There are 7.7 billion people in the world today. Each person has a birth story. I’m going to share just one birth story, my daughter’s four-day labor.
This is part of Susie Lindau’s Blessed Project. We are supposed to write a blog post expressing how we have been blessed this year.
By far, my greatest blessing in 2019 was the birth of our seventh grand darling. Youngest daughter Suzee had a difficult pregnancy. She was a high risk and had a lot of complications:
Blood clot in arm a few years ago
Had to give herself a shot of blood thinner every day
Nausea entire pregnancy
Light-headed, felt like passing out
Slipped disk caused extra back pain
Shooting pains into the pelvic floor
Due date was August 10th, but because of all the complications, including high blood pressure the last few months, (meds didn’t help), her doctor decided to induce her early and said, “Expect a two-day labor.”
She was admitted to the hospital the morning of Saturday, July 20. George and I drove to Las Vegas from Southern California that afternoon. Suzee told us, “Don’t come to the hospital until after the baby is born,” so we stayed in their apartment and looked after their Labradoodle, Ruca.
Contractions three minutes apart
Dilated to 3 centimeters
You must be dilated to 10 cm for the baby to pass through the birth canal.
Sunday morning- July 21:
At 4:00 a.m., Suzee was given an epidural.
After Brett called to update us, I got up and discovered the dog had had diarrhea. She went all over the carpet and tile in four places with dotted trails to and from. Unknowingly, I had stepped in one puddle and tracked it across the living room. *Scream*
While I cleaned the carpet on hands and knees, Suzee’s labor progressed slowly:
9:00 a.m. – Given pitocin through IV to increase contractions
That afternoon – contractions two minutes apart
Still dilated to only 3 centimeters
Arm with IV blew vein
Arm swelled with fluid
IV started in other arm
Monday morning – July 22:
Balloon inserted to help cervix dilate
They would check her in 12 hours
Left leg swelled up – Suzee worried she had a blood clot
Nurse checked for clots – Wrapped both legs with a massage machine that prevents clots
Brett and Suzee FINALLY sleeping
His parents paid a visit, anxious to see what was taking so long to meet first grandchild
There were WORDS
Suzee flipped out
Blood pressure spiked to 200 plus over 100 plus
Nurses rushed in and tried to calm her down
“NO MORE VISITORS”
Blood pressure stabilized
I thanked God my daughter was all right and didn’t have a stroke or heart attack. Upsetting Suzee during labor put her life and the baby’s life at risk. *Deep breath*
Dilated to 5
“Get some sleep before hard labor kicks in”
Active labor is when you’re 6 centimeters
Tuesday morning – July 23:
7:35 a.m. – water broke on its own. Dilated to 7!
9:00 a.m. – dilated to 9 centimeters!
Brett called at 9:45. “Suzee wants you here at the hospital.”
At the Hospital
Suzee is freaking out
Epidural no longer working
Built up intolerance to the Fentanol
Felt full blown contractions
Like one continuous contraction
Had tried to push for ten minutes and gave up
“Give me a C-section!”
“I can’t take the pain. %*$#!* Too exhausted to push!”
Nurses will prepare her for a C-section
“Might take a couple hours before the OR is available”
Everyone (various medical staff and Brett) left Suzee and me alone in the labor room. I told her, “The pains don’t hurt as bad when you’re bearing down. Pushing lessens the pain.”
I had had four babies and wished I could get up on that bed and give birth for her.
When the nurses returned, Suzee said, “Screw it. I want to try to push.”
“Great,” the head nurse said. “You’re allowed to change your mind.”
In the meantime:
Other vein blew
IV needed to be reinserted
Threw up four times while pushing
Baby’s heart rate dropped to 50
It’s dangerous if baby’s heart drops below 100
Doctor applied vacuum apparatus to baby’s head
Vacuum helped pull him farther through birth canal
Born Ten Minutes Later
Suzee was a warrior at pushing. The baby’s life was at risk and they would have done an emergency C-section if he wasn’t delivered quickly. Finally, at 11:38 a.m. on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, baby boy Nowell George joined us in this great adventure, weighing in at 5 pounds 15 ounces. He measured 19 inches long.
Here’s a video I recorded two seconds after birth. The emotions are fresh and raw. You may need a tissue. Imagine all the women who have experienced the miracle of giving birth. It can boggle one’s mind.
The baby developed jaundice and had to stay in the hospital an extra night, but that was okay. He was healthy and beautiful.
Here’s a video of George doing his Donald Duck impression for the baby when they came home from the hospital:
Three weeks later:
Six weeks later, we flew to Vegas to visit.
Eight weeks later:
Three months later:
Four-and-a-half months later:
What does Ruca have to say about all this?
Just think, there are 7.7 billion people in the world today and billions who came before us. Everyone has a birth story, even if we don’t know all the details.
Cheers to each of us. Here’s to enjoying life and to celebrating each new day. May your holidays be merry and may the New Year bring you abundant blessings.
Blessed Project – December 2017
This is my post from the last Blessed Project: Blessings For All Seasons – December 2017. It covers Brett and Suzee’s last-minute wedding when we thought George only had a few months to live. We are so blessed he is still with us and is cancer free, but I’m sad we lost both George’s brothers this year. Jim passed in August and Gil in November. It’s hard to process. Life is full of joy and sorrow. *Sigh*
Do you have a favorite birth story? Does Suzee’s experience make you appreciate what your mother must have gone through? Do you have a special memory from this year you’d like to share?
We’d love to hear your comments. Thanks so much for visiting!
I’m always up for dancing a jig, but George, eh, not so much. His eyebrows are another story, though. Watch him in the video below.
George’s eyebrows aren’t the only entertainment at our place. LimberJack dressed as a leprechaun and tapped to a cheerful Irish tune. I’ve never seen his arms swing like this!
As you can see, we’ve been feeling festive at the Kelley hideaway. Leprechauns and shenanigans abound and life is good. I’m practicing a new speech for the Toastmasters International contest, and each time I get it right, I get up and dance around the house to celebrate. And get some exercise.
May the luck of the Irish be with you today and always.
Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Can you wiggle your eyebrows? What have you been up to? I’d love to hear from you!
Are you considering competing in a Toastmasters’ speech contest?
Last year I competed in the contest for the international category, which can be about any topic. The winning speeches are usually inspirational or motivational with some element of humor, but not necessarily. The main thing I would recommend is that you be passionate about your message.
If this is your first time competing, you probably have hundreds of questions, but I’ll only be able to help you with some of them since I’m fairly new at this myself. Please don’t be shy like I was, afraid to ask questions.
Find an experienced speech competitor, someone who knows the ropes, and ask them all the questions you need answers to. You will feel more prepared when the time comes to give your speech
Multiple Rounds in One Day?
Before I forget, I want to mention you only compete once at the club, area, division, and district levels. By “once,” I mean on the day of the contest. When I attended my first area competition, I wasn’t sure if I would have to win a first round, then compete in another round that same day.
Whew! What a relief to learn there weren’t multiple rounds. So, basically, you will give your speech only once for each level of the Toastmasters International speech contest.
After I won the contest at my club, my mentor, Roya Ferdosian, DTM, suggested I practice my speech again prior to competing at each level. That was helpful advice, since I had revised the speech many times along the way. I practiced at my club, Club 12 – Pomona Valley Toastmasters, a couple more times prior to competing at both the area competition and then the division level. Each time, club members offered helpful advice for improvement. I made many changes, thanks to their input.
After winning at the division level, Roya suggested I contact other clubs and practice at their meetings. She gave me phone numbers for a couple of them. I used Google to find other clubs in my area and left a voice message for some and emails for other clubs that didn’t list a phone number.
Unfortunately, I only heard back from three of them. One club leader explained over-the-phone that they only permitted their own club members to give speeches. Oh well. I moved on and reached out to other clubs.
I was thrilled when Beth, leader of Toast of the Town in LaVerne, agreed to schedule me to practice at one of their meetings. Then Lois Sickling of Club 110 agreed to let me practice at Speech Masters. Both Beth and Lois seemed genuinely happy to have me as a guest speaker.
Speaking at Other Clubs
Members from both clubs were welcoming and they took turns giving me helpful tips. Some of the suggestions included:
Use a hand gesture when mentioning “good news” and a separate gesture for “bad news.”
Some of the pauses were too long, as if I forgot what to say. (I hadn’t forgotten my lines, but I needed a better sense of timing the pauses.)
My voice was too high at times, a sign of nervousness.
When mentioning the part about “drumming,” tap on my legs at the same time to have more impact, rather than tapping after I say it.
Move across the stage more.
Describe my father or say something about who he is.
“I have good news and bad news” is cliche and is not a strong opening.
I used way too many exaggerated hand gestures.
Finally, Lois suggested I ditch my cute dangling earrings because they moved too much and were distracting. “Wear studs instead.” Then more helpful advice, “Tuck your hair behind your ears to frame your face. It makes us look younger, too.”
The best advice I received was Lois’s enthusiastic, animated comments about using the stage more, such as walk across it, step back or to the front or both. Take advantage of the space that’s available. Make use of different levels. For instance, get down on your knes or reach up high or outwards. Her final words, “This is it. Give it your all and go for broke.” She was supportive and caring. It lifted my spirits.
I considered everyone’s suggestions and applied some of them and passed on others, which I decided wouldn’t work for me.
Below, I incorporated a move to get down on one knee, point at someone in the audience, and cover my head with my other hand when I said the line, “Get ready to duck!” Lois’s suggestion to get down lower at some point was a valuable tip. That change was made the day before the contest.
Keep in Mind
An important thing to keep in mind when receiving feedback for improvement: Don’t take it personally. Most toastmasters want to be helpful and want to see you succeed.
You may feel like they’re picking on you or being petty. After all, they’re criticizing not only your baby, your speech that you spent long hours pouring your heart into, but it may also seem like they’re insulting you, yourself. If someone is intentionally belittling you, hey, they’ve got a problem. Shame on them. They need to learn how to be nice, but most members are offering their honest input in order to help you so you can do your best. Some people seem blunt, and they probably don’t realize they come across that way.
Learn to be Thick-Skinned
As a writer, I had to learn to be thick-skinned and listen to critiques of my stories, articles, and poems. It can be discouraging at times if there are too many negative points, but if we take everything personally and dwell on it, we risk letting it completely deflate us to the point we give up on our dreams. Take criticisms with a grain of salt. If a comment rubs you the wrong way, shake it off and move on. Believe me, most of us get our feelings bent out of shape at one point or another. Let it go and focus on your speech.
So, decide whether you want to apply any of the suggestions or not. You have the final say. It’s your speech. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a coach, then that’s another story.
Also, while looking for clubs to practice at after I had won at the division level and prepared to compete at the district level, I wanted to know what I was in for, so I started doing some research to find out what came after the district level. For instance, how many levels are there, and how much traveling would be required? How much would it cost? All these issues are covered in Part 2.
However, it was while watching a different video on YouTube showcasing some of the finalists preparing for the big day, and one guy (I don’t remember his name) mentioned he had to finish his second speech. A second speech? Huh? I pretty much freaked.
On a whim, I decided to reach out to Ryan Avery to ask him if contestants needed a second speech if they make it to the finals, and I also wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed his book. Honestly, I figured he’d be way too busy to answer me, but he’s a such a gem, he answered me right away and offered some very valuable tips. Here’s basically what he said:
Advice From Ryan Avery:
“I’m so glad you like the book Speaker Leader Champion. That is exactly what we wrote the book for, is for people who want to compete and be better speakers so they can champion any cause . . . Here are a few tips and suggestions and opinions solely from my experience of competing:
First Piece of Advice
“First, never think about the competition that’s after the competition you have, so don’t think about semi-finals. Don’t think about World Championship. Solely focus on district’s, because what happens is, too many people focus on the one afterward and they forget about being in the moment and delivering the message from the heart to that audience, and then they don’t even advance.
Second Piece of Advice
“My second piece of advice is to go early to see what the stage setup will be like. Know where you want to sit; know how you will go on and off the stage. A lot of people make the mistake of slowly walking up on stage or slowly leaving off stage after their speech, or they breathe deep after their speech.
Look at All the World Champions
“People are going to remember what they see first and what they feel last, and so if you send a signal of a sigh, that means you just tried to get through with it, but if you look at all the world champions, what they do is they will run off the stage and they’ll wave and they’ll be excited and they’ll look, and it will be a way to show the judges and the audience that, wow, you delivered the message that you wanted to deliver.”
Third Piece of Advice
“The third piece of advice I have for you is, speech lineup doesn’t matter. All world champions have been in all positions, from first all the way through ninth. So, be happy with the speaking order that you have.
“Make sure that you cheer on the other contestants, and also go to the conference. Be a part of the conference.
“Speak from the heart, have fun, and be in the moment. It goes by really fast.”
Is that awesome advice from Ryan Avery or what?
Notice he didn’t answer my question about whether I would need a second speech. He was right about how I needed to focus on the upcoming speech. If I won the district competition, then I could focus on what came next.
In case you’re wondering, I did learn semi-final contestants do need a different speech if they advance to compete in the finals. So, you might want to start writing a second speech, or if you already have one, work on tweaking it. Revise, revise, revise.
More tips from another World Champion of Public Speaking
The other night I went to a Toastmasters meeting in Covina, California to hear guest speaker, Darren LaCroix. He’s the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking.
It was amazing. Darren LaCroix is full of inspiration and offers guidance for anyone who wants to improve their public speaking skills. It was easy to connect with him. I was so impressed with his presentation and his message, I signed up for Stage Time University.
So far, I’ve only spent a few days on the site, but I’m so glad I joined. These classes are exactly what I need to grow and improve my skills.
Next, I’m going to share some videos that are well worth watching. There are plenty more on YouTube, so watch as many world champion videos as you can because you’ll learn a lot from them.
Below is a presentation by David Henderson, 2010 World Champion of Public Speaking. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, be sure to watch his speech, “The Best Doctor,” which starts at the 42:00 point.
Next, Ryan Avery’s winning speech. He won the World Champion of Public Speakers in 2012.
Last but not least, Darren LaCroix’s 2001 winning speech, “Ouch.” Many people consider this to be the funniest speech in the history of the World Championship competition.
Both Ryan Avery and Darren LaCroix tell us to speak from the heart. Your message should be one you are passionate about and want to share with others.
Cheers to you for taking the step to compete. Wishing you much success in your journey, and I hope you enjoy all the adventures along the way!
Are you looking for a fun game to play for New Year’s?
George and I got together with our kids and grandkids Christmas Eve, but then we went to my sister Cindy’s on Christmas Day, and we played Catch Phrase. I’d never played it before, but it was great fun. The category was “Everyday Life.”
Here’s a video below. At first, nobody wanted me to record us playing the game, but then my dad’s expressions were so funny, my mom asked me to get my camera out.
He’s pretty funny at the 30-second point of the video.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts about my Dad’s Alzheimer’s, and I wanted to say that despite having dementia, he was able to participate in Catch Phrase with a little bit of help.
He participated in various ways, such as guessing at other player’s clues and also giving appropriate prompts for us to guess his “phrase.”
He came alive and became fully engaged. A game like this is what people in early to mid stages of dementia need, in my humble opinion. It’s all about brain games, learning new skills, doing something different, and thus building and reinforcing new pathways in our brains. In other words, neuroplasticity, which is fascinating.
Dementia begins years before any symptoms appear. I’m 62 and old enough to be concerned about getting it myself. Any activities, especially new activities, that engage our brains are going to help us ward off this dreaded disease. So, I always appreciate opportunities to exercise my brain. The laughter is a huge bonus and is super healthy for us, too.
Keep in mind the game is geared for ages 12 and up, so it worked out well that the grandkids weren’t at this gathering. You can bet we’ll play it with them in the future when they’re older.
Catch Phrase can be played with teams or you can keep track of individual points. We didn’t keep score.
The other cool points about a game like this is that it’s not only inexpensive fun, but it gets people off their cell phones (somewhat) and strengthens family (or friendship) ties, not to mention making precious memories.
This is a parenting anecdote from my archives that I’ve turned into a vlog. It’s short (three minutes), but sweet.
Hope you got a kick out of that holiday parenting story. Below is a picture of Jim and Cindy. She’s wearing a zucchinibikini tankini.
Doesn’t my Santa cap look like an airhead hat? A good fit for me, eh?
What a bargain. I found it at one of the dollar stores a few years ago.
I hope you’re taking a few moments here and there for grins and giggles. With so much on our plates this time of year, it’s important to take care of ourselves, take a few breathers throughout the day.
Cheers to sweet moments in our lives!
What are your thoughts? Have you had any time to enjoy the sweet and simple things in your life? What makes you smile? I’d love to hear from you.
Hello friends! Are your spirits as bright as my dancing Santa LimberJack’s?
I hope you’re enjoying this holiday season and feeling festive and spunky. If I get enough sleep, I seem to be able to pull it off.
This old-fashioned toy which originated in Ireland has turned out to be so much fun. I found a Santa ornament for a dollar at the 99 Cents Only store, so I took it apart and decorated LimberJack. Here’s a video of him dancing as Santa Claus:
Of course, the grandkids think Santa LimberJack is charming. This little toy may mark me as the quirkiest Grammy ever, and that’s fine with me.
Here’s what LimberJack looked like when I bought him:
It’s a kick to dress him up in funky outfits. If I don’t have time to dress him as Baby New Year before the 1st arrives, there’s always next year, right?
I know everyone is busy this time of year, wrapping gifts or wrapping up projects and festivities. Whatever you’ve been doing, I hope it’s been good and that your last days of 2018 are merry and as bright as Rudolph’s shiny nose.
Hope you enjoyed Santa LimberJack’s snazzy footwork. Cheers to fun and light-hearted moments.
What are your thoughts? Are you keeping stress levels to a minimum? What have you been up to? I’d love to hear from you.
My Aunt Val is like a real life Mary Poppins character. She has a secret Christmas room, which is decorated all year long.
Last June I got to visit her and my Uncle Ron in North Carolina. Now, their whole house is like a museum, but it wasn’t until the last night when April and my grand darlings, Grasshopper and Ninja Doll, came to spend the night that I got to see the secret Christmas room.
First, she gave each of the kids a stuffed animal. Then she pulled back the red curtain, and, behold, a magical room decorated for Christmas. This was in June, mind you!
Antiques and Heirlooms
Auntie Val explained what everything was. The room is full of many antiques and vintage decor. For instance, below is a small crib, which my grandfather slept in as a baby.
The entire time, Aunt Val told stories or sang songs to the kids. For example, “Bushel and a Peck.” Clearly, this special room is her pride and joy. Her delight in sharing it was as precious as watching Grasshopper and Ninja Doll take it all in.
Here’s a short video:
The little chair was my Uncle Lee’s and Aunt Val’s when they were children. How special is that? Her home is full of family heirlooms.
I don’t know which part is my favorite, but that old-fashioned St. Nicholas ranks pretty high in my secret Christmas room book.
Below, the foo-foo girlie Teddy Bear in the antique baby stroller is quite charming, too, isn’t it?
I’m enjoying reminiscing about my visit and re-discovering the many treasures of this enchanting room.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever heard of a Secret Christmas Room? Are you enjoying preparing for the holidays? I hope you’re not having as many airhead moments as I’ve had! I’d love to hear from you.
Have you had any airhead moments during this crazy holiday season?
I got lost on the freeway driving home from my daughter’s. Missed my turnoff. I have a knack for doing that, but this time I was tired from babysitting two of my grandkids into the wee morning hours. Chatty Girl is three and Little Man is five weeks old now. So, even though I’ve made that drive many times, I was overtired and got lost. That’s a whole other blog post.
This is my version of making lemonade out of lemons. The video of my dancing Santa LimberJack turned out awful. The lighting was poor, the quality of the video wasn’t good, and it’s pretty much a dud.
Here’s what LimberJack looks like with the Santa outfit I dressed him in:
I found a Santa ornament at the 99 Cents Only store and used the face and hat for LimberJack’s head. Then I cut up the coat to cover his body, arms and legs. Small pieces of card stock worked to make a belt with a buckle and boots for his feet.
Mistakes Can Force Us to Be More Creative
George shot the video for me, but it just didn’t turn out as I’d hoped, so we’ll redo it today. However, it would be a shame to waste these clips, so I played around with them in iMovie’s special effects options. The x-ray feature looked kind of neat. It doesn’t look like Santa, though, so he became the dancing elf from Dimension X. Haha! By slowing the clips down, LimberJack is easier to view. The music is added after the video is edited.
Poor little elf had an accident at the end of the clip.
If only I’d thought to play around with those skeleton clips in iMovie’s special effects. I wonder what it would look like? Hmm, it’s not too late to try it. If it turns out, I’ll feature it in a future blog post.
I’m taking part in Vlogmas 2018 on YouTube. We’re supposed to post a video each day. While many of the other blogs are long, some 20 or 30 minutes, mine are all short. We’re all busy this time of year, so shorter is better. If you want to follow me on YouTube, the link is at the very bottom of the sidebar.
Do you make lemonade our of lemons? How do you handle projects that don’t turn out the way you planned? I’d love to hear your story. Isn’t it rewarding to turn things around and find a satisfying solution?
What are your thoughts? Are you super busy these days? Have you had any projects run amuck? I’d love to hear from you!
Writer of fiction for children and slice-of-life pieces for grownups, Master Certified Health Coach, mother of four, grammy to seven grand darlings. Goofball. Subject to laughing jags. Co-author of Monster Moon Mystery series under pen name BBH McChiller. Altered art scrapbooker, Toastmaster, YouTuber, and recovering court reporter.