As evinced by the last Flashback Friday post, they aren’t necessarily going to go in order. Nevertheless, this one will probably be the first, in a chronological sense. This — give or take some antics of an in-utero Ash — is the story of how things began. I’ve been told it’s amusing. Bear in mind it was written while pumping, during one of those times during the day when the NICU nursing staff switched over and kicked parents out so they could talk about ALL the babies (which you are supposed to pretend you don’t see, when you are there for your own). I wasn’t exactly editing for quality. I was also writing through the shock.
April 30th, 2005
Last weekend was planned to be a busy one. We were going to do lots of shopping….grocery shopping, household shopping, leftover immediate-need baby shopping. We were going to work on errands and calls and paperwork, do more laundry and dishes, plant our garden, work some more on setting up the new place (having only moved in about two weeks before, Steffan working, and me being very pregnant and even less physically useful than usual, this was a slow process, ok?!), and try to at least mostly finish the nursery. That’s what was planned.
Instead of getting lots done to prepare for the baby….still way ahead of schedule, or so we assumed…
I had the baby.
No, no….you’re quite right if you’re thinking that this really wasn’t supposed to happen yet. The baby was, indeed, due in mid-June. To date, they STILL think that the “due date” was accurate. What they didn’t count on was Ash being impatient.
Let me premise by saying that I had my last pre-natal appointment the weekend before. Nothing was out of the ordinary, all my test results were good, all quiet on the Western front (or Southern, as the case may be). I was scheduled for another appointment in three weeks, at which they’d do another full gynocological check-up. Fast forward to this past Saturday. I’d been having random, mild Braxton-Hicks contractions for two days, but that is common in the last two months of pregnancy. Things were still normal, still predictable. I hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary, either….no recent additional strain or excessive movement, no falling or impacts, no nothin’.
So there we are on Saturday, late morning sometime I think, getting ourselves ready to go out baby shopping. I’m doing my last bathroom run before we leave the house. Doo dee doo dee doo. I’m still very sleepy and I almost don’t check my urine. In fact, I’d just reached down to wipe. BAM! Oh damn oh crap oh dear God….there’s blood on my hand. Fresh, bright red blood.
Now, the pregnancy books all tell you that there are certain things which, late in pregnancy, can trigger some “spotting”. Having had sex in the last 24-48 hours, for example. This no-worries “spotting” is described as being brownish streaking in the lochia (pregnancy discharge). Not bright red and free-flowing. In fact, a rough translation of what the pregnancy books all say about bright red, fresh, free-flowing bleeding is….“FREAK OUT AND GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY!!!” Supporting this cool and collected perspective are all the doctors, who begin, interject and end nearly every appointment with a reminder to be very careful to watch for, and go to the ER immediately if there is any sign of….bright red, fresh blood. Well….that’s what I had, all right. So, naturally, we freaked out and took me straight to the ER. Well actually, I called up first to warn them we were coming, and why….as Steffan ran around looking for a maxi pad for me….because emergency rooms are notorious for making you wait as if nothing troublesome was going on.
Thankfully, calling ahead worked fairly well. Soon I was being poked, prodded, examined and tested, by an assortment of doctors and nurses. In the process, we found out that in the week since my last pre-natal appointment, I’d developed two infections….a urinary tract infection, and a bacterial infection particular to pregnancy, that closely resembles a yeast infection. It seems that pregnant women are extremely prone to these infections, and, rather inconveniently, because the symptoms of the infections are the same as the symptoms of pregnancy itself, they are never noticed unless you happen to be tested for something else. Lovely. Because the infections aggravate the cervix, it was concluded that this is probably what caused the bleeding. (These infections, by the way, are also the only clue they have as to why I might have delivered early, since sometimes they can trigger contractions.) I was given a prescription for two antibiotics to take care of them, and that was that. Of course, they also discovered that Ash was “very low” (I already had told them that, eniways), and was already in the perfect position for birthing….face down. (His butt was to the left of my belly button, his feet were above it and to the right, and his spine was close to the outside of my stomach.) On top of this, for no particular reason that anyone could discern, I was already one centimeter dilated. No placenta previa (when the placenta is blocking the cervix), though, no incompetent cervix (basically, a weak cervix that gives out too easily under the weight of the baby)….things still seemed pretty much….well….normal.
Let’s review the main point of that again. I was there on Saturday, and THEY DID NOT EXPECT ME TO GIVE BIRTH PREMATURELY. In fact, I wasn’t even given any additional precautions or limitations, not put on bed rest (I was actually expecting to be put on bed rest, but okaayy)….the only thing that was supposed to change from the ordinary run of the next two months of pregnancy was that I needed to take those antibiotics for a week, to clear up the infections, and I was supposed to make an extra pre-natal appointment with my OBGYN on Monday, for a follow-up check.
Granted, I didn’t have a chance for much more than bed rest, anyway. By the time we got out of the hospital, it was night….too late to pick up those prescriptions, in fact, or call in for the appointment. We got dinner (we were both famished), went home, watched a movie to try to finish relaxing after the stressful freak-out of the day, and went to bed. The idea was to try to do on Sunday some of what we didn’t get done on Saturday….with more expectation that I’d take it really easy, as well as call it a day early-on.
So, onwards to Sunday. We’d gotten up, eaten breakfast, and were getting ready to go out and pick up my prescriptions before trying to get some of the shopping done. I had just done my last-minute bathrooming, and was calling down the stairs to let Steffan know to get his shoes on, that I was ready and coming down.
And then my water broke. **GOOOOOSSSHHH**
So, it’s freak-out time again. I make the call, Steffan gets me a thick towel (my soaked clothes were a hopeless case), and off we go to the ER, trying to be calm (yeah right). I’m flooding myself the whole trip. Note to anyone who has not yet gone through labor….bring more than one towel to sit on in the car. You will saturate it — and the car’s seat under it. Then you will saturate the wheelchair they put you in once you arrive, and possibly the hallway beneath it. Then you will saturate the examination table they put you on. At some point, someone will say, “Yep….your water broke.”
On the way there, Steffan and I attempted to calmly discuss ‘what it meant when your water broke, in the grand scheme of things’. We discussed how sometimes, if this happens prematurely, they plug you up, refill you with fake amniotic fluid, give you drugs to stop the contractions, and try to play for more time. Every minute in the womb helps the baby, after all. I was only at 33 weeks and 2 days. 7 weeks premature, nearly two months. WAY too early.
I didn’t have any warning signs before my water broke. My body didn’t decide to follow any of the patterns that the books talk about. No pre-labor diarrhea, no cramping, no more “spotting”, no increasing-in-frequency-or-intensity-and-becoming-regularly-scheduled contractions. In fact, I didn’t have any contractions until we were most of the way to the hospital. That was….oh….somewhere close to 4pm, maybe a little before. My water had broken closer to 3pm. I don’t know why there was more traffic on Sunday than on Saturday.
You hear stories about women who only labored for three hours, two hours, one hour (usually having the shorter labors with later children). What this tends to refer to isn’t so much the entirety of labor, but how long they spent in Stage 3 labor. Some women simply don’t notice the early stages. I am not one of those women.
Nevertheless, things moved quite quickly enough that I really can’t complain. Whether I inherited quick labor from my mother, the baby decided to follow the quick birth traditions of Steffan’s family, or he was just eager to get out and try some of that Chinese food mommy’s amniotic fluid tasted like the night before….things moved along quite quickly indeed. It was 4-something, maybe close to 5pm, when we got to the hospital and they rolled me in for false-calm examinations again. I’m not sure how long that took….a few hours, probably. They had a hard time getting readings on Ash, because he had “dropped” so far so quickly (as one doctor put it, “The weird numbers were probably his head dropping like a rocket”), and I had so little amniotic fluid left. Because they had such a hard time getting readings, they couldn’t get an accurate estimate of his size, either. Being only at 33 weeks gestational age, they expected him to be a lot smaller than he ended up. (Ok….according to Steffan, they expected him to be around a half pound less….but when you consider newborn size….a half pound makes a big difference!)
Actually, they were having such difficulty getting accurate readings that I would’ve been laughing if I hadn’t been in so much pain….because while their machines couldn’t tell them I was having contractions, or anything else….I could tell them. One nurse remarked that I hadn’t been wrong about anything yet. Somehow, that wasn’t very comforting, just then.
They tried delaying things, as they tried to get a feel for his condition, and mine. They debated trying to officially delay labor, in a more semi-permanent sense. They ended up giving up on trying, because while they were delaying the dilation of my cervix, they weren’t doing a damn thing to stop the contractions. In the end, they realized that had they really tried to stop labor and put it off….it wouldn’t have worked. Things were simply already too far along, and moving too quickly. Ash was already in position, already dropped, I’d lost most of my amniotic fluid, the contractions were crazy, and I was already at one and a half centemeters dilation when I arrived. My contractions were coming on hard and fast….and excruciating. There was no slow progression in terms of how long they lasted or how far apart they were….no oh no. It took MAYBE an hour….probably less….to go from no contractions at all, to pretty much constant contractions. And holy back labor, Batman! Ouchy.
I did not scream, I did not curse, and I did not beg for drugs. Nevertheless, I am not ashamed in the slightest to admit that I was crying, whimpering, clenching my jaw around growly grunts, making high-pitched squeaky sounds, and twitching violently. Steffan could tell I was holding back on crushing the pulp out of his hands….but it wasn’t just a little rational part of me that, through it all, realized that breaking his hands wasn’t really the best idea, just then. Partially, I was simply in too much pain for my brain to bother with putting the oomph into enough muscle control to squeeze as much as I would’ve.
Pain-killing measures weren’t something I wanted to give in to just for the sake of pain….only if they were medically necessary. Would I have had that willpower if I didn’t know they hadn’t already been deemed medically necessary? I don’t know. Dr.F had told us at my last appointment that he expected me to need an epidural, so that labor wouldn’t trigger any severe problems with my heart condition. Thankfully, the hospital knew that already, because if they’d delayed by even a few more minutes, they might not have had time to actually give me one. The anesthesiologist was almost afraid to give me one anyway, just because I was twitching and shuddering so violently….you really don’t want to move much when someone is sticking a needle into your spine….it’s kind of dangerous….bad idea. Thankfully, it’s mostly my limbs that twitch violently….my torso kinda just trembles, and that’s easier to hold still. They gave me a pillow or three to clench to my chest, and a nurse held my legs down to keep the twitches from bouncing me, and that was enough.
When you have had an epidural….about a minute later….you can’t feel much of anything from the belly button down. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh…
(I have to say, though, it’s kind of strange to feel the effects of strain on the body, without feeling the strain itself. Steffan says I never broke a sweat, which amazes both of us….I was certainly having a lot of trouble breathing, epidural or not. When I was actually pushing Ash out, I could sort of feel myself….stretching….around something….but that was it. And of course, afterwards, I felt far too much.)
Dr.F was rather worried about me when he first rushed in….despite him hearing that I’d already been given the epidural, I seemed to be gravely affected by labor….my usual sense of humor….that I’d been “training” him to get used to for the last 8 months….wasn’t evident. Actually my mouth was just too dry and pasty to say much. They brought me some ice chips, my mouth recovered, and I made sure to be especially snarky, to make up for scaring him. He felt better.
I actually had two doctors, along with the assortment of nurses. Because Ash was so premature, another, more senior Doctor….Dr.C….was there for the delivery, in case something went wrong. My glasses were off and I couldn’t see him as anything more than one more blue smudge (surgical gowns and masks and hats), so didn’t grant him any special attention when he (one of so very many that day, after all) introduced himself. When he found out I was virtually blind, he informed me that he was….what was it again?….something-ing-ly attractive.
I pointed out a bit later that I was starving, so right then what would look stunningly attractive to me would be a bucket of BBQ chicken.
We all got along just great. (Yes, that was serious. )
Once they had given up and let the labor progress, it took maybe an hour, maybe a little bit more, to go from my 1.5 cm. dilation to 4cm. It took between half an hour and 45 minutes to go from 4cm. dilation to 8cm. Dr.F said, “Ok, I’m going to check her progress again”….reached in….”Never mind, she’s ready!” Ash is actually going to have two little scars on his scalp, because when they stuck in the monitor to see how close he was, they unexpectedly stuck it right into his head. No one could believe how fast my labor was….especially for a first pregnancy, & me being of small bone-structure. And, when it came time to push, it only took four or five (we can’t remember now) sets of pushes. It would’ve only taken one or two, but….they had expected Ash to be smaller. He crowned (the head is right up against the opening of the cervix, and can be seen from outside) at the first push….and then….after another set or two….hadn’t budged. As little as he was, he was too big for me. They had to do an epistiotomy (they cut a slit from the vagina towards the anus, to give the baby more room to come out), after all. I hear it involved scizzors. ::shudders:: Once they did that….out he came, no problem.
We were told later that Ash decided it wasn’t going to be hard enough pushing him out, and decided to change his perfect birthing position at the last second, and stick his hand up by his forehead. So, I wasn’t just pushing out his head, but his head and arm. Thanks, kid.
Despite no longer being able to feel the contractions, or the muscles I was using to push — I was simply guessing when they told me things like “Push lower!” or “That’s perfect!…do that again!” — I hear I did a very commendable job. My trick? Start off using the muscles you use to squeeze your bladder empty. Then use the muscles you use during kegels. Last, use the muscles you use to defecate.
The epistiotomy was the only part that Steffan looked away for. Because of the way the bed was, he couldn’t be all the way behind me, so he was sort of by my head, at my side. We’d planned on him being up there. I couldn’t feel my legs, though, so they asked him if he wanted/was willing to hold one of my legs, instead of calling in another nurse to do it. So, with one hand he was holding up/back my right leg, and with the other he was massaging my neck and shoulders….and during pushes, helping to hold my head up and forward. He had a clear view down my leg, of Ash coming out. It’s interesting….not really knowing what is happening, how far you’ve gotten….and then hearing your husband say, “Oh my God!”
They lay Ash on my belly to tie off and cut his cord. I could juuuuust see him, fuzzily. He was very very purple. That didn’t register until later. At the time, I was just crying.
Because he was so premature, they had to whisk him away to the NICU. We couldn’t hold him. I couldn’t nurse. I didn’t see him again until the next day. But he was born….my baby, my son, my little prince, had been safely born.
Ash Fieri was born at 10:30pm on Sunday, April 24th, 2005. He weighed 4lbs.8oz., and was 17 inches long.
Just in case you don’t realize it, that’s HUGE for a 7-week-premature baby. My sister was born 10 days late, and she only weighed a pound more. There are babies down in the NICU much closer to full-term, and much, much smaller. We’re talking one and two pound babies! The big question is (pun unintentional, but fitting, regardless) just how huge he would have been if I’d been able to carry him full-term?! Chances are, I would’ve needed a C-Section, actually. I was mostly belly, and my belly was indeed getting pretty impressive….good to know he was doing something with all that food he made me eat! We’re thinking he must get it from my father, because no one else in either immediate family is prone to excessive size.
They sewed me up, and eventually moved me to another room. Those epidurals wear off fast….I still was numb, but it was leaving my system, already, by then….I was suddenly breaking out in cold sweats and hot flashes, and began twitching violently again….more than I had from the pain, earlier. I was also overtaken by nausea….thankfully, that got better once I managed to throw up some bile. Part of the nausea was from the physical strain, part was from being extremely hungry. Part of the twitching was from physical stress, part was from emotional overload. I know me by now.
The first time I went to the bathroom (once I could feel my bladder, it felt like it was going to burst out of my back, my kidneys leading the way), it took Steffan and a nurse to walk me there (across the room). If anyone was going to help me out in there, I would’ve rathered it was Steffan, but the nurse had it as part of her job that she had to help me through the first time, make sure I understood what it meant to wipe from front to back, make sure I could handle not actually wiping, but, rather, squirting myself with a bottle of warm water, and then gently patting myself dry.
It seems impossible for me to have an IV in, without everyone catching and yanking on it. Earlier, a nurse had accidentally jerked it, and when I cried out, told me that it couldn’t hurt that much, being taped in place and all. I told her it didn’t hurt that much the first 100 times, but after a while, it gets kind of sensative. Do you know when I finally got that friggin’ IV taken out? When the nurse helping me go to the bathroom for the first time tripped on it.
Steffan stayed with me until the twitching calmed somewhat and I’d managed to eat a little bit and keep it down. Then I made him go see our son. If they’d given me better pain killers once the epidural wore off, I would’ve been able to go with him. I was in no shape to sit or move, though. ::sighs:: Ash wasn’t in the incubator right away….they started him off with just an oxygen mask type thingy….Steffan still couldn’t hold him, but he could touch him….touch his face, let Ash grab onto his finger…
They sent him back to my room when they realized he was just about to pass out from exhaustion, standing there. Alas, my poor husband couldn’t rest even once he came back. The pain killer was still doing diddlyaquat, and they wouldn’t give me anything else, more or stronger. When I’d gone to the bathroom for the second time, on my own, the ice pack had fallen out of the mesh underwear thingies they give you, onto the floor. Thinking that putting something clean against me might be a better idea than using the same one (it had thawed, anyway), I rang for the nurse, so she could bring me another one. I’d been told, when given the first one, that there were two or three of them lined up for me. Well the nurse wouldn’t bring me another damn ice pack. She told me that you get one for two or three hours, and then they decide you don’t need one anymore, and that’s it. Now, I can understand telling me I couldn’t have another one for, say, 15 minutes….the whole don’t-keep-ice-on-you-non-stop thing. But why in God’s name refuse to give me another ice pack, all together?! This isn’t medicine, that you can overdose on. THIS IS A BLOODY ICE PACK FOR MY CROTCH THAT HAS JUST BEEN CUT OPEN, HAD A BABY PUSHED THROUGH IT, AND THEN SEWN BACK TOGETHER. So….no sleep for either of us. I was still whimpering and crying and twitching, and Steffan attempted to massage me through the pain.
It was killing me that I couldn’t go see Ash.
Steffan, to no one’s surprise, called into work on Monday. It was late morning/early afternoon when Dr.F came back, was VERY sympathetic to our angst at my issues getting better painkillers and ice packs, and rather quickly resolved all our issues. I was given a second, stronger kind of pain killer, on top of the other one, as well as the ice packs, and also topical numby-foam stuff to slather on the maxi pads. As soon as the pain faded, I passed out. Naturally, so did Steffan.
Dr. F was actually a little worried about letting me continue with that second kind of pain killer. After all, as soon as I took it, I was knocked out. The thing was….it’s not that it MADE me sleep….it LET me sleep — and my body didn’t care what I wanted to do, it wanted to sleep. Big difference.
What was left of Monday, by the time we woke up in the evening, was pretty much a blur, except for going to see Ash in the NICU. I was extremely upset until I got to see him….all the more so because we were told that he’d needed to be put in an incubator after all, and I didn’t know if I’d even be able to touch him, and if they’d only given me some better merglefruggin pain killers the night before…
The incubators have little window thingies that you can open up, and reach into. Thank God. There was a plastic box in the way, and even more tubes and wires and cords than Steffan had seen the night before, of course….but still….I could touch him….could stroke his hair and face, could have my finger held, could whisper to him…
He was very, very pink.
And, of course, he was also darling and perfect and the cutest, best-looking baby there, or anywhere in the universe.
I would’ve stayed until I fell asleep again, but I needed Steffan to help me back to my room so I’d be there when the nurses came to check me again….then he had to run home and pack me some food and things for the night….come back and help me shower….and leave, to sleep at home, so he could actually sleep half-decently and get to work the next day….a few hours from then. It was depressing to have him leave….but….what to do? We can’t afford for him to lose hours at work, and he’s better off saving his one week of vacation for when the three of us are home together. Work offers one week of paternity leave, but they don’t pay you for it.
I wanted to stay awake, so I could go to the NICU again after they did their midnight-scheduled medical mumbo-jumbo on Ash, to check on his progress and see him again. I figured that TV (especially since we don’t actually bother with TV at home, so it’s a novelty) would keep me awake better than reading, so I turned the sucker on and began to explore anew the wonderful world of bad late-night programming. Eventually I found a few decent re-runs….the problem was that it seemed, no matter what show I found….they were all on the same theme. What was that theme? Premature labor. *click* — On Rosanne, Darlene is going into premature labor….will her baby survive? Rosanne is calling in top doctors from all around the world, but they don’t think the chances are good, even after all their efforts….watch to see what happens! *click* — On Murphy Brown, Murphy is pregnant, and starts having premature labor pains….will she and the baby survive her stubborn refusal to get medical care? *click*
Ohh yeah, JUST what I needed to see.
Went back to the NICU at 1am-ish…figured they’d be done by then. Ash was stable, showing a few signs of progress. The next bloodwork, etc, would be at 4am. The incubator had a lot of heat being pumped into it right then, and leaning in with my face to the window my hand wasn’t through, it was almost impossible to keep my eyes open….I kept dozing off and jerking myself awake to look at him again. Gave myself some interesting forehead imprints, and didn’t care in the least. Was eventually convinced to stumble back to my room, though. Didn’t care about my own need for sleep….wanted to go back after the 4am check….no alarm clock in the room….slept through all the nurses and things they did to me every 2 hours….didn’t wake up until the next day…
The update on him sounded pretty much the same, Tuesday morning. I could deal with that. I was looking at my baby boy! He was more skin-colored and less strawberry-colored, that morning. The swelling of his eyes had gone down a lot, too. In fact, it had gone down enough that he could get his eyes open somewhat, though usually not both at once, and not for very long or very focused. Having your baby look at you for the first time is definitely right up there with looking at your baby for the first time.
Granted, babies do the color-change thing sometimes every week or two, sometimes for two whole years….but at the moment, Ash has lighter skin coloring (whether Steffan’s Irish skin or my olive-tone, we can’t tell, because of the jaundice and all….but he definitely doesn’t seem to have my father-in-law’s coloring, which is altogether darker, drawing from their Native American blood somewhere back there), just a very little bit of dark brown hair on his head, light eyelashes, and deep blue eyes. Sure, most Caucasian babies are born with slate blue eyes no matter how they end up (though Steffan was backwards…he started off with nearly black eyes, and ended up with blue eyes)….but I’m hoping that Ash keeps his. Steffan makes faces at me for wanting our son to have his eyes, but too bad….I can want it all I want. ;-P Actually, he might end up looking a lot more like Steffan in general….from what he can remember of baby pictures of himself and his brothers, the facial features might come more from that side….and Steffan has the blue eyes, light eyelashes, and….well, his hair does its own color-change thing, being generally dark strawberry blond, but shifting between the brown, golden blond and red that sort of blend to make that shade, depending on the light. Maybe it’s just the way his chin and cheeks are all squished because of the tape holding the tubes in place, but Ash also might’ve inherited quite the overbite, from that side….oops.
And, of course, he is still darling and perfect and the cutest, best-looking baby there, or anywhere in the universe.
Eventually I went back to my room, being due for more pain killers, and anticipating a call from Steffan on his break at work, wanting to know how we were doing. A visit helped pass the time after that, when I was really supposed to stay in my room and rest….Steph came, along with friend-Natalie and her three little ones. They came bearing a card and an “It’s A Boy!” balloon, and Hope had (smart little girl) drawn me a picture of a frog prince, with the text, “Babys are the best!” Heehee. It was really nice of them to come. The kids were kind of confused at first….after all….I kinda still had a big belly….but we were telling them that I’d had the baby, the baby wasn’t in my belly anymore….but the baby wasn’t in the room with me, either….where was the baby?! I took the excuse to sneak out of the room again (come on….how much rest was I really ever getting in my room anyway, when one drug was given every 6 hours, one drug was given every four hours, I was pumping colostrum every three hours, and a nurse came in to take all my vitals and poke and prod me, every two hours….add constant visits from assorted other nurses, doctors, and people with paperwork?!)….so I could take them to the NICU to visit. Nat was worried about me getting up and walking, because I was hesitant to do it, and then had them go on the other side of the curtain and not watch me try to get up. Actually, I was mostly worried about the kids seeing the blood on my sheets, and freaking out.
I can only take one person at a time with me, into the NICU, and they have to be 16 or older. The kids were bummed….especially Hope….though they felt better once Steph came back out from her mini-visit in there with me, with photos on her digi-cam to show them. They weren’t bothered at all by the fact that my baby looked like a Borg, with all those wires and monitors and tubes and strange wrappings….maybe because they didn’t really understand what they meant. ::shrugs:: No harm in that innocence. So yeah….took Steph in, and she nabbed a few photos (the hospital takes a photo for their website if you sign a form giving them consent, but they don’t do it until the babies are apparatus-free)….and then she traded off with Nat, watching the little ones, and I took Nat in with me.
I only have one photo from Steph, so far….she’s been too busy to do more than get the others off of her camera. I have to be more patient than Ash….really…
In the meantime, you can have a first peek at our little prince! Feel special….people without internet habits are going to be waiting for birth announcement photos, and we’re not going to take those until we can get a really good shot without all that medical ick in the way.
The last time you snuck a peek at Ash, he looked like this:
Now Ash looks pretty much like this:
No comments about the finger.
Hrmmm….you know what? I’ve already been writing this on-and-off, all day, between pumpings. I’ll finish the story, and progress report, later….maybe tomorrow….