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True Confessions

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I don’t like to call to order food for take out or delivery.

It’s not that I can’t. I lived alone for 18 years and enjoyed many types of food long before online ordering became ubiquitous.

I just don’t like to.

I can call doctor’s offices. Handymen. Insurance agents. Lawyers.

But, food ordering. . . nope.

I can make announcements over PA systems.

Getting myself nourishment. . .I’ll just make a sandwich.

Reading scripture or doing a monologue at church? No problem.

Having pizza brought to my door? Is there a website I can click?

Talking to a customer rep about a problem with my purchase? I’m polite and delightful.

Getting my orange chicken fix. . .

Honey, I’m hungry!

This boring life

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Are we boring?

“What do y’all do for fun?”

An innocent enough question.

As we drove home from that dinner we realized we never really answered it.

Which, of course, lead to a discussion on, “are we boring?”

Neither of us is a spring chicken. We had done a lot of living by the time we started dating. Steven had done college and Marines, complete with two tours to Afghanistan. I had been teaching for nigh on twenty years, taking students on European tours for the last ten of it. We had seen things. We had done things.

Philadelphia, 2019

Now, we are completely content to sit at home and stream a movie or play a few rounds of mahjong or take a bike ride on the greenway. Every once in a while we take a trip. . .San Antonio, Savannah, Williamsburg, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia over the course of our marriage. . .some of those long weekends, others “traditional” vacations.

All of those were great trips, but we were happy to come home and land.

A rare out of the ordinary date swing dancing.

After contemplating all of this we tried to recall what kind of dates we did before marriage. The truth is, it was mostly the same. We rented movies. Went out to eat some (we actually had a pretty regular date at the local burger joint). Sometimes, when Steven lived in Boone, we’d hop in the car and see where we ended up. . .once it was Tennessee. We walked trails.

Mostly, we just enjoyed each other.

It’s what we still do.

So, society may label us as boring. We’re ok with that. We’ll be boring together and have an exciting life.

Messages

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Peter’s birth has given me much that I could say. I can say a lot about how incredibly weird C-sections are. I can talk about how wonderful our nurse anesthetist was. Or share how amazed our doctor was with the size of Peter’s head. Oh, and how popular Peter was in the hospital.

Meeting Peter at last!

But what really wants to be said starts several months before we were even pregnant with him.

Our journey to parenthood is not something I have been private about. You can find our experience throughout my blog. I feel strongly about lifting the stigma and silence that is associated with miscarriage. I’m not sure how else to do it except to continue to share in my small world.

I think I’ve mentioned before that shortly after our fourth loss my OB/GYN declared quite matter-of-factly that he would deliver my baby. I smiled and thanked him for his positivity, but I didn’t believe him. Not any more. His confidence wasn’t something that imbued me with the same.

Around six weeks later I woke from a dream that I actually remembered and shared with Steven. I was changing a baby boy’s diaper in what would be the nursery if we had one. He was kicking his legs, and I laughed saying, “We really need to come up with a name for you.” The baby looked at me and very clearly said, “My name is Peter.” I confirmed, “Peter?” and he said, “yes”. That was it. I woke up. The name Peter, before this, didn’t hold any real significance for me. But I knew from the moment I woke that if we did have a son, his name would be Peter.

Perhaps strongly because of this dream when we found out we were pregnant at the end of January 2020, we both said boy. We never really questioned it or wavered, despite the baby’s heart rate being above 140bpm. I think we busted every old wives’ tale, actually.

Early in our pregnancy, Steven had an encounter with a street person who shared the Gospel with him and assured him our baby would be fine. The man even gifted Steven with a cross necklace as a reminder of the encounter. I remember Steven came in from that experience with a sense of calm and peace about him. We do not doubt that he had a God moment with that gentleman.

I reminded my doctor at seven months pregnant that he had told me he was going to deliver my baby. He looked at me thoughtfully and said, “Sometimes I just get a sense like that.”

In the hospital, Steven and I were amazed that exactly the nurse I needed for the moment was the nurse I had. When Peter wasn’t getting milk from me and lost over 10% of his birth weight, the nurse who knew how to suggest formula to a tired and worried new mom was there. She took Peter and worked with him and the bottle to teach him to suck, not chomp. And she told that tired mom her tears were normal.

Feeling better after getting some food in his belly and his mama got some sleep.

The next day when the lactation consultants didn’t seem to want to accept that the decision was to not put Peter back to the breast, the next nurse knew to tell that new mom that fed is best. She reminded me that what’s best for the baby is a happy and rested mom. It would be the greatest gift I could give my son. She, her name was Kris, said, “At the end of the day, this is your child for a reason.”

I don’t know if she knew our history. How much is in my chart that she has access to is a mystery to me. But in that one moment, I felt like God was reminding me that Peter was His gift to Steven and me. That He had been waiting to give it at this exact time.

Family.

God shows up. We can miss it. But His messengers and messages are there. He prepared us, gave us a name, and reassured us. May we be wise enough as we continue this journey to recognize Him.

Grasshopper is a. . .

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That head has been hanging out under my right ribs for months now!

BOY!

Peter Ebenezer joined us via c-section on September 19 at 10:39am. He weighed in at 11 pounds 1.6 ounces! (I usually round up to 2 ounces. . .) He was 21.5 inches long with a 16 cm head. His first order of business was to pee.

We are over the moon for our little (BIG) Grasshopper. He was very popular in the hospital. Our doctor declared it was the biggest head any of the surgical team had ever seen. He also stated that it just help confirm that a c-section was the right way to go even if Peter had turned.

It was decided to deliver at 37 weeks 5 days because I had developed gestational hypertension. The morning of the delivery my blood pressure was astronomical. . .at least for me. But once Peter was out my BP wasn’t the only reason every one, especially my doctor, felt better about the early delivery.

We had a bit of an extended stay in the hospital, but now we’re home settling into a new way of life.

Let the adventures begin!

Just needs to be buckled in for the ride home. His going home outfit was a gift from his Nana.

Pregnancy Growth

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Not long ago my dad asked me if pregnancy was everything I thought it would be. . .or something along those lines.

I hesitated to answer him because my first thought was “well, I could have done without the anxiety.” So, my simple answer was yes, overall, and I’ve enjoyed experience. And I have. . .there’s no way to convey the wonder of feeling life inside of you, even as you look forward to having your feet return to normal.

But the exchange did cause me to reflect on the last nine months.

The summer of 2019, when people would ask if I left my job to have children, I would explain that we chose a new lifestyle regardless of our parent status future. I’ve mentioned before that we were actually far into the process of accepting that children weren’t part of our future. To find out we were pregnant in January 2020 was both exciting and terrifying.

Anxiety can rob one of joy if you let it. My anxiety, while it came from honest and heartbreaking experience, threatened to do just that. I’m aware that even had I been capable of avoiding the impact of four pregnancy losses, I very likely would have had other fears and concerns with which to struggle.

For much of the first trimester, very few people knew we were pregnant. It was a conscious decision, one we agonized over. On one hand, we’re excited. On the other, what if we lose this one. On one hand, we want support. On the other, we want to protect ourselves and others. Slowly, the circle widened. . .some on purpose, some by accident.

First trimester was largely Steven and I wrapping our heads around making it one week further than before. And then making it another week more than that. While anxiety and fear were still there, hope began to shine stronger. I began to appreciate all the physical signs, perhaps a bit more gratefully than I would have otherwise.

Grasshopper’s anatomy scan, 19 weeks 4 days.

We had to address my anxiety on several occasions throughout the pregnancy. In the beginning, it was closely tied to the losses. That actually may have been the easiest to deal with. I simply quit looking things up. Turns out I don’t need to know about all things pregnant. I just need to experience them. And if it’s something that really had me concerned, I called my provider. Some people are quite the opposite. However, once I accepted that A) knowing wasn’t going to change the outcome, B) women have been giving birth without Google and WebMD for centuries, and C) I really do trust my medical team, things got way easier.

The anxiety that has been more difficult to conquer has been of the emotional, relationship kind. I am naturally an introvert. I am naturally independent. Pregnancy, in my experience, causes those core traits to be jeopardized by the expectations of others. I struggled finding balance for what I needed and what I felt people around me wanted. It caused stress for me because I also like for people to be pleased. I didn’t know who I was supposed to be. Interestingly, pregnancy inspired in me a desire to be even more introverted. I wanted to guard myself in my own house. I feared it came across as selfish, which wasn’t my intention, only my emotional response to what I was experiencing. I also struggled with people wanting to be “involved.” I couldn’t really figure out how or what they wanted to be involved in though I did understand their desire came from a place of excitement. I appreciated when people asked how I was doing, and I was happy to share, but I was unlikely to just offer information, even to my family.

This was the stress and anxiety that proved the most difficult to handle for our pregnancy. Because while pregnancy is very personal, it is far from private. Navigating this part of the experience is what came as the biggest surprise to me. . .not the physical changes. Suddenly, it felt as if our core personalities and tendencies were being challenged and requested to change.

So, yes, I could have done without the anxiety. But in the end, perhaps these trials have shown us both things about who we are as individuals and as a couple. We worked through all of this together. Coming up with plans, examining root causes, and practicing communication skills. Maybe, in the end, this part of the experience will greatly benefit us as parents as we navigate the definite anxieties that will come bringing up Grasshopper.

Grasshopper 37 weeks. . .weighing in at over 10 pounds.

Overall, pregnancy has been a blessing. Not necessarily easy 100% of the time. But a period of our lives that I will be able to look back on and say that was an amazing 40 weeks (or the current 37 weeks and 3 days. . .that would be fine with me). Steven and I grew in so many ways (not just our waistlines. . .yes, his too!). It helped shape us and prepare us to continue through this journey, anxiety and all, together.

“Yesterday was plain awful”

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To quote a song from Annie.

It seemed so in the moment.  The mundane of home ownership and the unexpected expected troubles that pop up threatened to overtake me.

Steven and I discovered a leak in our laundry room the other day.  We were bumfuzzled about where it was coming from.  The washer being our first guess proved to be wrong.  Then it was the hot water heater, but it was bone dry around that.  It rained recently. . .maybe there was a leak? However, there was no evidence in our ceiling or walls of water running down. There is a mysterious pipe that comes out of the floor and goes back into it next to the water heater.  But it looks like the water is coming out of the wall. . . .taking off an access panel we found nothing.  Literally, nothing.  There was nothing behind the access panel.  Well, what about this mysterious pipe?  Indeed, that is where the water is coming from.  It’s misting out of the pipe with occasional spurts.  My brother says it’s a $5 fix.

While searching for the water leak, I happened to also put some things in the freezer and noticed that ice seems to be accumulating on the back.  Uh-oh.  This happened in January.  We have a freezer on bottom fridge.  So, the fridge part is cooled by air coming up from the freezer.  If the freezer doesn’t defrost, then the air doesn’t go up in the fridge, therefore, essentially, making the fridge pointless.  I thought maybe I’d just caught it between cycles and determined to check it again later.  Hours later, still icy.  With more ice.  We had it serviced and fixed with genuine parts by a certified appliance repairman in January.  I think we just have a lemon.

A baby bird was stuck in our chimney.  We’re pretty sure that even though we rescued it from the chimney, it was too young to make it on its own.  The wing feathers were mostly in, but there was still quite a bit of downy.  My mama heart hurts.

And I’m nine months pregnant. . . so, things ache and are swollen.

BUT. . .

GrasshoppercheekyAug17

I mean, look at those cheeks! 

I’m nine months pregnant! As I sit here and type all these woes, Grasshopper is doing somersaults.  It’s an amazing feeling. . .experiencing these evidences of life inside of you.  I’m so incredibly blessed to be able to have this experience.  A little over a year ago my OB/GYN told me he was going to deliver my baby.  It was shortly after our fourth loss and frankly, Steven and I were coming to terms with the idea that a “rainbow” baby wasn’t our story.  That I was going to be advocating for those whose stories go no further than loss.  And I still feel very strongly about that advocacy.  I’m very aware that not all stories get what we’re getting.

Today, I have a picture of the child within me and its totally squishy cheeks and I’m eager to meet it face-to-face. And I wonder if my doctor is a bit prophetic.  We talked about that day at a recent appointment.  He looked at me thoughtfully and said, “Sometimes, I just get that feeling about a patient.”

Also, yesterday, I got my hair cut.  It’s a little thing, but having someone pamper you and style your hair a bit different from the every day can lift your spirits.  Plus, I really like my “beauty shop.” It’s full of energized women who are having a good time.  It’s a happy place.

I thought that might be the highlight of my day, but as I left, a car rolled up to me.  I glanced at the driver and thought, “I think I taught her.” And suddenly, she was waving out the window yelling my name.  Yep, I taught her.  She told me about her life (she has a 14 year old!! How did she get so old and I’ve stayed the same?). She mentioned having some copyrighted stories and looking for an agent. Then she told me thank you. I won’t share all she said in that thank you, but needless to say, it was better than having my hair done.

And to end the day, Steven took my to get some fries and an orange soda. . .my current craving.

So, yesterday was plain good.

Shout-out to 2020

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I want to be clear that I fully understand that my generation and those younger than me have never had to live through such a year as this in our country.  Not even 9/11 truly compares to the challenges 2020 has presented.  9/11 was a different kind of challenge and more singular than the multitude of difficulties 2020 has thrown.

BUT, to use a good old idiom, why are we throwing the baby out with the dishwater?

baby inside white bathtub with water

Photo by Henley Design Studio on Pexels.com

I have grown weary of the negative attitude with which people talk about this year.  It has become banal all the ways we have decided to disregard 2020 and say it needs to be over and to highlight how it isn’t meeting our expectations.

What year really does though?  Have we become so accustomed to our life of privilege that we are thin skinned when faced with challenge and change? Even good change is a challenge (I think of when I got married. . .good change, wanted change, but boy howdy living with a boy after 18 years on my own!!).

Throw out the dishwater. . .it’s nasty, contaminated.  Keep the baby.  Expectations of what a year should be like are only going to disappoint.  Perhaps it’s good to have things shaken up a bit.  When we become accustomed to the routine, we often fail to recognize opportunities and beauty and goodness.  Detours have a way of introducing us to new possibilities. 2020 is such a detour.

2020, in and of itself, is not a bad year.  It’s different.  Different does not equate to bad.  It’s just different.  It’s our attitudes and our approach that can determine the good and bad of any situation.  2020 is just 365 days (oh, wait, this was a leap year, wasn’t it? 366) where we get to decide on what we will focus.  It doesn’t mean bad things aren’t going to happen.  It doesn’t mean we aren’t going to be faced with tough decisions about conversations ignited by the world around us.  But we still get to choose our outlook.  (Ok, and it also doesn’t mean that sometimes we aren’t going to just throw up our hands and want to scream that this year sucks–just don’t get stuck there.)

2020 doesn’t have a bad reputation in our home. And we don’t want to fast forward to 2021.  We want to relax in the present, on this detour, and see what good there is to see. . .and, if we’re smart enough, participate in, or even create, that good.

Morning Musings

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Hang on. . .I don’t really know what’s going to hit the page.  I logged into my account with no real intentions.  But I feel an itch to write a few words.  So, let’s see what happens.

Grasshopper continues to grow.  At our last ultrasound (I get extras because of my age) s/he was in the 99th percentile for size.  This kid is going to be big.  I’m not overly surprised by this as I was 12 pounds 9 ounces and my husband was no teeny tiny thing either.  Plus, we’re both tall. I’ve known since I was like 12 that were I ever blessed with a baby it would be large.  Only seems fair.  At any rate, Grasshopper is doing well and has been quite active the last several days.  Makes me wonder if s/he is turning around (it was breach at the last ultrasound). Our doctor is pleased with everything, as are we.  I can’t stay out of the baby’s room. . .I just walk in there and look around.  I don’t actually do anything.  Just look and then leave.

Grasshopper july 10

Grasshopper at 27 weeks 4 days. Look at those chubby cheeks!

We’ve decided that our dog, Daisy, who has taken to following me around the house is not really following me.  She’s following Grasshopper.  I find animal behavior interesting.  I don’t understand it, but it’s interesting to speculate their intentions.  We have now been pregnant five times.  The only one that Daisy barked at was Nugget, the first one.  Nugget is the one that was ectopic. Steven says it isn’t beyond imagination that Daisy knew something was horribly wrong; dogs can sense seizures before they happen.  At any rate, she has been quite attached to me in the last four or so months, similar to how she reacted when I came home from the hospital after breaking my leg.

I’ve been re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia.  I’m at The Last Battle now.  It is my LastBattlesecond favorite following The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Though, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed The Magician’s Nephew this time around as well.  I remember as a kid that once I got past Dawn Treader I lost interest in these books.  They didn’t have enough of the Pevensies in them for me.  Now I appreciate them on a whole different level.  There’s a great debate about CS Lewis writing the series as an allegory for Christianity.  He, himself, actually denied this claim.  Allegory has some relatively strict rules about it–everything has to stand for something else.  It’s difficult to make absolutely everything in the series match to something from Christianity.  However, it is not difficult to see the influence that Christianity has on the series.  It’s my personal belief that Lewis’s faith was so strong and so entwined in his living and breathing that it permeated everything he did.  Therefore, it had no choice but to influence Narnia.

Many people don’t believe that re-reading books makes sense.  A short thought on that. . .there’s a maxim that states we never step into the same river twice.  Well, we never step into the same book twice.  We come to a book a second time being different people. . .we have had new experiences that have shaped our thoughts.  We notice new things.  Perhaps we read more slowly and thoughtfully.  I don’t propose that we re-read every book we’ve ever read, but I find the practice refreshing and renewing quite often.

Six weeks ago I had a life coach session.  The coach pointed out that I talk about words a lot.  And that when I was a child, words and creating with words was important to me.  He encouraged me to continue to explore ways that my words could help give me purpose.  I can’t say that I’ve focused as I should on the goals we set up six weeks ago, but I have ruminated on it in quiet times.  I’m thinking about how to fashion this little corner of the internet into something that is more regular and structured.  We’ll see. It was an exciting session that helped me feel alive. Stay tuned.

Ok. . .I have an errand this morning, so my time has expired for sitting here musing.  Thanks for joining me.

What are we sacrificing?

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I have spent much of this week thinking of and praying for my step-mom, Betty.  She works in an assisted living/nursing facility.  Despite all the precautions that have been in place since March, the facility is now experiencing an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

two adult women beside each other

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This facility has been basically on lock-down for the last three months.  No visitors. Outside packages are sanitized. Outside food is transferred to a different container before delivered to the residents. Employees have used PPE and had temperature checks when reporting to work.  When the outbreak was identified, hallways were shut down and the only employees allowed to the residents’ rooms are the nurses and CNAs.  This means that Betty can no longer visit people with whom she has built relationships as she is part of the food service for the facility.  It means residents can’t visit with each other. It means that the only people the residents now see are those who are administering medicine or assisting them with perhaps something uncomfortable or embarrassing.

It means that Betty may not get to say goodbye to those residents for which she has such great love and compassion.  She has said that one day a resident is alive and the next, when she gets to work, he/she is gone.

I cannot fathom what this is like for her.  But I also cannot fathom what this is like for the residents.  I have thought throughout this pandemic that we may be doing a harm to our elderly citizens.  It is no secret that assisted living/nursing facilities have a level of isolation to them already. Many residents do not have regular visitors except those who bring them their meals.  And now, they are denied even that.

My heart breaks for this situation.  I question the wisdom of the decisions that are in place to “protect our most vulnerable”. What good is this protection if it only serves to further isolate some of our most valuable citizens? And in this particular situation, it didn’t make a difference.  All that isolation and mitigation didn’t stop the virus from getting in the facility and doing what it does.

I am, in no way, proposing we throw all caution to the wind.  I do not think we should be unwise in our interactions with any member of society, much less anyone who is deemed part of the vulnerable population.  But I do think, perhaps, it’s time to re-evaluate some of the precautions that are in place.

Mental health cannot take a back seat to physical health. They are equal. And I would even propose that the healthier a person is mentally, their physical health is better.

I have struggled this entire time with the idea that family members can’t visit those in assisted living facilities or be with someone who is in the hospital.  I feel that in traumatic events it is necessary to have someone who is there with you.  I don’t want to imagine what it would have been like when I broke my leg if Steven hadn’t been there to help me navigate through the haze of pain and drugs.

covidmask

 

If masks do the job we’re told they do, then why can there not be a designated member of the family who is able to be there for loved ones in these situations–both hospitalized and in nursing homes? 

We are sacrificing compassion.

In an effort to protect the vulnerable we are forgetting what they truly need…what we all truly need.

People.

{I don’t generally like to put disclaimers on my pieces, but I am today. Please understand that I am fully aware of the seriousness of this virus. I am also aware that we learn about it every day. My prayer is that we somehow find a balance of how to live with it while answering our God instilled need to be with each other in the physical present.}

Love One Another

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Periodically, over my career, students would ask why I was a Christian. I must admit that early on the question surprised me and my answer was trite.  But over time, as I guess happens with most people as they mature, my answer acquired more depth, at least in my eyes.

LentFirst, Christianity asks me to be humble–not only to my Creator, but also to those around me. I am to recognize that on my own I am small and weak and in need of help.  I should see myself as in the most need of help. Perhaps paradoxically, in some ways, despite this need, I am accepted.  I do not need to make myself better to receive the help that is offered.  I am enough.  It is in this weakness that I am accepted.  But finally, Christianity asks that I not stay there once I see these things in myself.  I am to move forward, as much as I’m able, with God’s help to loving others with the acceptance He has shown me.  Christianity asks me to get outside of myself, to lay down my selfishness, to believe that He can help me do that. These are reasons why I choose to believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

In the past week I have spent time reflecting on Christianity and my walk with Christ. I’m troubled by the state of the nation. I’m troubled by my own contributions to the current atmosphere.  While I may have never meant to place myself above others, it is without a doubt that I have.  I have not had to worry about walking down the street, or driving a nice car, or browsing in a store simply because of the color of my skin.  When the mask recommendation came from the CDC in response to the pandemic, I didn’t have to worry what people would think I was up to if I wore one.

How many times have I laughed at someone’s racist joke? How many times have I sat silently while someone spouted their own racist ideas? How many opportunities have I had to show love and failed?

I feel inadequate. I feel lost. I feel unprepared. I feel angry!

I feel angry that so often I hear people say things such as “well, we can’t help how we were raised.” I feel angry that they seem unconcerned about evaluating themselves and their own contributions to the current state of affairs. I feel angry that often I have jumped to conclusions and have pre-judged a person’s situation based on color.

I feel terrified that I will fail Grasshopper. I will fail to show Grasshopper that I was weak and wrong on many occasions, and that he/she can do better. I will fail to show Grasshopper that God’s call to humble ourselves and love one another is a call to do that in response to ALL people.

And so, I come back to why I’m a Christian.  Because God calls me to be outside of myself.  He accepts me where I am, but He urges me to be better, to move from where I am to somewhere that loves one another. God, help me.

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