an Independence day tradition.  If you've hung around here long enough you've seen the posts about the long day that begins with fetching thousands of dollars worth of explosives, firetrucks, marching in a parade, and then a massive cookout before all seriousness settles in as the display is set up.  Then this is the end result.  

    Literally this is the end result... as in the end of the finale that was over the water.  Since I actually lit the fireworks I couldn't take photos during the display.  Expensive cameras around large, lit flares and gunpowder aren't a good mix.  

    This year my Independence day couldn't be more different.  Besides the fact that we moved a hundred miles away, the fire department decided, for many reasons, not to do fireworks this year and a third party company was hired to shoot them.  Shawn and I debated the idea of making the long drive up to watch the display for the first time rather than set it off, but decided that with our work schedules it would be too much of a drive leaving us too little time to enjoy ourselves.  Instead we chose to stay close to home and spend time with our firefighting friends. 

    It was a classic evening with awesome barbeque that was cooked by my husband's captain himself, plenty of pasta related salads, chips, and fruit.  God, I can't get enough fresh fruit...    Everyone gathered in the fading hot sunlight on picnic tables for good conversation.  Little kids ran across the lawn, chasing one another and playing imaginary games.  I couldn't help realize that next year I'd be one of the parents with my own little one to look after.  The thought made me pat my belly and my daughters ever present bottom/feet nestled firmly under my ribs.  

    After spectating a few games of horseshoes and a watching a few firemen not so gracefully attempt a game of volleyball everyone brought out the alcohol and games that reminded me of my college days were begun.  It was a cue for all the little ones to be trucked home to their beds.  The same applied to pregnant women...  after working a long day shift before the party I was pretty well exhausted.  

    No fireworks, no parade, but a whole new set of friends and pretty amazing food.  A holiday is not meant to be a cookie cutter day that repeats itself year after year, but an ever evolving celebration of what you have and what you are free to enjoy.  

    At least that's my Independence Day.  

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    I Can't Bend Over

    Okay, I admit it.  I am really starting to notice the physical limits of pregnancy.  Its really hitting me hard since I have always been the type of person to push through any physical limitation.  Need water supply at the fire scene?  I'll drag the hose a quarter mile and connect it to the hydrant.  A four hundred pound woman slid out of bed and needs to get off the floor?  Sure, I'll get under her shoulder and help lift.  Help me carry those heavy EMS bags?  Nah, I've got it.  Squeeze into that twisted wreckage of a car to reach a patient?  I can't think of anything else I'd rather do. 

    But oh how things have changed...  

    Now I loathe anything related to bending or lifting.  Not only that I just plain physically can't utilize my abdominal muscles right now.  There have been little feets firmly embedded under my ribcage for the last couple of weeks. The weight in my ever bulging belly is only increasing.  Add to the fact that not only the baby is out front, but also my placenta (yes, I have an anterior placenta) it means I'm proudly waddling around with all the weight of my pregnancy front and center.  

    Instead of the active and independent kinetics my body is used to I've been reduced to this...

    • Sinking into the couch means fifteen minutes of comfort and a five minute extrication to stand back up.
    • Asking anyone within ten feet of me to pick up the countless items I drop on the floor on a daily basis. 
    • Wearing flip flops all the time
    • Stairs are quickly becoming my enemy. 
    • Shaving my legs is an exhausting contortionist feat and wearing pants is a whole heck of a lot easier
    • I now know the reason why there are those handles near the roof in vehicles for entering and exiting
    • You want to lift something for me?  sure!
    The view from up here.  

    I'm only going to get bigger.  Everything is only going to get harder.  I'll be more and more 'handicap' at the simple activities I used to take for granted.  If anything its causing me to relate more to my obese and elderly patients with mobility issues.  Ha...  always something positive, right?