Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Our Preemie Story

As though it were yesterday, I can remember the birth of my daughter Alexandria. I had dreamed of being this little person’s mother for years. I had kept my husband up late many nights with baby conversation. When I learned that I was pregnant after almost seven years of marriage, I was beyond happy. Having previously lost two babies early in the first trimester, I admit I was also a little nervous.
This pregnancy, however, was different. I was already five weeks and six days pregnant, with about six or seven home pregnancy tests under my belt, when I had my first ultrasound. Like a right-turn signal, her heart blinked away on the screen right before my eyes.
As much as I possibly could, I handled my pregnancy with kid gloves. For better blood and oxygen flow, I slept on my left side each night. Never a drinker or smoker, I took my prenatal vitamins religiously and even gave up drinking Coca Cola. Anyone who truly knows me understands the magnitude of that sacrifice. I knew my obstetrician’s phone number by heart and called about any twinge of pain, discharge, or extended periods when my baby was less active.
Imagine my shock when one night, after enjoying some delicious nachos my husband had prepared, I was shaken out of my sleep by strong cramps that I knew could not be good. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom to find out that I was bleeding.
My husband rushed me to the hospital three traffic lights away. The nurses examined me, then hooked up an IV that delivered magnesium sulfate to slow down my contractions. The nurse warned, “This medicine is gonna make you feel hot all over,” and it did. Despite the discomfort caused by the medication, I remember being grateful that there was something that could be done to stop my contractions.
After about an hour or so of nurses and technicians checking on me, I was all settled in, my husband went home to get some sleep, and I finally dozed off.
The next morning my contractions grew in intensity. I was worried. Each contraction was powerful enough to wake me up and I timed them by looking up at the clock on the wall. They were coming too quickly. I noticed that my mother was sitting in the left corner of the room. I had time to speak to my mother and nod out for twelve minutes before my water broke like a dam being uncorked. The entire hospital bed was wet. No one alive could have convinced me that the entire Atlantic Ocean hadn’t just moved through me. Lifting my head, I looked at my mom and said, “My water broke.” She jumped up and ran to get the nurse. The nurse walked in and asked, “What’s going on?” “My water broke,” I answered, to which the nurse replied, as she stood over me, shaking her head, “Oh no. No, your water didn’t break. Let’s get you examined.”
I immediately called my husband. He said he was on his way. After I was examined, the doctor determined that my membranes had ruptured, just as I had said. My daughter was in frank breech position (one leg up, one leg down). It was election day, November 8, 2000 and my daughter was about to be born. 
Like kids called into the principal’s office, three doctors stood to my right, heads hanging low, lined up against the wall. I had just seen two of the doctors in the last few days, earlier in the office, as well as Sunday at that very hospital. Both times, I had been assured that all was fine.
After hearing the options: turning the baby around and then giving birth or a Caesarian section (which would be less stressful on the baby), my husband sternly asked, “Well, shouldn’t you all be getting ready?”
Then, from among the heavy silence, the only female doctor (who will remain nameless), out of the three, stepped forward and rendered her medical opinion like judgement, “A C-section is major surgery. It’s very stressful on your body, and it doesn’t make sense for a baby who won’t be a viable person. You will want to have other babies.”
Those words hit me like a brick in the face. All I knew was I was this little person’s mother today. The distant future was the last thing on my mind. No matter the outcome, I would do everything I could to give her the best chance at life- this life God had breathed into her.
Minutes later the doctors cleared the room to prep for my surgery. As I lay in that hospital bed, only twenty-three weeks along in my pregnancy, I would become a mother. Strangely, a surreal calm washed over me. I didn’t cry. I knew that the Lord was with me. I spoke to the Him and said, “Lord, if you want her back home with you, I’ll be okay. If you let her stay, Lord, please help us and give me strength.”
Just hours later at 5:18 PM, Alexandria was born. As I lay on that operating table, I heard a nurse warn, “Mrs. Allen, you won’t hear her cry.” My husband left my side as the NICU team rushed my daughter away.
Alexandria weighed only one pound, four-and-a-half ounces. She was 12 ¼” long. She weighed the same as a loaf of bread. To this day, I can’t pick up a loaf of bread or make a sandwich without remembering the day that never fails to give me hope.
Yes, as one of the NICU doctors reminded me, when I was in recovery, we’d have a long road ahead. Yes, I had no idea of every trial and hurdle our family would endure or conquer. No, this was not the way I dreamed of becoming a mother. But yes, I would trust the Lord now. I was determined to learn all I could about the issues that most preemies face. And I would trust the Lord with Alex’s health issues: eye surgery, brain hemorrhages, a fractured femur due to chemical rickets and careless NICU technicians, oxygen levels, full feedings, infections, neonatal intestinal obstruction, edema, weight gain and loss, bradycardia (slow heart rate), and tachycardia (abnormally rapid heart rate). 
The Lord was there. His presence was clear to me. I experienced His love and faithfulness for myself day after day. We were blessed to have wonderful people in charge of caring for Alexandria. Dr. Armand, head of the neonatology department at DeKalb Medical Center, had a wonderful way of explaining every medical diagnosis, course of treatment, and procedure. One of our favorite NICU nurses, Tracey Hardy, gave Alex such great care that we never worried when it was her day to work.
Finally, only February 6th 2001, after eighty-five days in NICU, Alexandria was given over into our care.  I can’t explain to you how my anxiety wrestled and mingled with my joy. A full month before her due date, Alex was discharged from Dekalb Medical Center. We had to take and pass a CPR class and learn about the monitor that was attached to our premature daughter. A monstrous oxygen tank was delivered to our home. Dr. Armand assured us it only administered just a “little puff of air” that Alex didn’t really need anymore. 
We were so happy to have Alex home with us. For health reasons though, we kept her away from crowded places for the recommended time. But as soon as possible, the three amigos hit the road. We went to arts festivals, trade shows, and flea markets. Everywhere we took Alex, people were amazed at her tiny size. The receptionist at the front desk of Alex’s pulmonologist actually commented when we stepped off the elevator, “Girl, I thought you were carrying a baby doll in your arm.”
Well, my preemie is not so preemie anymore. She’s the beautiful girl in the blue coat, standing next to her baby sisters and brother. We just celebrated her 17th birthday last week. I’m amazed at how the time has flown. My firstborn is almost an “adult.” She keeps sweetly reminding me. My girl is beautiful, bright, and easygoing. Frozen’s Elsa and Anna are still her favorite.  She loves the movie. She buys the books. She draws lovely pictures of them to accompany the stories she writes. There are areas in Alexandria’s, excuse me Alex’s life (she prefers Alex) in which she will always need her parents. And that’s okay. I’m her mother. She’s my sweet girl. Life happens. And life is still beautiful.

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Let's Decorate for Fall with Pillows

Well, Fall is finally here.  And it's no secret that I love decorating with pillows!  You can change the look of any room just by changing the pillows.  Pillows and pillow covers are an easy way to add a pop of color to your sofa, bed, chaise lounge, or porch.  Pillows can cozy up any room.

I enjoyed creating the covers you see above.   The pillow on the top was actually created using a vintage 1988 fabric (I love vintage fabric) that I've been holding on to for YEARS!  The full roses look lovely up against a muted green tone. All I could think of when I looked at this fabric was the word "grateful." Now, the bottom pillow was created from a fabric that is adorable. I think it'll add rustic, country charm to any sitting area. I've added the words "give thanks." 

Both pillow covers are the perfect fit for 16" pillow inserts (not included). I used French seams, so there are no raw seams inside. When needed, these cotton covers can be tossed in the washer. I recommend line drying or laying flat. They'll need to be ironed after each wash.

This Fall, I can't think of two better sentiments than "Give Thanks" and "Grateful."

This weekend, these covers are available on Ebay!  After that, I'll add buttons here for anyone who's interested in purchasing.

I'm working on some new designs.  So, please come back to see what I've created.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Knock-Out Rose is Here!

Today, my new novel Knock-Out Rose is available on Amazon. Get your copy today. Have Kindle Unlimited? Download it for free. 

Check out the awesome cover and cute logo below.

"Girls get hurt by pretty boys every day. But, when it all falls apart, do you put the broken pieces back together or create a whole new life? 

After having one of the worse Mondays of her life, Lola Rose wakes up to a nightmare. Does she have what it takes to push through the pain? Does she have enough faith to see the light at the end of the tunnel? 

After being sucked into her husband's dreams, can Lola fight and find her way back to the life meant for her? Will she find the kind of love that feels like home? Can she trust her instincts again?

Knock-Out Rose is a story of love and restoration, strength and faith. With a strong spiritual foundation and her family by her side, Lola has to prove to the world and herself that she's strong enough to live and love beyond the pain."

I'm already working on a new novel series slated for November or December release. So, check back often for updates.

Thank you!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Look Who's on the Red Carpet Again!

Buy NOW on eBay!

Movie Stars are making the scene on these Classic Hollywood Movie pillow covers.
This set of two pillow covers ($15.95) was made from Peter Pan fabric.
100% cotton
Light teal color
Envelope closure in back
French seams on the inside, no raw edges.
These covers will fit 16" pillow inserts (not included).
This set is the perfect pop of color for your bed or sofa. Great alone or added to another grouping of pillows.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Whosoever Heart Christian T-Shirt

Women's Sizes
$17.50 (US Shipping included)
Please remember to select your size in the drop-down menu before clicking the Buy Now button.

 "For Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." 
Romans 10:13

Queens, Daughters of the King
This shirt is for YOU!

Each 100% cotton shirt is made-to-order.  So, please allow three days for your shirt to be completed before shipment. If you need a size that isn't listed or have any questions/concerns, please contact me at allengrace5@gmail.com for ordering or size information. 

Currently, we're using Gildan heavyweight cotton t-shirts. However, a different brand may be used when stocking issues occur.  Thank you for understanding!

Queens Never Ask Permission to Dream Shirt

Women Sizes
$17.50 (US Shipping included)
Please remember to select your size in the drop-down menu before clicking the Buy Now button.

Queens, Dreamers, Believers, Builders, and Goal-Getters,
This shirt is for YOU!

Each 100% cotton shirt is made-to-order.  So, please allow three days for your shirt to be completed before shipment. If you need a size that isn't listed or have any questions/concerns, please contact me at allengrace5@gmail.com for ordering or size information. 

Currently, we're using Gildan heavyweight cotton t-shirts. However, a different brand may be used when stocking issues occur.  Thank you for understanding!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Your Bucket List

Just the other day, my family drove to Candler Park. It was quite the perfect spring day.  All four kids darted off to claim a swing, a rung on the monkey bars, or chase lightning bugs.  My husband and I headed toward our favorite bench, perfect for keeping our eyes on the kids.

Before I made it to the bench though, I noticed a flyer attached to the lightpost.  It was an advertisement for a local pop-up shop event.  Just the photo alone boasted exquisite linens, pillows, and other handmade wares for sale.  I thought, what a fantastic idea, but I said, with a huff, "Why can't I do that?  Why can't I have a sale, too?"

As soon as those words escaped my lips, I turned to my husband and asserted, "I could do that.  Yes, I can have a sale, too."  He nodded and verbalized his support.

So, what if time has gone by like 'sands through the hourglass?'  Time flies when we're having fun. It's far too easy to lose time and miss opportunities when life makes a million demands on us.  Old dreams that once pumped through our hearts have gone unfulfilled and lay tucked away in a forgotten chest in the attic.

Despite our intentions, life just had other plans for us.  The road we've traveled has been more about the needs and expectations of everyone else.  The hours have been about arriving at the destination of someone else's choosing.

Here is the truth.  You can make a new bucket list today. Cater this new list of aspirations to all your experiences, strengths, and yearnings.  Put little things, big things, even "silly" unusual things on the list.  No matter our age, the honest pursuit of a goal can be more fulfilling and more intoxicating than checking off gifts on a Christmas wish list.

If you desire and choose, it is possible to move in a completely new direction.  Be bold enough to paint in your mind a picture of your life- the one in your wildest dreams.  Dare to claim what others believe you can never achieve and should never attempt.  Have the courage to move things around, usher in new players if necessary, and take a chance on yourself.

Let your new bucket list or the revised one give you power.  Yes, there may be obstacles.  However, the no's we believe and tell ourselves daily remain our largest hurdles.  Like bullies, those negative thoughts stand guard against hope.  Now is the time to stand up for yourself.  Those bullies can't tell you 'no' or shut you down any longer.

You can pursue any goal you witness.  You can dream any dream.  Moving forward and upward toward your dream is possible for you.  If you see anyone else on the planet doing it, achieving it, or living it, it is possible for you.  You are exceptional enough to be dedicated enough to make it happen. There is time to do what you love.  You can live life in a way that's meaningful to you.  With faith, patience, and determination, you can make your bucket list come true, too.

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Visit Tondeleya Allen's Author Page on Amazon, follow the links to get copies, or read with your Kindle Unlimited Subscription,  The Blessed Woman Endeavor, You Inspire Me, or Honey in My Tea!