If I know you, and you're reading this blog, you have two choices:

1) Feel free to pretend you haven't, should the contents be offensive, sensitive in nature, or just TMI (Too Much Information).
2) Comment freely or talk to me face to face, and be prepared for further honesty and opinions.

Okay? Okay.

Sep 30, 2007

The Children, part 1

Back in May, I wrote a post about our alternative lifestyle. It prompted a question which I started to answer here and here.

This is part three.

We both always wanted children. We both wanted to experience pregnancy. I had always wanted six. Käri thought maybe two. Timing was discussed. I would have liked to have children early in our relationship, Käri wanted to wait. Thank God we waited. I know many people have kids right away, I'm just glad we didn't. We had time to settle into our relationship with each other first before we added kids.

We began the process of adding to our family in our 6th year together. There were a couple of friends who offered their... ahem, services. But, we were worried about the consequences of accepting their assistance. We had heard too many stories of donor's not wanting to be involved with the child at the onset and then changing their minds after seeing the baby. One of our friends offered to be a third parent, and that just seemed like too much. Imagine trying to decide on a name for the baby, which school to go to, and what about where to live with three parents. While there are many families that do this, we decided to go with option three, the anonymous donor.

Be forewarned, this may be TMI for some...

We decided that Käri should start, simply, because she is 19 months older. And so began the arduous task of choosing a Sperm Bank and then donor. Initially, we chose a bank that was somewhat local because we were worried about timing and having samples delivered and sitting for too long...

See, this was back in the mid 90's when performing regular old insemination at home on our own, was a popular option- instead of the now more popular, IUI, or Intrauterine Insemination. (Think, simple as inserting a tampon vs. Dr. appointment, speculum, and placement of sperm into the uterus.) The theory is that IUI is more successful. I contend, that the research is primarily focused on women with infertility issues and that it is also one more way to make money. We would get the sample frozen and have to keep it on dry ice until the most opportune time. And at the time, dry ice was either a ferry ride away (count on 3 hours, at least) or a two hour round trip drive. If the sample thawed, we were screwed, or not, depending on your sense of humor! ;) We had taken basal body temperatures for several months as well as watched mucus, paid attention to other signs of ovulation and charted. We were feeling prepared. Having a Baby Without a Man: The Womans Guide to Alternative Insemination was our bible.

Donor's bio's were sent to us and devoured. We set out to use a donor that matched physical and ethnic characteristics of each other. We hoped to have children that might favor the non birth mom in outward features so that our family might look more cohesive. (what did we know, then?) Looking at the lists prompted many discussions about how to pick a donor. Intelligence, health, eyesight, hair texture, height, complexion, history of acne??? The lists were pretty detailed with a physical description of the donor as well as his health history, sibling, parent, aunt, uncle, and grandparent health history, hobbies, education level, reasons why they wanted to donate, skills etc. Could they have lied, made stuff up...? Sure. We didn't have much control over that, but sometimes we would have a good laugh at the nearly blind, body builder, who was just under 5 feet tall, a pilot and had climbed Mt. Everest, all before the age of nineteen!

We ended up using health history as the #1 consideration, as well as sticking to using a donor for Käri that matched my racial background and similar physical description and vice versa. If we were a straight couple we wouldn't even be discussing this. By that, I mean if I was married to a man, regardless of his personal health history, physical description, or family history, chances are we would just go for it, right? Unless we both carried some recessive gene for some terrible malady or another. In any case...

The quest to join egg and sperm = child, began. For a year and a half we tried with Käri with no confirmed success. We suspect there may have been one conception that ended just a day or two past the day Kär was due for her period. 18 months of "do you feel any different?", a wicked roller coaster and we had really just begun.

I've been sitting on this post for eight weeks, trying to finish... part 1 will have to do for now.

Sep 25, 2007

Argyle Girls

Are they not the cutest damn things???

You can't quite see it, but both are wearing argyle sweaters this chilly morning.

On a side note, can I just say 'Thank God for hand-me-downs!' We are so fortunate to receive clothes from a few families in our community. It is the ultimate in recycling...

Sep 19, 2007

Nice Moments

Mia and Abe
Originally uploaded by Trixamina
On my way out of Costco today a woman with gray hair, stooped a bit at the shoulders sidled up to me to query-

"How do you do it?"

I hadn't seen her while I was shopping, but there she was.

I laughed and smiled. She stood there waiting.

I realize she's not leaving until she gets an answer.

Me: "How do I do what?"

She: "Your children, I've been watching and they are so well behaved, how do you do it?"

Again I laugh.

She waits.

Me: "Well, I follow through with my threats... When I say you can have a hot dog when we are done, if you've done a good job, I mean it. They know that. And there are times that there's no hot dog."

She: "Well they have just done a beautiful job".

Me: "Thank you"

And off she went.

Sep 18, 2007

Flesh, continued

I have never been to NFTT so many times in one day. I have become caught up in the comments and continued conversation on her site as well as mine.

I have just recently watched Freedom Writers. Loved it, inspirational, motivating, well done- especially after you find out that all the actors playing the students are not actors. What moved me the most, was watching this movie and being slapped in the face with the absolute fact that I really have no idea what it is like to live in this county as anything other that a white woman. I can have compassion, respect, thoughts, opinions, even empathy, but to know what it is to be Black, Asian, Latin... I can't truly know.

I can speak about my experience as a white woman. A white woman who is a lesbian raising a mess of kids with another white woman. A white woman who looks a bit masculine, somewhat butch, who wears man shorts, and likes them. A white woman brought up in a blue collar middle class family, that used food stamps at the local grocery store, with a note from her mother when her father was laid off from his union job. A white woman who went through 13 years of school with 90% white kids in the suburbs of San Francisco. A white woman who is trying to be sensitive to the issues of race and culture while raising four Caucasians, three Mexicans, and one Laotian.

That's not to say I won't "stir the pot" (thanks Sheesha and Stacy!)a bit, occasionally. But right now I've got to take off the PC hat and get the stick out of my ass and make dinner, 'cuz it's spaghetti night around here!

P.S. This was the e-mail I sent late last night.


I did not think you were venomous. And I did not call you a racist. I don't even know you. Just because I read your words does not make you my friend or even acquaintance. And I certainly have no experience with your writings that would point towards you being a racist.

I enjoy your writing, and for moms I know who are just starting to read blogs, I always recommend your site. I will continue to do so. I enjoy popping in. Yours was the first I started reading-after I discovered you had your own blog from Larger Families.

I did find the tone of 'What's In a Name' to be annoyed, and defensive. My perception.

I thought I was careful in my comment on your post- a reminder of using the word flesh to describe a color as un PC- if you will. In my post I reflected upon my own trials with my own possible racist comments- and in fact wrote a post a little ways back titled 'Everyone's a Little Bit Racist'.

It's a difficult subject to navigate- for me- a white girl with really no clue what it is like to have skin of another color. I meant no offense to you.

The whole fallout makes me and obviously others, think. And that is good.

I'ts after 11- here in my house and I rarely can make it past 10. Weary, I'm signing off and even though I have re-read this e-mail several times I'm still worried I've said something else... I hope not.

All is well.


Sep 17, 2007


I'm speechless and vaguely insulted. Aghast at the response, surprised. So many thoughts swirling in my head.

See, I read this.

And then I responded with

Tricia says:

Um…what kind of flesh? Taupe, Peach, Beige, Mocha, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cafe au Lait, Rosy, Splotchy, with freckles… Flesh comes in different colors.

“In 1962, Binney & Smith chose to change the name Flesh to Peach in response to the Civil Rights Movement, since not all people are the same skin color. While this is accurate, in reality, Crayola had changed this color from its original 1903 ‘Flesh Tint’ to Flesh then temporarily to ‘Pink Beige’, back to Flesh and then finally to Peach.” Wikipedia

Just sayin’

And then this happened.

I thought it was a friendly reminder that using 'flesh' to describe a color is outdated and could be considered racist. Apparently, it was not taken in that spirit.

Someone pointed out to me that by saying that I wanted to be re-born a black woman- because black women have rhythm- would be considered racist. And what's the difference between saying that, and using the phrase "Jewed me down"? Good point. In my head, what I said was a positive and what my neighbor said was a negative. Making one a racist statement and one not...? But, just because it is positive doesn't necessarily make it not racist...

Last week I was on our school campus and the twins had wandered out of my sight. I laughingly asked one of the recess aides, who I know well, if she had seen my two brown kids who had wandered off. She remarked, laughing, "Oh, Trish, only you could say that". Uh, oh... I turned back, cocked my head, and we chatted about what I said. Did it sound racist? Would someone be offended by what I said? Did I offend her?

Am I being too sensitive, not sensitive enough? Or am I just thinking too much?

I found this. A little blurb from Bartleby.com.

And I read a Town Hall Article by Paul Jacob.

Cultural Racism
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as "other", different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.

It's interesting that of the five examples of "cultural racism," only one speaks to the usual key identifier of racial categorization: skin color. The others address ideas and speech patterns and cultural achievements, things that non-racists wouldn't normally attribute to racial factors at all.

It's worth remembering that for a "white" person a pinkish hue is "flesh," just as to a "black" person darker shades of brown would qualify. It's not racist to call some shade of pink "flesh" if you yourself are white. Nor is it racist to call "Burnt Sienna" "flesh" if that crayon is closest to your skin color. In these cases it's not racist, but apt.

What's racist is, upon seeing the relativity, to deny to the person of a different skin the term "flesh" for their color.

Some white Americans may have been a bit shocked to witness Crayola change the names of one of its crayons, back in the '60s, but it would have been racist for the company, upon noticing that their "flesh" didn't fit a huge segment of their clientele, to continue. "Peach" was more accurate.

Philosophers like to remind us to distinguish between fact and value. So let's do that here. It is a fact that "peach" is closer to the color of my flesh, or skin, than is "Burnt Sienna." It is also a fact that "peach" is nowhere near the color of Walter Williams's skin. Most of us can see the relativity of the terms, and most Americans have outgrown this issue.

You can read the whole article here

I read an article questioning band-aids as possibly racist. I found many references to the Crayola company changing their "flesh" color to "peach" and their "Indian Red" to "Chestnut".

My neighbor (different neighbor) and friend suggests that when we cut our skin open we are all the same color inside. Could that be construed as "flesh" colored? Another good point.

Bottom line?

I think about these things. I like it if people let me know if my remarks are offensive or could be deemed offensive. Could someone take offensive at everything I say? Sure.

I still appreciate the heads up. And that, Chris, was my goal.

And my last questions.

Would the response had been different if I was Black... Mexican... Asian...instead of Caucasian?

Or different if Chris knew me and knew the spirit in which my comment was intended? There is quite a lot lost over the internet.

Or different if I was one of the "known" bloggers in the blog world? Perhaps I was treading where I should not be...

Certainly, lots to think about.

Sep 15, 2007


The States were spared damage from Hurricane Dean. Mexico was not so fortunate. One of the blogs I read is about an American family who resides part of the time in Mexico. There's more to their story than that... In any case, the family is making time to bring donations of goods and supplies to some of the area's that were hit hardest.

Donations are being accepted.

Visit, read their story, or just stop in to donate if you can.

$5.00 buys a tremendous amount in Mexico...

Taste' s Like Chicken

As promised...

Don't mind the weeding tool, it's dull...and there were not one, but two, grown ups within 10 inches. Right after the picture, the tool was carefully extracted...

She really did bite a segment off and then spit it out, Yuck!

Oh, and that, dangling from her hand, is a worm

Sep 14, 2007

100 Things For The Hundredth Post

1. When I die, I want to be reborn as a black woman.

2. because I want to be able to have rhythm

3. and not be embarrassed to dance.

4. Yes, I know that is a stereotype.

5. In my experience, stereotypes exist for a reason.

6. I want to see Bette Midler perform live.

7. I kissed Barry Bonds' (yes, that Barry Bonds) cousin.

8. I was the student body president in high school.

9. because I wanted to make a difference

10. and because I beat out one of the most popular girls in our class

11. because she was in the popular clique and I wasn't

12. which means she picked on the less popular cliques and had enemies.

13. I didn't have enemies.

14. I am able to float between all different kinds of people

15. and don't seem to belong to any one group, in particular.

16. I live with my best friend.

17. I pierced the second hole in my left ear (cuz, right is wrong and left is right...) while I was waiting with my date for the senior prom to get his tux at the mall.

18. My date was my friend's little brother.

19. Maybe I should have gotten the right ear pierced...hindsight.

20. I cut school for the first time when I was in second grade.

21. The principal called my house and asked me to come back.

22. I did.

23. I was watching Gomer Pyle on our black and white TV, that you had to turn the channels with pliers, when she called.

24. When I am near the ocean for too long, I really want someone to turn it off for a little while.

25. I can't stand when the inside of the washing machine gets all gunky around the detergent, fabric softener, and bleach cups.

26. I clean it with a toothbrush.

27. When I was a senior in high school, I worked at a local drugstore and made "good money".

28. I used to treat my friends to lunch all the time

29. and I would buy the faculty and staff treats from the bakery down the street and sneak them into the staff room, anonymously.

30. It made me feel good.

31. One of my favorite snacks is potato chips with a dab of yellow mustard and sharp cheddar cheese- preferably Tillamook.

32. I am so thankful my kids make me laugh,

33. because sometimes I want to kill them.

34. I love to cook

35. but for the most part have given it up

36. because I have caved to my kid's food preferences.

37. I think I should switch to baking

38. because we all like sugar.

39. Nail polish on my finger nails makes my fingers feel greasy

40. and heavy.

41. I love to eat handfuls of Captain Crunch with Crunchberries

42. until my mouth starts to get raw.

43. When everyone is going one way, I always want to go another.

44. What I remember most about my elementary school report cards is the comment "does not work to her potential".

45. I fantasize about sex, often.

46. It doesn't impede my daily living, swear.

47. A board book is the perfect length for reading aloud

48. before I start yawning.

49. I have always wanted to live in Mexico,

50. but have never been there.

51. I do not say "I love you" casually

52. or hug.

53. But, I enjoy both.

54. I like to play card games.

55. Two scoops,

56. chocolate mint

57. and chocolate chip

58. on a sugar cone

59. from Baskin Robbins

60. with chocolate mint on the bottom,

61. please.

62. When I was a little girl, I always wanted six children.

63. I was the keeper of some family secrets

64. until I told a few years ago.

65. It's turned out okay.

66. But, now there are just more people that know the secrets.

67. And some that still don't...

68. I am afraid of heights.

69. I never seem to have enough clean bras.

70. There was a day that I was extremely organized,

71. had a system for everything,

72. and everything was in it's place

73. then I had eight kids.

74. Coffee became a daily habit five years ago

75. when children five and six arrived.

76. I can no longer fathom life without it.

77. It drives me crazy to have anyone watching me get ready, waiting.

78. Eight, may not be enough.

79. I have lived in the state of California for 30 of my 40 years

80. and have never been to Yosemite.

81. Tears always spring when an ambulance, lights flashing, passes me.

82. Firetrucks elicit the same response.

83. When I wanted to drop out of college

84. to travel the US

85. in a VW camper van

86. with a dog,

87. my parents offered me a round trip ticket to Ireland to stay.

88. I accepted.

89. After college, I traded in the offer for a new bed.

90. I still daydream about traveling in the V'Dub.

91. I'm married

92. but it was annulled.

93. We wanted to make a statement.

94. I have all my wisdom teeth.

95. My mid life crisis car would be a red convertible jeep

96. If only.

97. One of my absolute favorite activities is lingering over a meal, talking.

98. I miss it.

99. I have been pregnant five times,

100. But have only given birth to two, full term, babies.

Sep 13, 2007


I confess that I don't watch the news or get a newspaper. I am generally woefully behind on current events- by choice. Anything I see is through my home page news, occasional headlines, or NPR.

Politics discourage me. The war depresses me. All the horrible and negative stories of rape and murder bring me down. The agenda of fear based news and threats is frustrating.

With all that said, this morning I heard about this soldier on NPR. what struck me about this story is not that he left a family, wife and child behind, but that he had tried to become a US citizen through the military channels. After serving FOUR tours, his US citizenship was not complete. And now, now, the military is trying to get it done posthumously. ????? Then there is the piece about how his family sent him t-shirts and underwear because he couldn't get any through the military... ????? WTF?

Have you heard this story?
Keep in mind, this story is happening now, not 50 years ago. Not that, that would make it any better...

I'll keep trying in my little corner of the world- one starfish at a time, right?

The Star Thrower Story by Joel Barker

There's a story I would like to share with you. It was inspired by the writing of Loren Eiseley. Eiseley was a very special person because he combined the best of two cultures. He was a scientist and a poet. And from those two perspectives he wrote insightfully and beautifully about the world and our role in it.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man, much like Eiseley himself, who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?" The young man paused, looked up and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I guess I should have asked, Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?"

"The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. "It made a difference for that one!"

His response surprised the man. He was upset. He didn't know how to reply. So instead, he turned away and walked back to the cottage to begin his writings.

All day long as he wrote, the image of the young man haunted him. He tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted. Finally, late in the afternoon he realized that he the scientist, he the poet, had missed out on the essential nature of the young man's actions. Because he realized that what the young man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and make a difference. He was embarrassed.

That night he went to bed troubled. When the morning came he awoke knowing that he had to do something. So he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the young man. And with him he spent the rest of the morning throwing starfish into the ocean. You see, what that young man's actions represent is something that is special in each and everyone of us. We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference. And if we can, like that young man, become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our vision the power to shape the future.

And that is your challenge. And that is my challenge. We must each find our starfish.

In other news, I'm sporting the lovely odor of eau de tuna and grass today, for after mowing the front and back lawns with a baby on my hip or shoulder for most of the time, I made tuna for lunch, for the kids (they love it, I don't) and while squeezing out the water it's packed in, I managed to squirt it all over myself.
Lovely, Eh?

Sep 9, 2007

Mac Mail

I thought I'd ask here since I can't seem to find the answer anywhere else... And because I have gotten such great ideas about how to respond to my lovely neighbor's anti-semitic remark. Someone who reads my dribble must have a Mac and maybe can help me out with this...

I have a Mac. I love it- have never had a PC.

So here's the problem. Every time I click on a link on a site, that is supposed to link me directly to someones e-mail, my computer automatically goes to Mac mail. I don't have a Mac mail account.

I can do a series of maneuvers that eventually gets me the individuals e-mail address. I then copy it and open my account through Firefox and compose my mail through my SBC global(AT&T)account and send. It is a total pain in the ass. And I have tried unsuccessfully to change this- several times and can't figure it out.

Anyone out there know what to do??

Sep 8, 2007


Wasn't really looking for it... but there it was.

When you are walking around the house trying to get a bottle refilled, and answer questions, and get out the door for the birthday party, and "hurry up and get your shoes on", and you find a miscellaneous shoe on the floor, that the puppy might chew, you pick it up...and put it on the refrigerator door. 'Cuz lady bug shoes like a little cold every once in a while, helps them... um... retain their color...???

Sep 7, 2007

What To Say?

My neighbor is having a garage sale. I stop in.

Me: "Great lamp, that's an antique floor lamp, beautiful- someone bought it already?" (has a sold sign on it)

Neighbor: "Oh yeah, somebody came by this morning and they are coming back later to pick it up"

Me: "Damn, I wish I had come by earlier, I would have bought it from you...how much were you able to get?"

Neighbor: "Oh, I had it marked for $25.00, but they 'Jewed' me down to $15.00"

Me: Mouth agape..."uh, oh...well, I'm glad you sold it...see you later"

What to do, what to say? I don't have a good response to this bigoted and racist remark to someone I don't know well, yet have a relationship with.

It keeps rolling around in my head. Any ideas??

Sep 6, 2007

Leo, I Am Your Brother

Sep 3, 2007

Labor Day

In lieu of lunch, we opted for a trip to the newly opened candy store in town. The kids did chores in the morning to earn some spending money and off we went. Great way to celebrate Labor Day!

Sep 1, 2007

One Year Ago

(edited to add photos 9/3/07)

It was the worst event of my life. And I replay it often in my head. Speaking about it, still makes me cry.

I was sitting in my chair with Ruby between my feet. She was sitting on the floor and I was using my legs as a buffer for her wobbly upper body, my hands hovering above and behind her shoulders. At six months, she was just beginning to sit up and attempt to roll over. We were waiting for her case manager from our local regional center to arrive. The big kids were upstairs playing and Julia was asleep. A knock at the door, without rising, I shouted out a "come in" and turned my head towards the door, taking my eyes off Ruby. As I turned my head to the right, she toppled over to the left, striking her head against the floor or possibly the foot of the couch. I pulled her up and held her to my shoulder, after checking for blood- said 'Hello' to the case manager, and excused myself to take Ruby in to the other room to soothe her. The case manager had witnessed the fall, she nodded her consent, and took a seat.

Ruby screamed and screamed. We went into the pantry, no lights, no noise. We paced, I rocked, swayed, ran the cold water... She fitfully fell asleep and I carefully put her down in her crib. She immediately woke and wailed. We repeated the soothing- I apologized to the case manager- and she fell asleep again oddly positioned in my arms. I put her down the second time and she stayed down. I returned to the case manager where we reviewed the incident, she had just witnessed, and her case in general. Ruby was often hard to soothe, but this was unusual. After we reviewed Ruby's care and goals for the regional center and I saw the case manager out the door I checked on Ruby. She had thrown up, but was still asleep. I immediately called our pediatrician and reviewed the information with a nurse. While throwing up after a head injury is certainly indicative of a concussion, Ruby had only fallen from a sitting position on the floor. More of a topple over than a fall. I was assured that "children don't get concussions from this kind of fall". We are regular customers at the pediatricians office and have a great working relationship with our doctor and nurses there. They felt confident in my abilities to watch over her and let them know of any other unusual behaviors.

I cleaned Ruby up and we went about our morning. She was somewhat drowsy and not quite herself. About 45 minutes later she threw up again. I didn't like the way she looked and called the pediatrician's office again. At that point, the nurses were busy with other phone calls. The receptionist took my message and told me they would call me back. I waited ten minutes and called them back. This was her head. It just did not feel right. The nurses again assured me that children do not sustain head injuries from such a simple fall but that if I really wanted to check it out, to bring her to the ER for x-rays, etc. I felt calmer, but still did not feel right.

As the crew and I were preparing to leave for afternoon kindergarten, the pediatrician's office called back and offered to have us swing by for a quick once over. We live, literally, around the corner. I took them up on the offer and went in. The nurse practitioner looked her over while I shook and cried. She declared that all appeared to be fine and we left. The nurses and receptionist checked in with me as I was visibly distraught- not a normal reaction for me- and I repeated that Ruby just didn't seem right and it was her head, not an arm, ya know?

Off to kindergarten and a check in with Käri, for a visual. We agreed that she didn't look quite right and that I would keep watching her and check back with the pediatrician if she started looking worse or not better...

Back at home, Ruby finished off a bottle and fell asleep again. Not unusual. I put her down in her crib and she slept for almost three hours. Again, pretty normal. I checked frequently, worried that she would stop breathing or choke on her own vomit. I got her up from her nap after she woke and carried her out to the kitchen to warm up a bottle, her normal routine. As I held her, I felt the retch begin in her belly, and got her to the sink in time. As she finished, I had the phone in hand with another call to the pediatrician. At this point, they were concerned enough that they wanted me to get her in for a MRI. They would arrange the details and get back to me in a few.

A quick call to Käri to pick up the kids at school and keep them until I knew details of the MRI. The pediatrician called back and wanted me to take Ruby to the local hospital for the MRI within the hour. I had five kids with me and it was back to school night for Käri. Previously, she had planned on staying at school throughout the afternoon to get ready for the evening. We decided that it would be easiest to just bring Ruby by herself for the MRI. Which meant Käri would have the other seven with her while she got ready for back to school night...Yeah, not so easy. Oh, and they all needed to have dinner since it was now approaching 4:00.

I dropped the kids with Kär and rushed off to the hospital. Waiting for the MRI, Ruby once again fell asleep. She slept through the MRI, beautifully. And we waited to be told the results. A nurse, I assume, because I don't really know who he was, came down the hall carrying a piece of paper and announced that we were to be immediately admitted to the ER and to please follow him. We were ushered into an ER exam room where we were quickly greeted by an ER Dr. who asked what had happened. I told him and he briefly examiner Ruby. I cried throughout the exam, not quite knowing what was really happening. A series of people came in and out of the room and some of the professionals gathered to talk, glancing at us from time to time. Two different teams of phlebotomists tried to get blood from Ruby- finally a flight nurse was called who was successful. Watching Ruby sick, surrounded by strangers, poking and prodding in a strange environment was torture, for her and me.

The on call pediatrician was called in and I was interviewed for the millionth time. She informed me that Ruby needed a full body scan. That information confirmed the fact that I was suspected of child abuse. I'm a social worker. I know the story. Full body x-ray to determine history of past breaks, healing etc. I was still not being told what they were trying to determine as far as, what was wrong with Ruby. I was a mess. I was being treated as a possible child abuser. It was obvious. Some of the professionals who interviewed me were not clear that I had been taking care of Ruby since birth. They assumed that she had just been placed into my care and that this head injury was why she was in my care. Once that assumption was corrected, attitudes and body posture, eye contact, tone, all would change. I would respond verbally, by saying I was aware that they were treating this as a possible child abuse situation. They didn't know what to do with me. Later, I found out the ER Dr. had described my behavior as weird.

What did that mean? How was I supposed to act? Ruby was my foster daughter, technically. Should I have been more distant? Pretend it didn't bother me because I was just the "foster mother"? Is it weird for a foster mother to care and love her foster daughter? Doesn't work for me. Also didn't work for me to pretend I didn't know of their suspicions.

The on call pediatrician called my pediatrician and discussed the days events as she knew them. I was finally informed that they saw a bleed on Ruby's brain and that she would need to be admitted to a hospital a few hours away. When I asked how she would get there, they informed me that she would travel be ambulance or be airlifted. Fresh tears. I queried if that was due to the urgency of her injury or because they were worried I would run with her. Again, the look of "Uh..." followed by "we think it is in her best interest".

The social worker came in and we talked for a bit. She was interrupted by the arrival of the flight team. By this time, 4:00 had turned into 8:00. Käri was home with the kids, having survived back to school night with seven kids in tow. Her 'parents' were very understanding and ushered her out the door as soon as her shpeel was over. I had spoken with her a couple of times from the ER. She wanted to come down and I wanted her to. But the other kids needed her at home. I'd continue solo. The flight team introduced themselves and one of them assured me that they would call my cell phone after they checked Ruby in at the other hospital. The social worker declined to interview me further and gave me a small smile along with the information that there were no past injuries noted on her full body x-ray. The first reassuring gesture of the evening.

I retrieved Ruby's car seat and said my goodbyes. I waited in the parking lot to watch the helicopter take off and picked up me messages on my cell. Our pediatrician had called and left a message to call her "no matter when" and left me her cell phone #. I called her. She was at her own daughter's back to school night but stepped away to listen to my tale. She expressed her sorrow that she was not the on call pediatrician that night as she could have reassured the ER of her experience with us as parents over the last six years, with numerous children. And while that would have been tremendously comforting, I'm not sure it would have changed the course. The medical professionals are mandated reporters. Had I been in their shoes, I would have had probably done the same.

While I wanted to race after the helicopter I went home to pack a bag. And then raced after the helicopter. The social worker had given me the phone number of the next hospital, so when I hadn't heard form the air flight crew, I called to see if she had arrived and how she was. The Dr. happened to be looking in on her when I called and the nurse connected me to him. He was also under the impression that I was just receiving Ruby into my care as a foster placement. Once he understood Ruby had been with me since birth, his tone also changed. He did report that she was awake and alert. Which was a relief.

While it was late, I remembered an old high school friend who was a nurse in the area. I took a chance she was still up and gave her a call. I thought there was a possibility that she worked in the hospital and could help me navigate whatever may be facing me. Teresa was up and more than willing to help me out. It turns out she didn't work at this particular hospital but wanted me to head to her house so she could lead the way to the hospital and accompany me inside. It was a relief to know she could come with me. We made our way to the hospital, arriving around midnight.

Ruby was asleep when we arrived, tiny in a huge hospital bed. She was in a hospital gown and had an i.v. She woke up for a little bit when we came in. A nurse entered and gave us the synopsis of her arrival and informed me that the Dr. would want to talk with me about some tests for the next day. Teresa asked some questions of her own and stayed until I settled in. I slept fitfully on the pull out chair/bed next to Ruby. It was broken, and did not fully extend to accommodate my 5'9''. My feet hung over the doorway so that each time the nurses came in they hit them.

The next day brought a series of tests, more prodding, and the Dr. who was a renowned child abuse expert, specializing in head injuries. Her name was familiar to me from a previous foster child who had come to us due to a suspicious skull fracture.

She was wonderful. She treated me as an equal, instead of a possible abuser.

She talked with me. I told the story again. Relayed my history with abused children and my absolute understanding of why I was being investigated. It didn't stop me from crying. Ruby had a brain bleed, from a very inconsequential fall. That doesn't happen. It makes my story suspicious and therefore me. She explained what would happen over the next day or two and what her thoughts were about what might be going on. She also told me that there was evidence in the first MRI of an old brain bleed. Although, very unusual, brain bleeds can occur from minimal impact and it was possible that the old bleed could have been a result of her actual birth. The Dr.'s did not feel that surgery would be necessary based on Ruby's behavior, but could not rule it out until they completed another MRI to make sure that the bleeding was stopping. The second MRI would also be used to date the old bleed. If they could determine that it had occurred at birth the child abuse suspicion would also lessen. Ruby was awake, but lethargic, definitely not herself.

I had tried to reach the case manager who had witnessed the fall, but she was out for the long weekend. My friend, Teresa, dropped by with bagels and coffee after she had dropped her own kids off at school. So nice. Käri was busy at home fielding calls from Ruby's social workers and others, who we knew from the past. There was a fine line that these professionals could not cross, they were subtle in expressing their support for our family. Julia and Ruby shared a crib at home and Käri reported that Julia seemed to be looking for her sister when she woke up. Mia and Abe were having some behavioral fallout at home after my sudden departure. Abe kept talking about everybody dying and Mia kept wetting her pants. Kär and I decided that it was better for her to stay at home to alleviate the kid's stress. One of my sister's is a Dr., and she continued to check in on me and offered to come stay at the hospital as well. The rooms were insanely small and I refused her offer for the moment. If surgery became the plan, then I would ask her to come.

Later that afternoon, a pediatric optometrist came in for an exam. She detected some bleeding in the retina of Ruby's left eye. The same side where she struck her head. When I asked if the two were related, the Dr. shook her head and said no. That torn retina's only occurred when a baby's head was shaken in a back and forth motion, not side to side. More tears. The implication was that perhaps I had shaken Ruby and struck her head on something causing the bleed and the retinal hemorrhaging. I could easily see myself on the other end. The social worker on the other side. While I knew what happened and even had a witness to Ruby's fall, I could not explain the injuries. I knew how it looked. I continued to imagine my children taken from me, and court. And Ruby, what the hell was happening to Ruby? The child abuse Dr. followed on the optometrist's heels and let me know that, again, while very rare, there are cases of children who suffer the retinal hemorrhaging, not related to shaken baby syndrome. She did not dismiss the optometrists findings, but assured me they were continuing to check out other possibilities.

The MRI was scheduled for late in the day. A pediatric neurologist would exam the films and date the old bleed and let me know how the new bleed was faring. I accompanied Ruby down to the test and held her while she went limp in my arms from the sedation. I handed her over to the technicians for the lengthy exam and went in search of some food. I entered a maze of hallways, lost, and encountered the child abuse Dr., somehow, who walked with me to the cafeteria. After a quick sandwich and some phone calls, it was back through he maze to the recovery room. Ruby was still sleeping, but I was able to wait with her for the pediatric neurologist's report. An assistant to the neurologist came to speak with me and informed me that the old bleed was more than likely due to birth trauma- just never detected- and the new bleed was not getting bigger. No surgery needed. It felt like a pardon. Ruby was okay. And no one was handcuffing me. Still no explanation for Ruby's current situation. Why this major bleed from a topple over? The assistant shrugged her shoulders- "we really don't know, just don't let her hit her head". Uh-huh. She's six months old- she has a whole lot of hitting her head coming right up... Learning to sit, roll over, crawl, walk, run, climb...???

The weight had been lifted. The cloud, the pressure, the questioning of my parenting, the second guessing of myself. Did I somehow hurt her, inadvertently, somehow? Did the kids hurt her on accident when I wasn't supervising close enough, or purposely?

Not any of those things. Whew!

They weren't quite ready to let Ruby go yet. One more night of observation and maybe one more lab test in the morning. We spent another night waiting. Waiting to see what would happen next. Waiting to find out what really was happening with Ruby. Waiting to go home.

After a last urine collection, we were cleared to go. I resented the nurse's pronouncement of "I see here that Dr. ____ has cleared you of suspicion of child abuse" Nice, was that really necessary? Couldn't she have just commented on Ruby not needing surgery and healing nicely? I was so glad to go.

Once home, Ruby was anxious for a long while. Worried when strangers approached, needing to be in eyesight for a while. Her brain bleed healed and we kept her confined to a hastily purchased tumbling mat until she was able to scoot herself off of it. After a couple of weeks we received a phone call from the child abuse Dr. who explained about Ruby's diagnosis. She was diagnosed with Glutaric Aciduria Type I, a genetic metabolic disorder, very rare. Brain bleeds and retinal hemorrhaging are not part of the disorder but they do seem to go together. And kids with this disorder and the bleeding are often misdiagnosed as victims of child abuse! An answer, finally.

The metabolic disorder diagnosis was very frightening, at first. Ruby continues to see a metabolic geneticist, and has just finished with the pediatric neurologist. Her head was given the final okay, no need for a helmet. She takes medicine daily, that is supposed to assist her if she should enter a metabolic crisis. We have a medical plan typed and in a folder should we need to visit the hospital again. For now, our job is to keep her healthy and alive- according to the geneticist. Fasting and dehydration could send her into a crisis which could cause irreversible severe brain damage and cerebral palsy type behaviors or death. Hospitalization is recommended for ANY fever or stomach illness.

One year later we have managed to avoid further hospitalization by being hyper vigilant anytime Ruby is sick. She is medicated for any fever and we have a regular supply of Pedialyte on the shelf. We continue to have a close working relationship with our pediatrician and her staff who are extremely fabulous and Ruby is a healthy thriving 18 month old.