It’s a miracle — I only took one video in May. Soren has memorized the names of the 15 leaders of our church, and we think it’s pretty impressive.
It’s a miracle — I only took one video in May. Soren has memorized the names of the 15 leaders of our church, and we think it’s pretty impressive.
Where were we? Ah yes, at the beach! Let’s pick up where we left off at the end of March.
A cute singing moment at the beach house with my boy.
The second birth was a bit anticlimactic, but of course I had to video it.
This might be the cutest rendition of “I’m a Nut” I’ve ever heard. If you can’t quite understand his speech, here are the lyrics. “I’m a little acorn round, sitting on the cold hard ground. Everybody steps on me, that is why I’m cracked, you see. I’m a nut. I’m a nut. I’m a nut, I’m a nut, I’m a nut.”
I’m kind of fanatical about having purpose and structure in my reading. I can’t just pick a book off a shelf and go for it. I even have a hard time reading from recommendations. Ten years ago I started making my way through the list of Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction, and I rarely departed from my agenda. When I was pregnant, I switched over to a near-exclusive focus on pregnancy and childbirth books. But post-Soren, I’ve been in a reading funk. Many of the Pulitzers are just too heavy for my frazzled mom brain. Parenting books are OK here and there, but you just can’t do too many of those in succession. So I welcomed the invitation from my Segullah cohorts to read through the five Whitney Awards finalists in the historical category and then cast my vote.
Here are my brief reviews of those five novels, ordered alphabetically by author.
Softly Falling, by Carla Kelly (Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort Media and Publishing)
The intriguing Lily Carteret is transplanted from her privileged life in England to the rough Wyoming Territory, only to learn that her alcoholic father has gambled away his cattle ranch. As Lily adjusts to the harsh conditions of her new home, she’s befriended by a number of charming characters — especially Jack, the handsome but illiterate cowboy who quickly falls for Lily. The bulk of the story takes place during a very long, grim winter (known a century ago as “the big die-off”), where Jack, Lily, and the others on the ranch work tirelessly to save the cattle and themselves.
Kelly’s characters and historical details were the highlights of the book for me. The drama of the terrible winter provided constant tension, but the pacing of the story was incredibly slow. It was a long, long winter, and the reader definitely feels this (for better or for worse — and for me it was for worse). The action was also very sluggish, but with just enough blips of excitement to keep me going. The dialogue between the protagonists felt contrived, at times, but the characters overall were engaging and pleasant to follow.
Eve: In the Beginning, by H.B. Moore (Mirror Press)
This fictionalization of the story of Adam and Eve dives into the struggles of our first mother, first in the seemingly perfect Garden of Eden and then in the harsh and pain-filled real world. The tale includes the basic stages we’re familiar with from the Bible — Eve partakes, Adam joins her, and they are cast out of the Garden. But Moore throws in a number of possible scenarios that I found to be very thought provoking, like a tragic miscarriage, incredibly challenging weather and living conditions, and problems between Adam and Eve as they attempt to become united in marriage.
I really liked the voice of Eve — she was curious and inquisitive, yet largely faithful amidst her trials. Adam, though much more rigid in his obedience, was not self-righteous in his devotion to Elohim, and I appreciated the way he cared for his wife even when he didn’t agree with her. Lucifer was present throughout the book and was as eerie as one would expect, providing constant confusion and manipulation. I was surprised (as were Adam and Eve) by the overwhelming silence of Elohim — I kept waiting for him to come to the rescue and make it evident that He was mindful of them. But, such is life. The story was well crafted and really nicely written, though there were a few moments that felt redundant as Adam and Eve blundered along, trying to find their way.
An Ocean atween Us, by Angela Morrison (self published)
The first book in a new series, “An Ocean atween Us” tells of 19th century Scottish coal pits, young love and heartbreak, physical hardships, and family bonds that are put to the test. Will Glover leaves the love of his life and begrudgingly joins his family in a grueling journey across the ocean for a new start that is every bit as disappointing as he expects it to be. The new opportunity in North America is filled with hardship for the entire family, and it is ultimately left to Will to care for the family and bring himself out of his estrangement from happiness.
In her author’s note, Morrison said she spent more than a decade researching her family’s Scottish history for this novel, including trips to coal mines in three countries. Her desire for authenticity is readily apparent — the book’s narration uses a flavor of the Scots language (which, for some readers, will be a little too authentic, as the brogue at times feels distracting), and the historical details were on point. I loved this story’s strong family bonds and the importance of home, which remained constant despite the protagonist’s choice to wallow far too long in his self-inflicted pain. Though Will’s pining after his first love grows old quickly, the book’s overall narrative is skillfully crafted and consistently engaging.
Deadly Alliance, by A.L. Sowards (Covenant Communications)
“Deadly Alliance” is the final book in a trilogy, though it works just as well as a stand-alone novel (which is how I read it — I actually had no idea there were two other books). Like “An Ocean atween Us,” it was abundantly clear that Sowards had done her due diligence on the time and place she wrote about — World War II in Italy and Yugoslavia. The novel follows Peter Eddy and his commando team as they drop behind enemy lines, unaware that they’ve been deployed on a suicide mission. Meanwhile, Peter’s girlfriend Genevieve, an OSS spy, finds herself battling new enemies as well. With heart-pounding plot twists and turns aplenty, Peter, Genevieve, and their various comrades experience plenty of action, with true-to-the-era violence and death.
“Deadly Alliance” drew me in quickly and kept me hooked right through the last page (although the far-fetched finale disappointed me a little). The history was, at times, hard to follow, but it didn’t detract from my interest in the book. The characters were well drawn and appealing — or hateful, in the case of the enemies who played significant roles. I appreciated the believable dialogue and the relationships that felt so genuine. Overall, this book was my favorite in the category — strongest writing, most intricate plot, realistic narrative, and great characters.
Gone for a Soldier, by Marsha Ward (WestWard Books)
Part war story, part love story, “Gone for a Soldier” features a range of characters (11 members of the Owen family, plus a few love interests and fellow soldiers), with each chapter rotating between different characters’ perspectives. Rulon Owens, the central figure, moves quickly to enlist in the war after Virginia secedes from the Union — but not before asking for the hand of his love, Mary Hillbrands. Off at war, Rulon sees and feels it all — his tent-mate threatens him regularly, he aches to be with his new wife and their new son, and he struggles physically through battles with the impossible-to-defeat Union army. At home, Mary faces her own battle for independence from parents who disapprove of her marriage.
Like a few others in this category, this novel was rich in historical details and authentic in its language, relationships, and descriptions of day-to-day living. The narrative became increasingly realistic as well-loved characters faced death and debilitating injuries, leaving relationships and situations unresolved, which was surely the case during the Civil War as lives were cut short or changed dramatically. I enjoyed the flow from chapter to chapter with the focus on different characters and different storylines, and at times I found myself growing anxious to get back to Mary’s situation or Ben’s adventure to learn what would come next. “Gone for a Soldier” kept me engrossed and tugged at my emotions more than a time or two — which doesn’t happen easily.
Our March was an exciting one…
A few documentations of afternoon playtime:
My favorite part in this one is the way he says, “Not really” (around 0:18).
Then back to Boston and back to coat weather. I had to video the way Soren removes his coat, because it’s one of those cute things you just don’t want to forget and you know it probably won’t happen again next winter. He unzips the coat, spins around until it falls off, and then promptly picks it up and hands it to me. Of course he doesn’t do it quite right in this video, but you get the idea.
At the end of March Soren and I took off again, this time for Virginia and North Carolina.
And then, it was April! Guess I’ll have to finish those beach pictures later.
If I had to sum up the month of February in one word, it would be SNOW. We’ve had a grand time breaking weather records like crazy. We’re not sure if we’ll know what to do with ourselves once spring arrives — we can’t really remember what grass looks like!
(With no pictures to be found on my real camera, our February update is essentially a compilation of my Instagram and YouTube uploads.)
My mom set Soren up with a box lid of rice while she was in town (it quickly became a “construction site”), and he’s been playing with it for three weeks straight.
This video shows another well-loved toy. (Visit the Whoville Creations Etsy shop to see more fun block puzzles. Tim’s aunt is the genius behind the shop.)
I pass by our pediatrician’s office building a few times a week, and every time I have the exact same thought: “I should call right now and schedule an immunization appointment for Soren. Or… maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.”
At two and a half years old, my son should have received about 27 shots. Instead, his shot record booklet is collecting dust on some corner of my desk. He’s received a couple of DTaP doses, a Hib shot or two. The PCV13 seemed like a mostly good idea. But polio? Nah. Who even gets polio in the United States? And the rotavirus vax? No thanks — babies can get rotavirus even if they’ve received the vaccine. And I know the autism/MMR theory has been debunked, but that one still gives me the heeby jeebies. Isn’t it still a little unnerving that the connection between autism and vaccines is still believed so strongly by many intelligent people?
During my 39.5 weeks of pregnancy, I pored over the literature. I was meticulous about what I put in my own body, avoiding even Tylenol when the crazy hormonal headaches hit. I abandoned my face wash to prevent salicylic acid from touching my skin. I birthed my sweet baby without medications or interventions, then breastfed him for more than two years. I used coconut oil when his bum got rashy (which didn’t happen much, thanks to cloth diapers) and slathered him with a super safe but ridiculously priced sunscreen on our beach days. When he hit six months and seemed ready for solid food, you better believe his first bites of roasted broccoli were organic.
So being skeptical about vaccines was a no-brainer for me. I mean, is it really a good idea to inject an hours-old baby with aluminum and formaldehyde for a disease (hepatitis B) that’s transmitted through sexual contact? Is it wise to blindly vaccinate when our country’s recent history includes things like the swine flu fiasco and a flu vaccine that is merely 23% effective?
We decided to embark on a delayed vaccination schedule for Soren, focusing on the immunizations that bring the greatest benefits; we also decided to allow just one shot at a time, and never any of the whopper combo vaccines. (This has made for some interesting discussions with the pediatrician. When he walks into the room his first words are, “OK, let’s negotiate. Five shots today.” I respond with a firm, “one.” He comes down to three, I hold fast at one, and eventually he surrenders to the mother’s wishes.)
But we never exactly put our proposed vaccination “schedule” on paper. And as overwhelmed new parents often experience, our best-laid plans quickly went awry. The result was a vaccination here and a vaccination there, mostly when we happened to be visiting the doctor for a well check-up anyway, and mostly when I’d taken time to research the particular shot right before the appointment. Not exactly a solid method.
Sometimes I blame my busy schedule for preventing me from finding ample time to study the issue out and really determine which side I’m on. But the truth is that I simply can’t decide. I’m not an anti-vaxxer. But I’m not fully on board with the whole thing. I like the idea of everyone vaccinating for the good of the community. But I’m also selfish. I want to believe the research. But when there aren’t any solid studies on long-term side effects, how can I?
So where do I fall in the great vaccine debate? I’m on both sides and I’m on neither side. I’m smack dab in the middle.
I’m certain I’ll never feel that vaccinations are free of risks. I realize they’re probably safe. The benefits of vaccinating my child most likely outweigh the costs. But it’s very possible I’ll remain on the fence forever. So what’s an indecisive mom to do? For now, I’ll continue to follow my instincts, vaccinating occasionally and somewhat haphazardly. Am I wrong? Some doctors would say so. The most passionate anti-vaxxers might disagree with me.
But being on this middle ground has shown me that all of us have the same goal — to keep our children healthy and safe from disease. The way we each go about it, however, is quite different. It’s all part of the great experiment we call parenting. And aren’t we all just giving it our best shot?
With literally hundreds of books to choose from at the library each week, you’d think it would be a cinch to bring home a stack of winners for a 2-year-old. Unfortunately, you really can’t judge a book by its cover. Or its title. Or its illustrations.
But after two years of scouring our library’s “transportation” section, I think we’ve nailed down the top 10 children’s books (and authors!) that feature trucks, machines, trains, buses, planes, and the ever-popular pickle car. Here are our greatest “things that go” picture book hits.
1. Roadwork by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Low
“Load the dirt. Load the dirt. Scoop and swing and drop. Slam it down into the truck. Bump! Whump! Whop!” This rhyming, rhythmic read-aloud lays out every step of the construction process with simple language and vibrant art. We also love the final page of the book, which details the much-loved construction equipment (and clues parents in to the real names of the machines).
2. Machines Go to Work by William Low
Low has pioneered the use of digital painting in children’s books, and there’s something wonderfully mesmerizing about his realistic illustrations. The fun in this book is the surprising twists that come when little fingers lift the gatefolds, morphing borderless two-page spreads into three-page murals. Questions are asked, and then each machine’s true intention is revealed in the answer. When the firetruck comes roaring to the scene of an emergency, are the trees on fire? No! A kitten is stuck, waiting to be rescued.
If you read the book with slightly older children, show them this neat YouTube clip of the artist at work. He’s a fascinating guy (a native New Yorker who was born in the back of a cab), and I never would’ve imagined the book’s illustrations could have started out as scribbles on a computer screen.
Other favorites by William Low: Machines Go to Work in the City
3. Red Car, Red Bus by Susan Steggall
This picture book is both simple and brimming with clever details. The text and accompanying vehicles offer basic lessons in patterns and sequencing, so even a two-year-old can “read” the story. The illustrations are the real focal point, though — each page is filled with collages made from textured and torn paper (some handmade, some manufactured), and the amusing background storylines entice us into opening this book again and again.
Other favorites by Susan Steggall: The Diggers Are Coming
4. Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry
Goldbug. Pickle car. Broom-o-cycle. Bananamobile. Need I say more? When a children’s book stays in print for 40+ years, you know it’s a winner. And I love any book that can absorb a two-year-old without adult involvement.
5. Little Blue Truck by Alice Shertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Little Blue and his devoted barnyard posse won our hearts the first time we opened the book. The first few pages of the story introduce each animal and offer a chance to practice all those fun farm sounds (baa, moo, oink, croak) — perfect for the pre-verbal and just-talking stages. The plot thickens when a pompous dump truck finds himself sunk deep in the mud, and Little Blue demonstrates that “a lot depends on a helping hand from a few good friends.” This heartwarming tale never gets old (and it doesn’t hurt that it’s only a few dollars on Amazon — definitely one to own).
Other favorites by Alice Shertle: Little Blue Truck Leads the Way
6. Fire Engine Man by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha
I’ll be honest — the first few times I read this book with Soren, I was like, “What’s the big deal? I could’ve written that.” Sentences like “I like to squirt down fires” and “I love fire engines” didn’t immediately enchant me. But Soren was obsessed. And I guess it makes sense: The main character, a child, takes on the role of a real-life firefighter, driving a fire truck, sleeping at the fire station, and fighting fires. Every little kid’s dream, right? So now I’ve come around to really enjoy this and the authors’ other similar books, loving that they spark my little one’s imagination.
7. I Am a Backhoe, by Anna Grossnickle Hines
This quick read was big at our house well before Soren turned one, so it’s got staying power. The book’s little protagonist pretends to be a backhoe, a crane truck, a roller, a bulldozer, and then a dump truck, with illustrations of the bright, massive machines shown behind him. I love the way this book encourages pretend play — “I dig my hand into the sand, my scooper hand. Dig. Dig. Dig. Lift, turn, tip. I am… a backhoe.”
Other favorites by Anna Grossnickle Hines (how about that name?): I Am a Tyrannosaurus
8. 20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus
If I could design the perfect day for my machine-loving man-child, it would mimic the scenario that plays out in “20 Big Trucks.” After an ice-cream truck breaks down in the middle of the street, a host of other exciting vehicles — a crane truck, moving vans, a cement mixer, a truck carrying squealing pigs — creates a giant traffic jam around the block. This counting book is a fun read aloud with its cheerful rhymes and detailed illustrations, and it doesn’t hurt that the yellow-helmeted youngster featured on every page saves the day in the end.
9. The Big Book of Things that Go by DK Publishing
Every home library needs a few good DK books. I picked this one up at a thrift store for a dollar or two, and it’s received a lot of love over the last couple of years. Name any vehicle — camper van, tanker truck, breakdown train — and you’re sure to find its photograph on the pages of this book. I’ve loved learning the proper names for different machines (and boats and trains) so I don’t have to refer to everything as a “digger.” This is another no-parents-needed book — it’s always a bonus when your toddler is able to happily “read” to himself!
10. Who Made This Cake by Chihiro Nakagawa, illustrated by Junji Koyose
Who made this cake? I’ll tell you who. It’s a bunch of miniature construction workers operating big machines. Front-end loaders scoop up flour and sugar, excavators outfitted with whisks beat the eggs, and a helicopter delivers the finishing touches. Totally bizarre. But really fun.
I’m not a resolution-maker, but there is something magical about the newness of January. I love a fresh start. We drove back to Boston from Virginia on the first day of the new year, which gave us plenty of time to talk about our plans and hopes and dreams for 2015.
Although I don’t have any photos to illustrate this, I must document the saddest part of our January. Soren decided to call it quits with the breastmilk. My 29-month-old darling no longer needs me. It had been a gradual process, so the first day of no nursing didn’t seem very out of the ordinary. But the idea was a little bit heartbreaking. I guess it’s time to have another baby.We decided this year to have a family theme each month, with applicable goals and activities to work on throughout the month. January’s theme became “Get Stuff Done,” and the idea was to take care of all the unfinished projects we’d begun in 2014. One such project (of about 30) was to take family pictures and send out some very late New Year’s cards. Since we’re dumb, we didn’t take advantage of December’s pleasant weather for photo taking. Instead, we ventured out on January 10, the first day we had nothing else on the calendar. It was about 15 degrees out. And WINDY. And there was snow on the ground. So basically a really bad day to try to take pictures outside. We dragged a friend along who is not a photographer, handed her our camera set to automatic, and we took some pictures.
Part of our monthly family theme includes a song and a scripture that we sing/read each morning. We’ve been using this scripture study method for a few months, and Soren largely ignores the scripture reading part, opting to play while Tim and I say the scripture. On the last day of the month, I told him I’d give him a chocolate chip if he’d say the scripture with us. Turns out the little stinker had the whole thing memorized all along. His voice is pretty quiet in the video, and he’s really hard to understand, but here’s the text of Doctrine & Covenants 58:27 if you want to try to catch what he’s saying: “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.” This kid kills me.
Sometimes, when you really love something, you just need to spread the news. So let me tell you about a few of my favorite things right now.
IKEA Patrull Bathtub Mat. Being a bit of a helicopter parent, I rarely leave the room when Soren is bathing. To put my mind at ease that he wouldn’t slip and fall to his death, I bought a set of non-slip shower treads at Home Depot. And I hated them. Half of them peeled off within the first few days, and the entire attempt was worthless since the circles covered such a tiny portion of the tub floor.
And then, while browsing at IKEA, I stumbled upon the cutest bathtub mat I’d ever beheld. And it was only $5. And Soren and I both love it. It nearly covers the entire length and width of the tub, and the plentiful suction cups on the bottom make it easy to securely attach it and then pull the whole thing up after each bath. The handy holes are perfect for hanging the mat to dry (although good luck finding a suction hook that will both stick to shower tile and hold up the alligator). Best of all, you can throw the mat in the washing machine to keep it as clean and fresh as the day you bought it. (Don’t live near an IKEA? Amazon sells the matfor around $10, which is double the IKEA price but still a pretty great deal.)
Electrolux (by Sanitaire) Canister Vacuum. The fact that I can call a vacuum a “favorite thing” is practically a miracle. See, I hate cleaning. I enjoy a tidy, well organized home, but I simply hate cleaning it. When Tim and I first got married and realized there were no more roommates to clean the floors, we figured we better purchase a vacuum for all 550 square feet of our apartment. We picked up a cheap Hoover stick vac and figured we were set. It wasn’t quite the worst vacuum in the world, but it was really only good for super light use. Once we upgraded to a two-bedroom apartment and got a few floor rugs, I knew it was time for something more serious. I’d been admiring the Dysons at Costco for years, but didn’t think now was the time to spend $400 on a vacuum. So I went with a $100 Hoover upright, and after using it once I wanted to kill myself. It was colossal, really awkward to maneuver, and it consistently shot dust and dirt out the back.
For my next attempt at purchasing a vacuum, I read review after review online and felt more confused than ever. So I got smart. I went to an actual vacuum store. And I don’t know why anyone would do it any other way. Those people are geniuses! They advised me based on the size of my house, the types of rugs I have, and what style of vacuum I might like to use. They knew I was lusting after a Dyson (and they did have plenty of them in their store), but they also knew it wasn’t the best choice. Bless them. They set me up with an Electrolux canister vac, and I’ve been in heaven ever since.
3 Sprouts Storage Bin. We hit a breaking point with the toys a few months ago. Most of Soren’s playthings had a home in some way or another, but the Duplos were a little out of control. Surprisingly, IKEA had nothing to offer me. I had resigned myself to the notion that we’d be swimming in Duplos forever when I saw a delightful storage bin at a friend’s apartment. It seemed perfectly crafted, really sturdy, and it was large. I was certain it was a fancy-pants baby boutique item way out of my price range, so I was amazed to find it on Amazon for just $20. Best of all, you can choose from a dozen different animals. When I asked Soren which he wanted, his initial choice was a pink elephant. Is it wrong that I went with my top pick instead? The same brand has other really tempting toy chests and laundry bins and wall organizers. And I better stop there before I fall for any more of them.
Acure Organics Shampoo. I am generally the last person anyone would want to look to for advice on anything hair or beauty related. The extent of my makeup routine is mascara once or twice a week. I’ve used my blow dryer about three times in the last three years. BUT, I’ve learned a thing or two while switching to more natural products in my bathroom over the past few years.
For nearly a year I did the “no ‘poo” method, using baking soda for shampoo and apple cider vinegar for conditioner. And I really loved it. But I started reading about how the combination of BS and ACV can potentially damage the hair or mess with the pH or something. And I got scared. So then I tested another DIY shampoo — coconut milk and aloe vera juice. And I looked like a walking oil slick. No go. Next, I moved on to Honest’s shampoo and body wash combo. I liked it. The scent was nice, it lathered fairly well (for a natural shampoo), and I appreciated the convenience of using one bottle to wash my hair and my body (and Soren’s). But when the last bottle was almost empty, I wondered if I should switch things up and see if I could love another shampoo more. I polled a group of friends, and the answer was nearly unanimous: Acure. With Acure, it was love at first wash. The scent is kind of powerful but really incredible — I actually look forward to my two hair-washing days each week because I’m so crazy about the smell. It lathers way better than Honest’s shampoo. And my hair is a little less frizzy than it once was. Try it.
Onaroo Alarm Clock. Who drops $40 on a clock for a one-year-old? I’ll tell you who — it’s the very same mom who needed a breathing monitor, a video monitor, a lifetime supply of glow-in-the-dark pacifiers, and a $150 sleep consultation to get her kid (and herself) to sleep through the night. But seriously, this clock saved our sanity when Soren was nearly two and waking up for the day at 4:45 a.m. Every day. We’d tried absolutely everything, and his early rising was all but killing us. Enter the toddler clock. Using Troublesome Tots’ article as our how-to, we introduced the clock and haven’t looked back. And now we all get out of bed at 6:30 a.m. each day and we feel like a million bucks! He often wakes around 5:45 or 6 a.m., but he stays quiet and laying down until the clock’s green light tells him it’s morning. I’m so glad we introduced it before Soren turned two, because I think his habit of waiting for the green light will be super useful when (if?) we eventually move him to a toddler bed.
Most posts on this blog are written to archive our family’s history or to show off pictures of Soren for the grandparents. This one? Not so much. When I was searching the internet for information about misoprostol for miscarriage, I found other women’s experiences, posted on forums and personal blogs, so so helpful. So I’ll add another story to the world wide web, in hopes that it’ll help some other searching soul who is preparing for her own miscarriage. (A separate post describing more of the background on the miscarriage can be found here.)
Oh, and warning: Slightly graphic content ahead. Dad, this post is not for you.
On the day I learned, via abdominal and vaginal ultrasounds, that my pregnancy had “failed,” my midwife wrote me prescriptions for misoprostol and oxycodone. She advised me to wait a week for a confirmatory ultrasound, so it was strange to have the prescriptions and two-page miscarriage instruction sheet sitting on my dining room table for seven days while I waited, waited, waited.
After the follow-up ultrasounds showed the fetus was, in fact, not viable, I met with my midwife again and peppered her with questions about what the physical experience would be like. Tim and I had read five or six detailed accounts online of others’ experiences with misoprostol for miscarriage, and each person seemed to have a very different story. Among other questions, I asked if I would be awake all night if I inserted the pills at bedtime, as she recommended? How painful would it be? How much bleeding is too much? Or not enough? Would I know when I’d passed the fetus? What if I didn’t feel like I could flush the toilet? Should I eat a lot in advance in case I’m nauseous during the process and can’t eat then? Should I consider scheduling a D&C instead? How will we know if it’s successful? Would I be able to travel by Christmas?
I felt fairly confident in our plan to go forward with the misoprostol, and Tim and I decided we would get the miscarriage party started around 5 or 6 p.m. — late enough that I’d only have a couple hours on my own (while Tim would take care of Soren and put him to bed) but early enough that we’d have a good four or five hours before our own bedtime. As 5 p.m. approached, I started feeling really nervous, and a little anticipatory nausea hit me. And then we realized we needed to tend to other really important things, like dinner. Tim somehow convinced me that a Chipotle salad bowl was the perfect pre-miscarriage meal — not too heavy, but substantial enough to carry me through whatever blood loss and pain might come my way. To be honest, that dinner kind of hit the spot. But it did push our plans back by a bit.
7:15 p.m. I placed a towel on my side of the bed, then laid down with two bottles of pills and a glass of water by my side. I placed the four misoprostol tablets, one by one, as far into my vagina as I could reach. I popped one oxycodone pill right after. (I’m generally pretty against pain medication, antibiotics, etc. I birthed Soren completely naturally, I had a cavity filled a few months ago with no numbing, and I rarely turn to Advil for headaches. But in this instance, I didn’t hesitate to take the strong stuff. Doctor’s orders.)
And then, the waiting began. I was in the middle of reading The Bishop’s Wife, which was kind of fascinating, so I welcomed the forced bed rest. My instructions were to lay flat for at least four hours after taking the miso, so I considered myself ready for bed.
8:45 p.m. I started feeling super drowsy. Nap time. Figured it’d be good to rest up now in case I was awake a lot during the night.
9:30 p.m. Super weird dreams brought me out of my semi-slumber. My book — and the oxy — must have had some influence, because I was having crazy visions of abusive men trying to kill their wives. I woke up feeling a tiny bit dizzy and a little nauseous, but mostly normal. The mildest of cramps started to come on right around then, but they were so slight I wasn’t even sure I was feeling anything. Time for more waiting. We watched an episode or two of Parenthood — fun date night!
11 p.m. Nothing’s happening! I was expecting full on cramps and bleeding at this point. Since I was pain free and feeling totally normal, we decided to call it a night and turn out the lights. I had no trouble falling asleep, and most of my nerves had been settled by the oxy.
12:30 a.m. Woke up in an absolute panic that someone had entered the house and was standing next to Soren’s crib, ready to snatch him up. I startled Tim awake to have him check the monitor. Safe and sound. Must be the drugs.
1:30 a.m. Woke up to the feeling of warm blood — finally! This might be working! I went back to sleep, figuring I had some time before I’d need to change my pad.
3:30 a.m. Woke up again and felt like I should go to the bathroom to see how things were progressing. Tim insisted on accompanying me, which was a really good idea. As soon as I stood up, I felt a rush of blood come out, along with a very large clot — possibly the embryonic sac itself. Because it fell into my pad, I was really interested in looking at it. It was around three inches long and definitely looked like more than just blood. Not wanting to flush the possible fetus down the toilet, I asked Tim to save it. I sat on the toilet for a little while, figuring it made more sense to bleed there instead of quickly filling up another pad while laying in bed. I started to feel lightheaded and weak, so I leaned forward against Tim, who was standing in front of me. And then I guess I passed out. I’ve fainted probably five other times in my life, but it had been a good 10 years or so since the last time, so this caught me by surprise. And it really freaked Tim out. He caught me from falling off the toilet and cracking my head open, then eventually I jolted up, still totally out of it. The next thing I was remotely conscious of was someone saying my name, over and over. In real life, it was Tim, but in my passed-out state the voice sounded completely foreign — and I remember feeling like I was intentionally ignoring it. Strange how our bodies/minds do things like that. Eventually, I came to but felt pretty confused about what was going on. Tim escorted me back to bed, and I felt absolutely wiped. And Tim was terrified about my ghostly white face. He fed me apple slices with peanut butter to get some protein in me, and then I took a second dose of the oxy. I still hadn’t felt any pain to this point — and hardly any discomfort — but I was nervous I’d get hit if I didn’t keep ahead of the pain with the meds.
5 a.m. Of course Soren began crying and whimpering, “I want mama” from his bed. I swear he knows when something is going on that makes me unavailable. Luckily, he quieted quickly, and we all fell back asleep until 6:30 a.m., when Soren gets up for the day (his choosing, not ours).
6:30 a.m. Tim force fed me a bowl of cereal with strawberries, letting me know I was still super pale and was not allowed to make my way to the bathroom until I had some food in me.
7:30 a.m. 12 hours in. Realizing my pad was full, I crawled to the bathroom — so four hours since the last time I’d changed my pad. Another enormous clot came out, but this time it went into the toilet and I didn’t feel the need to fish it out for saving or inspection. After making it back to the bed, I was exhausted. I tried to read Soren a story while Tim showered, but halfway through the book I had to put it down — my arms couldn’t handle it!
8:30 a.m. I finished my book and took another dose of oxy, just in case. But realizing the drugs might be what was causing my lightheadedness and dizziness, I decided to make it my last dose. I still had felt no pain, so I figured I could move to Tylenol if cutting off the oxy led to some discomfort. Also to combat my weakness and complete lack of energy, Tim was practically pouring juice down my throat to keep me hydrated. He made an excellent nurse.
10 a.m. Started feeling really hungry, so I snacked on blackberries and a Cliff bar. (Note that this is all still taking place in my bed. I didn’t feel quite ready to get up and walk around.) I was so thrilled to realize I had felt normal about hunger and eating through all of this. I had been so worried I’d be too nauseous to eat, but that never was a problem for me. I’d read plenty of accounts where people vomited throughout the experience, so I was really pleased with my situation so far (minus the fainting incident). It all seemed a little too easy, which made me nervous the whole things wouldn’t be successful.
11:30 a.m. Another accompanied trip to bathroom showed a super full pad (again, a four-hour span) and a few decent-sized clots. I lunched in bed, then laid back down for a nap. Eating and reading sure was exhausting.
3 p.m. Another pad change, but it wasn’t incredibly full. No more pain meds, and still no pain.
7 p.m. 24 hours in. The bleeding really let up by the 24-hour mark, and the only discomfort I felt was a headache, probably due to all the crazy hormonal changes happening. I was feeling really worried that it hadn’t “worked.” But my body was definitely feeling the blood loss. I felt pretty drained and void of all strength. A good friend delivered a Vietnamese feast to us, so we had a family picnic in my bed. I didn’t even have enough energy to care that Soren was dropping noodles and peanut sauce all over our “picnic blanket”!
Day 2: Not much action during the next 7 p.m. to 7 p.m. period (Saturday). I slept alright, but felt pretty exhausted in the morning. Bleeding was light most of the day. I took a shower, which felt incredible. Tim hovered in the bathroom, terrified I’d pass out again. I took a few naps here and there, and in the evening I made it outside! I walked the short distance from the house to the car, then we drove around to look at Christmas lights, sharing a Rancatore’s frappe among the three of us. Nice to be outside, but really nice to get back home to bed.
Day 3: On Sunday, after 48 hours in, I woke up with an incredible headache. Anytime I tried to stand up I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I napped while Tim and Soren went to church. Around midday I could feel a lot more blood coming. I took a shower, and blood was just streaming out of me. Through the afternoon, I had to change my pad a few times in quick succession, and there were a few more large clots. By evening things slowed down again. This gave me hope that things were happening as we’d wished!
Day 4: On Monday, I headed for the doctor’s office, where my blood work showed that my hCG levels had dropped from 88,000 (the day before the miscarriage) to 11,000 — a good sign, but not conclusive. The midwife recommended returning in a week for more bloodwork. Today was the first day I started to feel a little more “normal.” Still weak, still tired, but capable of picking things up around the house and doing a little more than just laying in bed.
Days 5, 6, 7: On day 5 the midwife said we were clear to travel for the holidays, so we jumped in the car and spent the next 10 hours traveling from Boston to Virginia. My body was feeling pretty good, and the bleeding was light enough that we didn’t need to make more than a couple stops to fill the car with gas and to get dinner. The day after we arrived, though, (day 6) I was spent. I wouldn’t have expected a road trip to take it out of me, but I was completely drained. My mom and husband ordered me to stay on the couch while they pumped me full of water, iron supplements, and food. The next day — day 7 — was Christmas, and I felt a little closer to normal. A little stronger, no headaches, and very little bleeding.
From there, things have gotten better each day. On day 18 I returned to the doctor’s office for another hCG check, and the results showed my levels had dropped to 586. A huge drop, but not quite low enough to mark this whole thing as “finished.” I’ll go back in a week for another check, but I feel optimistic that we can call it a day — now that it’s been a month since I first got the news that the pregnancy was not viable.
All in all, I think my misoprostol for miscarriage experience was incredibly ideal. I felt no physical pain, and I was fortunate to be among the 80% of women for whom it works first try. Although doing a D&C in the hospital might have guaranteed successful results more quickly, I’d go with misoprostol at home every time after my experience. Now we’ll just hope I never have the need to choose again!