Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Day We Got a Second Chance to Live

Today is AFE (Amniotic Fluid Embolism) Awareness Day, and I'd like to help raise awareness by sharing my story.     

AFE is not a common occurrence. The survival rate is low. Many precious moms and babies loose their lives to AFE. Of the ones that do survive, many are often in comas and in ICU for weeks or even months. Then there are those like me who are off the ventilator and able to hold their baby in less than 24 hours.   

Not much is know about AFE, and there is a research project underway that I plan to participate in through the AFE Foundation. To learn more, please visit

Our Story: 

  March 20, is the first day of spring. A time when we are reminded of rebirth and new beginnings. This day, six years ago, was certainly a new beginning for our family, in a way we didn't expect. 

Jonathan's labor was a normal one. But something unexpected happened near the end. My uterus began a contraction and didn't stop. The placenta completely separated from the uterine wall (placental abruption). Jonathan, at that moment, was cut off from his oxygen supply from me. He was left with only what remained... I couldn't breath; I couldn't talk; I couldn't move. We believe at this time I also experienced an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE). All of these things on their own, let alone all together, are extreme emergencies. 

 We were rushed into the OR for an emergency C-section. I was put completely under since I opted to not get an epidural or any pain meds during labor. This was truly a blessing, for all that happened next I didn't need to be awake. 

Jonathan was delivered with an APGAR of 1 out of 10. He had only a heart beat of less than 30. He was completely grey and limp. He had to be resuscitated. His odds of surviving weren't good. I'll never forget the nurse saying afterwards that they were all praying out loud for Jonathan. And after several minutes he took his first breath. His blood gases revealed that he was only 1/100th of a point away from having brain damage. 

While in the OR, I began bleeding out. It's called DIC. In nursing school the abbreviation for Disseminated Intravascualar Coagulation stands for "Death is Coming." My blood pressure dropped and remained extremely low for hours. They were constantly palpating for pulses to make sure I was perfusing. My family was told I might not make it. There were no platelets in the hospital. I needed one more operation, that might save me - but it couldn't be done until platelets arrived. 

I received over 17 units of blood and blood products. My family and the or team prayed over me. The surgery stopped the bleeding and nine hours after giving birth, 8 of which were spent in the OR, I awoke on the ventilator. 

Marty told me all that had happened as soon as I woke up, but I couldn't ask questions b/c of the vent. I remember doing the sign for baby and was told I couldn't see him yet, but that they'd make a picture of him and bring that to me. I remained on the vent for nine more hours and was weaned off. Seventeen hours later, I got to hold my little one for the first time, but I had no strength.
The first time I held Jonathan
    I fought hard to nurse Jonathan. For the first three weeks there was NO milk. I didn't give  up. After three years, I had to make him stop! 

  It took a full year to regain my strength. My short term memory and concentration was terrible. And I still struggle to find the right words at times. I worried I wouldn't be able to homeschool my children. My OB told me the best thing I could do is homeschool. He said it would be not only good for the kids, but excellent for me, too. 
I prayed. My family prayed. Our friends prayed.

I am so grateful to be healed, to have a perfectly healthy son, and that we are both alive.

Our family changed. My husband no longer takes jobs where he travels constantly. Being together is what's important. He has sacrificed executive positions to be home. I know that's been hard on him, but he'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Taking a deep breath and being with family is not taken for granted. I hope to never take one day for granted - for every single breath is a gift. And I hope to always live my life in a way that honors the giver of life, Jesus. And that no matter what struggles or hardships we face - because there will be more, we always find our hope in Him.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Grandmother's Pound Cake Recipe with a Chocolate Pound Cake Variation

Because you've asked, here's my grandmother's yummy Pound Cake recipe. If you want a Chocolate Pound Cake, I will share how to do that, too.


1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
1/2 c. butter Crisco shortening sticks (it's yellow!)
3 c. sugar
3 c. plain flour (sift!)
1/2 tsp. baking powder (sift together with the flour after the first cup)
6 large eggs
4 tbs. coco powder - if you want a chocolate pound cake. (add it to flour to sift)
1 c. whole milk
2  tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. butter flavoring - may pour vanilla and butter flavoring in with milk

What to do:

Spray your pan with "Baker's Joy" to keep from sticking. It has flour in it.

In your stand mixer,  cream butter and shortening. Add sugar and cream again. Begin adding in 3 tbs. of flour and the baking powder mixture and a little bit (1/8 of a cup maybe) of the milk with vanilla and butter flavoring while adding in one egg yolk at a time. (You will beat egg whites separately.) Make sure you start and end with the flour!

Then beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks with a hand mixer. (Be sure you don't get any yolk or have any butter on your whisks otherwise, the peaks will never form! Take it from me...)
Keep your main mixture mixing on the stand at a speed of 2.

Then, with a spatula fold the egg whites into your main mixture.

Bake at 325 for 1 hr and 20 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!!

Place on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before transferring to your cake plate. Don't put the lid on the cake plate until the cake has completely cooled, otherwise it will sweat.

Go ahead a cut a piece to share with your family. My grandma is a big believer in savoring the moment and not waiting - who knows what may happen between now ... and .... then. Enjoy it NOW!

*After cooking for 1 hr and 20 minutes if the top has cracks, that means there is NO raw streak. You can always test this by sticking a tooth pick as far down as it will go. If it comes out clean, it's done.


~ Hope and Grandma Peggy

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cranberry Thanksgiving: Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread

Reading Cranberry Thanksgiving (aff) has been a part of our Thanksgiving tradition for the last five years. We've enjoyed utilizing different elements in the unit study curriculum, Five in a Row, Volume 1 for this story over the years as well. But there has always been one important portion of the story we haven't made time to do: bake the secret recipe for Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread.

Today we actually made Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread. It's secret recipe was highly sought after in the story, and we now know why! It is super yummy.

Making individual ingredients turn into something incredibly tummy satisfying!

All three of our little ones helped gather the ingredients and carefully measure everything we needed. 

Our oldest used a sifter (or shifter as the kids were calling it in the beginning- too funny, but shows how many times we've used one!) for the first time. We made sure to sift all the powdery ingredients a couple of times through together.

And there's no way to grate orange zest and not eat an orange, too! A few fresh cranberries made their way into our mouths as well.

 After all the ingredients were poured into the pan, it looked like this.

 And our kitchen looked like this! - even after a little picking up

As our bread cooled on the wire rack and it's aroma filled the air, it was all we could do not to dig in!

I am so glad we took time today to explore the elements of leavening chemical reactions, take another look at the physical properties of fresh cranberries, and hone our mathematical dry and wet ingredient measuring skills, and fine tune our fine motor skills while dicing fresh cranberries.

A wonderful way to spend an hour or so on a rainy December afternoon.

*The recipe for Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread can be found on the back cover of the book. And it's easily viewed as the second image on the Amazon link, too.


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