June 2011

That's me, sanding the dresser we later painted for the nursery


[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.

On Twitter, To Write Love On Her Arms (@twloha) invited people to write their fears and dreams and tweet it using the hash tag: #FearsvsDreams.

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.

Take care.



  • You guys are such an inspiration! Thanks for giving us a window into your lives. We (Phil and I) will continue to hold the 3 of you in our prayers. God’s got sumpin special planned for you, I’m sure. 🙂

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