Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Living in Utah

As I was driving in to work I got to thinking that I've only worn a coat maybe 10 times since October.  I'm pretty sure it's been a warmer than average winter and I'm a Utah Girl which means that coats are generally reserved for days that are less than about 20 degrees.  Gloves and hats get brought out when its below 15.  If it goes above 35 short sleeves and shorts are commonly seen.  I draw the line there because these white and frequently unshaven legs don't need to be seen this time of year.

I grew up here and I planned to leave for college but it didn't work out for me.  I got accepted to a school in Oakland CA and they gave me a financial aid package.  I turned it down.  My dad was sick, my parents had no extra money, I was dating someone, it was for a music major and I wasn't 100% sure of that path, I was scared and the college was so small that it looked like Girl Scout Camp.  So I did a late admission to the University of Utah and stayed.  Do I regret it?  Most of the time no.  It would be nice to see what its like to live somewhere else but in general I like it here.  I love the dry air; humidity kills me.  I can handle heat and cold because its not intensified by humidity.  We have mountains and can be somewhere to ski in 15-20 minutes.  There is plenty to do every season.  And we have all four although I frequently hear people say that we don't really have Spring.  Its Spring enough in my humble opinion.

Growing up in Utah as a Catholic was maybe a bit of a challenge.  When I was in 1st grade my sister came home from school and said her teacher was talking about how "some people are bad and drink alcohol; like Catholics."  The very next year, my sister and brother were attending St. Vincent and I was on the waiting list to get in (I was on the list one year and then I was able to start in 3rd grade- that is pronounced terd grade BTW when you have Irish nuns for teachers).  I had a friend from my neighborhood tell me that I was a devil worshiper because I was Catholic.  Those are really the only two "damaging events" of my childhood.  We did have all the quirkiness of: coffee is evil, you may have polygamists in your class/neighborhood (we did), figuring out the difference between a ward and a stake when everyone else has parishes or synagogues.  Green jello is a food group.  Having tourists ask you if you are Mormon and then when you say no they ask if you can point out a Mormon (sure, but they don't have horns, very few are polygamists, they don't wear prairie dresses and yes, they are very nice normal people.)  I have way too many friends and family who are Mormons to make it an "us vs them" situation.  Yes I drink my wine, beer and hard alcohol.  As much as I would like to be able to get at least wine in the grocery/convenience store, I plan ahead and make sure I have a stock on hand.  I go to the liquor store about once a month and just get extra.  It's generally fine.  I just pass up the green jello.  I hate jello.  My father in law claims that he has the Jello gene.  He grew up Mormon in Central Utah so it was a staple for him.  Even though he left the church long ago he can't shake the Jello.  My husband has the gene too......  In their defense, my Irish Catholic grandmother used to make green Jello with carrots and raisins so its not just and isolated gene.  I just got lucky and it passed me up.

All in all I guess I have to say the even though it would be nice to have the experience of living elsewhere I am content with my life here in Utah.  I have friends, most of my family, and a supportive community.  Plus the scenery is amazing.

20 minute drive to the basin.  Because it is a "bowl" snow pack lasts longer and results in the most amazing wildflowers.
Greatest Snow on Earth

 It takes about three hours to get to the desert but it is well worth the drive.
The Salt Lake from the north.  Yes, it stinks from the brine shrimp and the South side doesn't have good beaches.  But if you make the trip to Antelope Island the scenery is amazing and it doesn't have the smell.

Lake Powell.  Probably my favorite place in Utah
 In contrast to the desert we have beautiful forests

Warm water lakes make for great places to hike, swim, ski and boat.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Eighteen years ago my second child and first son was born.  That was a rough time for everyone because my mother in law had committed suicide a mere 4 months before he was born.  We were all struggling with moving forward and the "new normal."

I had gestational diabetes just like I had with Kate but this time I was diet controlled.  I might have been allowed to go into labor on my own except for the fact that he decided to be a persistent transverse lie.  If position is good, you can negotiate a breech deliver but there is just no way that a baby can come out sideways.  At 39 weeks we made arrangements for Kate who was three at the time and headed up for an external version and induction.  The version was done with medication to relax the uterus, ultrasound for position and three doctors hand over hand rotating him into position.  It was hard but it worked and he was head down.

We were then admitted and pitocin was started.  But after about an hour my doctor came in and said that she had consulted with another doctor who thought it would be best if we went home for a few hours and then came back in the evening to start with a cervical ripener.  So they took out my IV but left me with a hep-lock (my doctor said she felt safe with me going out and about with a lock in since I hadn't been an IV drug user up until that point and it was pretty unlikely that I would start in those few hours).  We went up to anesthesiology to tell my father in law the new plan and he took one look at me and said "the baby moved back to sideways"  I didn't believe him.......

Since Kate was with my parents we went and got lunch then went to see a movie.  We decided on Clueless since we wanted a no brainer and funny.  I don't remember getting popcorn (and I wouldn't have had any due to the diabetes) but Brian says we did.  This becomes important so don't think that was a random "squirrel" sentence.

Around 5:00 PM we headed back up and started the process over.  But first my doctor did an ultrasound and sure enough he had moved back to a transverse position.  So we got a two for one special on the external version.  My doc had come back in with her new baby so she brought him in to do a baby voo doo turn head down dance. It was cute.

At some point, my husband started complaining about his tooth hurting.  I was mad; this was my day to have unconditional support and attention and there he was in the corner moaning.  Later that evening my father in law came up with Kate and my brother in law who was about 13.  Brother in law turns on the TV and sits on the end of the bed (I nearly killed him) and then my daughter starts asking me about every machine in the room (She was in her unending "why" stage).  I was trying to concentrate and this is going on!   My father in law took one look at Brian and asked what the heck was going on.  He said he had popcorn stuck in his wisdom tooth and it was killing him.  His dad told him to let him see it.  Apparently he had an abscess in his wisdom tooth (I still question the popcorn and wonder if it was a fluke)  So my father in law asked one of the nurses to get an epidural kit and bring it in.  What?!  I'm trying to have an unmedicated birth here and he's calling for a kit.  He tell Brian to stand against the wall and open his mouth.  He then took the epidural needle and bent it in such a way then used it to puncture the abscess.  I just saw him use one hand to push Brian forehead against the wall so he couldn't move and then he was done.  Well that did the trick and with an ibuprofen Brian was better able to be a supportive husband again.  Everyone left and it was quiet and peaceful again.

It was a loooooong labor.  The drugs used for a version relax the uterus so if you do that twice and then give it pitocin to contract it rebels.  I ended up with what is called prodomal labor.  Ineffective contractions, lack of movement due to the monitor and a baby who hadn't really descended are all a bad combination.  See I know all that now but at the time I had just barely graduated with my BS and I was several years out from working in maternity education. I would have done so many things different if I only knew.

Not a lot happened over the next 20 hours.  I remember that 4 people in the room next door delivered babies.  I finally told my nurse I had a bum room and I wanted to move next door.  She didn't get my sense of humor and told me that all the other women were on their 4th or 5th baby and things progress faster.  I knew that but I was trying to make a joke.

Around 4:00 PM the next day my nurse told me that she was really concerned about the tracing and was thinking I may end up with a crash cesarean.  She didn't want me to have to get general anesthesia if that happened and suggested that I might want to think about an epidural.  This particular nurse went on to be a midwife, she went to our church and her brother had gone to school with my husband.  She had all our best interests at heart.  And really, I was done.  We were at 24 hours of induced labor with no progress and I had no medication on board.  So I agreed to the epidural and it was what I now call a good use of epidural for labor.  I progressed very quickly from a 4-10.  I asked to wear off the epidural to push and Greg (anesthesiologist) was not happy.  He thought I should leave it alone.  Now we have PCA pumps and it wouldn't have been an issue.  I began the lovely process of pushing feeling like we were close.  All the while the heart tracings were not good.  My doctor was doing PH sampling to decide if and when to call it.

I was getting close and we started to think that maybe we would have a baby soon when my doc raced in the room and said "I'm sorry but the PH is not good we are crashing."  They threw scrubs at Brian and as I was wheeled past the nurses desk they said "her dad is on the phone and wants to know what is going on."  Brian hadn't been very good at calling them and so they didn't really have any clue why things were taking so long.  That has always been a sore spot with my mom.  Brian doesn't do well in an emergency so he grabbed the phone and muttered something about the OR and he'd call back.  Greg was paged to come re-dose the epidural and he was not happy.  He was in the middle of a study with my future new mother in law and didn't want to have to leave (see what you find out when you have an in)  My doc said that they would try two pulls with forceps and that was it.  Lucky for me on the second pull D was born and given an APGAR of 2.  From my view there was a lot of commotion, someone banged on a window and then it looked like they threw him across the room to someone.  Brian saw a very purple (he says black), limb baby who didn't cry.  He did have the foresight to ask if it was a boy or girl.  They took the second to tell us he was a boy before they passed him through the window into the NICU.  It wasn't until I found out his other APGARS were 4 and 6.  They never do a third APGAR unless the second one isn't good.  He spent about an hour in the NICU and then he rebounded to a 9 APGAR and they brought him to me in recovery.  He breastfed right away and then we moved to post partum.

This was the period of time when they were doing 24 hr stay for vaginal deliveries.  My doctor fought the insurance to get us a 48 hour stay because she felt that with such a long labor and a baby with low scores we should stay.  I was so glad she did that for us.

Daniel was a much moodier child than Kate.  He also ended up having a fine motor delay and inattentive Attention Deficit  and who knows if that is all genetic or due to birth trauma.  Either way its a non-issue.  He has had an IEP in school but he will graduate with a very good GPA in June and has been accepted to two Universities.  He plans to major in biology and epidemiology.  He has plans to work in bioengineering or genetics.  He is one smart cookie and will do well.

He is shy and introverted but has a great sense of humor.  He's still a bit moody and his little brother drives him crazy but he rebounds well.  Never an athletic kid, he excels in music; playing the guitar, clarinet, piano and has an amazing voice.

 ACT photo October 2013.  We had a hard time getting a photo that didn't look like a mug shot.
Sleeping with dad 3 months
Styling it with Uncle R at East Canyon

8 or 9 years old, man Keegan looks like you now

Great school pictures!

First trip to Hawaii- not sure why you look mad

Kate and Daniel 2003

All three kids 2004

 Second trip to Hawaii for Alice's wedding.  Black sand beach.  This was after dad had the dreadful accident and broke three ribs and his collarbone.  You can barely see the sling

Some of my favorite voice recitals (I can't seem to pull them from FB today)