November was an interesting month. I started and finished a project here on the website: Poemvember. 30 days, 30 poems. I learned a lot in the process, which has given me ideas for more projects to come.
Things in the House of Lane have been well. We discovered the medicine our baby was taking was making her sick, not what the medicine was supposed to be fighting. Switch medicines, and baby boo is a happy camper, as is her parents. I’m still figuring out a good sleep pattern and I believe I’ve become a coffee drinker. Starbucks’ menu is still a mystery to me, I’ve found a few local coffee spots that have met the need.
I’ve noticed I’ve become somewhat…insulated this month. My interactions with people have been limited. Sure, taking care of a newborn is time consuming, but I don’t want to lose touch with friends. Plus, keeping in touch with people is a constant struggle, well before Cadence arrived.
I read 3 books this month and have concluded this year has been all about research. As of today, I’ve read 19 books this year. I’ve started processing it all into a map that will help people. All of this, everything here, my desire is to help people and not be self-serving. If it starts becoming that, you have my consent to call me out on it.
I am excited about chunking it all down and what it all will look like. I think it will be good, a benefit to you.
As far as my health, my creatinine level (the level used to measure kidney function) is 1.6! Yes! I was concerned it was rising, there were several days I did not feel my best. For those of you just tuning in, a normal creatinine level is 0.5 to 1.2. Since I have a new kidney, the goal is to keep it under 2. You can read more here.
We spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Raleigh and Wilmington N.C. with my Father-In-Law’s side of the family. It was great, a lovely group of people. Plus, spending time with the in-laws is always a joy.
An awareness of one’s frailty and mortality
All swaddled in a tiny package.
Which looks a little bit like you
Well, she does have your forehead.
Sleep becomes a memory.*
Like remember that one time
When we slept for 6 hours
That was amazing.
I don’t know if I’m made for this
If only I could be like Andy Griffith or Cliff Huxtable Plus the ever present fear of dropping her, or dropping the ball
Until she looks at you, and it all fades away.
They say daddy’s treat their daughters different.
Boys get the roughhouse, girls get the dollhouse;
She’s got my whole world in her hands,
I’ve got Mr. Louisville Slugger in mine, ready for some idiot boy in 16yrs.
Our ease which keeps it all moving smoothly.
The spoonful of beautiful sugar which helps the medicine go down.
Watching her care for our child
Is like watching the sun care for an earth crying for it’s light.
For friends and family, for blessings and struggles
For a community of hope, digital and analog.
Thank you for your prayers and positive vibes,
Thank you for helping these new parents as we figure it all out.
*I’m telling you, I think there were a couple of nights I was sleep walking. I have vague memories of being in the studio and just standing there with the light on in the middle of the night. And there were several times items from the bathroom found their way onto the dresser, with vague memories of me putting it there. Just saying…
August and September was, in effect, a whirlwind of emotions. Cadence (our new baby girl) was in Camp NICU (the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for two weeks when they told us she could come home. However, the night before she was to be discharged, she had an apnea episode where she stopped breathing and turned a shade of smurf blue.
With some assistance, she started breathing again. The doctors required her to stay an additional eight days to monitor her breathing. That was a difficult and scary time for sure. Also while at Camp NICU, two tiny holes in her heart were found, which we must contact a cardiologist for a follow up.
The camp counselors (a.k.a nurses) at Camp NICU were very friendly and helpful to us rookie parents. They gave us valuable tips and Cadence did quite well. Her discharge date came after being there 22 days, and booyah, bye bye camp! (If you could have seen my wife, a nurse, and myself trying to install the car seat base into the car that day, you would have cracked up laughing.)
The first week we had baby boo home, there was an earthquake(we live 30 miles from the epicenter of that bad boy) and a hurricane. Welcome home Cadence!
Adjusting to life with a newborn has been quite a learning experience. I couldn’t drink coffee before my transplant due to the high level of phosphorus in the coffee beans and dairy in the creamer.
Well, I’ve drank enough coffee in the past two months to make up for lost times. Yet, I’ve found I don’t need as much sleep as I thought I did. In reality, I went for weeks on 3-4 hours of sleep and lots of coffee, thinking I’m spankin’ Superman (well, more like Luke Cage), until I eventually crashed. Hard. It wasn’t pretty, but apparently, highly amusing.
(Just ask my wife. I’m thankful for her grace in not videotaping me dancing around the townhouse, talking gibberish, and overall acting like a fool.)
Cadence has had trouble with reflux (she was diagnosed with GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and food allergies (we think it may be peanuts, dairy, corn, and injustice). My wife, a true warrior princess, has cut dairy, soy, wheat, corn and peanuts/treenuts from her diet to pinpoint what is causing Cadence to have such adverse reactions. We’re using formula for now and consulting with our pediatrician.
I’m finding our house has become Ft. Lane and we are knee deep in World War Baby. Not to say we are fighting our baby, but fighting for our baby. We (more I than Stephanie) haven’t been as social as we would like to be, but living la vida familia instead. Finding the balance of soldiering through WWB, maintaing contact with friends/family, working, and keeping our minds in our heads and not losing them is proving…difficult. But still we rise.
In other news, I started a project called Poemvember that I’m excited about. For each day in November, I will post a poem I’ve written or a poem someone has submitted (cough cough, your poetry is better shared than kept to yourself, why don’t you go ahead and email me a poem so I can post it next month, cough cough).
Thank you all for reading. Any tips/advice you veterans of WWB may have would be greatly appreciated. May peace be with you, may peace be multiplied.
Some of you have requested to see more pics, so here are a few:
[The 5th of every month, I give a monthly transparency report.]
July was…interesting. Top bullet points:
We saw Dr. Labor Day again. Stephanie has multiple kidney stones and he recommended checking the baby’s lungs at 37 weeks. If the lungs were strong, then he recommended inducing labor, C-section, and dealing with the kidney stones once and for all.
I went to an amazing church service in West Virginia. It’ll be a story in the coming weeks here.
I realized I was trying too hard to be a “blogger”. I write poetry. I write short stories. I perform spoken word. Way to much time and research was spent trying to be something, instead of being me. I realized I was caught up in how to get 100,000 subscribers this and how to make six figures from blogging that and trying to be on the A-list of blogging. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking anyone and there is nothing wrong with this. But I don’t want to focus on numbers and trying to be like someone. I want to focus on people.
There have been some design changes here, more in the coming weeks.
Oh, and Mahna Mahna was born 6.5 weeks early and is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit until possibly her due date in mid- September.
Having a baby 6.5 weeks early teaches certain things such as “don’t wait” and “the plans you make may not become the plans you take.” Lord knows, I love surprises
I’ve read several books this month: Rework by Jonathan Fried and David Hansson, Poke the Box and Small is the New Big by Seth Godin, and Do the Work by Steven Pressfield. These books are about rethinking how we view work, business, and how we create a living for ourselves. (Also, when I put up a link, unless I state otherwise, it is not an affiliate link. I wanted you to know to keep everything honest.)
For fantastic reads online, check out the amazing blogs of Kyla, Alise, and Shanda.
My mind is still reeling from immediate fatherhood; reeling in such a great way. Thank you for hanging in here another month; you are spankin’ awesome.
[The 5th of every month I give a monthly transparency report of how I’m doing personally.]
June was spent going to several doctors concerning the health of Mahna Mahna (the in utero nickname for our daughter debuting this fall), my wife Stephanie, and myself.
On June 1st, Stephanie and I went to see her Perinatologist in Richmond, Va. Our usual doctor, Dr. Labor Day (his last name is a major holiday, I changed it here for privacy reasons) wasn’t available; we saw instead Dr. Knees (her last name is a body part, changed here for privacy reasons).
Dr. Knees did an ultrasound and Mahna Mahna is doing well. At the time of this exam, she was 1 pound, 11 ounces. Her head is still growing about a week ahead of her arms and legs; Dr. Knees was checking to confirm her bone growth stayed consistent.
The discrepancy in the ratio of how her arms, legs, and head are growing (see the past two monthly reports here and here) hasn’t changed, however Dr. Knees assured us the good news from this exam was the baby did not have skeletal problems.
Dr. Knees stated there was no way to rule out Mahna Mahna having Downs Syndrome with an ultrasound exam, citing 50% of kids with Downs show no signs of soft markers indicating they have Downs Syndrome. She did say, “it is unlikely your baby has Downs”, giving us a ratio of 2:100 (or a 2% chance).
When we left, I had a mixture of relief and labored hope. Hope that all would work out well, labored due to the stats Dr. Knees gave us.
Throughout the month, Stephanie was having sharp pains and abnormal swelling, along with a return of constant morning sickness and nausea. During the routine visit with our midwife, she checked Stephanie and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Prescriptions written, follow-up in three weeks and that was apparently that. Until the kidney stones came with a vengeance.
Throughout the pregnancy, Stephanie has had several kidney stones. From what I’ve been told, this is can be common when you are carrying a girl. (I haven’t medical data to support this, the tales of old wives still live on in 2011.)
Back in March, we were told there was a sizable one in her right kidney which she would not be able to pass. The options were: surgery at that time, emergency surgery if the stone moved and caused blockage or hope it stays put and surgery after birth.
We opted for the latter and that latter started June 18th. By June 22nd, Boo was in significant pain; she planned to follow-up with her doctor and soldier through it. She drank more water and rested, some relief was had, and we settled in hoping tomorrow would be better.
Morning came and Stephanie was sent to the labor and delivery triage where I met her. Those spankin’ kidney stones! The doctor gave her pain meds, monitored the baby for signs of pre-term labor (which is the greatest concern of stones during pregnancy), advised Stephanie to drink lots of water, and gave us the option of being admitted to the hospital.
We came home five hours later to battle it out. [Side note: The medication he gave her was absolutely safe for her and the baby, but made her a bit…loopy. It was Stephanie- The Director’s Cut #SheWasSpankinHilarious.]
From June 18-June 30, my wife passed 5 kidney stones. Yes, you read that right. Five. To say my wife is a warrior princess is an understatement. So is to say how much my respect level has grown for her. If she had not passed the stones within a week, surgery was recommended by the urologist.
[Side note: the urologist we saw the Monday after being in the Labor and Delivery Triage advised Stephanie to drink half a beer to flush out the stones. We were concerned that, you know, she is 7 month’s preggers, but he said it wouldn’t hurt the baby. She didn’t drink the beer, but apparently, his story checks out]
As far as my health, my creatinine levels ( the level used to measure kidney function. Normal creatinine is .5 to 1.2) are staying between 1.6 to 1.9. I am so grateful for my health improving. During 2009, my creatinine levels were 19 to 22. I am grateful to be able to care for Stephanie and Mahna Mahna.
I posted probably my biggest fear: not living long enough to see my daughter grow up and having less time with my wife. I know the transplant didn’t cure the disease, just offered a better living situation. I broke my rule of not consulting with Dr. Internet, M.D. and I read that a transplanted kidney, on average, lasts 14 years.
I want to grow old with my wife. I want to get senior discounts and flatulate during a church service and be old enough where no one would say anything. I want to see our daughter grow up and go to Father/Daughter dances and meet the guy of her dreams and walk her down the aisle. I want to sit on the porch with my wife holding hands and drinking sweet tea in our 80’s.
So I conclude to be the best Jermaine I can be: for myself, my wife, and my daughter. I conclude to do the work I love, to write and share my poetry, help as many people as emotionally possible and leave the best legacy I can. Not out of a sense of, “I may die tomorrow”, but because that is what I want/must/love to do.
There was more I was going to write about this month, esp. about my epiphany on Juneteenth after reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield for the second time. But I think this is a good stopping point.
I want to say how much I appreciate you. I am grateful you take time out of your day to read what I write, thank you so very much.
The cliffhanger from last month was the condition of “Mahna Mahna” Lane a.k.a, our baby girl, premiering this fall. In April, when we saw our perinatologist, Dr. Labor Day (for those of you who are new, his last name is a major holiday, so I dubbed him Dr. Labor Day for privacy purposes), he gave us the news that Mahna Mahna had a soft marker which could indicate Downs Syndrome.
Her head to leg bone growth ratio was inconsistent, which set off alarms for Dr. Labor Day. He suggested we come back in June to have her bones rechecked via ultrasound to monitor her growth. Boo and I both were beyond worried and concerned. We wrestled with it, cried with it, and concluded we would love this child no matter what. We were offered an amniocentesis to determine if Mahna Mahna was at risk. We declined, opting to wait until our June appointment to have her rechecked.
The first weekend in May, Boo and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary. We returned to the place we were marriedand strolled the memory trails. It was surreal, a one year anniversary. 365 days of married life. Lessons learned, laughs given and received, and I’m one year of being a better man thanks to Boo.
May was a month of self realizations. I read: “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin, “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk, and I finished “Escape From Cubicle Nation” by Pamela Slim. I’m learning so much, it is unreal. (None of these are affiliate links.) I’m considering adding a Review section on the sidebar since talking about how great each of these books are would be a post in and of itself. These authors taught me more about myself than about business, which wasn’t something I was expecting and I think what impacted me the most. I highly recommend all of these books.
After reading these authors and a lot of reflection, I’ve discovered something. The absolute last thing I want is for this website to be about me. This can not be Jermaine’s online journal. Nope, lets’s just shut it down and call it a day if it becomes that. This is about you, what you want to read, and how I can help.
Sure, I’ll share stories about the things I’ve learned through tragedy and triumph. However, I realized that I was writing how I was supposed to write on a blog. The epiphany that I was writing not as myself but as other writers came from my wife herself. She said, in the kindest way possible, “I’ve noticed the comments you leave on other people’s blogs are deeper than your posts.” No, I didn’t get upset. No really, I didn’t. I am not just spankin’ saying that, I appreciated her honesty.
The deepest post I wrote was this one, which was a mixture of personal experience and something that I hoped would be of help to you or someone you know. It resonated with a lot of readers, and I’m grateful for the positive feedback. I’m re-evaluating and have some things up my sleeves (I have really long arms, so good stuff is coming).
I’m learning this is a process, which I’ll mostly talk about here in the monthly report. I feel like I’m buffering, and I’m at 62% as far as life unrestricted is concerned. I know where I want to go, it’s the getting there that is the lesson.
If you are new here this month, thank you so much for coming by. If you are a regular reader, thank you for returning. I’m grateful for all of you. May peace be with you, may peace be multiplied.
[The 5th of every month, I give a transparency report of how I’m doing. This is where I tend to get very personal.]
April was a month of hope. The month started with my wife and I in the Emergency Room. We are expecting our first child and there were some…complications. After the initial tests and examinations, the E.R.doctor informed us we were experiencing pre-term labor. She was 4 months at the time, so it would have resulted in a miscarriage. He said couldn’t confirm until he got the results from an ultrasound.
This is the 1st child for both of us, and we were completely devastated. I’ve had the name for my firstborn daughter picked out since my early twenties (apparently that is unusual for a guy according to my friends, but that’s how I roll). Since she was 18, my wife has only heard from doctors she couldn’t get pregnant due to a medical condition.
So lo and behold, she does get pregnant (such an odd phrase, “get pregnant”. Like it’s something you catch like a cold or the chicken pox.) and it’s a girl. The possible sense of loss put a lot into perspective for me.
I thought a lot about hope, faith, and love. I thought a lot about being positive. In the time waiting for the ultrasound tech to come and observe a heartbeat, it all came to a head. Either what I write here at life unrestricted is a bunch of woo woo feel good stuff, or it is real and full of substance. Either I’m writing just to put words on your screen or I’m actually living this out.
Yes, I was scared. Yes, I was upset and worried and freaking out. But…
I knew things were going to be okay. I said a prayer for myself, my wife, and our daughter. I was clawing and scrapping to grab onto something real. It felt like my wife and I were dangling in time. No, this wasn’t a happy time, but hope grabbed onto us in the form of a VCU hoodie wearing ultrasound tech. She performed the ultrasound and we saw our little girl’s heartbeat. Wait…what just happened? The ER doc came in later, confirmed that my wife was not having a miscarriage, but the possibility was still there. He sent us home, putting my wife on bed rest and recommending we follow up with our high-risk pregnancy doctor.
The next day, we went to Richmond and saw our Perinatalogist(we are seeing one due to my wife’s kidney stones, which is another story). He checked everything out and said my wife was not likely to miscarry. He was a pretty funny doc, which put us at ease. Plus his last name is a national holiday, so I’ll refer to him as Dr. Labor Day.
We went back to see Dr. Labor Day later in the month. He saw something during the ultrasound concerning the development of our daughter; we have to come back to get rechecked in six weeks. I’ll talk more about it in next month’s transparency report (cliffhanger!).
This month, I’ve thought a lot about hope, about maximizing the time given us. I don’t see life as being short. I see life as a gift given to us. We choose what we do with that gift. Our daughter is a gift to my wife and I. We thought we had lost that gift, but as a friend of mine said about her, “she’s a tough broad.” Yes, she is.
On a different note, this month, I’ve been reading “Escape From Cubicle Nation” by Pamela Slim. I’m reading it like a textbook to create the life I really want. I highly recommend it. I’m going through it slow, I’m on Chapter Five and I’m taking notes and absorbing all I can.
Also, I read something at Colleen Wainwright’s website about self-hewing. It is a two-part article in which Colleen makes an outstanding point about staying true to yourself and not conforming because you think it is what you should do or what will catapult you to success quicker. Emulating other people to recreate their success for your life isn’t doing anyone any good. Especially you. I’m figuring that out with life unrestricted. Not making this website like the big boys and girl’s sites or anybody else’s website. But make it my own.
Thanks for reading here for another month. May peace be with you, may peace be multiplied.
March was quite interesting. I still find myself doing more research/reading about writing and blogging than actually writing. As much as I want to think that doing research and reading and taking notes will help (it will), nothing will help more than sitting down and writing.
I’m still trying to aim this website to be more for you than for me. I don’t want to write about me, I want to write about things that will help you. I want to solve problems with helpful, down-to-earth solutions than this become my online diary. If a story from my life helps you, then I’m all about telling it. Some people connect with stories, some with facts and figures. In my heart I am a poet, but again, this blog isn’t about me. It is for you and for me.
Speaking of personal, this month has been up and downs for me health-wise. My new kidney is going through the same pains of knowing me like my friends and family have had to go through. But as of today, I am feeling good. I still struggle to answer that question when people ask. I am feeling well, but sometimes I’m in pain, sometimes my new kidney hurts, but overall, I am feeling well.
My posts in March have seemed…heavy to me. Yes, hope, faith, love and freedom can be heavy topics. Yes, doing a self-inventory so you can help other people isn’t always filled with laughter and mirth (I have been waiting to use the word “mirth”, you don’t even know). But I feel like it’s a bit too serious. Maybe I need to lighten up?
I finished “The Next Christians” by Gabe Lyons and it blew my mind, it was so good. I loved the perspective and how it challenged me on how I view God and how I view other people. I highly recommend it.
I’m open to blog topics from you. Again, this website isn’t about me per se, it is about you and what you want to read about. There are literally millions of blogs on the web, and I know you are busy. So whatever I can do to help you, I’m all about it. Thank you so much for reading this slice of the internet pie. It is appreciated.
So what happened in February 2011? I launched this website, sharing my thoughts with the world. For most of the month, I did research on: how to make your blog better, how to monetize your blog, how to drive traffic to your website, etc. Downloaded and read so many manifestos and PDF’s and read how this person did it and how that person did it and so many offers to buy products to drive your website into the stratosphere….
So much research, and I’m drowning in it. There is nothing wrong with any of the things I’ve looked up, and it was quite helpful. But my brain is on research overload. I stepped back and had a much needed moment of clarity. I’m so focused on making the blog better or getting people to check it out that I overlooked the two most important things.
1. Why I’m doing this in the first place
2. The people
I write to tell my story. To share where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I want to be. I was such a hyper-religious, piously hypocritical jerk that thought he should “save all the sinners” while I was the biggest quote unquote sinner of all. Hiding behind a mask of Church and Religion. How I used to be.
Now, I see the value in people, see the good in others, regardless of spirituality, lifestyle, race, etc. The shift started in 2003, and is ongoing. What I define as life unrestricted. That religious part of me still acts up from time to time, but now I can recognize it, work through it and move on.
So here I am with this new website, trying to find my place in the blogosphere. Trying to find my niche, because I don’t define this blog as a “Christian” blog. It is for anyone who wants to break free from comfort zones to be beautifully uncomfortable and free. And there is nothing more comfortable than religion. I’m not necessarily putting religion down, but for me, I was completely focused on form and function vs. loving God and loving people. For more about this, go here.
Some wonderful people have signed up, commented on posts, and read what I’ve written, I am so grateful and appreciative. That what it is all about: the people, making friends, maintaing relationships, helping wherever I can. I can’t concern myself with being the next superstar blogger or figuring out the fastest way to making a living online or anything. All I can do is be Jermaine. The best Jermaine I can be.
There was a lot of fear and worry and doubt in February. My wife and I announced we are having a baby in September, our first child as individuals and as a couple. All the practical fears kicked in about how to provide financially for my family, what do we need to buy, and do we honestly need a bassinet. I mean really, a bassinet? That is why the baby sleeps in a crib right? But I digress…
Emotionally, I try not to think about it. About how I will be as a father, about how life will change (for the better, but still change), etc. I haven’t found too many resources online for expecting fathers, but the search continues…
On a different note, I became a part of a brand new, non-profit foundation called Random Fingerprints. More on that later.
My side where I had my kidney transplant has been hurting quite a bit, I’m hoping it is my lymphocele acting up again, but I’m still concerned. I go see the transplant team on Monday, so I’ll see what’s up then.
I think most of February I spent trying to follow formulas about blogs. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but being the type of person I am, I focused too much on formula and not enough on being me.
I feel I need to get more personal with my writing, with my blog posts. I’m trying to find that sweet spot between what I want to talk about and what you the reader want to read about. I’m trying to reconcile between writing for myself and writing for you. Maybe by writing more personal and beautifully uncomfortable posts, that will connect us all on a human level and go beyond faith or race or anything.