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Not wanting to completely believe an old expired test, I run first thing this morning to Walgreen’s for another test. Guess what? It’s a holiday weekend and I can’t get in touch with a doctor, so of course, it is positive!! I figure that the reproductive endocrinolgy office I had gone to last year would have SOMEONE there, since they run pretty much 7 days a week. I phoned and got a nurse, who wants to know why I am calling at 7:30 on a Sunday morning. I explain my history of miscarriages and the last conversation I had with Dr. Gary Packin, my doctor at South Jersey Fertility. He told me if I did get pregnant again, I should immediately start progesterone supplementation and heparin injections – the protocol that worked during my pregnancy with Eilis. She will have to speak with a doctor and phone me back. She called back around 10, and I am told I can come to the office tomorrow, Labor Day, how appropriate, to pick up the Crinone progesterone gel, but I will have to wait to see the doctor on Tuesday.


As messed up as my cycles sometimes are, I don’t know if I’m late or not, but I feel crummy. I decided to look in the cabinet under the sink where all things I don’t know what to do with eventually end up to live out their useful days until I feel motivated to clean areas that no one ever sees. I find in the cabinet an old, expired pregnancy test and I take it. It’s a big, fat, almost immediate POSITIVE!!

Positive pregnancy test

Eilis turns three with a bang

Call it a coincidence, deja vu, or just pure bad luck, but at 2:36 AM, exactly three years to the minute of her birth, Eilis fell out of bed and smacked her head on the hard wood floors.  I had turned in early, leaving Eilis in the care of her father, and she decided she wanted to lay on Brighid’s bed to watch a movie.  They set her up with a movie, and at some point she fell asleep.  Brighid and her father sat up playing video games and never thought to go check on the very quiet Eilis.  But there it was, at 2:36 AM, a loud thud and enormous screaming.  Happy Birthday, Little Girl.

What a year she has had!   She has been through devastating lows.  I have etched in my mind the day Bean died for a variety of reasons, but the one that cuts the deepest is the evening we came home from dinner on the day she died.  Eilis had been two for only three weeks, and she ran upstairs to Bean’s room.  She didn’t know how to open the door then as she does now, so she stood at the door, banging and calling, “Bean!! Bean!!”, without getting an answer.  It was her first lesson in loss, and I’m sorry to say, her first lesson in Jesus and Heaven.  A few weeks later, when we realized that our dog, who had always disliked Eilis, was too badly depressed over Bean’s loss for us to take care of her, and we had to give her away, Eilis wandered the house for days asking when Tink was coming back, when Bean was coming back.  For those who have not experienced it, explaining loss is probably the most difficult lesson you have to teach your children.  I’d rather give the sex talk any day. 

She has made remarkable strides.  She counts to twenty, give or take an eleventeen.  She sings her alphabet with only slight poetic license and artistic enhancement.  If she sees her name written, she knows it is her name.  Unfortunately, she also knows the signs for Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC.  She spends her days singing songs, playing imaginative games, and re-enacting scenes from her favorite movies.  She loves more than anything when she can have sleep overs at Dram’s house.  She knows when we are within a mile of my mother’s house and she starts telling me to leave her and go home. 

She began school this year.  It’s been up and down for us – one week, she does really well.  Another week, she cries every day that she goes.  But she seems to love the teachers and love the activities.  We are debating whether to keep her going through the summer while we hope she gets into Brighid’s school for next year.

The most remarkable things are the hugs, the smiles, the absolute sunshine she brings to our home.  Oh, we have dark clouds hiding that sun some days, but she seems to have settled down in the past year.  We started the terrible twos at 10 months old, so we are glad to see them make an effort to quiet down.

We had one of our toughest days behaviorally speaking yesterday.  Everything she did was something she wasn’t allowed to do, and she spent a good part of the day in time out, being reprimanded, or being told to rectify something she had done wrong.  One of the last things she did was pull all of the tape out of her brand new Wiggles cassette so it sat in a heap on the floor when we found it.  I spent the better part of an hour winding it all back in place with my pinky, and Eilis drifted in and out of the room, watching my progress.  When I had completed the work, my amazing little child came over to me and said, “Great job, Mommy!   Would you like a hug?”   How can you stay angry at that?

Thank you all for the year of wisdom, advice, and input.  I am a firm believer in the theory that it takes a village to raise a child, and I have to commend this village of BMOMS.  You’re all doing a great job with Eilis.

Happy Birthday, Little Girl.

Bean – I still can’t believe

Hi, Laurie, and thank you for your email.  I can’t believe how many people have said so many nice things about Bean.  She had more than 400 people come for the visitation between last night and this morning.

We are still not entirely sure what happened, but I feel somehow responsible and so totally guilty.  First, Bean was never the neatest, cleanest person.  It was a battle to get her to remember to shower and change clothes.  I guess I’m saying that to kind of give myself somewhat of a break – maybe that’s why I didn’t see things sooner.  Anyway, we went to Orlando on 2/26, and came home last Tuesday.  Brighid got sick with a bad stomach virus in Orlando, and it seemed to spread quickly to the rest of us.  Fortunately, it was a 24 hour type thing – everyone seemed to get over it very quickly.  By Tuesday, Brighid was better.  Eilis got it on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, she was better.  I got it Wednesday, and on Thursday, I was better.  Because it was my first day back and the first day I could go out, Bean and I spent the whole day running around doing errands.  We hit several stores, the post office, bank, etc.  Brighid had drama class on Thursday night, and Bean was supposed to watch Eilis because Jim wasn’t feeling too well.  Right about 4:15 – just as I was getting ready to leave, Bean threw up and said she was coming down with the virus and was going to bed.  I was so pissed!   She didn’t give me enough time to ask one of my parents to watch Eilis, and I didn’t want to take Eilis with me, so I had to get Jim up to watch her. 

When I came home, Bean was still in bed, and I didn’t hear anything from her – like her getting up and down out of bed, into the bathroom or anything.  Jim decided to sleep on the sofa since he was still sick and didn’t want to spread it around again, so Brighid slept with me.  She got up for school on Friday and went into her room to get her clothes.  Bean woke up and asked her for a glass of water, which Brighid got.  Jim was feeling better, but decided to work from home, so I took Brighid to school.  Bean had promised to make the snack for the girl scout meeting we had Friday afternoon, so when she wasn’t up by about 10, I went in to wake her.  There was an odor in the room, and Bean was sitting on the edge of the bed.  She had wet the bed.  Well, I was furious.  I yelled at her, I called my mom, who yelled at her, and I told her she had to get in the shower and clean up.  In retrospect, I was frazzled after so much sickness and overwhelmed with the meeting – it was my first as a leader that I planned on my own.  I attributed the accident Bean had to pure laziness, and that made me angrier.  I ran around the house doing stuff – laundry, getting dinner stuff out, etc.  I checked on Bean again about 10:30, and she was still sitting on the bed, in the pee, smelling up the room.  I yelled at her again, and she said she was just tired.  I asked her if she needed a doctor or something – hoping she would say she didn’t – and she said she didn’t.  She got up, and got in the shower, then went back into Brighid’s room to get dressed.  She put on a clean nightgown, which made me madder, because everyone else got over the virus in one day, but obviously, Bean was planning on taking two.  At about 11:20, I had to go to the store to get the stuff to make the snack Bean was going to make, so I went into tell Bean I was going.  Well, she had pooped all over herself – the smell was horrible, and I can’t even tell you how mad it made me.  I called my mother again, she got on the phone with Bean and asked if she needed a doctor, and Bean said no again that it was just a virus.  I told her she had to get in the shower again and get clean, and when I got back from the store, I would clean up the bedroom, so she would have to go downstairs.  I should have known that Bean would never have peed the bed, let alone messed herself, if something wasn’t really wrong, and I should have called the doctor or an ambulance then.  I didn’t.  I left for the store at 11:30.  Jim was downstairs on the computer and on a conference call.  He didn’t hear Bean at all.

I came home at 12:30, brought Eilis down stairs to Jim, then went up to check on Bean.  She wasn’t in Brighid’s room, the mess was still all over the bed, so I figured she had gotten up and went into the shower.  I went to the bathroom door to call for her, since I didn’t hear water running, and she didn’t answer.  I opened the door, and she was sitting on the toilet.  Her head was slumped over on her chest, and her legs were absolutely purple.  I just started screaming – screaming for her to wake up, screaming for Jim, and just screaming.  Jim ran upstairs, then ran down to call 911 – I kept shaking her to try and get her to wake up.  She was too big for me to move, and I was afraid to drag her and hurt her.  The police were here in less than a minute – we live one block over from the police station.  The ambulance was right behind them, and they said she was already too far gone for them to do anything.  They left her here with us, my parents came, the coroner came, the priest came – it was totally surreal.  I know this stuff happens, but not here.

We have not gotten the death certificate back yet, but her endocrinologist told police he would have no trouble signing it based on her overall health and medical conditions.  We assume he’ll list natural causes or a result of her compromised system due to her acromegaly and the pituitary tumor she had years ago. 

I’m so shocked.  I’ve no voice from the crying and the cold I have, but I just keep wandering the house, asking why.  We found so many bottles of medicine that she didn’t take – so obviously, she wasn’t taking her meds regularly.  I’m so angry with myself for not seeing that something serious was going on so I could have done something to save her.  I’m angry that I didn’t keep on her about her medicine more.  I’m angry at her for leaving me, for leaving my girls, for dying in my house, after I told her not to (we had a conversation about her not taking her meds, and I told her if she was not going to take them and drop dead, she was going to have to go to my mother’s to stay).

Thank you for your note – I am so comforted by knowing how she touched other people.  She got on my nerves quite often, but I feel like I’ve had a limb removed.  I don’t know how I’ll function for the rest of my life without her.

Love, Anna

Eilis is 2 today!

I know every mom says that they can’t believe it, and I’m here to say, I can’t believe it.  I can still feel the pain of those contractions – how can two years have flown by already?

We were supposed to have her birthday party tonight, but we’ve had to postpone it until next weekend because of some big snow storm we are expecting.  We did, however, let her pick out another package of birthday plates and napkins so we can have our own celebration.  Next week, it’s the Wiggles; tonight, it’s “Nelmo” (Elmo for those of you uneducated in Eilisese).

We don’t have our two year check up until the 24th, but just my own observations:

She has developed an unbelievable vocabulary since her 18 month check up.  At that time, we were talking about the need for speech therapy or something, as she had very few words.  The doctor persuaded me to wait until she turned two, and if things didn’t seem improved, we would consider our options.  Well, now the child speaks in sentences – not always ones that come out right, but definitely sentences (like she says, “Juice give me on chair” – meaning hand me the juice when I sit in the chair).  Jim calls them Yoda sentences.  The pediatrician kept telling me that children tend to focus on one thing at a time – motor skills or verbal skills, and he could tell she was a motor skills kinda kid.

Speaking of motor skills, there is very little this child can’t do.  She undresses and semi-dresses herself.  She climbs anything that stands still long enough, and if you could see the claw marks in the legs around here, you would know that the standing still part is optional.  I do not ever see this child sit down.  Even for meals, she prefers the grazing method – we’ll leave food out for her, and she’ll nibble on it over the course of an hour or so.  It’s like she has a very important toddler agenda, none of us can understand, but it forces her to take one bite of a bagel, then walk the doll stroller through the house; then she has a bite of apple before she puts together her Wiggles puzzle; a quick piece of cheese holds her over while she puts arms where Mr. Potato Head’s eyes should go.  When she does sit down, it is on a motorized bike she got for Christmas, so even when she is sitting still, she is moving.

She has a laugh that is electric and contagious, and every room she enters is brighter and happier just because she is there.  I thought it was a phenomena that occurred just within the old walls of our home, but I have learned that it occurs when she is in other places.  The pediatrician tells me even when she is sick, it’s an absolute joy to see Eilis.  The bag boys at the supermarket all know if they don’t say goodbye the first time she says it to them, they will hear it until she is strapped into the car and driving away.  When she visits Brighid’s school, the crochety old nun who shows everyone a cold cheek smiles brightly when she sees Eilis, and often takes her by the hand to visit her office for a treat.  And grandparents – fuhgeddaboudit!   My 67 year old stone faced stepfather is on his hands and knees playing Barbie dolls or blocks within five minutes of Eilis’ arrival.  And it was Eilis who first got my mother out of bed after her colon resection this past December. 

This child is both exhausting and invigorating at the same time.  She is frying your last nerve in one second, and has you rolling with laughter the next.  Every tear she sheds cuts like a sharp knife, and every smile has the power to bring world peace.  What an amazing little package that is.

So, without a dry eye at the keyboard, I am wishing my daughter a happy second birthday.  I am so grateful that God has entrusted me with the gift that is Eilis.  I ask Him for continued guidance, and I ask you my friends to continue to share your wisdom as we raise this child. 

Happy Birthday, Eilis Mary.

The Plan

Whether you are trying again after a miscarriage, or frustrated that you can’t seem to get pregnant again after a successful pregnancy, this plan is for women who have gotten pregnant in the past, and therefore do not have significant infertility problems that need to be tested and treated. It is also a good plan to try for a first pregnancy if you want to do something serious to increase your chances before finally going in for a doctor visit about fertility.

Even if you have had an easy time getting pregnant in the past, pregnancy tends to change your hormonal makeup, so sometimes timing is not the same as it was before. This plan will ensure that sperm gets to your egg. Whether or not a viable pregnancy results (the odds are about 1 in 4 even if you time it right), is up to nature.

Be prepared for a month of serious loving!

The Plan

Short Version:

 “Try” every other night starting Day 8
 Buy 10 ovulation predictor kit sticks
 Begin ovulation testing on Day 10
 When test is positive, “try” that night, plus two additional nights in a row
 Skip one night, then do one last “try”
 Take a home pregnancy test 15 days after your ovulation test was positive, if your period has not begun
 If your ovulation test never goes positive, continue “trying” every other night until Day 35, then do a pregnancy test if your period has not begun.
 Statistics coming in from the bulletin board show that about 40% of post-miscarriage women will get pregnant on the first try if they are faithful to the plan, about double the number of the normal population who are not on the plan. This assumes, of course, that you waited for a normal cycle to begin after your loss, and did not begin trying before having a period after a miscarriage. Many women do not ovulate in that first cycle.

Detailed Version:

On day 8 of your cycle, counting from the first day you bled, begin “trying” every other night. Begin taking Ovulation Predictor Kits (or continue with your Ovulation computer) on Day 10. Buy two five-packs so as not to scrimp on taking them and stop too early. To make sure your OPK is working well, take your test in the afternoon or after work and do not drink any liquids or go to the bathroom for at least four hours prior to testing. (Morning is not a good time for OPKs, which look for the LH surge, which usually happens during the day.) Read your OPK instructions carefully, as usually a faint line does not indicate a positive, you need a line that is darker than the test line. LH is produced throughout your cycle and will only predict ovulation when it has a big surge.

When your OPK turns positive, begin trying every night for three consecutive nights, skip the fourth night, and then once more. Then stop! The waiting begins.

Take a home pregnancy test 15 or 16 days after your OPK was positive if your period has not begun. Do not buy internet pregnancy tests or tests that claim to work before your period is expected. They are not well manufactured and are not reliable. They will only cause you more anxiety than you already feel in wanting to know. Please resist the urge to do a blood test at your doctor’s office just to find out sooner unless you have a medical reason to know early. Fertilized eggs that do not grow are actually a terrible but normal occurrence as much as 75% of the time, and seeing a very low put positive blood test in the first 14 days can place you on a terrible emotional roller coaster. By the time a home pregnancy test is positive, your baby has safely implanted and your odds of miscarriage are down to a normal 10%.

Should your OPK never become positive, keep the every other day trying going until day 35. I recommend at that point taking a home pregnancy test, but even if it is negative, you might want to take a quantitative hCG blood test at your doctor’s office. Remember that not every women will ovulate every month. I personally did not ovulate for two months following my first miscarriage.

As you are trying, make sure to “release” the sperm in your partner at least once during the gap between ovulation and new cycle Day 8 so that no more than 10 days elapse without new sperm production. Sperm is also a cause of genetic damage, not just eggs, so keep it fresh! If you are not successful the first month, it is not because your sperm did not get to your egg. 75% of eggs are lost within the first 14 days due to normal genetic damage or failure to fertilize. Just keep trying!

Here are a few facts that may surprise you:

 Many books tell you that sperm can last for 5 days and the egg for 24 hours. While this is technically true on the very long end (and something to follow if you trying to NOT get pregnant), most sperm will only last about two hours if you do not have fertile-quality cervical mucus for it to swim in. The sperm will struggle to swim up to your uterus, use all its reserves, and not make it. The egg typically lives only about 12 hours, so it cannot wait for long. You can now see how important that cervical mucus is! You will never get pregnant with sperm living two hours and an egg only twelve. This information is really just to make you feel better if you’ve been trying a long time and all your infertility testing came back normal. If the Deanna-plan does not work and you are faithful to it for three months, take a dose of plain Robitussin cough syrup (or any cough medicine that says “expectorant” and NOT “antihistamine”) each day (preferably a few hours prior to “trying”) starting around Day 10 until the day after your ovulation predictor goes off. It should help make all the mucus in your body runnier, including that produced by your cervix. (Oh the gruesome details required in baby-making!) The sperm in the runnier mucus will live about two days, and will be up there and ready for the 12-hour life of the egg. A NOTE ABOUT CLOMID: Clomid causes cervical mucus to dry up in 25% of the women who take it. If you notice your mucus is not plentiful as it was before taking this drug, take the Robitussin and call your doctor to make sure your really need the Clomid. If you are ovulating on your own and do not have a documented luteal phase defect, you most likely do not need it.
 “Trying” too often can actually do more harm than good. Do not try every night! You will get exhausted and sore, and your mucus–both for fertility and for lubrication–will dry up, and you will stop trying too early in the month or miss an important day. Every other day is absolutely sufficient, with three nights in a row during peak time sealing the deal.
 Don’t worry about stress! Regular old worries about getting pregnant, and if you will ever have children, are perfectly normal and do NOT affect your fertility. Ignore those people who tell you just to relax and stop thinking about it. This is not their problem! The only thing that could actually affect you is serious stress, like moving to a new house, losing your job, family deaths, and other things that make you physically ill or depressed. This can delay your ovulation, or make you not ovulate in a cycle, since you will produce an excess amount of the stress byproduct called prolactin. It will not affect you for long, and the next month you should come back and be normal again.
 An early period is not an indication of an early miscarriage, even if you know you timed your trying perfectly. Usually it means that the egg was not fertilizable, and so progesterone was not adequately produced. This shortens your cycle. Sometimes eggs simply don’t develop properly during the ovulation process. It is usually a one-month problem. If you are regularly seeing that fewer than 10 days are passing between ovulation and your period, however, it’s time to be tested for a luteal phase defect. You can read more about that under hormone causes of miscarriage.

Good luck to everyone. Baby dust, baby dust, baby dust!

House visit

On Sunday, December 2, I met with John Dilks at 307 Maple Avenue.  He was asked by my husband, James Skamarakas, for a business card, but claimed he didn’t bring any with him.  He produced a drivers license with his photo on it.

I walked with him as he walked around the house.  He looked at the roof, declared it in good condition, then commented that the windows and doors looked new.  I told him that they were installed 11 years ago.  He asked if the pool was in good condition, and I replied what we had been told this past summer when we wanted to bring the pool to useable condition – the pool has to be removed due to serious structural problems relating to the fact that it hasn’t been filled.

We walked around to the front of the house, where I had already unlocked the door.  I opened the front door, the told him that I wasn’t coming in with him.  I explained that there during previous visits to the house, there were fleas present, and due to a current skin allergy our own dog has, I didn’t want to take the chance of bringing fleas home to her.

He spent approximately ten minutes in the house.  At one point he came to the front door and asked if I knew there was a “wad of cash” on the dresser in the bedroom.  I told him that we have not removed anything from the house, and the money had been there since Custy died.  He explained that he felt the money should be removed, or someone might take it.  I told him we would leave everything as it was.

He came out of the house after his inspection, and he stood on the front step to tell me he would write things up.  As he stood there, I noticed that he was truly and completely covered in fleas.  I walked over to him and began brushing them off of him, and he stopped speaking to look down and see the fleas.  He became aggitated, cursing, and mentioning that he told his father that he wasn’t going into the house until it was bombed for the fleas.  We spent approximately 15 minutes removing the fleas from him, and he left his socks on the doorstep, carrying his shoes in his hands.

He said he would write everything up and let us know how much the house was worth.  I asked if he had a ballpark figure.  His first comment is that the house can’t be sold in the condition that it’s in.  He said he would not go into the house to show it, nor would he allow anyone else in with potential buyers until the flea situation is rectified.  He suggested that it would need at least two bombings to get rid of the amount of fleas he suspected are in the house.  He said if the house isn’t cleaned and brought up to a more presentable condition, he estimated the value to be about $70,000.  He said if someone really wanted a home in that area and if the economy were better, it might push up to $80,000, but in the condition that it is currently in, we would be looking at about $70,000.  He also said if the property was cleaned up and fixed up, and if the economy was better, we might be able to ask $100,000 as a sale price for the property.  He mentioned that because the economy is bad, and Gloucester City homes are affordable, there are very few properties available for purchase right now in the city.  He thought that would work slightly in the favor of selling the home quickly.

Anna Skamarakas


Almost 8 years ago from the date when I grabbed this article out of the wbe archieve for Anna to publish it here – how funny is that?

Yahoo! Groups : IrishDancing Messages :879-908 of 960

Anna Skamarakas, Fri 10/6/2000. 881, Re: Hello, New guy here… Kate Cygnar
Humphrey Bogart 902, Re: Another Parent, Anna Skamarakas, Sun 10/8/2000
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IrishDancing/messages/879View old version on the Internet Archive

EPCOT Irish Dancers

Anna is an expert on what goes on at Disney – she is the Anna in DIsney Anna. And as a mom of a champion irish dancer, she was answering and participating in many discussions around DIsney and Irish Dancing

Yahoo! Groups : IrishDancing Messages :707-736 of 960723, Re: Digest Number 176, Anna Skamarakas, Wed 5/3/2000 … Anna Skamarakas,
Thu 5/4/2000. 732, Re: Epcot Dancers, Andrea Willoughby, Fri 5/5/2000 …
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IrishDancing/messages/707 – View old version on the Internet Archive

They Might Be Giants – The Mesopotamians

They Might Be Giants – The Mesopotamians lyrics
Artist: They Might Be Giants lyrics
Album: The Else
Year: 2007
Title: The Mesopotamians   Print
 Download “They Might Be Giants” Music 

 Complimentary “The Mesopotamians” Ringtone 
We’ve been driving around
From one end of this town to the other and back
But no one’s ever seen us (No one’s ever seen us)
Driving our Econoline van (And no one’s ever heard of our band)
And no one’s ever heard of our band

We’re the Mesopotamians
Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh

Then they wouldn’t understand a word we say,
So we’ll scratch it all down into the clay
Half believing there will sometime come a day
Someone gives a damn
Maybe when the concrete has crumbled to sand

We’re the Mesopotamians
Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh

The Mesopotam-ish sun is beating down
And making cracks in the ground
But there’s nowhere else to stand
In Mesopotamia, (No one’s ever seen us)
The kingdom where we secretly reign (And no one’s ever heard of our band)
The land where we invisibly rule

As the Mesopotamians
Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh

This is my last stick of gum
I’m going to cut it up so everybody else gets some
Except for Ashurbanipal who says my haircut makes me look like a Mohenjo-daroan

Hey, Ashurbanipal,
I’m a Mesopotamian
Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh

We’re the Mesopotamians
Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh

“Hey, man, I thought that you were dead
I thought you crashed your car”
“No, man, I’ve been right here this whole time playing bass guitar
For the Mesopotamians”

We’re the Mesopotamians
Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal
Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh

We’re the Mesopotamians
Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh