Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thoughts on Hypnobabies

I'm not so sure about this Hypnobabies thing.  I'm on day three and so far I've done a lot of arguing with the book and hypnosis CDs.  I think my main issue is that the book and CDs focus on eliminating pain in birth and I'm really not worried about the pain, I'm worried about the baby breathing and being alive after birth.  And I'm skeptical about this whole pain free birth thing.  I was relaxed, calm, went into my first birth without any fear, and it still hurt a LOT at the end there (Lesson learned from birth number one: When midwives say, "It will get more intense," they mean "You will feel pain that will make you yell in such a way that your husband will still talk about it a year after the birth).

My issues with control are making this endeavor even more difficult.  I don't like being told to create a safe place where birth is normal and pressure waves don't hurt, but make you smile.  Every time the calm CD narrator instructs me to use the term "pressure waves" or "birthing time" I cringe and roll my eyes even though I am supposed to be "deeply relaxed and unaware of my surroundings." I don't like being told what to do, it's my contrary nature, I've carried it with me since birth, and I don't think now is the time to work on a personality shift (especially since I'm stubborn).

Another part of my personality that is making this more difficult is my deep desire to adhere to stated rules.  Here is my mindset: the instructions say to do a, b, c so I must do a, b, c even though I don't like it and don't feel like it's working for me.  This morning I sat down with the book, skimmed through some of the chapters, and decided most of it isn't for me.  The second chapter focuses on nutrition.  Um, I'll be 29 weeks tomorrow, isn't that a little late to be informing me of the importance of protein and how bad aspartame is for me? There is also a lot of talk about how labor works, how the baby is positioned in the body, what a uterus is ... all things I am aware of and don't need further instruction on.

I will say that I think this could be a fabulous program for a first time mama. And there are components of it that I do like such as the "Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations" CD which I listen to everyday.  I'm committed to that CD and I am going to listen to the others, choose what I like, what works for me, and ignore the rest.

I feel some guilt about making that decision so quickly, especially since it cost $150.00, but I don't want to stress about it, or over think it, or push myself to use it when it just frustrates me.  There's a "Fear Clearing Session" coming up - perhaps that will be a useful one, and maybe the CDs meant for labor will help too.  I'm willing to continue trying, but I can't follow the exact rules, it's just too much, and I can't find the excitement for it.  When I was pregnant with Charlotte I wanted to read and learn everything I could about birth and I think I would have loved this program then.  I'm still interested in birth, in our choices as women, in how birth is treated in the United States, but for this particular birth I just want to get through it, find myself on the other side and see what greets me there.

How did you get through your labor/delivery after loss?  If you're pregnant with your rainbow now how are you feeling about the upcoming birth?  What are you doing to prepare?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Baby Feet

Entering the third trimester hasn't been as emotionally hazardous as I thought it would be, but the physical aspects of this pregnancy are much more difficult to navigate than my first.  I want to sit on the couch, eat, read, and sleep, but I also feel this insane urge to clean the house.  If only I hurt less, if only I slept more, maybe then I could find the motivation to leverage myself off the couch and tackle the nesting projects my hormonal self insists must be done.

I should sweep and mop the floors today since J was in the yard all weekend digging a trench - part one of our major summer backyard project - and as a result there is more dirt in the house than the yard, but for the first time in a long while I'm reading a book (Under the Harrow by Mark Dunn) that is stretching my brain and I may just spend my day with it and a dictionary (I haven't had to look up this many words in a novel in years, if ever) on the couch.

What makes me even more likely to stay on the couch is this: Bennett has discovered he can push his feet into my ribs if he stretches his little self out.  I could spend hours feeling his feet, then gently pushing them back down, followed by another stretch, and a gentle push from me.  If this is the only interaction I'll have with him I want to savor and remember it.  Those little feet make the hip, back and belly aches and pains worth it and I hope I see them kicking the new, fresh outside air in twelve (!) or so weeks.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I see you everywhere ...

... or at least I should, but most days you are not at the forefront of my mind.  It's crowded in there, dear girl, and you are not being edged out, but you are moving aside.  But then, unexpectedly, there are days when you shove your way forward and I find myself staring across a restaurant at a little girl my stomach tightening, eyes tingling, wondering where you've gone and - how again? - I lost you.

I've been thinking about birth a lot lately which inevitably brings me back to yours.  I still can't find the thread, the one sliver of information or insight that leads to the moment where it all went wrong.  Life from that invisible moment has been inexplicable.  Here I am, twenty-seven, nearly twenty-eight now, with two babies, one dead, one growing.  Of course it goes without saying that this is monumental, overwhelming, confusing, but I'm still beating the proverbial dead horse on this one.

I seem to (finally) have eased into year two without you.  I don't carry you where I did that first year, but you are still present, curled within me always.  Today I looked across that restaurant and saw a hint of you, which left me feeling stunned and empty.  And later in the day, while your daddy worked in the yard and I cheered him on because I am carrying your brother and my "help" is really not seen as such, I saw you so vividly at my feet I nearly bent down to lift you up for a squeeze.

Love you, love you, love you.  Miss you endlessly.

Mama

Thursday, June 23, 2011

28 week appointment

What a fabulous day.  The midwife at the maternal fetal medicine clinic who I was dreading seeing wasn't in today (she was at a sweat lodge ...?) so I met with the wonderful Dr. K.  I like him SO much and was glad to have a quick meeting with him since I am in the third trimester now.

I didn't have my favorite ultrasound tech, but she still did a good job.  She's a bit more abrupt than the one I normally see and when Bennett once again refused to move his head she dropped me into a reclining position so fast I thought I would slide right off the table  The tech I usually see does it last, asks how I am doing periodically and makes sure I don't stay in that position very long.  Today I was left in the steeper than normal recline while she checked his head, then his belly and just as I was feeling dizzy and about to ask to sit up for a moment she brought me back up.  Then she had me try my left side, then my right, but baby boy refused to move.  I can say that the back of his head is lovely and he has a bit of hair.

I thought I was going to have a panic attack when she was measuring the width of his belly because she did it three times and frowned while doing so.  When Dr. K came in I could tell he was leading up to something and thought for sure Bennett's kidneys weren't functioning correctly.  Turns out he has a slight variation in his veins in one area, nothing to worry about, but Dr. K said he is going to keep a close eye on his arteries and veins from here on out to make sure.  He said on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worse, he would classify it as a 1 so I decided not to worry about the fact that I didn't fully understand what he was talking about.

My Vitamin D levels are really, really low so Dr. K has me on a high dosage for the next six weeks, but other than that I'm well and so is baby.  For now I will see my midwife in two weeks, then head back down to the mfm clinic two weeks after that, then see my midwife two weeks after that ... etc.  The midwife at the mfm clinic will be away when I head in for my next visit which means Dr. K is the one I will see next time as well.

Bennett is 2 lbs, 7 oz, he is swallowing, peeing, kicking and doing everything he is supposed to except make it easy for the ultrasound techs to measure his head.  I guess we'll know what he looks like when he's born.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

6.19.11

We are doing nothing today.  That's what J wanted, so that is what we are doing.  We skipped church, we played video games together this morning (he's still up there now, will probably be there for the rest of the day) and then I began sorting through what we have for Bennett.

Thanks to my requests for non-gender specific sheets and blankets when I was pregnant with Charlotte, and the clothes shopping I can't seem to stop myself from doing, we have everything for Bennett aside from diaper wipes.  I am hesitant to buy too many clothes because Charlotte was so small.  I don't think Bennett will be 5 lbs like his sister so I've stocked up on 0-3 months and 3-6 month clothes and if we need more newborn sizes (I have a take home outfit and a couple sleepers) we'll buy them after he's born.

There are some items we will definitely not need.  I have 10 receiving blankets, 4 swaddle blankets, 4 fluffy fleece blankets and 2 sleep sacks.  I think he will be warm enough come winter.

As I was making piles of clothes and blankets in the co-sleeper I wondered if Bennett will ever use the co-sleeper, or need the clothes or diapers.  Yesterday we went to Costco to pick up a few items.  I had a coupon for diapers but couldn't bring myself to use it because the box said up to 16 lbs on it and I can't imagine Bennett coming home with us and becoming a 16 lb baby.  I did, however, buy three sleepers.  Can someone please explain this to me?  My grief addled brain seems to be lacking all logic.  

I can't believe we're ready for Bennett when I am only 27 weeks.  Is setting up the nursery a sign of hope or simply a means of distraction?  To be completely honest I just want to be at the end of this pregnancy.  I want to know if he's alive or not, if he's here with us.

I have the clothes, random baby gear, stroller, car seat, crib, co-sleeper ... I just need a living baby.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

I'm never sure what to do with this one.  J has been out of sorts lately, but I'm not sure I can pin it to the upcoming day like I could with me.  He hasn't been sleeping well, or feeling well (though the gluten free diet would have a bit of an effect by now) which could explain his grumpiness.

I asked him outright if Father's Day is upsetting for him, but he brushed me off so I've decided to leave it alone.  I want to be acknowledged on Mother's Day, but perhaps speaking of it is too difficult for him.  He didn't buy me anything for Mother's Day - though a card would have been nice - but he did take me out for the day so I wouldn't sit at home and mope.

I am taking his lack of interest in Mother's Day as a sign that he doesn't want a gift or card for Father's Day, but now I'm wondering if that really is the best idea.  I have no idea whatsoever how to handle this one.  I bought him a card last year and framed a picture of him with Charlotte, but he wasn't very appreciative of the gesture.  It was all so fresh back then though that it may not have been the best time.

If I did buy a present for him what would I buy?  What do you get for the father with two babies - one dead, one anticipated?  Somehow a tool kit or 'World's Best Dad' mug doesn't seem like the appropriate thing.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm sorry

I've been feeling so uncomfortable, grumpy, done with being pregnant, generally whiny.  But then two rainbows gone, a baby delivered early, who is doing well so far thank the Lord, and I am firmly reminded by the universe to shut up and be grateful.

I believe in a kind and loving Father who is with my Charlotte at this very moment in heaven.  I trust Him and it is only through my faith that I am making it through this pregnancy (as pathetic and ungraceful as the making it is).  And yet every time a baby dies, every time a mother and father have to say good-bye to another baby I question just who is in charge and what in the world this in charge person is thinking.  I know many in this world who don't have faith, or who have lost their faith, and honestly I don't blame them for giving up on the idea of someone out there who cares about them.

Once you're in this bereaved world there is no leaving, and really there is no better place to be lost than here, but when the numbers swell and the absolute unfairness of it all once again washes over me I can't help but want to find a way out, a path away from this sad place where no one is free from experiencing the sorrow of losing another child though we have all lost at least one and one is really more than the universe should demand from us.

I wish I had words, a way to ease the sorrow, but there is nothing I can say beyond the inadequate and really quite useless - I'm sorry.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Birth: Sharing It

I didn't want to tell anyone I was in labor with Charlotte.  I let my parents know as well as J's and that was it.  I asked them, months before I went into labor, to keep it quiet because I wanted to keep it to myself.  I had a sense of uneasiness about Charlotte that would not go away throughout the pregnancy and I wanted to make it through birth before telling friends and family it was happening.  I wanted a healthy baby in my arms before I posted on fb or texted half my address book about my water breaking (hard to believe what I initially thought of as first time mama craziness was in fact some prescient understanding that all was not well).  

Stacked on top of that was the concern that if I told people I was in labor I would be focusing on them waiting for me instead of the baby and birth because I cannot stand the feeling (even if it's false) of inconveniencing people, of making them wait, of taking a long time to do what some can accomplish in a short time. And looking back at how long I was in labor I'm glad I didn't share the news even though my decision didn't settle well with some.

The time between Charlotte's birth and death was frantic, unexpected, almost otherworldly.  Somehow in that time period the no sharing rule was lifted without my consent and information (as well as misinformation) about Charlotte's birth, her health, and mine were posted onto fb.  I don't want to explore this further, it brings up a lot of hurt, pain and betrayal, but it is integral to this post that the information be included.  Arriving home to phone calls of congratulations, confusion and sorrow was devastating and confusing.  And it left me with a lot of questions.

Why are there so few boundaries when it comes to social networks?  Time and again I have had friends complain about the fact that they asked family members to refrain from posting pictures or stats about their birth to fb only to have family members turn around and post anyway.  I know we live differently and more openly now than our ancestors ever anticipated we would, but I don't think that openness has to lead to an absolute disregard of privacy.  And I think there is at least one simple rule everyone can and should follow:  If it's not your news don't share it.  

I know some people could care less about who knows, who is at the hospital, who tweets, texts, shares on fb, but for me it's a huge issue.  When information about Charlotte began floating around I was disappointed because I had so little time with her, so few precious scraps of information to share, and I, perhaps selfishly, wanted to hoard what I could for as long as felt right.  I hope I have more than a birth weight, length, time of birth and death to share about Bennett.  I want to post silly, and annoying I'm sure, status updates about him and his little life as he grows, but I also want to be the one to begin the sharing and I want to do it on my own time.

I carry so many emotions about birth, both the last and the upcoming one, the nightmares and dreams are endless. My brain cannot seem to cope with all of the worries whirling around in there during the day so at night I give birth again and again and again and half the time the dream involves me pulling the baby close after birth and fretting about fb or posting on fb.  I'm not kidding or exaggerating about this ... though I really wish I was.

I am already so frustrated that I won't be able to birth where I want and I think, though I cannot figure out how, those feelings are tied in with the post-traumatic fb stress I'm carrying around.  It's no secret that I feel uncomfortable about birthing at the hospital.  I have forged a tentative peace with the idea, but if a magic birth genie showed up in my living room tomorrow and said, "You can have a home birth, all will be well," I would order a birth tub the next second. Add in the knowledge that people will want to know I am in labor, will expect updates, will want a call, will show up at the hospital and that uncomfortable feeling grows ten times in size.

I fear that my water will break, or contractions will begin and I'll lose it, just fall apart screaming and wailing.  I need to focus on labor, on making it through without revisiting Charlotte's birth, which I think could lead to a tenseness and fear so extreme my labor will stop.  I do not need to think about fb, or text messages, or who is waiting for what news via what avenue.

And that is why I am writing all of this.  I hope to shed anxiety, leave some worry here, acknowledge that I am loved, that we are surrounded by people who care for us, but also remind myself that it is my choice, my birth, my body, my family.  J and I rule this little nest of ours and making people unhappy or disappointed or upset with decisions we make regarding our family is of little concern to us (I may need to repeat this three times a day until I go into labor).

What do you think about all of this?  Am I being irrational?  Those who have had babies after loss, did you feel possessive about details and pictures when they were born?  How about those who haven't lost babies: how did you feel about spreading the word?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five Years



We've been married for five years today, J and I.  And I really wanted to write something fabulous, but I don't have the words.  This marriage thing has been so hard - and much of that traces back to our little girl gone - but rewarding, loving, amazing too.  I know now that five years is a long time to have someone and each year, each day, each hour with this person I committed my self to is something to be thankful for.  Blessed to have him and my beautiful babies.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Baby boy,

You have been gestating for twenty-six weeks today.  It's hard to believe we've been hanging out for that long.  Sometimes late at night before I fall asleep, or in the early morning when you decide sleep time is over and kick (actually it's more like flail) time has begun, I wonder if we are reaching our end.  At twenty-six weeks with your sister I only had eleven weeks left to parent her living soul. What if I only have eleven, or twelve, or thirteen more with you?  I should be treasuring this more, shouldn't I?

I do my best not to take this for granted and I don't assume that you will be here longer than me.  Of course I hope with all my heart that you will stay but expectations and assumptions are no longer welcome here.

I just want you to know that I am taking this moment in the sunshine in the backyard to sit with you, to hope for you and us, to think about you coming home in September, to believe in your strength and life.  You are here with me now and I want you to know you are loved (really, a lot, by so many) and anticipated.  It must be hard to be the one after, the expected one, the one who makes mama nervous, scared and hopeful, but you will always be my special one, my first rainbow, my spark.  I know it's a lot to ask, but please stay, please grow, please come to us in September with breath and cries and strength.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

25 week appointment

I had an appointment with my midwife today.  I wish all of my appointments could be like this morning.  I know I need to see the specialists, keep having ultrasounds done but they don't tell stories about catching babies in ambulances or let me borrow a fetoscope so I can listen to Bennett's heart beating away whenever I want without using the doppler.

I had my glucose test this morning.  I tested high with Charlotte, but that pregnancy was very different so I think the numbers this time around should be well within normal range.  Bennett is doing well, his heart rate was in its normal range, he woke up midway through the appointment and started moving around like mad.  I'm doing well: blood pressure is fine, weight is fine (I am five pounds shy of the weight I was at when I delivered Charlotte.  I think my weight gain will end up around 35 as opposed to 25 pounds this time around, but that's still normal), the initial fundal height was measured at 29 cm, but that didn't seem correct.  After a re-measurement it came out right on track at 26 cm.  Overall I am having a perfectly normal pregnancy.  Hopefully this trend will continue as I move into the third trimester in three short weeks (Eeeeek!).

I think the third trimester, labor and birth will be my most difficult moments in this pregnancy.  If anyone at any time even hints at Bennett being a small baby I will lose my mind.  My midwife and I talked about Hypnobabies this morning.  J and I will start using that program once we've ordered it.  Anyone used it?  Thoughts or opinions?  It's supposed to help with relaxation and I am already feeling massive amounts of anxiety about labor and birth.  I am afraid I will tense up which makes birthing a baby very, very difficult.

Well, that's enough baby talk.  Thanks for reading all the way through.  How about a picture of Isabel napping to end this post?  I know she looks super shaggy, we are going to give her a summer shave as soon as the new clippers arrive on our doorstep.  I love when she naps like this:


And then I tried to sneak up and take a closer shot.  She wasn't pleased with me for waking her up:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

6.5.11

I am incapable of handling change calmly and gracefully.  It's simply not in my nature.  No one likes change, or at least most people don't, but I am absolutely, adamantly against it.  I like consistency and sameness.  I am, at my core, a very boring person.  I think my inflexibility is the one thing J would change about me if he could because he has to live in fear of telling me about changes in plans and he has to deal with the aftermath. I don't like it when plans change, I don't like it when life changes, I don't like to be told one thing will be happening and then have it change (even something so simple as dinner plans).

When Charlotte died my inability to handle change only grew.  When she died I was left standing in the middle of what felt like a wasteland stomping my feet and yelling But I thought full term babies ALWAYS came home!  What do you mean she's dead?!  That was the most life altering change I have ever experienced and I didn't see it coming, it didn't feature in my life at all, not even as a faint possibility.

Now that a year has gone by I feel like I'm slowly, steadily regaining ground, figuring life out once more, doing fairly well.  And then something will come up (recent example: J requiring a gluten free diet) and I'm in a state of utter meltdown because things were going okay and I absolutely don't want to have to rethink anything in my life right now.

It's been a whopping three days since J was switched over to the gluten free diet for a month (as a trial for goodness' sake, it may not even continue) and I've gone from frustrated to determined to helpful to informing him he will starve to eating as much bread as I can because the fact that he can't have it makes me crave it (what?) to frustrated to hating wheat to hating all products with wheat (seriously everything) to whining to frustrated.  Oh my word, it's exhausting.

It would be lovely if I had the ability to say, gluten free, that's no problem!  I can handle that! but my attitude is considerably poorer than that.  And the thing is, my life won't even change that much!  All I have to do is make sure dinners are wheat free, which is a little difficult because I am such a picky eater, but it's not impossible.  There is more work involved (finding good gluten free bread at the store has proved frustrating) and J has volunteered to do much of it, but I would feel terrible if he went to work all day and then came home to make bread.  By the time I sort myself out it will be next month and he won't even have to be on the diet anymore (fingers crossed for this).

I'm twenty-seven and I still haven't figured out that life never proceeds as we expect and that change is inevitable.  I understand there will be upsets, but can't they all be small ones?

While I'm asking questions I'll throw these out as well: Will someone please come cook for me?  In lieu of that will you please tell me to pull myself together, make the meals, get through the month, and breathe?
 

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Really Random Post

My apologies for all of the whining of late.  Yes this is my space and I can be how I want here, but at some point one must pull it together and stop complaining so much.

The sun is shining here!  It's supposed to be warm until Monday and those of us who live in this valley in Oregon could not be happier to see the sun.

Bennett boy is SO active.  Sometimes he kicks and punches at the same time, clever boy, so I feel him in two places at once.  We have almost everything baby related we need.  I will buy more clothes in August once the fall/winter lines become available, but we already have enough things to get us through for a while.

I am finally sleeping better and my appetite is back as well.  I love being pregnant because I can eat and eat and eat without gaining five pounds in a week. Bennett has these strange growth spurts that last for days where I feel like I will never get enough food and then things calm down for a while before he requires massive amounts of food once more.  It's like he does all of his growing in bursts, nothing gradual about it.

I went to Target yesterday to wander for a while and buy a few things.  Mostly I went to wander.  Anyone else find meandering through Target therapeutic or is it just me?  I found this amazing pair of pants for $5.00.  They were slung on the end of a rack, probably in the wrong place, not sure if they're for men or women, but I LOVE them.  They are ugly, cropped sweats and there is no way I would have paid the original $23.99 for them, but receiving that much comfort for $5.00 is wonderful.

J went to Dr. B for the first time yesterday.  She has him on vitamins and a few other things as well as a gluten free (mostly) diet.  No wheat AT ALL is the biggest change which had J and I scratching our heads and staring forlornly at our bread and pasta products last night.  Thankfully we eat enough fruits and veggies (and no boxed/frozen dinners!) that it shouldn't be too big of a struggle.  J was mourning the loss of homemade hamburgers and pizza, but we went to the store last night and saw gluten free pizza dough and hamburger buns so that made him feel a bit better.  Plus Trader Joe's will be opening here in a couple weeks which will make shopping easier and (hopefully) a bit cheaper.  On the positive side he only has to try this for a month and see how he is feeling.  If he doesn't feel a whole lot better by his appointment in July he will go off dairy for a month and see how that treats him.

A few days ago I wrote my bit for Angie's "Right Where I Am Project."  If you have yet to contribute please do, if you are not a member of the loss community, please read.  These posts are snapshots of grief and they are simply incredible.  It is heartbreaking to see so many, but comforting too.  We are never alone in our grief.

I hope you are having a beautiful day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Year two

Year two thus far?  I don't like it, I don't like it at all.  I don't like me in year two either.  I can't seem to find the happy.  And it doesn't have to be a great big happy, a small one would be okay.  I went to a movie with some friends last night.  I requested a movie night (big step, saying what I need) with them since it always cheers me up and I am in desperate need of that.  Didn't work.

In times of stress or upset my response has always been to eat.  After Charlotte died I was surprised by my complete non-interest in food.  Didn't want it, wouldn't remember to eat if someone didn't tell me to, could care less about eating my weight in chocolate.  Here in year two that stress response has reawakened and is desperate to make up for lost time.

Lately all I want is three gallons of diet soda, the entire Harry Potter series, my comfy spot on the couch, cookies, ice cream, any other junk or processed food that comes my way.  What is it about being sad that makes me want to eat food that can only be loosely described as food?  Thank goodness for pregnancy as it is keeping me away from most junk (cannot give up the cookies or ice cream) the processed foods, and those gallons of diet soda.

I am out of bed every day, the house is clean, I'm clean, and I even leave the house quite often so the signs of depression don't seem to be present.  This doesn't feel like the dark, dark times, more a general unease with a whole lot of crying.  Seriously, the crying is wearing out its welcome.  Perhaps this is simply the year two blues as opposed to the year one depressions?

I have to remember that this is temporary, that the previous dark times didn't last forever.  For example: that one back in August, the one I didn't think I would survive, that had me wailing to my nautropath about how life would never be better, it eased.  I threw the covers off, started showering again, remembered how to walk, even if the walk was slow.

This too will ease.  Patience, which I've never had much of, is required (on my part and others. My goodness I am sorry if you know me in real life.) as is a willingness to let this part of the journey happen which is difficult to do as I don't want to be here.

However, I have grieved long enough now to know that not wanting to be in a particular place or feel a particular thing does not factor in or matter at all.  It will happen, with or without my consent, and my only requirement is to find the grace to let it happen without kicking and screaming about the unfairness of still feeling awful in year two.  And yes, some part of me thought year two really would be better, and perhaps it will be, it's just begun after all, but as a friend pointed out to me perhaps that expectation is tripping me up.  My expectations always trip me up, if only I could shed them forever.

One bright spot in all this: Charlotte's rose bloomed this week.  It is growing tall with buds waiting to burst forth and two blooms.  A little bit of sunshine in the gloom that has been the weather of late.

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