Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas in Pictures

Merry Christmas! Christmas is full of surprises, and ours was no exception.

Midnight Mass is the highlight of the Christmas celebration for me, and this year we braved it once more, this time with 2 little ones. One little girl slept the whole time, not moving a muscle in response to the trumpets next to us, nor the merry greetings of those around us. One little girl was bright-eyed and wide awake for the entire duration. Now guess which one was which? ... No, guess again!!!

We had a slow start to Christmas morning, but once we made it downstairs (after lots of snuggling and milk) Bella was a transformed little girl. She caught on to unwrapping the presents and was thrilled with each treasure she found. Santa seemed to know exactly what my little girl would like, as is confirmed by her enthusiasm each morning since. She likes the idea of presents so much, in fact, that each present she unwraps now is greeted with an excited "WOW!" I loved watching her play with each toy, her eyes shining, running around in uncontainable excitement and pure joy.

Reality came to play throughout the morning, as well, in the form of lots of laundry. Bella went through 3 pairs of pajamas, Anastasia was on her 3rd outfit, Daddy and Mama each needed new attire, too. Both girls got a bath, and after lunch we ALL slept well! The good news is there was no real sickness, just phlegm and poorly positioned diapers. Lesson learned, I hope.

As we do every year we headed off to my parents' house after nap, and there we celebrated with the rest of my brothers and their families. The cousins have such a great time together, and the euphoria of Christmas only serves to heighten the mood... and the volume.

Click! Bella loves to "take pictures" and says "cheese" each time she gets her hands on an unattended camera.

oooo, what else is in there?

The Sunday before Christmas we enjoyed "breakfast with Santa" at our local volunteer fire company. Bella is in love with Frosty, and allowed him to hold her, but preferred to greet Santa from the safety of Mama's lap. Anastasia was more than cooperative for yet another photo op.

A Merry Christmas to All!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2008

Haul Out the Holly

We're just 2 days away from Christmas! Every year I look forward to this whole season with the joy and anticipation of a child; there is warmth and love everywhere, people are friendly, and I can even be civil while driving with the pleasant tones of Christmas carols on the radio. It is no secret that I am not a terribly organized person (perhaps that is an understatement?) and so this time every year also brings out a personal challenge to stay focused on the True Meaning and not get wrapped up (no pun intended) in the hoop-la. Of course, I LIKE the hoop-la, but I try to make my spiritual growth a priority, and not stress out about what I haven't done.

So this year... I haven't wrapped, baked, or hung up my wreaths. I didn't remember to put out our Advent tablecloth for a liturgical focus in our Domestic Church, and the Advent candles melted over the summer so we didn't even have an Advent Wreath. I decided to make my niece's Christmas gift and haven't started painting yet. I was going to write a blog post about the Best Christmas Music of all time. I didn't send out any Christmas cards.

I HAVE... spent a lot of time gazing lovingly into the eyes of a newborn. Isn't that what we're supposed to be preparing for, anyways? There is nothing glamorous about being 2 weeks post-partum and getting very little sleep. My house will not make the cover of a magazine for the "homiest most festive places on earth" and Martha Stewart does not want to conduct an interview to find out my holiday secrets. Instead, I am spending my time and energy on 2 little Pure and Spotless Souls.

I am watching all the tiny movements and listening to the squeaks and peeps of a newborn. As I feel her tiny breath upon my skin I contemplate another Newborn, and His first breaths. There was nothing glamorous about His first dwelling on earth, either. If I listen closely I can hear His voice in her grunts and peeps, and if I loo closely I can see His love through her eyes. I feel her warmth and know His love.

We're just 2 days away from Christmas, nothing is done, and yet this year I think I am more prepared for Christmas than I have ever been.

Baby Equipment: Second Child Edition

It's amazing how much you learn about baby "stuff" after you have your first. There is a long list of things that are marketed to first time parents as absolutely necessary, that you learn are completely superfluous. However, there are certain accessories that remain indispensable, although their usage may change...

The Cradle - Description: A beautiful, hand-crafted wood piece of furniture - the best-looking piece in our house, I might add, thanks to the talents of my brother. Provides a comfortable resting place that rocks gently, lulling the baby into peaceful slumber. Advantage: A high, safe place to put the baby, complete with pin that stops it from rocking to prevent little fingers from 1) slamming into the wall, and 2) rolling the baby roller-coaster style.

The Bouncy Seat - Description: light-weight seat that bounces gently with baby's tiny movements, which continuously calms them for either awake or sleepy periods. Advantage: Lightweight enough to pick up and move to higher ground to prevent that gentle bounce from becoming a catapult. ("Baby bounce!")

Sling - Description: comfy baby-wearing, snuggles baby close, easier on the back and allows mama to be a little more hands free. Advantage: Also doubles as toddler's back-up blanket.

Diaper Bag - 1st Child: An over-sized shoulder bag into which you put 2 changes of baby clothes, 25 diapers, wipes, rattles, camera, 2 pacifiers, your own wallet, cell phone, baby book, nursing pads, change of shirt for mama, extra keys and hair clip, baby tylenol, mama tylenol, receipt from last doc's appointment, granola bar and bottle of water. 5 months later: you change the style of bag because your back is killing you. 4 months later: you clean out the bag, realize how much junk is in there, and make the switch to a small bag that holds your ID, 2 diapers, a baggie of wipes since Toddler has pulled them out of their original container, and a quiet toy and book for Mass. On good days it may hold your camera, too, but let's not push it. Second Child: Back to the large bag, but this time it's full of newborn diapers and wipes, some toys for toddler, one larger diaper ("did I remember to bring one?") and your camera. Realize once you're at the doc's office that you forgot your insurance card again, which also means you've been driving without carrying your license again ("for how long?" you wonder). Your back is still killing you, but now it has nothing to do with the diaper bag.

Pacifier: That little plug you resist for the first baby for weeks, until her crying is so bad that you want someone else to hold her and not have her nurse 23 hours a day. It then taunts you for the next ___ months while you remind yourself that you weren't going to use it; it's only because she was so fussy. Second Child: she's sucking on one before you leave the hospital.

Yes, with experience comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes humility, and with humility comes... more children from which to become wise and humble.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Anastasia's Long Trip Home

These have been the fastest 2 weeks of my life, but I am finally getting around to share Anastasia's dramatic coming home story. This is a long narrative, but I want to remember the details to share with Anastasia someday.

I sent Patrick home on Thursday night to be with Bella and his mom, knowing he would be back up with us after Friday morning Mass. When I emerged from the bathroom Friday morning one of the pediatricians was assessing Anastasia, and mentioned casually that he wanted to run a CT scan of her head just to make sure she was fine. It was so casual that I figured I would ask more questions after the fact. Honestly, as a medical professional myself I can appreciate the caution used in the assessing/diagnostic phase of treatment, as you don't want to raise alarm unnecessarily. Like I said, I figured I would get myself ready for the day and ask questions when they came back. Little did I know that all hell was about to break loose.

When Anastasia returned the nurse said they were going to keep her for 24 hours of observation because they suspected a head injury. Before I could even get ahold of Patrick (he was at Mass at the time) they made the decision to airlift her to Children's Hospital in DC because the CT scan showed a subdural hematoma (a blood clot in the brain)! "Scared" does not even begin to describe the feeling that consumes a parent's being at that moment. I frantically called Patrick, who made it to Hagerstown in record time, thankfully in time to hold our little girl before she left. I pray that Anastasia is our only child to be baptized by her father - what a start to her Life in Christ, baptized with a syringe of salt water!

While I was waiting for Patrick and the transport team, I rocked and nursed my little girl, cradling her tightly in my arms. Pressing her against my heart, I whispered how much I loved her, and told her all about how much we had looked forward to meeting her. I prayed over her, recalling Scripture's command to call upon the Holy Spirit's gifts. I handed her over to the care of our Blessed Mother, knowing that Anastasia needed a Mama there even when I couldn't be. Then we did the hardest thing that I could have imagined - we entrusted her to the care of total strangers who carried her to the waiting helicopter.

I was and am so thankful to the staff at Washington County Hospital. My nurse was caring and kind, and worked double-time to get me discharged right away; she made all the paperwork quick and painless, fulfilled her obligations with lightening speed, even made sure I was medicated and had some extra supplies, all the while being so gentle and understanding. The lactation consultant ordered me a breast pump since I would be separated from Anastasia, hand-delivering all the supplies and instructions I would need. The nurse manager made sure I had directions to Children's; the transport team was affectionate toward her and reassuring toward us. More so even then all of that was the incredible outpouring of prayers I had from those people. The nurse midwife, lactation consultant, and RN all prayed with me. In a society where we are so afraid of offending people with religion, they stepped out from behind the professional curtain and prayed with a scared mama. Thanks be to God for such people.

When we were leaving we found out that my brothers Tom and Scott were on their way to pick us up so we didn't have to drive ourselves down there. Besides the obvious relief from not having to drive into DC in the midst of the biggest emotional crisis and adrenaline rush ever, there was the added benefit of having law enforcement behind the wheel. Thanks guys - my brothers have always been, and will always be, my heroes. If you can even imagine such a thing, they managed to keep the mood in the car reasonably light.

We arrived in the NICU at Children's and almost immediately heard music to our ears - "she's fine." As the NICU resident (doctor) assessed her, the nurse went over the details of a stay in the NICU, all the while saying "we don't think you'll be here very long. We think she'll go home in just a few days, maybe even tomorrow." Shortly after we finished the logistics, the NICU attending (highest-up doctor) came around and with a big smile announced that we were to be his shortest stay ever - we were going home! We just had to wait for my father and another brother to arrive with a carseat, and for Anastasia to eat. Unfortunately, this included a "car seat challenge" that's standard procedure for the NICU, in which the baby has to sit buckled in the seat for 45 minutes of observation. Crazy, I tell ya. My uncle and aunt came to meet Anastasia and brought us food (great Italian place in DC), and then we hung out in the waiting room taking turns visiting our precious, healthy baby.

As we walked out carrying our Precious Cargo, I took note of the time - we had been scheduled to be discharged from Hagerstown around 5pm, and we walked out of Children's at 5:15. God is so good, even in little simple details. He astounds me.

There is really no way to describe the emotions involved in such heartache of unknowing surrounding your child. The only way I can think of to summarize it is my heart is ripped in two and my very soul aches for my child. Time swirls around me with it's great offense, since my own world has stopped, and yet I am painfully aware that time must continue for the rest of my family. I would bounce between total enrapture with Anastasia and her condition and how long it had been since I held her, and suddenly be thrown with force into concern for Isabella, and if she was noticing our absence. (Which, by the way, she did not of course. Not only is she just 17 months old, but she had 2 grandmothers with her the whole time. I don't think she thought about us until we walked through the door!) I refuse to think "what if" and yet my mind wanders there in defiance of my will. Then, life changes abruptly again and we bring a healthy child home. In a single instance the world is restored to it's proper order, and the relief that washes over is more like a tidal wave or hurricane rather than a breeze. The adrenaline high starts to ebb as we drive home, and I spend the whole ride home just touching her face.

We were greeted at home with a whole party. The best part was Bella running into my arms; I had missed her so much! Although I had imagined a quieter homecoming, everyone's emotions had been on high alert all day and it was a blessing to have such a jovial outlet for everyone to unwind. It ended up being a perfect ending to the day, to be surrounded by love.

Speaking of which, I am humbled by the outpouring of prayers on our behalf. It still gives me goosebumps (alright, alright, I'll admit it brings me to tears) when I think of all the people who were praying for us. Words cannot even express how touched I am to realize how loved we are, and the faithful, prayerful, wonderful people we have in our lives. Truly the Body of Christ is a far-reaching reality - we had people praying for us from coast to coast (literally), Masses being offered up, rosaries said, phone calls of encouragement. Just this past Sunday I had yet another lady I didn't know come up to me just to congratulate us and let me know her family (5 kids) had been praying for us, thanks to the home-school email list. We've gotten a few emails from CA family and friends expressing their love and thankfulness. I was realizing that news spread through so many prayer networks so quickly that I don't even know who knows! That's fast work, and powerful prayers.

Through it all, the answer remained "With God's Grace" - no matter what the question was, total trust in Him was the only option. God often gives us opportunities to draw closer to Him, and I am eternally thankful, with an overflowing heart, for this outcome, and for our Beautiful, Healthy, Anastasia.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Coming Up For Air

Just dropping in from the underworld of a post-partum Mom to say hello and post a few pictures of the Latest Model.

A big shout of thanks to Alexis for keeping my faithful readers (all 3 of you) up-to-date on our adventures for a few days. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support and especially the prayers we have received. Words cannot express the depth of gratitude for the storming of heaven that was going on for our family! We know that God had a lot of people to whom He was listening on our behalf!

And with that said, please allow me to introduce (for the second time) Anastasia Kathryn! A beautiful, perfect, HEALTHY Gift from God!

The new Big Sister is in LOVE with "my baby Stacy" as she says... over and over throughout the day. The minute that Anastasia starts to cry Bella jumps up frantically insisting "Mama! Baby! Cry! Baby!" I have some competition for the role of Attentive Mama around here, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Just yesterday she was heading up the stairs and I asked her from my seat where she was going, to which she replied "Up see my baby."

Also overheard from the bathroom was "Baby, rock, wwhhheeeeee!" Nothing can get Mama moving faster than that combination of words. Turns out she was swinging her baby doll in Anastasia's swing.

As for the Little Babe Herself, Anastasia is doing great. She sleeps very well (Praise God!), nurses like a champ, and is an over-achiever in the pooping department - every mother's dream, right? We joke that she is false advertising for babies, because she slept through dinner at a restaurant, and when she wakes up she is bright-eyed and content. As I type right now she is sitting in the bouncy seat watching the Christmas lights on the tree not making a peep. I just sit back and stare at her, amazed at God's Goodness reflected in this precious infant. What a great reflection for Advent - but I digress.

I will post the details of our little adventure soon... "soon" being a relative term, but I promise to work on it. Also, for those interested in every little picture of The Newborn Anastasia you can check out our photo web page which has all of her pictures from the hospital as well as the continuing updates.

Friday, December 5, 2008


This is still Alexis, Kate is otherwise occupied.
I forgot my phone today in my bedroom, it's never in there. NEVER.
So I just listened to three voicemails in the span of 5 minutes and I'm crying but I'm not sure why. Here they are, in REVERSE order, for the sake of your hearts.
3. Anastasia is fine and released to go home. The diagnosis was wrong.
2. Anastasia is being taken to Children's hospital.
1. Anastasia has bleeding on the brain.

Phew. God is good. And they should all be home soon. Let's keep praying just in case!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Anastasia - Day 2

Anastasia (Drizella?) Tramma
For stats see the previous post

What the heck is she doing looking so good?! Both of them for that matter!

Proud Papa of two little ladies.

Bella and Stacia playing dress-up already.

"Give me that head! Soft spot be damned!"

Kate's thinking, "Here we go. I'm cool, calm and confident." Doesn't she look great?!

The new look of the Troup of Trammas. The Tribe of Trammas. Whatever.

Baby, Baby...

Alexis here, in for the new mother.

Welcome is in order for Anastasia Tramma! Born at 5:30 December 3rd, 2008. A little tax exemption, indeed.
She was born after 12 hours of difficult laboring and is healthy and apparently a good eater, pooper and sleeper. Every mother's dream.
The stats are: 7 lbs 10 oz. , 20 in. long and with a head of curly hair!

The best thing about the labor is that it's over.
I'm sure Kate will fill you in with the blood and guts details in a few days/weeks.
I will post some pictures as soon as I get some (later tonight?).

The trick now is to cast your vote for the middle name. Options are:
Katherine (after Kate)
Catherine (after Catherine of Sienna)
Francis (after Francis Xavier - feast day Anastasia was born on)
Frances (same as above but feminine version - possible for Frances de Chantal).

P.S. Bella loves, loves, loves her new little sister. It's going to be fun watching those two grow up together, so close in age. "Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters..."