Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happy Ground Hog Day

I don't have much to say about this "holiday." Come on, about the best we could do is get a possum (preferably a live one) and dress it up.

I do however, have a mildly amusing story. When I was in the first grade, the teacher asked to see my mother after class. It seems that earlier in the day the teacher had announced to the class that it was ground hog day. She asked any of us if we knew what a ground hog was. I replied, "Sausage." She was still laughing when she reported this to my mom.

I answered the question like a true Southern child.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!!!

The birth of a child is definitely something to be celebrated. The happiness we felt when we found that we were pregnant was second to none. Let’s go to the back story…

I wasn’t sure I wanted to have children. I had taken care of lots of brothers and sisters when I was growing up. I was no stranger to stinky diapers, Similac, and getting up in the middle of the night. I was so afraid that I would be tied down if I ever had children.

I don’t know what happened! I went from being scared to having to children to it being the center of mine and John’s world. Poor John. Every month he watched me sobbing in the bathroom as my unwanted monthly “friend” showed up to rob us of our dreams of having a baby. I started a round of infertility treatments that included Clomid, taking my temperature every single day and charts—lots of charts. I can remember telling John that we had to do “it” tonight and he responded, “This is not romance, this is reproduction.” Actually I could see his point of view. Three and a half long years went by. I even missed a period for 45 days. Things were really looking up. But unfortunately, it ended badly.

In the summer of 1985, my sister Diane had even done a Ouija board with one of her friends, Maria who told Diane that “Marie very sick” and then she further pronounced that I was definitely going to get pregnant. I told Diane that I thought I would be pregnant in December and that it would be a girl.

But as the summer went on to fall, we were no closer to our dream. Then came that fateful day in October 1985 when I was sitting in Dr. Orso’s office and reading the magazines. I was no stranger to spending a lot of time looking jealously at the pregnant women. This day, however I found a McCall’s magazine that had an article on infertility. Eureka!! I found information that described exactly my symptoms! I knew I had endometriosis.

I can remember taking the article into Dr. Orso’s office and he, too, was just as interested as I was. He immediately scheduled me for a laparotomy. Sure enough, my intuitive side was correct.

John could not stay with me because by this time, his company had sent him to Augusta, Georgia for a long term assignment. He was unable to stay with me for my three day stay at St. Vincent’s Hospital. John’s mom, Marie, came and spent that time with me. We stayed up and talked at night, every night. I filled her in on the whole ordeal. She was so excited that we had been trying so hard to have a baby. She and Tony had no idea that they even had a chance of being grandparents. We talked about John as a baby and stories about his family. Little did I know just how important this time together would be.

I spent the next several weeks staying at my parents’ house. By this time Diane and Jim were living there with Kelsey and I got to spend a lot of time with my shy little niece.

And wow! My intuition was definitely working overtime! It took six weeks to heal and then Christmas Eve, 1985, I went to the doctor. I was veryyyy late and just knew I was pregnant. I couldn’t wait to see Dr. Orso. I was having visions of having my whole family sitting around and breaking the big news. But that never happened. Dr. Orso came to me with an ashen face. I knew before he spoke that it was not good. I was just simply late. But the thought kept nagging, what if the test was wrong?

Christmas was good, but I to admit that I was really disappointed. John and I “celebrated” with mimosas (champagne and orange juice). What the heck?

The next day, I woke up—I had to be pregnant. I just knew. I showed up at Dr. Orso’s office with another urine sample and begged for one more test. By this time, the whole staff knew me and looked with pity as they saw my little jar of pee.

I’ll never forget it—Dr. Orso came running down the hallway—we were pregnant!! And I don’t mean the royal “we”! John, Dr. Orso and I started jumping all around!! Then I started crying because I was worried about the champagne. Dr. Orso quickly told me to let it go and enjoy.

We drove home talking ninety to nothing. We had to have a celebration. I still wanted the “moment” in which we made the BIG announcement. We had to do it right. We quickly invited Bobby and Bebe, Marie and Tony and Sally and Grant for an “after Christmas” dinner. And the menu!! Standing crown with the frou frou hats, madelines, all the best dishes I knew how to make.

We got out the best dishes and laid a gorgeous table in our dining room at our house in Bluff Park.

Then they all came. They all ate. We had so much fun. We went down to the den. It was time for the surprise. We gave out long boxes (the kind that hold necklaces) to everyone with directions to open them up at the same time. Inside there was a poem that described all of our ups and downs, ending with the wonderful news! I will NEVER forget the looks on their faces. Clearly, we all agreed that it was the best Christmas present ever. My mom commented that all the old ladies at St. Aloysius were going to be thrilled because we had been on their prayer lists. We took pictures. We still didn’t know what was ahead.

What was ahead was I was sewing the following Sunday afternoon. I was busy making maternity skirts. We got a call to come to the hospital. Marie was sick.

On the day she died she called her sisters into the hospital room and told them that she was going to be a grandmother. Everyone cried. I went into shock. Uh oh. The rest of the prediction was coming true.

She died January 8, 1986. I can remember shutting down. I was so afraid that if I allowed myself to truly grieve I would surely lose this baby. I went inside for the remainder of the pregnancy. I put up a wall to keep from coming to grips with our family’s tragic loss. I had weird dreams. I dreamed about watermelon. I dreamed about grapes. I dreamed that our baby pulled my stomach and was standing in my car near the steering wheel. I dreamed that Marie came to me and comforted me. She told me not to worry about anything that she was doing well. It was not the last time that she was going to help me.

I kept teaching aerobics. I let that belly grow and I showed it off. This was in the day long before this was popular. I was definitely a pioneer! I was so happy and relished every Braxton Hicks contraction, morning sickness at night (go figure), learning to sleep with six pillows, child birth classes, learning the Bradley method—it was quite a ride!! We even went to Spain in my last trimester since we knew we were never going to travel again.

My due date came and went. True to form, our baby was coming late. Yes, she was going to be a real Lovoy. Then the day came when I had had it. I went to the doctor in a foul mood. I was done. I went to the doctor that day and he sent me back home. Wahh.

That night we ate well—I remember having some chocolate cake. Then late that night—I knew it was time. John helped me get showered and then off we went. What a trip!! I was throwing up the entire way. Yuk!!

We got to St. Vincent’s and there was apparently there was full moon that night because there were tons of pregnant women there. Yep, the hospital was pretty full as well. Darn it!! And no delivery rooms!! They put me in a stainless steel room with a lone bed. It was eerily like a laboratory. I started crying because this is not what I pictured. Bring me a barf bag. I was getting worse by the minute. I stayed there for what seemed like hours but in reality was probably not very long. The minute the luxurious birthing suite came available, I was in!

We had a crazy delivery! I was dutifully doing my Bradley deep breathing, asking about sea urchins and worrying about whether the single delivery room nurse had a full dating life and what we could do about it. I remember feeling Marie’s presence again in the hospital and knowing that she was helping me again. Meanwhile the cheerful hospital chaplain priest wanted to come in and I was not very happy about that and I let him know my feelings. John’s Aunt Nancy made a surprise visit (also in a cheerful mood) and I wasn’t the happiest camper in the room. I was being pioneer woman and trying to tough out the pain. These cheerful visitors were driving me nuts!

Meanwhile, I was seeing other doctors in the practice but not Dr. Orso, he wasn’t on call. Finally late the next afternoon, Dr. Orso came on! Let the games begin!!! He said Casey/Elizabeth/Rebecca/Suzanne was in trouble. I should mention at this juncture that we still hadn’t settled on a name. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. Back to the baby. Dr. O said that she was getting stressed and he needed to do a C-Section ASAP. He also said that he had to give me drugs. By this time, my protest was pretty faint. When the meds started working, I was soooo happy. John stayed in the operating room while I listened to Dr. O tell all the attending folks that he remembered when we worked at Lloyd Noland Hospital together. He also talked about how badly we wanted our baby. He said that he had delivered a lot of babies but felt like this was one of his own.

By this time we knew that we wanted to name our baby Casey. Casey however, had other ideas about being born. Dr. Orso had to practically drag her out because she had nestled as high up as she could go. To this day, she loves being warm and I know the roots of that habit!

We were tired but happy. All of my family showed up and they were so excited!

Our elation turned into being scared. In the middle of the night the pediatrician came by and said that
Casey was in trouble. She had swallowed meconium in utero and needed to go into intensive care. Oh no. John and I both got very quiet. We were so close to having our baby and then losing her.

The next several days were so scary. Wires, monitors, glass incubator, structured visitor’s hours. The only light spot was when Dr. Bill Johnston came into the room and told us that he hated to tell us that she was going to be short. Then John stood up. The baby doc saw quickly that Casey had gotten no help from her parents in the height department!

He also performed another miracle. I didn’t want to go home even though that was the normal practice. I could barely walk (I think my knee was sewed to my chin during the C-Section!) He decided to write an order that I had to remain there for Casey. Lovely man…

Then came the day when we hobbled to the nursery and I got to hold her. I will never forget that face looking up at me.

Hello, Sunshine. Welcome to the world, baby girl.

Casey Williams Lovoy

Don’t know why we waited so long.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My Grandmother's Attic

You know, my grandmother on my dad's side was never the big lap, big chested, cookie baking grandmother. Instead she has been a trim woman who sent herself back to college after her husband died. She got a degree and became a high school biology teacher. Though she didn't fit the stereotypical grandmother mold, there was one area in which she truly topped all grandmothers: her attic. It had to be the coolest (or hottest!) place on earth! Because it was the attic, it could get as hot as Hades or stinkin' cold, depending on the time of the year. But that never seemed to matter to us as kids.

There were exotic oriental rugs on the floor. And, no, these didn't come from Wal-mart; she actually went to China to get them. In fact, she traveled all over the world! And because she was a biology teacher, there was a skeleton up there (no, not the "family" kind) but the real thing hanging on a rack. She had scales and enamel pans and other weird assorted stuff you might find in lab.

But as a dreamy adolescent, that wasn't the thing that I loved the most. I treasured the right hand side of the attic. That where all the cool mementos, furniture, and souvenirs from other countries lived. My Aunt Lucy had dried corsages, jewelry, and various stuff that girls save while in high school. My aunt is really cute, so I loved envisioning her high school days. Additionally there were postcards from around the world, strange lamps, big overstuffed chairs, odd tables, vintage clothes, an old "Pin the Donkey" set that now lives in my scrapbook room, you name it. My brothers and sisters and I spent hours discovering all the treasures packed in tissue in the mysterious boxes from stores that existed in those days such as Pizitz, Loveman's, and Burger Phillips.

When we arrived at her house, we would go through the perfunctory, "My, how you've grown stage," (or really it was usually, "Can you explain the DNA molecule?" question) But after we got all that visiting (and pop biology quiz-yikes!) out of the way, we headed straight to the double wooden doors that lead us straight to Narnia. Whoa! We didn't need a wardrobe.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Victoria's Little Secret

One Saturday morning several years ago, our doorbell rang very early. It seems that the cute, single woman who was the house guest of our neighbors, had locked herself out of the house. What struck me was how she was dressed. She had darling house shoes, beautiful sexy pajamas and a silk robe. I quickly compared my own "evening attire" of a t-shirt and underwear to her ensemble. Needless to say, I came up short and felt a bit shabby.

When the neighbors came back home, I asked her if her visitor always looked that good. She smiled, ruefully, and said that she had gotten to see quite a collection of feminine nighttime attire and she found herself paying more attention to her own choices for what she wore at night. I confessed that her appearance at my doorstep had caused me to take a step back with an appraising eye at myself and I realized that I needed to shape up. And that lasted for about 6 months. I have gradually slipped back into something comfortable that would never be found on the pages of Victoria Secret. Hmmm, the Victoria's Semi-Annual Sale starts tomorrow. I think I need another house call...