Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Brie Rainey Would Like To Introduce You To Her 17-Month-Old Son Josiah Benard Rainey

Chris Rice Cooper 

*ON Saturday, June 10, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., a fundraiser will be held for 17-month-old Josiah Benard Rainey who has VACTERL.  In a scripted interview via email Josiah’s mother Brie Anne Rainey talks about Josiah, his special needs, and the special blessing he has been to their family.

Describe in detail when you found out you were pregnant with Josiah?
I believe I found out I was pregnant in March or April of 2015.  My daughter (Aaliyah Marie Rainey) was about 7 months old and we were enjoying life as a family of three when I became increasingly tired.  Not unusual for newer parents, or parents in general, but I was barely getting through my day.  After a couple weeks of that my husband suggested I go to the doctor to see if anything was wrong with me.  I made a joke saying I'm so tired its almost like I'm pregnant.  Then I thought about what I said, did a little math in my head, and realized I'd better check!  The next morning I found out I was pregnant!

Describe in detail what your pregnancy was like with Josiah?
The first 3 months of my pregnancy with Josiah was amazing, I was excited to have another baby!  And besides being tired, I physically felt well. 

My entire pregnancy changed on July 28th.  We went in to find out the sex of the baby and a couple minutes into the ultrasound the woman performing the scan started asking some questions which my husband and I both thought was unusual, and then she excused herself.  She came back with the doctor and the Dr. told us our baby had major heart issues, brain issues, and had no left leg.  My husband and I completely broke down, I remember asking her what do we do.  At that point the Dr. told me that babies like this don't make it and that I could choose to terminate the pregnancy or carry the baby until he passes and then deliver him.  I remember just trying to keep it together just enough to get out to the car. 

The next day was my birthday.  We drove to St. Louis and did blood work, an amniocentesis, and an ultrasound.  Keep in mind there are like 6 Drs. in the room...our main Dr. who we came to us told us that along with heart issues they don't understand and the missing leg, he had spinal issues, kidney issues, and was also missing part of his arm.  The Dr. basically told us they were a couple of possibilities of what was going on, but was unsure of what the outcome of the pregnancy would be, and again gave us the choice. 
To me there was never a choice, I could feel the baby moving and I knew that if there was even a 1% chance that I could meet my baby face to face even if would only be for a short time, that I had to fight for that moment.  From that moment on we had so many Dr. appointments for checkups, and ultrasounds, and to meet with specialists, and developing care plans. 

At home, my husband and I definitely had tearful times and moments of doubt, but I had to give my pregnancy to God to find peace and comfort, and I did.  I also did not want to spend much time upset and crying because I wanted to enjoy every single moment I had with Josiah.  I wanted him to know that he made mommy and daddy so happy, not sad.  I waited for every single kick, every single movement is engraved in my heart.. because for that moment I knew he was still alive.  

Describe in great detail the delivery of Josiah?  And when is his birthday?
       On December 7th, 2015 my husband and I walked into the hospital so I could be induced.  This was not my first choice, but we needed to be prepared with our Doctors and the NICU team.  We got there early in the morning and got the process started.  My husband was with me and I remember I was on my phone most of the time until the contractions really set in in the afternoon. 

As I kept progressing, Josiah started not doing so well.  I remember the nurse telling me that if they give me instructions to follow without asking why because time was limited and they were doing what was best for the baby.  There were so many nurses in the room and Drs. coming in and out the whole time...I one time stopped counting at 13 people.  They were constantly monitoring him and telling me to switch positions, giving me oxygen, giving me fluids to help him out.  With strong contractions his heart rate would drop.  It got so bad they had to give me shots to stop my labor several times.  The shots had a temporary effect for about 15 minutes and would stop my contractions to give him a break.  We came extremely close to having an emergency c section several times but my Dr was determined not to do the section unless absolutely necessary. 

I was in a lot of pain and decided to get an epidural, I felt slight relief and more relaxed but my contractions were still very strong.  They didn't think I was receiving the pain relief I needed so decided to try again on the epidural.  That one went bad and I couldn't hear or see anything so they had to redo it a third time.  By this time I had given up on the epidural and left it as is.  

I progressed and was fully ready but he still had not come down to where he needed to be, but since he wasn't doing well the Dr decided to have me start pushing.  I delivered him in the OR so we were prepared for anything, with the NICU team waiting.  I pushed for about an hour with not much progress.  Finally he started coming down and out but he was coming out the wrong way.  So in between pushing the Dr. had to turn him each time, which was incredibly pain full.  After about another hour I remember telling them I can't do it anymore.  The Dr. and nurses continued to encourage me and finally he came out at 11:51 p.m. 

As soon as he came out I remember the Dr. told my husband to hurry and cut the cord and the NICU team took him to the other room to work on him. 

I just remember asking over and over again if he was ok and they told me he was but didn't say much more.  After he and I both got taken care of, they wheeled Josiah in.  He was already hooked up to oxygen and monitors and was in a little incubator.  I was able to open up the door of it and hold his little hand and look in his eyes for the first time.  I remember feeling so blessed that God gave me the blessing of meeting his beautiful soul.  We spent a couple minutes together then they took him back to evaluate him. 

After a couple hours they told me it was time to take him to Cardinal Glennon (http://www.cardinalglennon.com/Pages/default.aspx), and they brought him in the room so I could see him before he left.  

Again he was in a giant transport incubator and this time i could only look at him for a couple minutes before they took him.  It was so crazy because I felt like I had a baby, but it didn't seem like I'd had a baby because i had barely seen him and I wasn't doing any mommy things.  I was just sitting in my bed alone.

When did you find out Josiah had special needs?  And what are those special needs?
       Josiah has VACTERL which is a random occurrence and effects all body systems.  He deals with several medical complexities including vertebral anomalies and scoliosis, previous bowel issues which have been corrected through surgery, cardiac defects, trachea and esophagus anomolies, renal anomalies, and limb anomalies.  He has had several surgeries including a major open chest surgery to repair his airway which has helped immensely! 

Currently he struggles most with his breathing, and with kidney and heart issues. He goes to physical therapy once a week and is progressing wonderfully with his prosthetic leg and walker!  He was in and out of the hospital for the first year of his life, but for the last 6 months has only required regular follow up with all of his doctors and specialists.  These are life long issues and he will require care his entire life.  

How did you and your husband come up with the name Josiah?  And what is his full name?
His full name is Josiah Benard Rainey.  When we decided on his name I was pregnant and we were already aware of Josiah's medical complexities.  At the time we were unsure of what his prognosis was and quite honestly if he would even make it through the pregnancy or delivery.   My husband came home from work one day and said what do you think about the name Josiah.  We disagreed on all names leading up to that, but that name I liked surprisingly!  So I asked him what the name meant and we decided to look it up on the internet.  Josiah means God will heal you.  I instantly got goose bumps and there was no question that Josiah would be his name.  His middle name Benard is a family name on my husband's side, it is my husband’s middle name and his father’s.

Can you describe special moments you and Josiah have shared together?
       Special moments Josiah and I have together.  I feel like every moment we spend together is special.  I have learned so many things through Josiah and one is that children are a gift, and we have no idea how long we will get to enjoy that gift.  I made the conscience decision when I was pregnant to enjoy every moment I had with him and I do my best to honor that everyday.

       Josiah has touched so many lives already in such a short time.  He is such an inspiration to so many people!  He spreads joy and encouragement everywhere he goes and lights up any room with his smile.

Can you describe special moments Josiah has shared with his siblings?
       Josiah's sister is 17 months older than him and they are inseparable!  They spend their days doing everything together.  She is always looking out for him and making sure he is ok.

What is your husband’s name and what does he do for a living?
       My husband is Craig Rainey.  He works for AAFES on Scott Air Force Base as the manager at the BX.  

What is your full name and what do you do outside of being a stay at home mom?
       My name is Brie Anne Rainey and I work at It Works Global which is a plant based online health and wellness company.  I work from home helping customers meet and maintain their specific health goals and helping distributers achieve financial freedom!  I absolutely love it!

Can you go into detail of the fundraiser for Josiah and his medical bills which is scheduled for June 10, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.?
       The fundraiser will be a workout consisting of 50 lunges, 50 air squats, 50 sit-ups, 100 jumprope, and 50 pushups.  This is a partner workout to split between two people!  For experienced crossfIt people, a harder version of that is optional! Kids workout will be after the adult workout.  During event there will be a silent auction, 50/50 raffle, health vendors, and hopefully food!  This fundraiser will go towards Josiah's medical expenses.  Specifically for his prosthetic leg, wheelchair, and walker.  Anything extra past those being paid for will go towards outstanding medical bills, co-pays, medicine, and medical equipment.

       Crossfit voyage is a structured program of fitness training based on functional movements utilizing the best form of gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting.

       A partner fitness competition is with a partner you complete the number of movements: for example between in the workout is 50 air squats, between the two they would complete the 50 air squats.

What is 50/50 raffle?
       A 50/50 raffle is where the ticket buyer who wins splits the prize money with Josiah!  Anyone can purchase tickets, even if not attending event.  You can purchase directly through me, and the winner will be contacted and given a check!

What is the itinerary for the fundraiser?
7:30Am Doors open and Registration begins for those who did not pre register
9:00Am Competition begins-competition will be in heats, depending on how many teams register on how many heats we will have.
11:30Am Kids workout begins
12:00 Announce Silent auction winners, raffle winner, and competition winner

Can anyone come? 
       Yes, anyone and everyone can come to the event!  To participate in workout must be 12 or older.  Kids workout age rage is 3-12.  Must have crossfit experience to do the rx workout.

How can someone donate?
       You can donate by making a donation through the Eventbrite link on www.Josiahlicious.wordpress.com

or by mailing cash or check to

Brie Rainey(mom & caregiver to Josiah)
1028 Belle Valley Dr. Apt. 10

Belleville, IL, 62220

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fairy Tale Imagery in Poet Kelli Allen's "IMAGINE NOT DROWNING"

Chris Rice Cooper 

*The images in this specific piece are granted copyright privilege by:  Public Domain, CCSAL, GNU Free Documentation Licenses, Fair Use Under The United States Copyright Law, or given copyright privilege by the copyright holder which is identified beneath the individual photo.  

Fairy Tale Imagery In Kelli Allen’s Imagine Not Drowning
“what once upon time really means”

       On April 15, 2017 C & R Press Conscious & Responsible (https://www.crpress.org) published Imagine Not Drowning by Kelli Allen (https://www.kelli-allen.com), the cover art by Eugenia Loli (http://eugenialoli.tictail.com) and cover design by Victoria Dinning (https://www.facebook.com/victoria.dinning.75/about?lst=100004428366683%3A100004055173643%3A1494345687).   

third from left, Kelli Allen copyright granted by Kelli Allen
Eugenia Loli- web photo Fair Use
Victoria Dinning - Facebook photo Fair Use 

       Allen (https://www.facebook.com/kelliallenpoetry) is also the author of the poetry collection Otherwise Soft White Ash; and two chapbooks How We Disappear, and Some Animals. (https://www.kelli-allen.com/books)

      The Speaker of the Poem is an adult woman mourning the loss of both of her parents; torn in a passionate love affair; and struggling to live amongst worlds and even between worlds.  

                     Copyright granted by Kelli Allen 

The poems are erotic, descriptive poems to her lover, the overwhelming lust they share, and the magical world they inhabit with plant life, water life, sky life, animals, insects, humans, gods, and other magical beings.  This world is pleasurable and joyous; but also deliciously violent, unstable, unpleasant and even painful.

Take every opportunity to own and wield the weapons for cutting, as
thing begs, at some sharp moment, to be severed, to be made sweetly

-- Excerpt, “Here Are Instructions for Removing the Scissors.”

                          Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper 

But the fantasy and magical worlds for these lovers is always colorful and takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride, where, by the end of the book, we don’t want to get off.
       The one theme in all of these poems is that of the fairy
tale world.  Reading Imagine Not Drowning is like being with Mary Poppins, jumping with her into Bert’s chalk painting only to have it become a fantasy world of every imaginable description one can think of.

The one Allen uses the most is that of birds and relating to birds.  And these bird descriptions engage every sense we have – the sense of sight (these black ducks/ tucked in rain-refusing jackets Feeding Birds, or, rather, Some Magic”), the sense of hearing (I remember first the gathering of sound, “The Rooster’s Daydream”), the sense of scent (how it forces our halls to smell like cinnamon until night, “Later Afternoon in Tall Grass”), the sense of taste (taste the busy stems as they/ fall beneath us, “Wishing Adeline and the Shooting Stars”), and the sense of touch (Some towns are the wing bones we crush/ in our hands  “Market Day in Someone Else’s City”).

Painting attributed to Victor Vaspetsov.  Depicting the birds of sadness and joy. Public Domain 

In “Becoming a Woman of the Brook, Shade, and Moss” the speaker of the poem is like Alice In Wonderland where she falls into a new world:

What if my body fell through bliss,
caught its late small toe on some hook of descent?

       The speaker of the poem mentions Ivan and the firebird from the Russian Fairytale Tsarevich Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf:

You tell me it’s easy to pretend Ivan
will make room on his flaming bird’s back,

           Ivan catching the Firebird's feather.  Attributed to Ivon Bilibin.  Public Domain 

The speaker of the poem further describes Ivan’s bird and how she and her lover hear its wings when “the fruit just drops/ jeweled carnage into the stream.”
       Ivan is mentioned again in the poem “We make nothing from instinct.”

is it you, Ivan?  We remember, at once, the feathers
don’t come from the tail, they come from the breast.

       In “Late Afternoon in Tall Grass” the speaker of the poem is on a journey with her lover playing the game of pretend that “the path to some castle must be there.”

The Papal Palace Avignon attributed to Paul Signas.  Public Domain

       There is more fairy tale imagery in the poem “Eventually, we go inside” where the speaker of the poem’s lover is building a house around her.  This house is being built out of “stones as rabbits” with the only way of finding home through “a conversation, punctuated as it would be/ with silences.”  In the same way the lovers are trying to find peace for their final home, and in the end of the poem, the last stanza, they find their path marked by pennies.
the spell cast becoming little other than pennies’
left on the path, the one we marked, some time
ago, in chalked letters, as this way, home.

                          Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper 

The poem is reminiscent of the fairy tale called The Stolen Pennies about a family whose son has recently died.  They invite a neighbor for dinner and the neighbor receives a visit from the son but only the neighbor can see him.  The child appears for five days always ending up in a room digging near a floor of boards.  The family asks the neighbor to describe what he was seeing and after his description the family knows it’s their son.  The mother goes to the floor boards and opens them up and sees two pennies – that the son was supposed to give to a poor man but instead kept for himself to buy a biscuit.  The boy was appearing to the family to regain those pennies back in death so he could have peace.

Illustration depicting the little boy searching for the two pennies. Public Domain 

       In “Wishing Adeline and the Shooting Stars” the speaker of the poem admits to her lover that she “not once in my whole life have I left the/ slipper on the stairs.”  Is the speaker of the poem telling her lover she wants to go to anther world but will not leave him a mark of the path she has gone?  Or is she saying that even though she wants to say goodbye she will never runaway and therefore have cause to accidentally lose a glass slipper on the stairs?  Or perhaps the speaker of the poem is fantasizing in this magical fantasy world but realizes that in real life there are no fairy tales – even in the act of pretending?

       In “How Much Tenderness, When We Consider How to Lose”, the speaker of the poem addresses her mother and reveals to the reader that she is not only a fairy tale princess but a fairy tale orphan; her mother dying on July of 2012 and her father passing away in 2015. 

                     Kelli Allen's parents - her mother is pregnant with Kelli Allen. 

                             I whispered, just like Alice
in the Queen’s hall, and waited, looking down at the cylinder
wherein you, something of you, rested all dust and what must seem
like so many broken black sand shells to the fire keeper
who placed you first in the flames, and then, here in this silver


The orphan views herself as the princess and her lover as the dragon in the poems “This is the part where we don’t say “love”; “Imagine Not Drowning”; and “Quills are for the stories that stay written”.  

 Russiero Rescuing Princess Angelica from Orlando.  Gusto Dore.  Public Domain 

In “Unbreakable hour after hour” the speaker of the poem is facing the reality that there perhaps is no happily ever after for her and her lover: 

               and I am still looking up
at you, your fingers nested in my fine hair,
and we both know what once upon a time really means. 

                     Copyright granted by Kelli Allen 

       Imagine Not Drowning are poems detailing a passionate love affair amidst a world of fairytale, magic, and fantasy; and in these worlds the questions the speaker of the poem asks are questions we ask in real life:  is this real love?  Is this lover my soul mate?  How to let go of worlds that may pleasure us to the core, but are not healthy for our spirit?  How do we say goodbye to those we love and maintain a fruitful life without them, without abandoning them, or their memory?

                     Copyright granted by Kelli Allen 

       Allen answers these questions in the last stanza of her poem “Ghosting” which brings comfort and peace to all who read its powerful lines:

                                           What came before
certainly does not wish for us to forget
and so offers a seeding of questions, which we embrace
without intention, and this I call, not paranoia,
rather knowing-lust.  That radiance we suspect
has been threaded into our every lysosome, namelessly,
unearned, ours as a right of carrying cells upon
cells until we think we might be whole, is never      really new and so we keep vigil for signifiers.