Henry.

I don’t want to write this.

I don’t want a lot of things but I especially don’t want to write this. I suppose when you need the right words, you turn to a writer.

That’s me. A writer.

My name is Julie. My parents are Tom and Abbie. I have three younger siblings – Jessica, Jon, and Jenna.

Jenna.

I met Jenna when I was in Kindergarten. I remember the day she was born. I remember waiting in the waiting room with my two siblings and my aunt Mary. A male nurse ran in to tell us my mom had her baby. I asked if I had a brother or a sister and he said he didn’t remember. A few hours later, my dad handed me my baby sister. I still wonder how a nurse forgets such a thing.

Jenna and I are six years apart. That’s a huge gap when you’re growing up together. Jenna started Kindergarten when I headed to middle school. Jenna was in middle school when I left the house for college. Jenna became a first time aunt to my daughter, Emma, when she was still in high school.

But then Jenna married Steven. Jenna gave birth to Evelyn four years ago. And then she gave birth to June two years ago. I was in the room during June’s birth. Jenna looked up at me with the baby crying on her chest and whispered, “Her name is June Elaine. June Bug. She’s a bug too.” Jenna and Steven named June after my nickname “bug” and Jessica’s middle name, Elaine.

The six-year gap between Jenna and me doesn’t exist anymore. Jenna, Jessica, and I became the same age when we became mothers. Aunthood and motherhood – it’s the same with my sisters and me. All three of us gave birth to Emma, Kate, Gabby, Evelyn, Savannah, June, William, and Jenna’s little boy – due in June 2017.

We never knew the name of the little boy Jenna carried.

On May 13th, 2017, a nurse knocked on the waiting room door. Our heads shot up. Our swollen, blood-shot eyes stared. The nurse seemed flustered.

“Jenna is still in the operating room. We’re doing everything we can. Steven and Henry are on the 2nd level. I will escort you to down there. We offer our deepest condolences.”

Henry.

His name was Henry. Henry Steven Flanery.

They say babies can hear outside of the womb. Henry Steven Flanery must have known us all. He knew his sister, Evelyn, and her voice of song. He knew his other sister, June, and her screams of laughter. He heard his dad, Steven, take aim and fire at a box that exploded blue powder, announcing his gender to the world of Facebook. He heard our families cheers of joy. Henry knew us and he knew our love for him. Above all, he knew his mother, Jenna, the most.

I held Henry. He was beautiful inside his mom’s womb. The ears he heard us with were his mom’s ears. I held the same ears 29 years ago, only they were my baby sister’s ears. Henry weighed 5 pounds, 1 ounce. He was 18 inches long. He looked like a sleeping newborn. I stroked his face and touched his light brown hair. He had a small dimple on his chin. I held Henry but I never met him.

Henry wasn’t in my arms. He was two flights up in the hospital with his mom. I met an angel on May 13, 2017.

After five hours of waiting, one of Jenna’s five surgeons knocked on the waiting room door. Jenna was stable but in critical condition.

During the early hours of May 13th, Jenna started to throw up. She started a giant contraction that wouldn’t let go. A doctor would know this means the placenta tore away. Usually there is bleeding with this but Jenna didn’t bleed. Her pain and condition worsened and she went to the hospital around 6 a.m. By the time Jenna was at the hospital, the doctors couldn’t find a heartbeat. Henry passed away due to placental abruption and lack of oxygen.

There are three risk factors women generally have when the placenta tears away from the uterus – the woman is on drugs, the woman has high blood pressure, or the woman suffered trauma. Jenna did not have any of these. The five surgeons could not tell us why her placenta tore away at 8 months. We will never know why.

Jenna delivered Henry with ease. She was able to hold Henry and see his face. Then she started to bleed. The blood wouldn’t stop. Doctors had to put Jenna under while they worked to save her life. The surgeon tried every trick she knew to stop the bleeding. Jenna wouldn’t stop. It was like water flowing out of a sink. Jenna lost 8 liters of blood. She lost as much blood in a non-pregnant body. Not only was Jenna losing blood from her uterus, she was also filling up with blood in her body cavity. In order to save Jenna’s life, surgeons removed her uterus. The surgeon took her uterus to a table and searched everywhere for a hole. Jenna had to have been leaking; the surgeon was determined to know where. The surgeon couldn’t find the hole. This is another answer the doctors could not give us. We don’t know why Jenna bled outside of the uterus. We will never know why.

The five surgeons told us they have never seen a hemorrhage this catastrophic in 25 years of practice.

Jenna lived.

Henry never cried that day. He wasn’t in my arms. He was saving his mom.

There’s nothing I can do for Jenna but be her sister and I will write this story for her even though I don’t want to write this.

_____________

 

Many people have asked what they can do to help. We set up a GoFundMe page for Jenna and Steven. If anything, we can relieve the financial stress with medical bills and funeral costs. If you would like to help my sister, please consider donating. 

The Flanery Family Go Fund Me

Thank you for your prayers and love as we mourn the loss of Henry and continue to support Jenna’s healing.

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The boy.

A video sat in the corner of a room, recording two little girls eating dinner. The video was recording for an important reason. They were going to hear big news:

“You’re going to have a baby brother.”

Hell no I didn’t say that.

My sister did.

I have two sisters and one brother. I have two daughters, Emma and Kate. Jessica has two daughters, Gabby and Savannah. Jenna has two daughters, Evelyn and June. And Jon has a female dog. Hi Claire!

I do have a nephew and another niece, Ben and Lucy. They are on Scott’s side of the family.

Until recently, I had 5 nieces and 1 nephew. Are you keeping track?

I started to get theories in my head. Three sisters with six daughters in a ten year time frame. What are the chances? Do our eggs have an anti-boy sperm block? Maybe the more “manly” the dad is, the more likely he is to produce a daughter. Or maybe my mom got into voodoo in the 80s and cursed/blessed her hair-pulling, screaming daughter drama with daughters of their own.

Science doesn’t back me up on any of this. I googled it. The chances of having a baby girl is slightly under 50%. Pass the tampon.

Jessica’s announcement sent a shock through the family. A brother. A son. A nephew. A grandson. A boy cousin with cooties. We haven’t heard “it’s a boy” since my brother’s birth circa 1985.

I’ve never seen a baby penis. I take that back – I’ve seen a few briefly. There was a boy at the playground that dropped his pants and peed a foot away from my daughter. I also have a nephew but he lives in San Francisco so I do not see him or his penis. But when I do see Ben, I get nervous I’m squishing his balls when I hold him on my hip. He’s going to have memories visiting Kansas where the ball-squishing aunt lives.

I don’t know what to do with a penis.

Well, ok. I know what to do with a penis. A man’s penis. But not my nephew’s man penis. This whole blog post is backfiring.

You see? I’m all flustered with a boy.

I had so many questions before his birth. He would be my own because my sisters’ kids are my own. Am I allowed to speak to him high-pitched? Am I allowed to call him precious? Painting his toenails is out of the question. Maybe bring some hair gel to the hospital? Throw a baseball his way? CATCH! I don’t know. I don’t have anything to teach him. Wait – I did grow up with a brother and I can teach him how to spit out bananas on Mario Go Kart’s Rainbow Road.

And then he was born. I became an aunt for the 7th time.

William Frederick was placed in my arms on June 8, 2016.

And he is precious.

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He’s not different than the nieces handed to me by one of my sisters. He squeaks. He cries high-pitched. His lower lip trembles when he yawns. He has ten toes, ten fingers and a penis. He peed on the nurse during his bath. A comedian – a boy after his Aunt Jules’ heart.

Oh look! I taught him how to MAN-ROAR.

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I only wonder what William will teach me.

___________

Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. The adventures of William and Aunt Jules will continue.

A bug’s life.

I want you to meet someone.

This is June Elaine.

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They call her June Bug after, well, ahem – her aunt Julie Bug. Hey, maybe she’ll start Baby Bug Bytes one day. June shares her middle name, Elaine, with her other aunt, Jessica.

And there’s Evelyn. She’s a big sister at two years old.

While June stole the show on April 2nd, visitors still snuck a glance at Evelyn. She was easy to spot. Her blonde head of curls could be found hiding in the closet or inside the bathroom, laughing and pulling the emergency cord for a nurse.

Becoming a big sister brings its own attention. But Evelyn’s attention is a little different. Although unspoken, her milestones are magnified since her accident. Evelyn is always watched with a silent awe.

Our friends and families lives were stopped a year and half ago. We prayed for Evelyn to live after she suffered a head injury causing bleeding on the brain. (You can read about it here.) Her pediatric neurosurgeon called her the miracle baby. Her heart stopped on the surgery table. A nurse performed CPR while the surgeon kept trying to relieve the pressure off her brain. She survived.

Today, you would never know she has a scar stretching across the top of her head. A conversation with her shows no signs of brain injury. In fact, she will remember you said you would paint her nails blue on Easter. And she knows her manners. She remembers to tell her mom, “I tell Julie Bug thank you so much for blue nail polish.”

June Elaine will never know a life without Evelyn watching over her. June will always be the little sister, the second born. She’ll be the one stealing Evelyn’s clothes, shadowing Evelyn and her friends and she will have an edge in the curfew department with her parents. Oh, will she have an edge – 4 am curfew when I had to be home by 10 pm. Jesus.

June and Evelyn’s lives are forever connected.

And we get to watch them live it. Welcome to the world, sweet June Bug. You have our Evelyn looking out for you now.

Happy tears.

An update on my niece, Evelyn: There was an accident last Sunday. Evelyn suffered a blow to the head which caused her to bleed on her brain. The leaks were stopped after 4 hours of surgery. The neurosurgeon said the blood stayed in between her skull and first membrane. Evelyn did not suffer any permanent brain damage and she should develop normally. Evelyn was transferred to the PICU for several days to recover. And then she was transferred to a regular hospital room. The neurosurgeon called her a miracle baby.

I was the luckiest person in the world when my sister placed my niece in my arms to rock her to sleep. I couldn’t stop smiling at Evelyn’s blue eyes slowly closing down. It’s what the crazy aunts do. 

Sweet baby Evelyn is going home today. 

The thoughts, prayers and love from friends, family, and complete strangers were powerful. And I thank you for that. Evelyn and her parents are the strongest people I know. They thank you too.

______________________

I have another update in the family. In the midst of Evelyn’s recovery, I became a 3rd time aunt to a little boy, born in Texas, named Ben.

I played a game with Ben several days before his birth. Ben played back.

Text message to my brother-in-law and very pregnant sister-in-law: Hey, I’m going to send you a picture text every day. I want to see which picture Ben chooses to see in person. This will be hilarious.

Hey Ben, come out and look at this! Aunt Jules' doggie, Belle, is sticking her tongue out at you!

Hey Ben, come out and look at this! Aunt Jules’ doggie, Belle, is sticking her tongue out at you!

Hey Ben! Look at your uncle! He thinks he can handle the hottest salsa because he married a Mexican. Ha!

Hey Ben! Look at your uncle! He thinks he can handle the hottest salsa because he married a Mexican. HA!

Hey Ben! Come out and  look at your cousin, Kate! I told her to smile for you. Look at her face!

Hey Ben! Come out and look at your cousin, Kate! I told her to smile for you. Look at her face!

Hey Ben! Come out and look at this! Aunt Jules' doggie, Bailey, is dressed for Halloween! Snakes and puppy dog tails! Get it? HA!

Hey Ben! Come out and look at this! Aunt Jules’ doggie, Bailey, is dressed for Halloween! Snakes and puppy dog tails! Get it? HA!

Hey Ben! Come out and look at Emma. She's practicing her zombie walk for Halloween.

Hey Ben! Come out and look at your cousin, Emma. She’s practicing her zombie walk for Halloween.

Hey Ben! Throwback Thursday! It's Aunt Jules and Uncle Scott at the Kenny Chesney/Eric Church concert! Rock on out of womb and look at us!

Hey Ben! Throwback Thursday! It’s Aunt Jules and Uncle Scott at the Kenny Chesney/Eric Church concert! Rock on out of that womb and look at us!

Hey Ben! Come out and join the Aunt Jules club! She has a spot for you on her shoulders! You can hang on, like a Superman cape!

Hey Ben! Come out and join the Aunt Jules Club! She has a spot for you on her shoulders! You can hang on like a Superman cape! Wait – it’s Superman with the cape, right? Maybe Batman. Whatever.

Hey Ben! Come look at your President the year you will be born! He wears pink skirts. HA!

Hey Ben! Come out and look at your President the year you are born! He wears pink skirts. HA!

Ben. Please pray. Please.

Ben. Please pray. Please.

Thank you for not coming out on the day Evelyn almost left us, Ben. Aunt Jules couldn't have handled that.

Thank you for not coming out on the day Evelyn almost left us. Aunt Jules couldn’t have handled that. You can come out now. Evelyn is recovering in the PICU. Make Aunt Jules stop crying.

And then . . . he came out. Those babies just know when it’s time. He couldn’t have picked a more perfect birthday.

Welcome to the Aunt Jules Club, Ben.

Happy Birthday, Ben! Born October 8, 2013.

He's official.

He’s official.

Camp Jules.

There are certain people I look up to in life – the men and women in the armed forces, police officers, firefighters, nurses and doctors, people that spend their time helping charities.

And the mothers and fathers of 3 or more children. I bow down. But mostly the mothers because I’m biased.

I am watching my 1-year-old niece, Gabby, for the week. It’s Camp Jules!

Camp Jules is exhausting. Anyone that has 3 kids and says “oh, it’s not any more work than 2” are all a bunch of liars. Yeah, I know – you could say if Gabby were my real kid it would be a gradual addition to the family – pregnancy, newborn, crawling baby, walker. It would be easier. It’s always easier when it’s your own kid.

Let me tell you, Gabs, I love you but you just gave Auntie Jules a slap in the face. WA-BAM!

1 year olds: HARDEST AGE EVER. Don’t let the adorable miniature walking human trick you. Oh, what my memory forgot….

Quick! Hurry! Don’t let her sticky syrup hands touch the new couch! Get her! Ohhhhh. — She touched it, Mom.

Gabby, don’t pinch your fingers on the doors! Gabby, don’t slam the drawers! Wait, what do I have in that drawer? Scott, you think she can reach the butter knives?

Ha! Look how fat the dogs are getting because Gabby keeps throwing them a buffet.

If you wake up that baby, you’re going to timeout for the rest of your life. I’m serious, girls.

Emma! Kate! Bailey! What’s your name! Gabby!

Uh, Uncle Scott doesn’t change poopy diapers. She’s not my kid.

Oh wait. What am I doing setting an alarm clock? Ha!

Mom! Let us out! The gate is blocking the stairs!

Mom! You forgot my seatbelt again! Mom! You keep forgetting Kate’s seatbelt!

Girls, stop calling me M-O-M. Gabby will hear and cry for her mom. Dangit, I said mom.

Let’s wash your hair, Gabby! Look up up up! Birdie! Birdie! Birdie! Look! Up! LOOK AT THE BIRDIES!! TWEET TWEET TWEET! LOOK AT THE FREAKING BIRDIES!

This cereal is delicious. — You used Gabby’s whole milk.

Screw it. I’m not changing out of PJs to drop Emma off at school. These snot marks are like battle wounds.

Gabby, I don’t speak sign language. What are you trying to say?

Hey mom, I taught Gabby how to do KU! EWWWW! K-State! YAY!!!! Watch!

About to take 3 girls to Target. I’ll have two Taurus children. One is Kate. PRAY FOR ME. HARD.

Emma, just let her throw a tantrum. She’ll get over it.

Did you have the washer and dryer going at midnight? — It doesn’t stop, Scott. It doesn’t stop.

You’re getting the snip, Scott. I’ll let the family know to send you get well cards.

No, Gabby! No stairs! — Juwee! No! No no!

Oh, there’s no relaxing until Gabby is in a highchair or in her pack n play.

Bug, her dad just told me I can tell Gabby to “man up” when she starts crying. Gabby! Man up!

Gabby, keep your bow in. If your mom sees a picture of you without a bow, we’ll never see each other again.

5:30 am. — JU-WEEEEEEE! JU-WEEEEEEEEE! — Camp doesn’t start now, Gabby!

Why does Gabby keep saying Bill? — I taught her about Bill Snyder today.

I’ll take the slap in the face just because it’s you, Gabby. Slap me all you want. You won’t remember this year’s Camp Jules when you’re older, anyway.

I probably won’t either. 1-year-olds are GREAT.

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The boy.

Guess what?

Guess what?

I have a new pair of footsies in the making!

My brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first child. And it’s a boy.

Well, snips and snails and puppy dog tails – Yee-haw! Aunt Jules just got the blessing to shop in the boy clothes section!

I have two daughters. My sisters gave me two nieces. The only thing I know is pink dryer lint. I’ve never been to “the other side” of the baby clothes section. I have caught glimpses of camo and monster truck prints from my land of pink tutus and hair bows. I could look but never touch.

But a nephew. I can fully submerge myself in everything boy. I’m going all out for this kid:

  • I’ll have a football ready for him the moment he is born. He will be in Texas and I will be in Kansas City but the football will be here, waiting for him. I’ll work on my spiral until then.
  • I’ll give his tired parents a break when they visit for the first time. I will rock him to sleep by singing into his little ear. Singing the sweet words of the K-State fight song unbeknownst to his UT grad father and FSU grad mother.
  • I’ll take him to Monster Truck races. We will have the best seats. I will work on my man roar.
  • I’ll flood my backyard with the hose to make mud puddles to stomp in.
  • I’ll take him to Disney World. We will walk past those Disney Princesses and scream down Splash Mountain, front row.
  • After I finish putting my girls’ hair up in ponytails, I will make him a mohawk out of Uncle Scott’s hair gel.
  • I’ll let him take Uncle Scott’s 4 wheeler out for a spin. Emma and Kate will teach him how to drive it.
  • I’ll give him girlfriend advice when he is a teenager. As an aunt, I am automatically cooler than his parents to talk to about girls. I will also be an expert at the teenage girl drama by that point.
  • I will pop Top Gun in the DVD player so he knows the classics. And then I’ll tell his uncle to leave the room because no one wants to hear someone repeating the whole damn script out loud.
  • We will go fishing together, as long as he hooks the worm because ew, Aunt Jules doesn’t do that.

I will be his one and only aunt. I will go all out for him. Not that I don’t go all out for my nieces.

I mean, Aunt Jules doesn't play favorites.

I mean, Aunt Jules doesn’t play favorites.

It will be a nice change to be able to shop for a boy. Scott and his brother will be able to enjoy both sexes of children when they are together. Maybe Scott will let Mark take a turn at fishing for hair from the clogged drain that even Draino couldn’t fix.

Fishing.

Hair fishing in the house of girls.

Little baby nephew, I cannot wait to see your sweet face. I will smoother you in kisses when I finally get to hold you – it’s my official duty as an aunt.

I'm already smothering your wittle sonogram face! I know. I'm getting weirder every time I become an aunt again.

I’m already smothering your little sonogram face!
I know. I’m getting weirder every time I become an aunt again. I can’t stop.

Keep working on growing those footsies. Kick your mom a bunch. Then when you bust out into the world, make sure you give my shirt a good kick too. Like a soccer playa.

To The Great Bambino.

To my unborn niece – The Great Bambino.

Baby girl. I have called you the Great Bambino since the day I found out about your existence. You must be wondering, “but why does Aunt Jules call me Bambino?” I’ll tell you why, little one. I mean, I have nothing else to do. I’m just killin’ time before you are placed in my arms.

There was a baseball player named George Herman Ruth, Jr.. He played baseball a long, long time ago. George was born 118 years ago – whoa! But George is not known as what his mommy and daddy named him. He was given a lot of nicknames: Sultan of Swat, The Great Bambino and most famously, Babe Ruth.

Babe Ruth is considered to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. If there is one thing he was good at, it was hitting a baseball out of the park. That is not an easy thing to do. Aunt Jules can barely hit the ball two freakin’ feet in front of her. He helped the New York Yankees win the World Series 4 times. It took years and years for anyone to break his records. Babe Ruth was one of the first in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. That’s big time. You can impress your boyfriends with all of this information Aunt Jules just googled.

Ah, Babe Ruth. Did you know your mom’s middle name is Ruth? She is named after your great-grandma. Your Aunt Jules, the oldest, will always see your mom as the baby of the family. Your mom got all of Aunt Jules’ and Aunt JJ’s hand-me-down clothes. She had to share a room with Aunt JJ. She had to play with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Uncle Jon. Now, don’t be feelin’ too bad for your mom – she doesn’t know what a curfew is either. This actually may work out in your favor 16 years from now, Bambino.

So when your mom and dad told Aunt Jules that you were on your way into her arms, Aunt Jules could only think one thing: Baby Ruth. Babe Ruth. The Great Bambino. Surely, it’s a boy.

No. Babe Ruth is a girl. She’s the Great Bambino.

Now tell me! Give me a hint in my dreams or something – when will you be here?! What is your real name? Are you bald? Will you be a lefty, like Babe Ruth? Without a doubt, you are very pretty. Aunt Jules is getting impatient. We’re past the 7th inning stretch, here. Aunt Jules needs to hold you, pretty little Bambino. Wrap you up like a ballpark hot dog, maybe in this new blanket Aunt Jules ordered:

Aunt Jules thinks of the best ideas in the shower.

Aunt Jules thinks of the best ideas in the shower.

Aunt Jules re-born: March 2013!

Guess what?!?!

Eeeeeeeeee!!! A gift for my niece, Gabby, and cousin no. 2!

I’m going to be an AUNT again!!

My baby sister, Jenna, and her new husband, Steven, are going to bless my other arm with a bundle of pink or blue in March! Aunt Jules is getting her hands full of babies!

I cannot wait to add to my collection of footprints!

Will those footsies be another niece? Or will it be a nephew? My parents have 3 granddaughters. Will the boy show up? Or will my sisters and our daughters forever share clothes, bobby pins, tampons, curling irons and makeup?  Whatever the sex, I am freaking PUMPED. This Aunthood is awesome. My sisters pop the babies out and I get to spoil them. No loss of sleep required.

I would like to give a shout-out to Jenna and Steven – thank you for not opting for the pet first (and tricking me into “fake aunt” status). Way to shoot for the gold and make a human right off the bat! 5 finger high-fives! No paws here!

Congrats, Jenna and Steven!

And Babe – I can’t wait to see your cute little face! Aunt Jules will be at your side on your birthday, just like she was for your cousin Gabby! I will live-tweet your birth! Aunt Jules is very good at keeping updates to friends and family! You have a lot of people waiting for you! We will hold hands while you scream and get your little lungs working. I will beg the nurse to double dip your feet in ink for my shirt. I’m never washing it, Babe. Your big cousins, Emma and Kate, will hold you in your little burrito of blankets while you sleep. Give me a hint, Babe! A pink or blue burrito??

It’s an Aunt JJ weekend!

My sister, Jessica, is not like any other aunt I know.  Jenna and Ashley do not act like Jessica when they are around the girls.  Jenna and Ashley don’t put up with the whining crap from Emma or the crying from Kate.  They know when to walk away and give me back the girls.

Jessica is her own Aunt breed.  She wants to see Emma and Kate so bad you would think she gave birth to them and got them taken away from her.  That’s how obsessed she is.

Jessica uses any excuse to get herself to Kansas City. This weekend is one of them.  Jessica will meet us at our parents late tonight. She will expect both girls to be awake for her arrival.  If not, she will wake them up.  I don’t have a problem with this only because she is the one that will take Emma for the weekend.  She would take Kate too if she were to take a bottle.  She will probably try and convince me to let her take Kate b/c “Kate will take a bottle from Auntie JJ”. Yeah right.

This is what their weekend will look like:

  • She will let Emma sleep with her in her old room at my parents all weekend.  Both nights.
  • They will kick Scott, her husband, out to another bed in the house so they can spread out in bed.
  • They will wake up extra early to put on makeup, do their hair, then make Scott make them breakfast.  Then they will plan their day.
  • She wants to go to the Renaissance Festival on Saturday so they can buy matching cone princess hats.
  • Jessica will drive Emma in her car.  Jessica will hold her hand the entire drive.
  • Jessica will show off her nieces to any stranger she sees.  Emma will want nothing to do with me.  Only JJ.
  • They will both cry when she goes back home on Sunday.

I’m really excited to be Emma-less this whole weekend.  Too bad Jessica can’t take Kate too.  I told Scott Jessica is coming into town this weekend.

 Oh good, we get a break from Emma.