An update on the Jacksons

Wow, it’s been a long time since I blogged. I’ve started keeping a security blog (, and I think it’s time for an update on my non-security life. Most news-worthy would be the latest on our fourth child, our son I refer to as #4.


#4 is now four years old. His birthday is coming up soon. Since my last posts about his shunt problems, he’s been problem free, shunt-speaking. He has a programmable shunt, and it’s working perfectly. Knock on wood. He’s been in a special needs preschool for two years, and he’ll have his last year coming up. When my wife met with his teacher and therapists at the end of last year, they remarked on his many qualities, but especially on his flapping. #4 has flapped since we can remember him using his arms and legs. 100% of the time he will flap when we’re changing his diaper. He’ll flap when he’s happy, he’ll flap when someone is praising him, he’ll flap when he feels like it. While flapping, he articulates his fingers like he’s typing in the air. What’s this look like? Well, if you are familiar with many special needs children, you might be saying Autism. This led us to meet with a pediatric neuropsychologist who evaluated him and determined that while he is NOT autistic, he does play on that team.

#4 is not delayed as we thought he was and we had been told he was. #4 is clinically diagnosed with Congenital Hydrocephalus with Dandy Walker Malformation, and a Cognitive Deficit. It’s that second part that will weigh you down. What caused this? Who knows. My money is the 18 hours or so when he had his meningitis staph infection that caused his shunt to block and pressure to build in his little head. A scan taken a year (or two?) later showed little areas of his brain that were crushed.

We thought his milestones that were 6 to 12 to 18 months behind were just that, behind. What the diagnosis means is that it’s very possible some of his milestones will never be reached. When we heard this news, I must admit it took me a while to come to grips with it. Once again I had to scold the skies at the unfairness of life, and again, they seemed indifferent. I whined about it on Facebook and received a lot of well-wishes. But I got a message from a friend I’ve made through my career in InfoSec, Mr. Javvad Malik. He has two children that are also facing a life of special needs, and he was able to speak to my heart like few others. He reminded me of the joy these spirits bring, and the joy they bring to the rest of us. We see their struggles through our own eyes, and it seems so difficult. To their eyes, it’s life. This is a hard thing for me to reconcile, but I must; I don’t drink or do drugs.

What else? Well, my wife and I decided to roll the dice one more time and have a fifth child. Five kids. What is this insanity? I know not. Here’s a pic of the little man who is facing his 2nd birthday shortly:


So our oldest is 14, and she starts as a 9th grader next week. She playing French Horn like her mother, and is one of the sweetest things on this good Earth.


#2 is now 11, and starting school as a 6th grader. She’s probably the most organized person in our family, and has a natural talent in visual arts.


#3 is seven, and starting in 2nd grade. He’s into all things Star Wars, footbal, lego, etc.


Lastly, let’s get to the most important person in my life, Natalie. We just had our 18th anniversary, and will be celebrating it soon (I was out of town on the day). She’s a mother to 5 great children, and wife to one ok husband. She takes care of all of us and our home. She’s not paid a fraction of what she’s worth. I know I’m a better man because of her. Her favorite Disneyland ride is Splash Mountain.


Return of the warehouse robots!

In September of 2009, I blogged about the super cool orange robots that automate warehouse processes. You can read it here.

I saw a YouTube video made by Wired on the same robots, but in a much bigger warehouse, moving a lot more, you can see the control GUI, and it’s just awesome. I love these robots. I love how streamlined it makes the warehouse. One thing the robots do, which I think is awesome, and they don’t mention in this video is how the robots identify what products are used most often, which ones are used less often, and sorts the whole warehouse accordingly to save time. Brilliant!


How we found my birth mother

We found my birth mother! People are asking for details, and I think they should have them. My family and friends are more supportive than I would have imagined. Here we go.

The short version? I had a lead. The lead was correct.

Ha ha.

Ok, here’s what has happened. Go back 41 years. I was born in Redwood City, California. I was put up for adoption. My adoptive parents weren’t able to pick me up the day I was born, that wouldn’t come for a few days. So my birth mother took me home for four days and took care of me until the process was ready to go. I was handed over, and I’ve been a part of my family ever since. All my life I’ve understood that my mom wasn’t able to produce the body I needed, and my birth mother did that. Before and after the fact, I’ve been a part of my family. Always will be.

All my life I’ve known I was adopted. From the very beginning I understood where babies come from, and that I didn’t come from mommy’s tummy. I came from another mommy’s tummy and she gave me to my family. Since day one I’ve known this.

Fast forward 41 years.

One day at work we hired a new guy and he is also adopted. How it came that we knew we were both adopted I cannot recall. But he told me about an information packet of non-identifying information he had obtained from the adoption agency. I knew nothing of this packet, so I huffed it down to the LDS Family Services building in Provo and requested one. They said it would be back in a week. A month later I had forgotten about it. A month after that I got a call that it had arrived and I could come pick it up. It was information that my birth mother had shared about her and her family, my birth father and his family. No names, no really good details. It was fun to read.

Remember when the first girl (Janessa Simons) who used Facebook to find her birth parents succeeded in finding them? That very day my friend at work and I were talking about how easily he could find his birth family through Facebook. That night, my wife and I were talking about Jenessa and I thought about trying again to find my birth mother (previous attempts had been thwarted with the thought, “the records are sealed, I can’t see my original birth certificate. Uh, I’m hungry. Anyone else hungry?”). I have been doing a bit of genealogy and family history lately, and I’ve got an account on I thought about the kinds of records they have and wondered if I could find anything about me there.

I knew I was born in San Mateo county, so I searched for all males born on my birthday in San Mateo county. Ancestry returned some 13 records of boys with full names, and mother’s maiden names.
Ancestry Results
You’ll see that there is one result that has just one name, and you may not be able to tell, but the mother’s maiden name is the same as the child. I told my wife of these results, and something came over us. We suddenly had focus and drive. I barely remember it happening. We opened up google docs and I created a spreadsheet, and shared it with her. We started going through Facebook trying to find the names of these boys born on my birthday, in my birth county. If I can find them, I know that name wasn’t mine. There were three strongly Latino names, and if you know me, you know there is nothing Latino about me, so I felt comfortable eliminating them.

By the end of the next day, we had eliminated all but the one with the same name for boy and mother. One more detail that you can’t see in that image — there was another baby that had a different one name, but had the same mother’s maiden name. I put a post on Facebook asking for help in finding my birth mother. Overwhelming responses! Tons of shares, a few private messages. One was someone who helps find people, and she gave me a few tips, but she can’t take clients outside of her company. What is her company? Association of Professional Genealogists. I called one based in San Francisco, and we spoke about what I knew and what I had found. She emailed me and said that the child with one name, and a matching mother’s maiden name was likely me. And the other child was likely a clerical error; when my adoption was finalized, someone was supposed to go back in and record a birth of Sean Jackson with a adoptive mother’s maiden name. Instead, they went back and put my birth father’s last name as the baby’s name, and my birth mother’s maiden name again. So I knew my mother’s maiden name and my father’s last name. The non-identifying information had the age of my birth mother and her parents, and my birth father and the age of his parents and siblings at the time of my birth. Going back from ’72 I was able to estimate what year they would have all been born, within a year.

We searched Ancestry for both of these names, and came up with nothing. We kept searching. Nothing. Google. Nothing. Natalie was looking around on and saw that the church had census data on microfilm. The non-identifying information said that my mother’s family was LDS. I figured out that if they were LDS, their families should be on those censuses. So one Friday I drove up to SLC and spent six hours looking at microfilms.

I found many families that had one or two elements that matched what I thought the birth years should have been. But none had all three (father, mother, daughter — my birth mother). Then I found one that had the perfect years for all three. But this one had siblings; a younger sister, and a younger brother! The non-identifying information had nothing about siblings for her. This family was in Colorado as of the 1960 census (the only one I found them in). I was born in California, so that didn’t match so well. I noted the data in the google doc spreadsheet I had been maintaining through the search, and texted my wife. She started looking from home while I was still in SLC. In that way, cloud computing is very cool (both working on the same docs at the same time from different locations). She saw the family I had found and said she got chills. By the time the library was closing, I could not find a family that matched birth dates better. We had a haystack of names, and we started trying to eliminate them.

Back to google. Back to Back to Searching. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Searching. For days. Weeks. To be honest, we weren’t searching for many others on the list because they couldn’t provide the same good feelings as this family. The dates weren’t right.

We found a wedding record for the someone that had the same name as the mother in the family, and that wedding took place one year before I was born. The wedding took place in Las Vegas, but both parties were from Colorado. What happened to the father? Dunno. Well, on the non-identifying information, my birth mother listed her parents with different last names. This could explain that.

Ok, so in 1960 the family was in Colorado. A decade later the mother remarries, and she’s living in Colorado. Her new husband is from Colorado. No one is in California.

On new.familysearch you can’t see anyone if they’re alive. Too personal. I thought it might be possible that my birth grandparents (the mother and father in this saga) might have passed on already. I logged on and searched for them. Found ’em. I looked at them, poked around, and saw that their middle child, a daughter had passed on as well. I had an idea hit me and looked at the details to see the name of who had uploaded this data. It was a name I had never seen or recognized. Oh well. Then I thought I’d look at the details for the parents. That data had been uploaded by my lead! I had an email address! I got up and started pacing the room. I tried to distract myself. To no avail. My wife counseled me to not be aggressive in my email, but to make it very open.

My name is Sean Jackson. I was born XXX XX, 19XX, and was adopted in California. I’ve been trying to find my birth parents, and based on research I’ve been able to do, I have the feeling one of my parents may have the last name of ‘XXXXX’.
I found your email address through, and I was wondering if you could help me at all with any information you might know about anyone in your family that may have been a part of an adoption process in California in XXX of 1972.
If you could please let me know one way or another, I would greatly appreciate it. I can be reached here, through email, at, or by phone XXX-XXX-XXXX.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration,
–Sean Jackson”

I was very confident that my lead was living in Colorado. Why was I born in California?

I posted again on Facebook asking for help from anyone living in Denver. Maybe they could find a phone number or something for this person. I searched and searched for this email address, and found it associated with a blog! I checked out the blog, and it was for this name, and the person was in Virginia! Wait. Virginia? What happened to Colorado? Let’s all put on our creepy hats and start do some social profiling through Facebook….

My wife and I find this person on Facebook. She has the same name as my lead, but she’s my age, not the age of my mother. Ok, that’s fine. How does this person fit in? She’s married to a guy with the last name. On his page, he lists his family. Cousins and uncles with the same name. They have a son, on her page you can see his birthday. Cousins with the same name….they list family, cousins, parents, aunts, uncles. There’s a whole clan of this family living in Virginia! One of the older men has the same name as the youngest brother of the lead family. But it doesn’t *quite* match up. In order for the uncles to work, this branch of the family has to tie back to the lead family. I went to lunch with my buddy and we drew the family structure out on the back of the paper they put in the tray. He actually works at (he made the family tree feature), and he was able to come up with an elegant solution to my problem, but it speaks to a very deep dysfunction in the family. My wife and I are a little troubled at the many possibilities of what could have happened to make the family so disparate.

I emailed again essentially the same message. I was too impatient and I called the Virginia lead. Well…turns out I’m barking up a very wrong tree. She’s not it, and she says that this whole family (that my wife and I have been profiling) is part of one big family that comes from one great ancestor and no one in the line fits what I’m looking for.

Scrap Virginia.

My wife finds an obituary for the little sister. Turns out she had moved to the mid-west (it’s the middle, not the mid-west. I live in the mid-west. Don’t get me started) and married with children. She died of cancer (I hate cancer). In the obituary, it names her husband and child, her sister (my lead), and her brother (and his wife). My focus is back in Colorado.

I’m on Facebook, and I’m eliminating all of the family from Virginia we had been profiling. There’s one guy that has the right name, but he wasn’t in the Virginia group. He has the same name as the brother in the family, but I don’t know if he’s the right age.

A week goes by and my wife and I are just letting everything marinate in our heads. We’re also tired of searching. It’s gone on forever and we feel like we’re getting no where. Every time we think we’ve found a piece to the puzzle, it seems there’s five pieces missing. I’m seeing a new kid on Facebook every day putting a picture of themselves with a poster up. “I was born on April 15th, 1995. Help me find my parents! Please like and share!” And then a day later they’ve found them. Well sure, they were born 17 years ago by 17 year old parents, so their parents are 34 now. Sure they’re on Facebook. And they were born in Utah, and their parents are in Utah. Bam! Reunited. I put a post up on Facebook expressing my internal conflict; I’m excited for them, but kinda bummed that my lead is way older, I was born in another state, I now live in this state, and I can’t place my lead ever living in the state I was born in.

If you have any movie theme music, now is the time to start playing the battle scene/epic climax music. It should be building, plodding, and have lots of good brass.

Then last Sunday, I decide I’m going to send this guy on Facebook a private message. I am 99% sure he is the brother to my lead. I am 99.999% sure my lead is my birth mother. He and I aren’t friends, so I have to pay $1 to get it into his message box.

My name is Sean Jackson. I was born in California in XXXX of 1972, and was adopted. Research I’ve done is leading me to believe that one of my birth parents has the last name “XXXXXX”.
If you know of anyone in your family that may have been involved in an adoption in California in XXXX of 1972, I would love to be able to talk to you. I can be reached by email at, or by phone at XXX-XXX-XXXX. Or you could message me back here. If you are prompted to spend $1 to do so, add me as a friend and you can send me a message for free.
If you do not know of anyone involved in an adoption then, that’s fine. I would also like to find contact information for a XXXX XXXX XXXX, who also lives in Denver. If you could help me reach her (contact information), that would be of equal help.
I realize this message is out of the blue and you don’t know me from Adam. I’m sorry if this comes off weird. I’ve been searching for my birth parents for a long time, and I appreciate your help in any way you can offer it.
Thank you very much,
–Sean Jackson”

We leave to go have dinner with family. I bring my laptop and am watching my Facebook messages all night. I keep checking my phone to make sure it has signal and battery. No call, no message.

This morning (Monday) I wake up to go to the gym. It’s been two weeks since I tore something in my muscle, and I’m getting back in. I’m tired of not losing as much as I should be. I get dressed in the dark, go downstairs and get my earbuds for my ipod. I check my phone, and I have a message back from the guy.

“I am your uncle , I was in Vietnam when my sister, XXXXX got pregnant, I have written down your phone number and will call you this week. Surprising and wonderful to hear from you.”


Mind = blown. Seriously.

I wrote back how excited I was and asked if he had a way that I could talk to his sister. I was attending a funeral this evening, so I came home from work a little early to get ready. I was sitting down with my wife, talking about how cool it is that he wrote back and said “I am your uncle”. My phone rings, and it’s a Denver area code. I was hoping he’d call sooner than “this week” so I pick it up eagerly.

“Is this Sean? Are you looking for your birth mother?” My heart stops beating, and I signal to my wife that this is her. We fumble through some words as I’m trying to confirm it’s her. She is so busy trying to confirm it’s me she doesn’t hear me trying to confirm it’s her. She identifies herself by saying that she couldn’t give me to foster care and she took care of me for four days. Yep. That’s her. I’m talking to my birth mother.

Cue the victory theme.

My birth uncle had given her my name and number, and she called. We talked for a half hour. We were laughing and crying. My family is now planning a trip to Denver to visit sometime soon. We’re going to talk again tomorrow. I’ve written down questions, she should be doing the same.

I was able to communicate to her the number one thing I wanted her to know, no matter how the reception went: She felt she was inspired to put me up for adoption, that she was lead by the spirit. I wanted her to know that she was indeed led by the spirit, and her inspiration was true. I was raised in a family that was strong in the gospel, and I had a father that was the best example I could ever have. I was raised in a home with the priesthood, and I myself have the priesthood. I am sealed to my family, and my wife is sealed to me, and I have four beautiful children born in the covenant. She and I both wept as I shared this with her. It will long be one of the most memorable moments in my life.

What is the difference between Dandy Walker Syndrome and Hydrocephalus

UPDATE: At the behest of my wife, and she’s right, I am posting that I am NOT a doctor, only a father of a child with DWS and Hydrocephalus. What I’m saying here is what I’ve learned as such, and I have no formal medical training.

As I’ve been a little more active on my blog lately, I’ve noticed that a search term that brings many visitors to my blog is “What is the difference between Dandy Walker Syndrome and Hydrocephalus?” I’ll admit that when I first learned #4 had Dandy Walker, I didn’t know the difference either. Nor did my wife’s OBGYN. He was full of great hope saying that we’d need to outfit our homes for wheelchairs and a life of sadness.

I want to let all who come to this blog know that if you are facing a life with Dandy Walker Syndrome (or a Dandy Walker Malformation) OR with Hydrocephalus, you should not believe all the FUD being fed to you (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). You will be rewarded 10 fold for any troubles you experience by your little one. Work through it — they certainly will.

Dandy Walker Syndrome is a scenario where part or all of the vermis is missing. If the whole thing is missing, that’s Dandy Walker Syndrome. If part of it is missing, that’s Dandy Walker Malformation.


What does the vermis do? It’s the part of your brain that controls your fine motor and core motor skills. So the ability to correctly articulate your fingers to pick up a dried pea, and the ability to lean to your right or left and not fall over. It is also responsible for eye movement and timing skills. Our son’s neurosurgeon said that when elderly people get a stroke, it’s often in the vermis, and that person has to relearn how to master these abilities again. The human brain is very malleable, and over time it will figure these things out. With developing children, they have nothing to relearn. Their brain just has to identify what it takes to keep their balance while walking/running/leaning/bending/etc. Then it’s done. They need how to control their eyes, just like every other baby. And everyone who has to practice getting timing right (I’m looking at you, junior high percussionists) has to learn how the same way. If you have a vermis, that’s where it’s taken care of. If you don’t, some other part of the brain will step in and take care of it.

So that’s Dandy Walker Syndrome. What is Hydrocephalus? That’s water on the brain (hydro=water cephalus=brain). Hydrocephalus is a symptom and common side-effect of Dandy Walker Syndrome. Not all DWS cases also have hydrocephalus. It can also be a condition resulting from an injury, stroke, etc. So it’s not limited to children.

Where does this water-on-the-brain come from? Where does the water come from?

It’s not actually water, it’s Cerebrospinal Fluid, or CSF. Your brain, my brain, and everyone else’s too has ventricles in it that create CSF. The CSF runs through your brain, your cranium, and then down your spine, lubricating and insulating everything important. Interestingly, it’s also like a little swimming pool for your brain. You know how everything is lighter in the pool? Well, your adult brain weighs 1400 grams. Suspend that brain in CSF and it has a net weight of 25 grams (this gives the brain a neutral buoyancy — it can grow and not be crushed by its own weight). Once it flows through your spine, it radiates out into your internal cavities, and is then reabsorbed by your organs. Daily you and I generate more CSF than we need, so there’s always some being recycled, repumped, reabsorbed, etc.

MRI of CSF flowing. Not my nose.
MRI of CSF flowing. Not my nose.

With Hydrocephalus, the brain is making WAY more CSF than it needs. Hundreds of percent more. The plumbing designed to absorb this cannot handle that flow, and it gets backed up in the cranium (the doctor will tell you about a cyst, which makes you think it can be removed — it cannot). This fluid backs up and creates pressure. In the womb, the cranial plates will expand and the head gets bigger. I guess that happens outside the womb too (I’ve heard some sad stories). So you’ll see a head that is much bigger than it should be. In addition to the big head, the brain inside that head is under pressure. A lot of pressure, and it’s being crushed.

This is where you’re going to see troubles. Even with our son, who is doing fantastic, we can see the effects of this brain crush. The doctors were fast and got his shunt in just days after his birth. He’s 28 months old, but developmentally, he’s between 10 months on some things, 17 months on others, and everywhere in between. Are we angry? Not at all. Are we full of regret? Not one bit.

What’s that shunt thing I said? That’s how you deal with Hydrocephalus. A shunt is placed in the cranium, down into the ventricles of the brain. A drain line is run under the skin, behind the ear, down the neck, down the chest, and into the torso. Then it drains the excess CSF, just like your spine does for you.

Shunt technology hasn’t improved much since it was invented in the 60’s by a plumber who’s child had Hydrocephalus. And shunts have a 50% failure rate. Even our son contracted a meningitis staph infection and had to have his first shunt yanked just a month after it was in. He’s now be using his second shunt for over two years. He’s going to have a shunt for the rest of his life, unless some new treatment for Hydrocephalus is found.

How can that be found? Research. Time. You can help! Participate with one of the Hydrocephalus walks in your area. They’re all over, and they’re annual. Raise funds. Those funds go towards that research. That’s how we can eventually find a cure. I’ll be posting about the next walk here in Utah when it gets closer (September).

By the way, now that you’ve read this, you should know that September is National Hydrocephalus Awareness month. Blue ribbons and shunt drain lines are appropriate for display.

So there you go, that’s the difference (as I understand it) between Dandy Walker Syndrome and Hydrocephalus. Let me know if you have any questions, or I have any data wrong. BTW–I got the images from Wikipedia.

Searching for my birth mother, an update

I’m searching for my birth mother. If you’re a friend on Facebook, you probably know this. Maybe you read the letter she wrote my parents.

I just finished making a big batch of salsa for my brother-in-law’s annual Superbowl party. My hands smell at once of onion, cilantro, garlic, and jalapeno. I also mashed up a couple avocado and dolloped a cup of salsa into it to make a quick guacamole. That’s going to be my favorite.

The whole time I was there chopping, I was thinking about what my wife and I have been finding. I’m not going to get into specifics here, but I have had a lot of interested parties, and I thought it would be easiest to update everyone here.

I have a lead. Ok, to be honest, I have hundreds of leads. This has become a process of elimination. I find a haystack, and I have to go through and get rid of the hay. So far, I haven’t confidently found a needle, but there’s a lot of hay that’s not in the pile anymore. Example: we did a search on and found the California Birth Index. It turns out California has been keeping track of everyone for the last hundred years, and put it online. Very nice of them. I found a bunch of boys born on my birthday, and then using Facebook and other internet searches, we identified most of the boys born as not me. What was left, we assume is me. I make it sound simple and fast, but alas, it’s not THAT easy.

Back to the lead. We have learned a lot about this person. I obtained the non-identifying report from LDS social services in California (the agency through which I was adopted, but I don’t know which one that is). From this I know the age of my birth mother and her parents, and my birth father and his family (parents and siblings). I spent hours at the Family History Library in SLC, looking at surveys that the church conducted between WWI and 1960. I wasn’t able to finish my search before they kicked me out. But I found something. I then searched for ancestors from those surveys that may have passed on I found something. Based on the letter that my birth mother wrote, I have been searching for nurses. I have found something.

When I made my first facebook post, I thought my birth mother might be living in California because I was born there. I no longer think this. I think my birth mother might be living in Colorado. At the time of the survey, her whole family was there, and it seems she grew up there. Why I was born in California, I do not know.

But I sure am glad I was born there. Had I not, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t be a Jackson, wouldn’t have Natalie as my wife. Everything would be different. And you know what they say, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

People have often asked me what I think my life would be like if I had not been adopted. My only answer I can offer is, “different”. And since I don’t know what that would be, I choose what I have, what I know.

I’m not looking for my birth mother to fill a void that was left when my mother died. I’m trying to answer a question that I’ve had since I understood that I was adopted. Who gave birth to me? Who gave me this body? And, who are they?

One thing to add — both my wife and I feel driven to find this information. It’s not just an idea, it’s just about all we can think about for the past week. We can do other things, but then we always turn to each other and we know the other is thinking about it. We can be talking with family (at my Father-in-law’s retirement party last night), look over at each other, and say, “Hey, have you searched for this yet?” “Yeah, I copied that into the spreadsheet.” “Ok, was there anything good?” “No, not like I thought there would be.” And then we turn back and we’re in the party. It’s on our minds. It’s in our hearts.

I appreciate everyone who has offered support and help. It means a lot, thank you.

I’ll post another update sometime in the future. Watch this space (if you care).

A birthmother letter to my parents

I’m adopted. I have been all of my life. I’m currently trying pretty hard to find my birth parents. My wife and I are working on it together, and she’s possibly more charged to this end than I am.

In my blog over the next few days/weeks/months(?) I’ll be posting stuff here about this endeavor.

First thing for my readers: a birthmother letter my mother wrote for my parents as I had set to arrive in the world. There’s an addendum from after I was born but before I had been turned over to my adoptive family. Here’s one of the neatest things about her, that I’m sure to mention again — she didn’t want to have me tended to by any foster care, she wanted to hand me from mother to mother. To that end, she took me home and tended to my needs for five days. Who out there has the strength to give birth to a child, care for that child for five days, and THEN give it up for adoption? A very strong, loving woman.

Give this a read, and you tell me whether you think she’d like to hear from me or not. With that, the letter:

How do you start a letter to the new parents of a child you’ve just delivered?

By saying, “Thank you”? By saying, “You’re welcome”? By saying, “We’re all glad and grateful for the Gospel”? By saying, “I’m proud of our son”? I guess it’s a combination of all. I love my baby boy, and I love you for wanting and loving him also.

In this letter I hope to be able to express to you why he is yours or why I’m not keeping him, how I feel about him, and then also let you know some things about myself and his natural father, and about his prenatal care and the first few days of his life.

As usual, his conception was not planned. It came about through lack of obedience to the Lord’s commandments. But, what a choice blessing to come from all the sorrow of such a sin. Making the decision to give him up for adoption started eight months ago when I first found out I was pregnant. I’ve had the guidance and council of two excellent Bishops and a Stake President. Most of all, I’ve relied on the promptings of the Holy Ghost and confirmations, or lack of same, from our Heavenly Father. May I say right now, that if there were no Church Agency to make sure of a Priesthood home, I would not be doing this. But having the knowledge that my child is going to a family where he will be sealed to for eternity, and have the influence of the Priesthood gives me many secure feelings of the rightness of my decision.

I am a Registered Nurse, fairly mature, and have a testimony of the Restored Gospel. Coupled with the love I have for my child and with much prayer and all I would give up, gladly, to raise my boy to be the kind of man I would want him to be, I know I could and would be a good mother to him. But I strongly and firmly believe children need Mommys and Daddys. Especially, with the Priesthood in the home, do they (children) need Daddys. Two parents to help him through school and care for him through sickness and to encourage each other to patience when his active little body and soul get into mischief time after time after time – within the hour. I think a baby boy needs two parents to teach him honesty, sincerity, empathy, sharing, give-and-take, the masculine influence and point of view are mandatory in my mind to give a boy a well-rounded, healthy outlook on life. There will be, always, times when I could have said that I could have possibly successfully raised him, with someday perhaps marrying, but why take the chance of possibly missing some opportunities these first few years and months when eternal foundations are laid in our son’s make up? Our son needs a father who will love and want him.

I hope you understand the “our” I have been using – I’ve carried and loved this little fellow for 9 1/2 months and held him these few days. I love him. You will soon have him sealed to you for always and he will no longer be mine in any way, but I’ll always love him. He’s your son because you’re raising him and loving him and – well, I think Carol Lynn Pearson expresses it very well and in case you don’t know what I’m talking abou I’m putting here a copy of her poem,

To An Adopted
Did not plant you,
But when
The season is done –
When the alternate
Prayers for sun
And for rain
Are counted –
When the pain
Of weeding
And the pride
Of watching
Are through –

I will hold you
A shining sheaf
Above the thousand
Seeds grown wild.

Not my planting,
But by heaven
My harvest –
My own child.

For these reasons, I deny the selfish desire and passion to keep and love and watch grow, this tiny body and special, special spirit. I love him, and hope someday he knows I did what I thought was the very best thing for him, and have felt Heavenly Father’s approval with this decision. I know our Father will guide this baby boy to your arms and love because you are supposed to raise him and keep him for your own.

When I first learned I was pregnant I was emotionally upset and the ensuing month did little to relieve the emotional and mental pressures. Because of this, I had some bleeding. I immediately sought a Doctor’s advice, and went to the Doctor who confirmed the pregnancy. He told me to stay in bed and relax and that there was little blood loss and the baby would be okay. I did as he said. in my second and third month of pregnancy, I was very nauseated, but as was to be expected, this passed away soon. In the fourth month I first felt my baby move, and since then he’s been very active. He stayed very active as he grew, and grew, and grew. During the pregnancy, I’ve taken pre-natal vitamins, iron capsules, occasionally aspirin, and the last three months a water pill to prevent water retention.

When he was six months along he began sleeping when I did and since I’m a “night” person, prenatally, he became likewise. He’d almost always kick me during prayer – no matter when, as if to say, “me too, Father”. He’d turn and kick and beat his little fists, and I’d laugh at him – he was cute even then.

During the pregnancy he lay with his back on my left side and his head down. His left foot and right fist were probably the most active on a continuum. As his due date approached, he got stubborn. The Doctor kept saying, “he’s a big baby, he’ll come early.” His due date passed, the Doctor said, “He’s a big baby, he’ll come soon.” I remained healthy and in good spirits, and the baby remained active and within.

Fifteen days after his due date, we started labor at 11:30 pm or so, and the contractions were 10 minutes apart. About two weeks before his due date I started having one or two contractions late in the evenings. I’m sure these were preparing both of us for the fast labor and delivery we had. At 2:30 am we came to the hospital and the contractions were five minutes apart and getting quite hard. At 3:20 am I had a shot to relax me and take the edge of the pain away, at 3:40 am I had a paracervical block, at 4:00 am we went into the delivery room and at 4:16 am 18 May 1972 my 9 pound, 2 ounce 21 1/2 long pink, coughing and yelling son was completely delivered.

I’ve discovered that this young lad adores being warm and cuddled. As soon as the Doctor put him on my tummy instead of hanging him upside down by the heels, he quit coughing and just yelled. When the nurse took him and wrapped him up, he got quiet. From the beginning, the baby was pink and healthy looking. The Doctor was pleased with his fast, safe, uneventful delivery.

He was given nothing by mouth for twelve hours, then given water in the nursery. Four hours later, he was brought to me and I gave him his first formula (Similac) which he took poorly. During the night I again had him twice and he nursed from the bottle progressively better. His Pediatrician came to see me that morning and told me he just needed to learn how to suck stronger and that he was still full of mucous. He also said that from all he had examined and seen, the baby was strong, healthy, and had nothing wrong. He was circumcised the morning he was born.

Since then, each feeding has progressively been better. He has taken more, and kept more down. The day after he was born he weighed 8 pounds 12 ounces which menas he lost six ounces, which is not at all unusual. Today he weighed 8 pounds 13.5 ounces, so he is gaining. He sleeps lots and is very comfortable to cuddle.

I should like to tell you some things about his natural parents. I know the agency will tell you what they know, but maybe I can add a few things.

His natural father will graduate with a Bachelors in Communications this year. He has a beautiful voice and is very eloquent in speaking. He is extremely intelligent and able to communicate very well. He is tall (6’2″), thin, dark, thick curly hair, a large head and small ears. He has brown eyes, as do most of his family. Most of this family, also, is near sighted and their family has a long history of allergies. His natural father is very allergic to the usual things – pollen, dust, cats, dogs, but surprisingly enough is allergic to few foods. He was allergic to most vegetables and milk when he was little, though. He also is allergic to bees, but I don’t know about medications he is allergic to. His natural father was on the track team in high school, and is athletically inclined, enjoying swimming, hiking, camping out, basketball, and motorcycle riding. He also enjoys music a great deal, but doesn’t play any instrument. He also is very creative, making things from wood, clay, metal and such. His father’s family tends to be thin.

On my side, he’ll get a tendency to be overweight. I also am short, brown eyed, (I was surprised when the baby’s eyes were blue) fine hair with some wave. I have fairly normal sized ears, but they are thin and kind of pointed on top, and the baby’s left ear looks as though it might be the same. All the people, except one, in my immediate family are near sighted, but we have no allergies. Neither family has a history of diabetes or such.

I enjoy music greatly and especially like to sing. I have always been a tomboyish-girl riding horses, building tree houses, playing ball games, hiking, and so forth. I enjoy reading a great deal, and supposedly I am fairly intelligent. I also enjoy doing things with my hands – sewing, cooking, quilting, etc. I tend to be very empathetic with people and enjoy working with people. I was active in pep club, glee clubs, and all church organizations through out my education. I graduated from 2 1/2 year nursing school after attending general college two years.

So, basically, I could perhaps sum up what this baby has been bequeathed in that he will be intelligent, good looking, and near-sighted. He comes from creative, active people and has the opportunity to be talented in many ways. He will, be, I hope, very loving and healthy and have a good sense of humor.

I hope you enjoy raising him as much as I hope you will. I am grateful for your wanting him so badly.

If I could ask anything it would be to do your best to teach him that:
1) I loved him immensely, and did what I thought best. Forever he will be a part of my mind and emotions.
2) He is special and wanted and loved by you.
3) His Heavenly Father loves him, and to me, this is a key to security. If more people knew that no matter what they did, their Heavenly Father still loved them unconditionally, maybe there would be more sincerely happy people around.
4) If you could teach him to love our Heavenly Father so much that he would obey His commandments, I think you could help save our son from some of the heartache and sadness of sin. I know this would be a difficult thing to teach, but my prayers and thoughts are to the success of your new or additional mission as parents of this child I have carried and delivered.

I close now, and hope this letter has helped you and please know, once again, I am grateful to you for wanting him, and being the special kind of people who will take him and make him your child forever. My heart goes with you and my thoughts and prayers are for the happiness and good welfare of your family group. God Bless You Always and guide you as you raise this child of God.

Your baby’s mother.

Today I received word that you have been chosen as his mother and father for the rest of his life. When I went to sign the relinquishment papers I was told about you a little bit. I’m extremely thankful you’ve been chosen so rapidly and I’m so thankful that I took my baby home to be mine for a couple of days–it has made the whole thing much easier.

I decided, in the hospital, to take him home because I did not want him to be moved twice, and I was bothered by the foster home stay since I first learned about it. So he has gone from mother to mother and I’m grateful.

So, maybe I can tell you some things that have happened since I brought him home. First of all, he’s now on four ounces every three to four hours. He occasionally will spit up some, but not often. He will kind of hold his little mouth open and it comes out. He rarely spits up noisily.

He will also lie for an hour and just look at me and “talk” and be perfectly happy. He’s often awake two hours in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Each feeding takes about an hour–between the dry diapers and the burping and the cuddling and kissing. He really enjoys kissing and cuddling.

I’ve found that the only times he has fussed is when he’s hungry. He is so good–a real pleasure to watch.

Let me see if I can remember all the pediatrician told me. His skin is dry, getting rid of the protective layer he used in utero–and the Doctor said to use just baby oil. He also said just a mild soap such as Ivory or Castile would be sufficient for his baths. In 7-10 days his cord would fall off, and it’s healing very well. The Doctor said SMA or Similac would be find for formula–20 calories per ounce. I’ve given him the Similac. He said to feed the baby on demand–but to keep him, at least, to two hours and use a pacifier if necessary. Well, I don’t like pacifiers but he’s occasionally fussy between the two hours, so I purchased a pacifier and he takes it fairly well, especially if I put honey on it. He doesn’t like the taste of rubber very well, but really enjoys what’s inside.

I can’t think of a great deal else–he’s been such a good baby. I live with some people who have taken a personology class and they “personologized” the baby. I’d like to tell you what they came up with watching him. He’ll have a good appreciation of music, be extremely coordinated, affectionate, and stubborn. He’s intelligent, and slightly critical. It may be interesting to you to see how much of this comes to pass.

Well, once again I come to the end and may I once again say, “Thank you”. I pray you enjoy and glean much joy and happiness in the challenge and responsibility of raising this boy. I’ve had much help and comfort and peace from Heavenly Father during the pregnancy and birth and these days I’ve had him at home. I know you’re the people this child is to spend the eternities with. I am grateful for your righteousness and beg you to continue working to keep yourself and this special child so.

God Bless You Always.

My new standing desk

I heard a long time ago that the more you sit, the sooner you die, and the corollary is that the more you stand (and move) the longer you live. I saw a picture of Donald Rumsfeld standing at his desk when he was saying that it wasn’t torture to make prisoners stand for 48 hours (it is). I then searched around and found many many sites that were/are repeating the same thing I had heard — the more I sit, the sooner I’ll die.

If you don’t know this already, I’m overweight. I am one of those guys that had a great metabolism in high school, and around 21-22, the pizza started sticking. The DrPepper began to flow in measures of gallons. Gobstoppers (back when they were bigger) and red vines were always at hand. Forward 38 years and I’m 300 pounds. Still 6’2″, but 300 pounds. I’m big.

So I try to eat better, but I don’t want to make my family suffer. I don’t want my wife to make meals that take tons of prep just for me. I don’t want to pay all that money for that healthy food. Have you ever noticed how expensive it is to eat healthy? Sheesh.

Ok, so one of the benefits of standing is you burn more calories than by sitting. In my case, it’s like 800 cals per day. So, the standing desk moves from an idea to practice. Search around for standing desk, and there are some really cool ones. I like the ones that have the little switch that moves it from sitting to standing mechanically. Similar to healthy food, most standing desks are costly.

At our office, they decided to upgrade people’s chairs. I saw one of the boxes up on a desk, and realized it was just about the right height for me. So I got two boxes and put them on my desk. The monitors were too low, so I thought about it that night and was excited to see the new filters for our Pür water filters had arrived from Amazon. Hey, those look like the right height to boost my monitors to eye-level. So I took them to work and here’s my desk:
I wanted to do more to lose weight, so I began walking to work (2.8 miles).  I found my legs were exhausted doing this, and so i took the boxes down and went back to sitting.  Later, I stopped walking to work (my most popular excuse: it was getting warmer and I didn’t like getting that hot on the way home).  I stayed sitting.

I started the standing desk again later, and then started going to the gym.  Again, I was super tired and lost the boxes.   I stopped going to the gym, but I’m still paying for it today (the gym…and the lack of weight loss, I guess).

A few months ago, I saw a little side bar article in Wired magazine about a guy who hobbled a standing desk out of Ikea furniture, and it looked beautiful, simple, and most of all, cheap.  They provided a link to his blog (of which the home page is currently not working, but I have the link to the actual article here).  I was looking at this blog the day I saw the article in Wired, so there were few comments.  There are many now.

A few months later, I made my way to Ikea (also bought meatballs and accoutrements thereto for dinner) and found the tables and shelves.  I kinda tore up the area trying to figure out how best to plan for my desk, and then put it all back into the display set up for them.  I ended up getting a side table and a coffee table, and rather than the little shelf to fit just the side table, a much longer shelf that would fit my keyboard, mouse, and a place for my water/beverages.  I took everything home and stood it up against the fridge in the garage for a picture:

I put the tables together in my living room.  Ikea has pictures for instructions. Cute.

I took the tables down to my office to put it together and start figuring out how high to put in the brackets for the shelf. I used reams of paper, and put the shelf on them.  I had to go higher and higher, because you want your arms to be slightly below parallel to the ground and all other examples of this standing desk seem to be manned by shorter-than-me users.

In the end, I have to fasten the brackets at the very top of the legs.  6’2″ is tall, I guess.  Here’s the challenge: you need to put in screws all the way through the legs, and bolt them on the back.  The legs are hollow, you see, and just using a wood screw will eventually break the thing.  Why are they hollow? Remember how cheap the table is? That’s why.  Ok, so the problem is, I’m putting in the brackets at the very top of the leg, and through the center of the leg is the metal screw-thing that holds the leg to the table.  Enter the trial and error!

Like an idiot, I didn’t realize the screw-thing in the leg would be there, so I spent a good 20 seconds trying to drill a hole through it.  When I realized what I was being stopped by, I also realized that the ends of the legs are not hollow, but plugged with a big chunk of wood pulp.  So rather than a screw only going through a flimsy hollow leg, it would actually hold.  I ran down to Home Depot and bought some wood screws.  Too long.  I went back and got shorter ones.  Too short.  I went back and got ones that were just right.  Once the brackets were screwed in, the desk was done.  I wired it all up and here it is! Why, yes! You’re very astute! I still have the filter boxes to raise the monitors, and I have a big box thing to raise my laptop.  Still looking a bit crude, but everything else looks pretty snazzy, I think.  I didn’t get the LED lights, but I want them.  So I’ve put them in my wishlist, feel free to add to the beauty of my desk if you’d like to.  I’ll thank you.

Total damages?
Parts from Home Depot:
Box of #10 1 1/2″ wood screws: $5.58
Zinc washers: $1.18
(2) Machine screws #10-32X3: $2.36 ($1.18 ea)
Parts from Ikea:
Lack Coffee table: $19.99
Lack Side table: $9.99
(2) Ekby Valter brackets: $8.00 ($4.00 ea)
Ekby Järpen shelf: $14.99

How is it going? I’m old.  I’m achy, and standing adds to it.  🙂 On the first couple days, I actually was perspiring a bit, and I could feel heat in my shoulder and back muscles.  Watch the calories burn!

Thinking about dates

As I was driving in to work today, I passed a bank sign that had the date 22/02/2012. I started thinking about how cool it will be in December when the date on that sign says 20/12/2012.

Then, as I was forgetting to change lanes I began to think about how geeky I am. I’m guessing they didn’t think about things like this in 1912. Probably not in 1812, and I bet a lot of people in 1712 didn’t know days, months, or years. I think we’ve made the calendar and the clock (measuring time) a much higher priority and a part of our being today than they did back then. I could be wrong, but how could I find out?

External Ventricular Drain searches

I’m seeing that a lot of people are coming to my blog after searching “External Ventricular Drain”.  There’s a post about my son when he had one.

It was a challenging time, but he went through it just fine.

I’m writing this post to invite all those who are wrestling with such unforeseen challenges in their lives or the lives of their loved ones to email me with any questions they might have Continue reading External Ventricular Drain searches

My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, Thomas Jackson 1823-1883

My Great(3)-GrandfatherI’ve been getting into family history for the past couple years, and think I’ll start blogging about some of the things I find and enjoy.  I’m also going to retype some of the histories I am currently entrusted with so they’ll be recorded online rather than on paper.

So here’s the first one, my great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas Jackson Continue reading My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, Thomas Jackson 1823-1883