Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Was that a tornado in my yard?

Chet standing with the fallen tree - this bad boy is HUGE!
Tuesday, May 24 2011 started off a normal day.  The sun was shinning and the birds were chirping.  All day the news, online headlines and campus was buzzing about the possibility for severe weather.  The forecasters were calling it a perfect storm for multiple tornadoes later in the day and it became clear that it wasn't a matter of "If" the tornadoes would happen but "Where" they would touch down.  As the doom became more clear I decided to move up my dental appointment and get home early just to be safe.  I was driving home by 3:30 and arrived at our house on S Country Club Rd to cloudy skies.
First step was getting the jeep as far under our open shed to protect it against possible hail.  Next, I opened the shelter door to help vent it, because it gets very hot in there, and I wanted to be ready just in case.  Shortly after Chet came home and we started dinner.  This was one of his rare nights off, and I am beyond grateful that he was here with me for this crazy night, otherwise full yankee panic would have set in!  I was glued to the TV with the news the in the kitchen while I cooked and Chet zoned out with Andy Zimern in the living room.  Only minutes later they announced that the first "large destructive rain-wrapped tornado" was on the ground about 2  hours away and headed right for Stillwater.  As the situation became more intense, Chet joined me in the kitchen as several other tornadoes were identified on the ground.  Though they were getting closer, still none had reached us by about 40 miles.
Taken on the back porch, shortly after the tornado
Outside the sky went from cloudy, to very dark and began to growl at us.  I brought both cats inside and started to get very nervous.  Chet was watching closely but still didn't seem to worried and was convinced the tornadoes would not make their way to us.  We sat down to eat dinner and the news man started to mention Stillwater.  I was ready to head to the shelter but Chet didn't want to go, there was no immediate danger yet.  The satellite began to go in and out as the storm outside started to get fired up.  It began to down pour and we watched the windows as the sky got worse.
View of damage so close to the house the next morning
The last thing we heard from the news man was him saying "Stillwater, get ready" because the storm was directly above us though the tornadoes on the ground were still far away.  Very quickly the situation changed.  The satellite went out for good, and Chet went to look outside from the front porch.  He called me to the front door and said "Listen, do you hear that?"  Faintly above the noise of the rain and storm I heard what sounded like a jet engine coming from the west side.  We realized we could hear a tornado coming right for us.  Chet told me to run to the master closet and I grabbed the kitten on my way.  The power went out, and the house got dark.  I wanted to head to the tornado shelter but he told me there was no time.  We ran to the closet and the storm became madness outside as we watched branches and leaves flying around.  We stayed on the floor in the closet for about 5 minutes while the storm raged outside.  As it started to ease up Chet went to investigate and I stole a peek out the back door.
It was then we realized a 40 ft tree had been torn up by the roots and lay along the house. 
I went back into the closet and Chet evaluated the storm.  I called my Mom as the reality of the situation hit me and I began to panic.  A tornado had just come through our yard and picked up a massive tree.  At this point I had no idea of the damage, and it also dawned on me that my cat Friday was somewhere outside.  Chet came to get me shortly later and we headed to the porch to evaluate.
Huge limbs down along the driveway
The tree that fell was at least 40 ft tall and fell to the East onto a second tree that was now snapping in half.  Both trees sit along our fence line about 30 feet from our home.  It was God's hand that allowed it to fall in that direction, because had it fallen north it would have collapsed right on our house.  We could see debris all over the property but it was raining and lighting badly still so we waited on the porch for the storm to ease up.  As the rain lessened we ventured off the porch to see significant sized limbs down along the driveway, a large branch on the roof and porch and the big tree completely up rooted along the house.  But the house stood almost untouched, not a single broken window!  And even more shocking, Chet's truck parked directly in front of the house was untouched despite being only a few feet from where the tree had been pulled by the tornado and was ripped from the ground.  We realized we had not been hit by the full force of the tornado, it had hop scotched through the property only touching down twice to damage trees but somehow it had jumped over the house and Chet's truck.  It was clearly a very close call. 
Branch across the front porch and on the roof
As we walked around the property, I was no doubt feeling the stress and began to have some contractions.  It really sunk in how bad this could have been and the fact that our lives had been in real danger.  I cut my photo time short and went to lay down, the baby was obviously feeling my stress and she was kicking me all over the place after my painful contractions.  After I rested with my feet up and drank some water the contractions stopped and I felt better.  Friday, our cat, even returned to the house shortly after the storm passed and she was completely fine.  I have no idea where she was hiding during the tornado but she came home safe!
  Shortly later our neighbors came by to say that several power lines and trees were across the road up north and completely blocked the road.  The biggest surprise that they told us was that our neighbors had completely lost two homes and two barns but thankfully no one was hurt.  They live north on the road to us about 1/8 of a mile away.  We attempted to go see the damage but the power lines prevented us from getting close.  Even at a distance we could see it was bad. 
We returned to the house and prepared for the night.  Thankfully, the temperature dropped because we also had no AC and I was starting to get very uncomfortable.  We opened up the windows and I tried to get some sleep though I didn't have much luck.  We could hear the power company and emergency services up the road working to clear the road and help the neighbors. By 6 am (12 hours later) the power came back on. 

The view from the S Country Club Rd
2nd story is completely gone, this is where our neighbors lived.
Wednesday morning I videoed the damage to our house and the neighbors.  I did not get to see the 2nd house that was damaged, it was a bit much for me to take in.  Our neighbor Jerry completely lost his barn, it was leveled and debris was scattered everywhere.  It was hard to tell his large barn had even been there, the pieces were everywhere!  I couldn't believe we had missed the major damage and it really sunk in how lucky we were.  We still had our home!  I took pictures of our road and the homes and barns that were destroyed.  It was scary how bad the damage was, and it was so close to us!  From the damage to the trees you can clearly make out the path of the tornado.
We are thankful that no one was hurt.  We learned later that the news was not aware of the tornado that hit us, and it touched down less than three miles from our house and headed straight for us.  We only got the tail of it on our property as it went back up, most of the tornado was concentrated right down the road.  The sound we heard when standing on our front porch was indeed the tornado coming for us!  There was no way for us to know a tornado was on the ground at that time!
Along my road, the path of the tornado.

Next step will be cleaning up, and praying our thanks that we walked away from it all and even had a home to return to.  This could have been much worse!   We are hoping our neighbors are able to rebuild. 

This used to be a 2 story barn right down the road.
Whats left of our neighbor's two story home.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mommy Can Do It!

This week marked the second week of my baby class.  I am one of the lucky ones that I have some experience with babies, so I am approaching this whole mommy thing with some idea of what I am getting myself into.  I had lots of young cousins running around when I was a kid, I was a pro babysitter during my teenage years and it seemed I was always holding or caring for babies at my church.  I realize this in NO WAY makes me an expert, but I have some confidence with the basics. That being said, I also realize I have a lot to learn, especially regarding child birth.  That road is definitely a new (scary, painful, stressful, mysterious) one I have not yet taken and I feel its best to learn and prepare all I can.  If I had a quarter for every time the nurse who is teaching the class said "It's not like they show on TV" I'd be able to buy more pink clothes. 

This post is in no way going to cover all that I will learn, but instead I am going to share some of my own reactions to this enlightening information. 
First lets start with the obvious.  It's pretty clear to me why God gave women the job of childbirth, men can't handle this stuff.  Yes, I am implying that ALL MEN are simply incapable of taking on this monumental task.  Case in point, my own husband isn't even attending the classes with me.  His reaction to blood, hormones, talk of labor, mention of bloodily fluids, or anything else related to all the crazy stuff going on with my body and he is desperate to change the subject or leave the room.  He just doesn't get it, and doesn't care to learn either.  Hence my stance when it comes to him is: Ignorance is Bliss.  I am pretty confident that if he saw the birth video (all 2 minutes of it) last night in class he would have thrown up, fainted, or refused to enter my hospital room on the big day.  So at the hope of at least having him in the room to hold my hand, I am sparing him from the knowledge of all that is going to happen.  Forget him watching our baby's delivery or cutting the cord, I will be lucky if he is able to stay on his feel during the whole process.  Knowing how very worthless he is going to be on delivery day, I hope my Mom is able to be here in time.  And if not, I am thankful to have my friend Julie on stand by to be with me.  Either way, I am relying on the women to help me get through the process!  
Doubting my sincerity?  Consider this:  I have not missed a single day from work thus far despite morning sickness, a crappy first trimester and the fattest ankles you have ever seen.  And now I am going to add months of 90-100+ degree weather to the final trimester and still plan to work until the day my contractions start.  My sister and I painted and set up the nursery and registered for baby supplies without so much as input from Chet.  I go to most of my prenatal appointments alone because Chet is too busy or not interested, heaven forbid the appointment include drawing blood or an exam and he won't even stay in the room.  On the day of my ultrasound which I scheduled at 1:00 PM so Chet would not have to get up early, he rolled out of bed about 20 minutes before the appointment and was grumpy and miserable the entire time.  I didn't get a single smile or laugh from him the entire appointment because he was still in his "I just woke up" mood.  He has no desire to feel a kicks or hear about baby updates and we are stilll unable to decide on a name.   He has actually rolled his eyes or turned up the TV if I try to start a baby talk conversation.  Pawn stars trumps baby talk.  Even watching me put coco butter on my growing belly is something he considers weird.  However, he does feel he can complain about his back pain or being tired lately.  My heart just breaks with sympathy for the poor man.  My other pregnant friends get back rubs and sympathy from their husbands but Chet doesn't even bother to ask me how I am doing.  Yea, it's pretty clear that if someone is going to be prepared for baby- it's going to be me! 

But anyway, back to birth class.  I'd say my nurse is very versed in labor, and has a ton of great information.  But her presentation skills and tact are not exactly what I would have expected.  I went to class with some real fear and anxiety about this experience and have yet to really feel better about it.   During the first class she felt it would be appropriate to share a story about a time her husband brought home a bunch of fish to clean in her kitchen.  His ensuing mess of blood, guts and gunk everywhere made her say "It looks like someone gave birth in here".  The perfect story to tell a scared first time mom, don't you think?  It conjured up a picture in my mind of own delivery room splattered with blood and fluids... and fish scales. 
There was also the time she was holding a life size infant doll and pelvis bones to demonstrate how baby comes through the birth canal.  As she tried to show how baby passed through she said "Opps, hope I don't rip off the baby's arms".  Another perfect comment which made my eyes bug and I whispered to my friend "Can the baby's arms get ripped off?!?!".   Then she dropped the baby by accident.  Oh lord, what am I getting myself into?

This past week was all about labor.  I am glad to know about it but still freaked about the pain.  Terms like "Burning ring of fire" and "back labor" make it sound like such a fun experience.  Especially when I heard there is no pain medication to help with either of those situations.  In one of the videos the new mother was being interviewed and she said one of the best things about delivery was not being pregnant anymore.  Right on Mama, we all hear you on that one.  That gives you some perspective right?  Labor sucks, but hey at least your not pregnant anymore (which can also be pretty sucky).  And to add insult to injury, all the baby daddies got a lesson on massage and ways to help alieveate stress and pressure during labor by practicing rubbing and massaging the Mama's in class.  I was alone so I just watched, Chet was at home watching TV. 

Do I feel ready for labor?  No, not yet but I have about 15 weeks left to go to get me ready.  Does Chet need an attitude change?  Yes, and a shuffle of priorities would be nice too.  But what can I do beside prepare myself and keep laughing as I watch my tummy move and bump with her kicks.  I know I am being a good Mommy by learning what I can and trying to enjoy the ride.  I may not love everything about pregnancy, but I love this baby dearly and it's also an amazing experience.  All in all, this road my be bumpy and a lot of the time I am riding it alone but it's headed in the right direction and has all the promise of a happy ending!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

If she's not Suzy, then whose been kicking me?

So here I am at 23 weeks pregnant (my doctor said "yeah, you made it more than halfway!") and though I feel I have made all this progress there has definitely been a major step back this week.  Prior to my 18 week ultrasound I was determined to have chosen names for the baby.  This resulted in list making, baby name book buying and lots of thinking.  Chet and I chose Wyatt almost right away but the girl name was harder for us.  We have very different tastes and we simply could not agree on name for several weeks.
At last, during a conversation Chet agreed to Suzanne, my favorite pick.  I was gleeful and he was careless.  In retrospect I now see he did this because he was pretty sure we were having a boy and he was ready to be done with the conversation, not because he actually liked the name or intended to use it.  I shared the name with friends, I rejoiced!  And sure enough, the ultrasound revealed a little girl!  Hooray for baby Suzy!  I talked to my belly, I bonded with her as my baby girl Suzy.  I referred to her by name, I pictured a little pigtailed girl Suzy running around my kitchen.  I even imagined yelling at her with the extra syllable emphasis "SU-ZANNE!".  I was completely in love with the name. 

But almost immediately after the ultrasound, Chet started to back track saying he didn't like the name.  At first I ignored him, he was just giving me a hard time because it was the girl I hoped it would be.  He joked that he would call her "jip" because he got gypped with another girl.  It was funny, and I thought mostly jokes.  I thought "he will come around to the name since he agreed to it already".  I had even made him say at the time "I like it" so he must have been OK with it.  And even if it wasn't his favorite name, I thought he would settle for it since this clearly was what I wanted and shouldn't the lady carrying the baby have more say?  Didn't I have the right to put my foot down on this topic considering all I was going through to have the baby?  Just like Callie said on Grey's Anatomy, the Dad gets a vote, the Mom gets a vote and the vagina gets a vote.  That ruled 2-1 in favor of the name Suzy. 
Sadly, it became more and more clear to me that Chet was not on board with the name and he continued to comment on his dislike for the name choice.  As the reality of this sunk in, I was heart broken.  I cried big crocodile, hormone induced tears.  I sobbed!  I loved the name!  I felt the name issue had long been decided and I was extremely attached.  If it wasn't Suzy, then who is it in there kicking me? 

Then I thought we had reached a compromise, he wanted to nick name her "Trixie" and I agreed if  her real name would still be Suzy.  I thought this was a brilliant idea, and fun name between daddy and daughter and something special the two of them could share.  I quickly went back to my happy place, and thought we had reached a solution.  It was short lived, because when I probed him the following day he said he could never picture himself introducing her as Suzy or Suzanne, which is the name I thought we would normally use.  It was one thing to have a nick name used at home, but it's something else to have half of the world calling her by one name and the the other half of the world knows her as another name.  In the hopes of not giving the child two names and confusing her we went back to the drawing board. 
So here we are.  23 weeks down, 17 more to go.  116 days till her due date.  And nameless.
Yes, I know we have 4 months to decide.  Yes, I know we should choose a name we BOTH like.  Yes, I know this is important and we can't rush it.  So while I go back to list making and thinking I am also trying to come to terms with the idea that this little girl in my belly isn't Suzy after all.  That has been harder than choosing new names.  Don't get me wrong, it's not hopeless but I am sad.   Will I ever love another name like I did with Suzanne?  Does it matter if I settle on something I like less?  Big picture perspective says what really matters is that we love our daughter, and really everything else is just paperwork.