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As we prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse, it’s important for us to know how long our medicines and vitamins will last and update our stash of expired bottles, so I made that my September de-cluttering challenge. 😉

Seriously, we are as homeopathic as we can be, but a few weeks ago my son had such a terrible headache that we went for the hard stuff. I pulled the ibuprofen & acetaminophen out of the medicine drawer and it was expired. I wasn’t all that surprised because we hardly ever use it, but then I was faced with a dilemma. Let my child be in pain, or give him expired drugs in the hopes of killing the headache.

I hopped online and did a little research (after giving him the Tylenol) and found out that it’s up to me to decide how long to continue using medicines after the printed expiration date on the bottle. Whew. What a relief. Thank you Google for clearing that up for me.

According to this article by the Harvard Medical School, and many other sites I found, drug manufacturers are required by law to stamp a date on their products. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug. HOWEVER, in a study done by the FDA, at the request of the military, 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date, so the expiration date doesn’t necessarily indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use.

“It’s true the effectiveness of a drug may decrease over time, but much of the original potency remains even a decade after the expiration date. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military. Placing a medication in a cool place, such as a refrigerator, will help a drug remain potent for many years.”

Good to know.

We’re not into taking medication unless it’s REALLY needed, so we don’t keep a full medicine cabinet, but I still decided to take a look at every bottle we do have and toss most of the expired stuff – especially the liquids. Here’s a picture of what I threw away. I added the quarter for size comparison. I’m clever like that.

One more thing. Here’s an article from the FDA which explains the proper disposal of over the counter and prescription drugs:

http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm101653.htm

Moving on…

October’s Writing Challenge:

I emailed Don, my American friend living in France, and asked him to hold me accountable with my writing. Being a blogger himself, I knew he’d understand the need for motivation in the form of a challenge. WordPress issued such a challenge back in January, but suggested it to me again for the month of October. A post-a-day challenge is just what I need to get my butt in gear and quit making excuses for not writing. You can read about it at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/.

Consider this Day 1. 🙂

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Here it is. The post I’ve been avoiding for a few weeks. After the last exciting post, I’ve truly dreaded writing this one. My heart aches daily and I can’t fix it. If you’re my friend on Facebook, this is old news by now. Little Christopher, the blessing I delivered on July 12th, went home to be with Jesus on July 22nd.

While I am grateful for the 10 days we all got to love on him, I have struggled every day since then to understand why, how, and what if. I’ve been a part of his life both in and out of the womb for the past 8 months and now I feel like I’ve lost another child. According to all of the paperwork, I’ve lost a grandchild. Lexi listed me as her mother. As big of a responsibility and honor as that role is, I’m at a loss trying to comfort her when I’m grieving so deeply myself. I love her and I know she knows it. God help me to love her like she needs me to.

I said in the last post that some things are too sacred to share, and some are just too private, but I can tell you this: Little Chris got an infection in his umbilical stump inside of his body after his cord fell off. By the time he was admitted to the hospital, the infection had spread and surgery was required. He was transferred to Children’s Hospital in Denver where they did everything they could for him, but he died the next day. I can’t say any more. It makes the top 5 worst days of my adult life.

Gathering around a table to remember what we’ve been given and to celebrate life is fairly normal for my family, so we held a memorial service for Little Chris at the park in Boulder, underneath the library. There were about 20 people there: some street friends, volunteers from Stand Up for Kids, a few close friends, and of course our family and summer interns. We played a slide show of the pictures we had taken of him, and lit a candle for each day of his short life. Everyone was given an opportunity to say a few words, and I choked my way through my brief speech. We ended our time together in a circle of prayer, and at Lexi’s request, a group scream. You had to be there.

I had strewn small river rock over the table, so we invited everyone to take a pebble with them or throw one in the creek that rushes by the library. I scooped up 11 pebbles, and one by one, my friend Nesti and I threw them into the creek as reminders: one each for love, healing, hope, friends, family, community, peace, joy, strength, and the promise of seeing him again someday. I kissed the 11th stone and asked Little Christopher to please tell my sweet baby that I love her and that I’ll see her someday too, and I aimed for the rapids and let it fly. Nesti and I stood there and cried together for awhile. As I was beginning to calm down, Benny pulled me into a hug, kissed me, and whispered that he too had thrown a rock in for our baby. I love that man!

The cremation was a few days later and nothing prepares you for that experience. I had to sign a waiver to be present at the cremation, and now I understand why. The mortuary was wonderful to us and they tried to prepare us the best they could, but it was a jarring experience and one I hope never to repeat. Every one of us that was present at his birth was present at his cremation. We all decorated the box he was cremated in, and wrote letters to him. I poured my heart out in a 3 page letter, then sealed it and watched as Lexi placed it inside. I said what I needed to say, and there was a little healing in that for me.  It was difficult to watch Chris (Little Christopher’s dad) go between silently pulling into himself and weeping. We all grieve so differently. I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him everything would be O.K. when I myself was feeling the sharp sting of death. I think we all did a pretty good job of encouraging each other through that day, and what had begun as friends 3 weeks earlier, brought us close together and made us family.

Today I received a package in the mail for Lexi and Chris – molds of Little Christopher’s hands and feet – a gift from Children’s Hospital. We’ll open it together when I see them on Wednesday, and there will be more tears (probably mine) as another milestone passes. I hope tomorrow will be a little easier than today.

My sincerest thanks goes out to Bob Flory, the director of Pastoral Care at Children’s Hospital Colorado, all of the wonderful nurses and doctors from Boulder Community Hospital and Children’s Hospital, and John DeMers of Crist Mortuary in Boulder. These people were kind and supportive during this horrible time. God bless you all! To my fellow grievers and friends who have loved us through this tragedy, thank you for not letting us walk this path alone!

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  • I used Google Maps to find the house where my friend was in labor.
  • I timed contractions using the timer function.
  • I played soothing music on my iPod to keep my friend as calm as possible.
  • I checked the weather to see how long the rain would last.
  • I played Words with Friends while my friend sat in the tub for a bit.
  • I texted with my husband for moral support.
  • I chatted with my midwife friend for general information.
  • I updated Twitter/Facebook to tell everyone I had just delivered a baby.
  • I took lots of pictures.

So I got your attention with the title of the post, now let me share more about the experience itself. My friend, who prefers the term “houseless” to being called “homeless”, told me back in January that she was expecting. For the past several months we’ve been talking and planning what would happen on the big day when it arrived. Being the hippie that she is – and I use that term with love – she wanted to deliver at the campsite she and her boyfriend were staying at, and I begged her to let me be a part of it. Instead she was staying with a friend when the baby decided it was time. (Click on the images to enlarge them.)A week ago today, I got the phone call I had been waiting for and made the drive to be with her as she labored. This being my first experience with a home birth, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had been a doula (care person for the mother) for two of my friends, but it had been in a hospital. I was a little out of my element this time, but tried my best to be prepared for anything. Little did I know that I would be catching a baby.

The dad, a friend we’ve known for a couple of years, was a great support person. I was so proud of him. We passed the day chatting, timing contractions, and doing everything we could to make my friend comfortable as she did all the hard work. Labor and delivery are fascinating! The body knows what to do and my friend had to pay attention and figure it out as she went along with the cues her body was giving her. I tried to make suggestions when I could, but it was up to her, and she was a trooper.

A midwife friend coached me through delivering the baby and the placenta, taking care of the umbilical cord, everything. It was amazing! 9 hours after I arrived, little Christopher took his first breath. I whispered a quick blessing over him as I laid him on his mommy and began cleaning him up and looking him over. I was nervous but had been praying all day for wisdom, guidance, and peace and felt all of those things. God is so good! My friends gained 6 lbs. and 14 oz. of blessing, and I will never be the same for having been a part of it all. There is so much more I could say, but some things seem too sacred to share on the internet. My friends are now learning how to parent and be a family, and I’m honored that I can speak truth, love, and hope into their lives.

Yes, my iPhone came in pretty handy, but it was nothing compared to God’s calming presence as heaven touched earth and I experienced the miracle of new life with my friends.

         

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