Iowa Child

My children have all been born in Iowa. As my blog description reads, ‘Iowa’s fields of opportunities’ have been a great place for us to live. I love that our kids are being raised in the same heart of the Midwest that we both were, learning precious and sometimes lost values such as ambition, friendliness, work ethic, appreciation for elders, and honesty.  This poem was brought to my attention today in passing, and after I read it I immediately loved it. So true and so simple; an Iowa Child.

Iowa Child
by Sarah Hall Maney

I am an Iowa child
Part and product of the land on which I grew
Flat and open and straight, like
the farm roads that bordered the corn
Friendly and receptive, like the rich,
black soil that grows the corn
Simple, and plain, but productive,
Like the fields of soy beans and hay

Yes, I am an Iowa child
There have been times when
I have kept it hidden
Pretending somewhere, something, someone else
But today I stand with it
Drawing upon the strength of it –
Acknowledging the unique gifts
I share with it

Of course, an Iowa child has not many
deep, intriquing forests within –
Not many clear, refreshing lakes to draw upon
No lofty, grand mountain peaks to soar from
No yawning canyons to descend –

And I know my Iowa child must live
And come to terms with the part of me
That is controlled, precise, yearning
to be perfect –
Like the squared-off, ruler-straight rows
of hybrid seed corn

Perhaps I will never be
as exciting, as spontaneous,
as a tumbling Colorado mountain stream
As magnificent as a
crashing California ocean wave
As serene and stately as a Minnesota pine tree

But no matter
I am who I am
An Iowa child
And that is enough

-The {growing} Costellos

 

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Lucy’s birth; revisited

In honor of Lucy Marie’s 3rd birthday, I am re-posting her birth story. It was one of the scariest days I had ever encountered,and a very very fast labor. Lucy proved she is a tough cookie and came through as a strong little gal. Here’s her story of how she entered the world:

Lucy Marie Rose Costello’s Birth Story
April 26, 2011
6 lbs 12.9 oz
19 ¾ in
3:44 pm
Lucy’s birth story begins on April 26, 2011. I had not been feeling well for the past 5
days. I thought I was having ‘pre labor’ symptoms of losing what I thought was my mucous
plug, general malaise, body/muscle aches, and upset stomach. I was 3 weeks and 1 day from
my due date of May 18, 2011.
I went to work as usual on that Tuesday, and saw 2 patients. In the middle of this
time, I began to notice that I had not felt the baby move at all that morning. This was unusual,
as the baby had been very active during the entire pregnancy, and mornings were usually a
very active time. I also noticed that my usually irregular Braxton Hicks contractions were fairly
regular, about 5 minutes apart, but not painful. After my second patient, I had an opening in my
schedule, so I sat down and ate a banana, hoping that the surge of energy would awake the
baby. No such luck. I felt that I needed to call my midwife’s office, as she had always warned
me that if I had a time of decreased fetal movement or an inkling that something was wrong,
I needed to call in and possibly get checked out. I thought I was just being a nervous nellie,
worry wart mother, so I called Jeremiah first to ask his opinion. He said I had good intuition with
these things, and it would be better to get checked out than have the unthinkable happen.
So I called. After telling the nurse what was going on, she said I needed to come in and
report to Labor and Delivery for some tests. I asked if I could just go next door to the clinic and
have the nurses/docs do something there, because I was not sure this warranted a trip to the
hospital. The nurse assured me again that I should probably come in.
I told our office manager at work that I needed to leave for awhile, but to leave my
afternoon patients intact because I would most likely be back by 1pm. Or so I thought!
I drove to Trinity hospital in Muscatine, still not sure that I really needed to go. I talked to
Jeremiah on the phone, and he asked me what the date was. I said April 26, but reassured him
that today would not be our baby’s birthday. I was pretty sure they would listen to the baby’s
heartbeat and send me on my way.
I arrived at the hospital and went through admitting, where the receptionist asked me the
standard question of “Are you in labor?”. I replied that I didn’t think so, or if I was I didn’t know it!
I walked myself up to Labor and Delivery where I was shown into a room. Soon enough the
nurse came in and hooked me up to the fetal monitor. I immediately heard the ‘thump, thump,
thump’ sound of the baby’s heartbeat and instantly felt reassured that everything was ok. I had
to lay with the monitor on for 30 minutes, and they gave me a little button to push if and when I
felt any fetal movement. I did not feel anything the entire 30 minutes. I drank some orange
juice and water, attempting to awake the babe. Again no luck. Kim Wiseman, our midwife, had
been informed that I was at the hospital, and proceeded to order a biophysical profile, or in
other words, a fancy ultrasound. They also informed me at this time that my temperature was
elevated and my heart rate was a little fast. I thought nothing of this, since hospitals tend to
make me kind of nervous! Kim also wanted some blood drawn and to test for leaking amniotic
fluid. I was negative for leaking fluid. I continued to have Braxton Hicks contractions about 5
minutes apart and regular, but not painful.
During this time, I was not worried at all. Our baby had a heartbeat, and was alive, so all
was ok in my mind. I was content sipping orange juice and watching ‘Say yes to the dress’.
Honestly, I was kind of happy to have a break from my busy day! Jeremiah was texting me,
constantly wanting updates and wondering if he should come to the hospital. I continued to tell
him that I was fine, baby was fine, and we would most likely be going back to work soon. My
boss, Beth, was also wanting updates, and I told her the same thing. Almost right after that, a
nurse came in and told me that I was going to be there awhile, there were more tests that Kim
wanted to run. They were speculating I was harboring a UTI.
Next they had me give a urine sample. Then the technician came in to do the
biophysical profile ultrasound. I was still in my work clothes when she performed the
ultrasound. I mentioned to her that we did not know the sex of the baby and wanted to keep it
that way. She respected my wishes and stayed away from the telltale area. The ultrasound
took about 20 or 30 minutes, with at least 10 minutes spent with the technician just sitting and
watching the baby. Still no movement. One could see the heart beating and all the proper body
parts intact, but baby would not move. The ultrasound tech was a little perplexed, and stated
that maybe the baby was sleeping.
Kim came up next, and talked to me about what she thought was going on. I did not
have a UTI and my blood work seemed ok, but I still had an elevated heart rate and
temperature, which was now up to 100.4 degrees F. She said this was becoming a little
dangerous. She wanted to do an internal exam and see if I was dialating and check again for
leaking amniotic fluid. I agreed to this. She said I was dialated to 4 cm, and upon doing
another swab, confirmed that I was indeed leaking amniotic fluid, meaning that somehow my
water had broken. To this day I still don’t know when my water broke, it could have been days
before! She felt a ‘forebag’ of water that was sealing off around my cervix, most likely
preventing the fluid to leak. She speculated that my water may have been broken for awhile,
and I had not known it due to the forebag preventing any water leakage. Kim told me she was
concerned about the possibility of me having an infection of my amniotic fluid, which can be
very serious for baby and mother if not managed. It’s called chorioamnionitis, and apparently I
had all the classic symptoms. That would explain my elevated temperature and flu-like
symptoms I had been having for the past 5 days. She wanted to artificially break my forebag
and see if the contractions and dilation would progress on their own. If not, other interventions
may be needed to protect the baby and I. At this point, I was still kind of in a haze as to what
was going on. I had never expected any of this to happen! I think Kim caught wind of this when
she looked at me and said, “Sarah, you’re going to have a baby today!!” I looked at her with
what I’m sure was a dumbfounded look and began to cry. It was a surprised, happy, joyful,
excited, and fearful cry. She chuckled and said I better call Jeremiah to get him here.
I checked my phone and saw a text from Jeremiah that said he was already on his way
to the hospital. I called him and promptly told him stop on his way and get me a gatorade.
There was a pause, then he asked me why. He knew exactly what that meant. We learned in
our Bradley classes the first time around that electrolytes and staying hydrated during labor
were very important. I began crying again and told him we were going to have a baby today!!! I
caught him up on all the details and he said he would be here soon. He wanted to be here
before they broke my water the rest of the way. The nurses started me on an IV drip of
antibiotics for 2 reasons: I was strep B positive, and the chorioamnionitis. The nurse who
started the IV missed, and then dug around in my wrist/hand for the vein. No such luck, and it
HURT!! A second nurse came in and got it on the first try. An IV is not my cup of tea, and I
hated it the whole time it was in.
Jeremiah arrived around noon, with a gatorade and orange juice in hand; one for during
labor and one for after. (How thoughtful was that!?) Kim returned and stated that we should
probably go ahead with breaking the forebag and see what my labor does. Jeremiah was not
convinced. Our Bradley classes stressed the importance of as little interventions as possible,
and our first birth experience had virtually no interventions. Kim explained the reasoning to him.
She did not think that my labor would progress on its own, as it was likely that my water could
have been broken for days prior without any progress. It was getting unsafe for the baby and
myself due to my rising temperature and high likelihood that I was harboring an infection in the
amniotic fluid. We decided to go ahead with breaking the water. It was about 1pm by this time.
As soon as the forebag was broken, my contractions immediately got stronger. I was
still on the bed with the fetal monitor attached to my belly for another 20 or 30 minutes. As the
contractions got stronger and stronger, it was harder to lie still. I practiced deep belly breathing
with each one. Kim let me get into hands and knees position for awhile, and this helped. They
were about 4 minutes apart.
After they were done monitoring, I was up and moving. Jeremiah and I walked the halls
of the labor and delivery floor twice, stopping each time a contraction hit. They were getting
progressively stronger and I found it most helpful to bend forward at the hips and lean on the
hallway railing to relieve the pain. We had to drag the IV pole with us. After we made 2 laps in
the hall, a nurse came and asked me to take 2 tylenol for my fever. I didn’t care at this point,
and gulped down the pills with a swig of water. Next Kim wanted to listen to the baby again, so
she did this as I stood outside of my room, bending forward and beginning to moan with each
contraction. The pressure in my pelvis was becoming immense and I could feel a trickle of fluid
leaking with each one. The baby’s heartbeat sounded great. Kim brought out a swiss ball/
birthing ball for me to sit on. This felt good and gave my legs a break. I still bent forward with
each contraction and began to feel very nauseated and light headed. Kim suggested a
medicine I could take for the nausea, but I turned it down. I figured I would end up throwing up
anyways, and probably feel better after that. While I was sitting on the ball, I heard a familiar
voice. My sister had found her way up to the birthing floor and recognized Jeremiah knelt down
next to me in the hall. She asked if everything was going ok, Jeremiah answered yes, and I
think she left, as this is when another very strong contraction hit.
Kim suggested I try the shower next. I stripped down but left my tank top on and
climbed in. Jeremiah’s job was to use the showerhead to spray water on my low back to
alleviate some of the back labor I was having. We did this for 3 contractions and I started to feel
pushy. The pressure in my pelvis had reached a new height and I felt like squatting and pushed
a little. Kim must have noticed because she promptly removed me from the shower and had
me lie on the bed. I was 8 cm dilated and still very very nauseous. I was lying on my side and
with another contraction, I threw up everything in my stomach. I had eaten some red jello
earlier and it was clearly visible. I knew this meant I was in transition labor, although it really
didn’t register. I was only 2 hours into labor! Kim had earlier told me that she thought my labor
would go quickly, and joked that she planned on being home by 7pm. At this time it was 3:30
pm, and Kim told me I would have a baby by 4pm. I remember saying, “How about in 10
minutes?”. Come to find out I was not far off!
Kim told me to try hands and knees position for awhile and see how I liked that. I was to
rock back on my legs with each contraction and Jeremiah was to push his hands against my
hips in a counterpressure. This way the baby’s head was forced onto my cervix and would
cause it to dilate more. I remember doing these very instructions for 2 contractions, and
pushing as hard as I could with each, because the urge was overwhelming. After the second
one I heard Kim say, “Look, there’s the head!”. She told Jeremiah to get at the end of the bed in
order to catch the baby, and he had to release my death grip on his arm/shoulder/neck in order
to do so. I couldn’t believe it and thought they were joking. With one more contraction I pushed
and pushed and pushed. I heard Kim say “Jeremiah grab your baby!!!” and then “Baby’s out!!”.
I remember thinking ‘what!?!?! Baby’s out?! I only pushed 3 times!!’. I must have said
some of these things and then I asked if it was a boy or girl. Kim said I could see for myself.
Since I was still on my hands and knees from pushing, Jeremiah and Kim slid the baby up on
the bed between my knees. I could not believe how much hair the baby had. It was thick and
black hair, just the opposite of what I had seen when our first baby was born. I spread the
baby’s legs and stared. I don’t know if it was the rush of labor, confusion, or just my own
stupidity, but I could not figure out how to say what the baby’s gender was. The genitals were
quite swollen, but I was pretty sure it was a girl! I felt ridiculous just sitting there until Kim
reassuringly said “Did you get a girl?!” I nodded and continued with my joyful bawling that
began as the baby was coming out.
We announced that the baby girl would be named Lucy and Kim told us that was her
dog’s name (not really what I wanted to hear at the time!). Lucy didn’t cry right away and we all
rubbed her little body vigorously to try to get her to wake up and cry. She was limp and a
reddish-purple color. She finally made a few wimpers and sounds. Jeremiah cut the cord and
the nurses whisked her away to the little baby table in the corner. To my horror they strapped
on a bag mask and began pumping it to inflate her lungs. Slowly she began to move her little
arms and legs and then we finally heard her cry!!
I was feeling very crampy during this time and after 2 pushes the placenta came out.
Lucy’s Apgar score at 1 minute after birth was a 4, and 10 is the highest score you can get. I
was able to hold Lucy after a few minutes, but only for about 60 seconds. She was adorable,
with a full head of black hair! She only made a few squeaky noises, and the nurses said that
she needed to go to the nursery to get checked out and possibly go on oxygen for awhile. They
whisked her away, once again, but this time Jeremiah went with her. (We always wanted one of
us to be with the baby at all times.)
After Jeremiah left, I began to get the shakes. It started slowly, but gradually became
a full body tremor. I knew this was normal after birth but still very uncomfortable! Soon after
they hooked me up to pitocin through my IV–standard procedure with some care providers
to prevent postpartum hemorrhage and help the uterus contract back down to size. Boy did
it ever! The contractions were very painful and strong, like first stage labor. I was also given
another dose of antibiotics.
After wheeling and dealing with the nurses, I was allowed to be pushed via wheelchair
down to the nursery, along with my beloved IV pole. Lucy was under what they call an Oxyhood,
basically a round plastic bowl over her head to deliver the oxygen to her. She also had on a
heart monitor, pulse oximeter, and various other contraptions, and was lying under a warmer.
She was breathing on her own but still needed the oxygen for the meantime. I cried as soon as
I saw her, both out of joy and fear for what she was going through. The pediatrician reassured
us that many babies have to have some oxygen after birth, and it was unlikely she would have
any long term problems. Jeremiah and I took turns staying at her side and holding her tiny
hand. Some of our family was there, but were unable to come into the nursery, so they watched
from the window.
Lucy remained in the nursery on oxygen and everything else for 6 hours after birth.
They finally weaned her down to room air, gave her a bath, and let her join us in my room. I
was finally able to attempt to nurse her and we were all able to cuddle and love her! She was
very very sleepy and remained that way for the next few days, which made nursing a challenge,
but she did well. Lucy was labeled by some as a preemie, although she was only 1 day from 37
weeks gestation, which is considered full term.
Although Lucy showed no signs of infection from the strep B or chorioamnionitis, I was
still given antiobiotics every 4 hours, around the clock, for 24 hours. What a joy. The nurses
coming in to flush my IV and give me another dose of the antibiotics numerous times in the
middle of the night was not a good way to get a good night’s sleep in the hospital! Lucy did not
have to have any antibiotics, thank God! One of the more experienced nurses told me the next
morning that if I would have waited and come into the hospital later in the day or evening of April
26, I may have been much sicker, and Lucy may have been born with a fever and various other
problems. It was definitely a ‘God thing’ that I came in when I did!!
We stayed in the hospital for about 48 hours after birth in order to monitor both of us.
We had many visitors and gifts which helped the time go quicker. Gabriel got to see his little
sister for the first time the morning after she was born. He wanted to hold her, and kiss her,
and play with her right away! He even came to the hospital bearing a ‘I love Lucy’ tshirt made
especially for him by his Aunt Michelle. 🙂
Lucy’s birth was much faster than Gabriel’s; she was born a mere 2.5 hours after Kim
broke my forebag of waters the rest of the way. My labor with Gabriel was 14 hours! It was also
less painful than what I remember from Gabriel’s birth. I am happy and proud once again to say
that I delivered another baby with no pain medications or unnecessary interventions, just the
way we wanted it! Lucy looked exactly what I thought she would look like. From the beginning
of this pregnancy I had a feeling the baby was a girl, and I also knew that I wanted her named
Lucy. And I had a sneaking suspicion that she would look exactly opposite of the towheaded
little boy born to us 2 years ago! It was a fantastic experience, and although the immediate
after-birth experience was a little scary, we are all doing well now. Gabriel loves his little sister,
sometimes a bit too much! We all adore her and I am so thankful and grateful to have a little girl
as my own!!!!

Ease the burden – find the cure

“Parkinson’s disease (is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system affecting more than 1.5 million people in the United States. Clinically, the disease is characterized by a decrease in spontaneous movements, gait difficulty, postural instability, rigidity and tremor. Parkinson’s disease is caused by the degeneration of the pigmented neurons in the Substantia Nigra of the brain, resulting in decreased dopamine availability. The major symptoms of the disease were originally described in 1817 by an English physician, Dr. James Parkinson, who called it “Shaking Palsy.” Only in the 1960’s, however, pathological and biochemical changes in the brain of patients were identified, opening the way to the first effective medication for the disease.”

Parkinson’s Disease……why?

Parkinson’s Disease hits home with me.  Just over 1 year ago, my Mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Although diagnosed at quite a young age, she is well taken care of with medication, a great neurologist, and specific exercises tailored just for her (What do you expect?–She has a PT for a daughter!) She is doing so great!  I have experience in my career working with people with Parkinson’s Disease, but never thought that my Mom would be one of them.  April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and I wanted to use this blog post to raise awareness and improve acceptability of people living well with this disease.

One of the first things I told my mom on the day that they told us she was diagnosed was to ‘Live like you don’t have this diagnosis. Pretend like there is nothing wrong with you and keep doing everything you are doing and everything you want to do. When you stop doing those things, that’s when you will have trouble’. I really believe this. Just working with patients, I know that once people stop doing something (ie getting down on the floor or walking backward) they have a lot of trouble starting to do them again. Same goes with PD.

Cycling. Cycling. Cycling. Research has shown, (and I’ve read it!) that cycling can drastically decrease the amount and severity of tremors  that a person with PD experiences. In a nutshell, it is believed that the repetitive and cyclical nature of cycling helps to decrease the tremors. Some people have reduction in symptoms for hours on end; my Mom is one of them. Bring on the biking!

Exercise can not only keep a person with PD feeling better on a day to day basis, but it might also help to slow the entire progression of the disease. That’s right, exercise can help to s-l-o-w the disease down! Stretching, cycling, ‘big and loud‘ movements are especially helpful.

Of course, medication is a very important piece of the puzzle, but it’s not my area.  Most PD patients take Levodopa which is converted to dopamine once it reaches the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that is found deficient in people with PD.

To learn more, the American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA) has a great website. There are support groups in most major areas; there are at least 3 within 30 miles from us. There is a specialty ‘Yoga for Parkinson’s’ class beginning in a city near us and exercise groups all over the place. Research is always changing and right now there are some exciting breakthroughs just beginning with new treatments.

So if you, or anyone you know is diagnosed with PD, at any age, don’t despair.  People are living great lives while managing the disease at the same time–just ask my Mom  🙂   There is a lot of great help out there and resources to help ‘ease the burden — find the cure’.

Thanks for reading!

-The {growing} Costello’s