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 birth of Kate.

Good evening.

It’s May 7, 2017. Kate is eight years old today.

It’s story time here on the blog.

I can’t think of a better story than the birth of Kate. I’ve never written Kate’s birth story. I’m a little surprised at this because birth stories are one of those staple stories we, as parents, tell one another. Placentas, foot-long needles to the spine, a smear of poo on your baby as it slides out – I mean, there’s no filter when it comes to birth stories. No, I didn’t poo on Kate.

Before I begin the story, I will tell you I am feeling more pain now than I did eight years ago. That’s because my dumbass decided to book a dugout suite to watch the Kansas City Royals play the Cleveland Indians on the afternoon of May 6th. This normally wouldn’t be a huge deal but the group of people we joined are good storytellers and their stories always include a party bus, two stripper poles, fireball shots, and Prince’s power ballad, Pussy Control.

Back to my daughter’s day of birth –

Kate was due May 17, 2009. On the evening of May 6th, I felt contractions. I couldn’t sleep through them. Once the contractions were five minutes apart, we called my parents to pick up Emma and headed to the hospital around 2 am on May 7th.

I changed into a hospital gown and monitors were wrapped around my belly. The nurse checked my cervix and we waited.

Nurse: No change. You’re at a 3.

Me: No change?! They’re five minutes apart!

Nurse: I’ll wait another hour but if you don’t move, I might have to send you home. You are welcome to walk the hallways and see if that helps.

I walked the hallways with Scott. Another nurse pushed a baby burrito past us in a clear bassinet.

Nurse: Look at this little girl! Her daddy is a Sporting KC player!

Scott: Really? That’s cool!

I stared at the baby. And then looked at the mountain attached to me.

Me: Don’t let anyone upstage you, Kate. GET OUT.

I waddled back to my room. The nurse checked me again.

Nurse: No change. I’m sorry, Julie. I’m going to have to send you back home.

Scott: And do what?

Nurse: Come back when the contractions get stronger or if her water breaks.

Scott: If her water breaks at home, I’ll be delivering a baby at my own house. You better send me with a handbook on how to deliver a baby.

Me: SCOTT.

Nurse: You’ll be ok. It’s probably false labor.

Scott: No, you don’t understand. She’s Mexican. Last time she had a baby and her water broke, the baby just flew out of her vagina. And the doctor said she’ll be faster with this one. Get ready for us to be on the news with a highway birth.

Me: Scott, it’s fine. We’ll go.

I walked into the bathroom to change into my own clothes. I held on to the sink. The contraction took my breath away. I walked out to the nurse’s station where Scott was still arguing with the nurse. He was writing down notes on the hospital admittance form.

Scott: So I’ll take the shoelace and tie it around the umbilical cord?

Me: Oh my God. Let’s go.

Scott: This nurse is making a huge mistake. Sending us home like this when you’re clearly in labor.

Scott drove me home. The morning light was just starting to fill the sky with color. I was quiet. The contractions were intensifying.

Scott: I guess I’ll call my parents and tell them false alarm. They’re probably almost to Kansas City by now.

Me: Uh huh.

Scott: Why don’t they induce you? What kind of nurse is that?

Me: Mm.

For the next 30 minutes, Scott drove back to our home. We turned down our street. I felt liquid on my legs. I jumped out of the seat.

Me: SCOTT!

Scott: WHAT’S WRONG. WHAT.

Me: Scott. I think. I think my water broke. It’s all wet. Everything is soaked. Scott this can’t happen. Why did she break my water on our street? KATE!!

Scott: Are you sure? Are you sure your water broke?

Me: I know I didn’t pee. It’s gushing. Scott, I can’t stop it. I’m wearing your pajama pants. It’s all over my car! She’s not letting anyone upstage her.

Scott: What?

Me: Just go.

Scott turned around and floored it.

Scott: Damnit. We’re going to hit the morning rush hour traffic.

Scott started to make phone calls. I cried with the pain and the fear of my fast deliveries.

Scott: I DARE A COP TO PULL ME OVER. THIS IS THIS STUPID NURSE’S FAULT. I’M GOING TO FIND HER AND RAISE HELL.

Me: Don’t. Don’t kill us. Scott, you need to hurry.

Another 30 minutes passed and Scott pulled up to the hospital again. A nurse ran out of the emergency department with a wheel chair. I stood up out of the car. Water gushed again. I cried.

Nurse: Yep, your water broke. Let’s go. Dad, park the car and meet her in labor and delivery.

My room sat untouched since I left an hour before. Another nurse walked in.

Nurse: Yep, that’s amniotic fluid. Go change into a gown in the bathroom. If you need to, go ahead and pee too.

I sat on the toilet and peed. I wiped and looked inside the toilet. White flakes were everywhere.

Me: HEY! What is all this? Is something wrong? There’s white flakes in my pee!

The nurse walked in.

Nurse: That’s amniotic fluid. It’s normal. Nice and clear. That’s good.

Me: Oh. Hold on, another contraction. Ok. What happened to the other nurse in here?

Nurse: We had a shift change.

Me: Oh, thank God. No ass ripping.

Nurse: What?

Me: Nothing.

Nurse: I’m going to check you and if you’re far enough, we’ll call the epidural team in here.

Scott arrived. I was at a 6 and the epidural team wheeled their cart in. I finally sat in my bed, relieved I couldn’t feel anything anymore. The nurse walked in again to check me.

Nurse: Wow. You really go fast, don’t you? You’re ready to push!

Me: But I didn’t even get to close my eyes.

Nurse: I’ll call your doctor.

The hospital staff prepped the room. Lights came down out of the ceiling. Stirrups were placed in front of me.

Nurse: Bad news. Your doctor is stuck in traffic.

Scott: Are you kidding me? Can’t one of you deliver her?

Nurse: We could but legally can’t. I’ll call a doctor off the floor. Oh, honey. This baby is falling out.

Another nurse ran in and held Kate’s head. The nurse ran out of the room and ten seconds later a female doctor walked in. She put her hands up, like she was being held hostage.

Doctor: I don’t deliver babies.

Me: WHAT!

Doctor: I didn’t sign up for this. I’m not an obstetrician. I’m a D.O.

Me: You’re not a doctor? What the hell is a D.O.?

I looked at the nurse holding Kate’s head. My legs were spread as far as they could in the angry D.O.’s face.

Oh my God. She’s scared of my big vagina.

Scott: Looks like you’re delivering one now. Someone better catch my daughter or I will.

Nurse: We’ll talk you through it.

I didn’t push. Kate fell into the doctor-but-not-an-obstetrician-doctor’s hands. Kate cried. The nurse took Kate and put her on my chest.

Me: Oh, Kate.

Scott: Hi, Kate! Happy Birthday.

Me: Scott, her hair! She has blonde hair.

My real doctor ran in as the nurse helped Scott cut the cord.

Me: Oh, thank God. Don’t let that woman near me with a needle and thread.

Doctor: I’m so sorry. The traffic. I’ll finish you up. We’re going to deliver the placenta. You might have to push again.

A nurse took Kate away.

Doctor: Beautiful. Placenta looks good. I’m going to stitch you up. What’s your daughter’s name?

Me: Kate. Her name is Kate Audrey.

Scott: Hey! I won the baby football pot! It’s 5-7-9! And 8:30 am!

Me: SCOTT!

Happy birthday, Kate! May 7, 2009 at 8:27 a.m. – you never did let that other baby in the hospital upstage you. You always have the best stories.

___________

Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

The letter U.

I’ve been waiting for the letter U.

I wanted to write a post on this but never found the inspiration. It’s a personal subject matter. It’s one of those subjects that creeps up at the age of 35 and it makes me wonder if I’m doing it right.

The only way I know if I’m doing it right is if I pull your pants down.

The letter U.

Underwear.

What kind of underwear do you wear?

I mean, obviously, if you’re a guy you will have a completely different answer than what I’m wearing. Scott wears boxer briefs. He always looks good in them. He has the perfect bubble butt and you should really check him out sometime. He could be an underwear model.

I’m 35 and still wearing a string up my butt.

Ladies, are we still wearing thongs?

I started wearing thongs in high school because my best friend, Patti, wore thongs. It felt weird for a few weeks but then it didn’t feel like anything anymore. The stringier, the better.

High school Julie, college Julie, just married Julie: Thongs were acceptable and encouraged.

Pregnant Julie and postpartum Julie: I was still in my early 20s. I didn’t know any better. In fact, a string up my pregnant butt made me feel like I could still fit into something. I left the hospital in a big ‘ole pair of granny panties with an ice pack stuffed down them. I thought my thong days were destroyed with the rest of my body.

Nope. I bounced back to my old ways.

Pregnant Julie again: The string up my pregnant butt was stretched even more. To threads.

And now, age 35 Julie: All I have are thongs. I have thongs from high school. I don’t even know how they survived 18 years. Holy shit. 18 years? I’m too old for thongs. Am I too old for thongs?

I tried “normal” bikini cut underwear. I can’t do it. It’s too much fabric. I feel like I’m wearing two pairs of pants and who needs pants anyway. At what age do women stop wearing thongs? I’m sure I’ll hang on to my drawer ‘o thongs from 1999 and roll those right into the nursing home in 40 years.

But really – what kind of underwear do you wear? I’m curious. I can’t exactly pull your pants down. But I sorta pulled my own down and that’s why I never wrote about this until the letter U showed up.

Oh but before I leave, it’s not called panties. It’s called underwear.

___________

Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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The letter I.

ICE CREAM.

It’s ice cream.

The letter I. 

My favorite food in the entire world is ice cream. Ice cream sounds good on a full stomach. Ice cream sounds better on an empty stomach. My death row final meal – ice cream. My pat-on-the-back treat every night for not killing anyone? Ice cream. Who screams for ice cream? That would be me if one of my piglet family members eats the last of my ice cream in the freezer.

I once chased an ice cream truck for two blocks in my old neighborhood. This probably sounds slightly psychotic for a grown woman to chase an ice cream truck but to top it off, I also carried a 2-year-old on my hip and I was 9 months pregnant with Kate. I damn near went into labor. Baby Kate enjoyed her chocolate Sundae Crunch Bar that day. She didn’t arrive until a week later when she was finally ready to meet the mother that built her bones via a solid stream of ice cream.

She later broke her tibia bone at age one but that’s besides the point.

It was just this January, almost eight years later, when Kate gave me a lesson in motherhood. It’s a lesson I won’t forget, mainly because it involves ice cream.

This particular January night’s excuse for ice cream was because the night fell on one of the coldest nights of the season. That means the ice cream won’t melt.

Kate: Can we get some ice cream?

Scott: I’m not taking you. Ask your mother.

Me: Yes! Let’s try that new Freezing Moo place. They roll the ice cream from liquid in front of you. I heard it’s good. Go put some pants on over your leotard.

Kate: Why do I need pants?

Me: Because I’ll look like a terrible mother if I brought you inside an ice cream store with no pants on. It’s 13 degrees out.

Kate: But you ARE a terrible mother.

Me: WHAT?!

Kate: Your reason should be because I’ll get cold, not what others think of you.

And that’s how Kate became a better mom than me over a shared cup of ice cream.

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___________

Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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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.

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.