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Alisa. 37. New Hampshire. Married for almost three years to this wonderful, funny, smart guy. Previously married. Went through in-vitro fertilization to have my five year old magical son Keegan. Stepmother to the charming Isabelle (6). Gushingly in love with our baby boy Harper(1). Policy Wonk and dreaded bureaucrat. Lover of fine cuisine, honeybees, truly romantic moments and the underdog.
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Curried Beef Short Ribs

Note: I found this was more realistically four servings.

Finishing this dish with lime zest and juice brightens its rich flavors.

Yield 6 servings (serving size: about 3 ounces ribs, 2/3 cup rice, and about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds ...continue reading

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The Legacy Of N.

It was at this time several years ago that I was part of an event, that at the risk of being dramatic, changed my perspective on life. I was working for a human services company that both housed children in foster care and kept track of them in their homes. As a supervisor you were responsible for being the on-call for the entire program in an alternating schedule. The weekend responsibilities were from noon on Friday through noon the following Monday. It made you the top of the chain in decisions that protected over 100 children at a time. It was a system I was comfortable with having worked my way up from a residential caseworker to running an outreach program.
That year I wanted Christmas off so I volunteered to cover the weekend beforehand. Saturday I was visiting the residential homes and checking in on staff and clients. When I reached the co-ed shelter I checked on a resident who had been feeling sick. She was also pregnant. There was something about N. that I just couldn't shake the idea that she needed more than just chicken soup and rest.
N. had seen her OB/GYN the previous day and was told that the pregnancy was going fine. She was 7 months along but had only been living in the shelter for a few weeks. Before that she was basically taking care of herself and therefore had not received prenatal care.

I decided to take N. to the local emergency room just to make sure everything was okay. On the way she told me she was having pains and she could time them. I was concerned but at that time N. & I knew about the same amount about pregnancy, very little. The emergency staff took us very seriously, put N. in a wheelchair and sent us upstairs. There a nurse hooked N. up to a monitor and left. We were in that room alone together for atleast 15 minutes. We watched the contractions register on the monitor but noone came. I finally went for the nurse who then brought two residents. I remember thinking at the time that they looked about my age. When they did a pelvic exam they found that N. was dilated. So much that they couldn't stop the labor. All that time I sat and held N.'s hand and they could have come sooner.
All the sudden there was action everywhere and N. was wheeled into another room. The ultrasound showed the baby was breech. She was going to need a c-section. I heard them talking about how there was only one operating room and another woman was there needing a c-section for twins. N. kept asking if her baby would be okay. I tried to reassure her that medical science was amazing and the nurse shot me a look. They made the decision to take N. in first. Meanwhile I was very aware that N. was my responsibility and was trying to call the social service hotline for help. They weren't very sympathetic but did tell me N. could sign her own releases, because as a 16 yr. old giving birth that made her emancipated. They wheeled N. away and left me standing there.
Phone calls to my supervisor assured me I was doing the right thing and the other staff began tracking down N.'s family. An hour later they came out and told me they delivered the baby, a girl. She was in their NICU and a team was coming from Boston to transport her down there to better facilities. I had met N.'s father by then and gone down to the NICU. You couldn't see the baby for all the doctor's working on her. Apparently she hadn't breathed for five minutes after being delivered. I don't remember exactly but she couldn't have weighed more than 2 1/2 pounds.
My supervisor met me and we implemented a plan to make sure a staff could be in N.'s room to keep her company in shifts. I was there when she came out of recovery. They brought her baby up to see her before they ambulanced her to Boston. N. was too groggy to touch her. I will never forget the sight of that tiny baby in that incubator. The nursing staff had put a postcard on N.'s hospital door. A black & white leaf with a raindrop on it. It must have been a signal to other staff that N.'s baby wasn't there.

At 3:30 am I headed home for some rest. It was 7:30 when my backup supervisor called to tell me that N.'s baby had died.

A few hours later I was back at the hospital. N. had many family members to comfort her and she kept asking me if I had seen her baby. She seemed in shock. N. asked for the staff to bring a particular outfit for her to dress the baby in. Social services was refusing to sign a release for the baby's body. N. wanted to hold her before she was taken to the funeral home.
The next day after passing off all my duties to the next on-call supervisor I went home for Christmas. By the time I came back it was all over. The staff had attended the funeral and the baby was buried with just a simple numbered marker. I never saw N. again.

This is why when I finally became pregnant I was petrified of pre-term delivery. N. had had an infection that went undetected and caused her labor. This is why I have counted every week and been grateful for every pound Peanut has put on. This is why I am so worried that I am not gaining enough weight and he isn't big enough.

This was my only experience with childbirth ever. Some would say that it was better this way. That a 16 year old was not equipped to care for what would surely be a special needs baby. Things happen for a reason and all. But I believe we failed her somehow. We didn't get her off the streets in time. The doctor missed her infection. The hospital dragged their feet. I cannot pass that hospital without feeling a shiver. When I saw how nice my labor & delivery facility is, I thought of N. and how she deserved better.

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