Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pregnancy Loss Day

A few days ago was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day.  I didn't realize there was an official day to commemorate babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.  But when I read there was such a day, it caused me to ponder again the two babies we lost to miscarriage.

I remember so vividly finding out that we lost our first baby -- our first pregnancy, our first child.  I had had some spotting and so had to go in for an ultrasound.  The tech did indeed find a heartbeat, so we were greatly reassured, went home and thought all was well.  But about a week later, while I was at work, I got a call that a follow up ultrasound had been ordered.  No one I spoke to sounded terribly concerned, and not knowing any better, we were not worried.  I don't remember the details prior to that appointment, but my husband wasn't able to go to it with me (I'm sure that wasn't a concern to me, because we thought nothing was wrong and this was just protocol).

So there I was, alone with the tech in the ultrasound room, when I got the news.  There was no heartbeat, and the baby had passed away.  I recall changing back into my regular clothes (I can picture the very shirt and jeans I had on) and looking at my neck and face - red and splotchy, like I had broken out in hives.  I was trying to hold it together to tell my husband, and struggling to do so.  I remember going to his office and waiting for him there, and then trying to find the words to tell him.  I remember sobbing with him later that night, feeling so bereft and heartbroken -- and scared.  Not only was I grieving the very real loss of this child, but I was also afraid that maybe I wouldn't be able to carry a child to term at all.

This all happened almost 18 years ago, which is hard to believe.  Much of that time is still etched in my mind, but a lot of those emotions and details are lost to me now.  I had a friend who had just miscarried ask me once, "Were you able to move on eventually?  Do you ever have days when you aren't thinking about it?".

I told her yes.  That I hurt a very long time, and I still ache for those children at times now, but I was able to move on.   I met a gal several years ago while we were on vacation in the Tetons.  She and her husband were devout Catholics and were aching for more children.  They had one beautiful daughter, and had suffered many, many miscarriages.  Her pain was deep, real, and raw.  Yet her faith amazed me.  Among many things she said, this thought has stuck with me all this time: "Isn't our primary prayer for our children that they live with their Savior in heaven?  My miscarried children are in heaven with Jesus", she said.  "That's ultimately what we want for them! These souls we have created have experienced little to no suffering and are now in the presence of God."

Wow, I thought.  Yes -- I do want my children in heaven.  As parents, that's our first and foremost prayer for our children.  We want them to have the gift of eternal life.  We pray for that, we live our lives and shape theirs to reflect that -- it is our end goal!

But oh-- when our timing is not the same as God's!  How hard it is!  This isn't what I meant God - not yet, not now.  I know this pain to a small degree through miscarriage.  I cannot imagine the pain of a stillborn birth, or a child who died in infancy or childhood.  My prayer at the times of my miscarriages was simply for strength to go on, and for peace in the knowledge that God would work all things (even these terribly hard and painful times) for good.

When I think of my two babies in heaven, I find such comfort in knowing they are with their Savior.  When I lost our babies, I heard many well-meaning comments.  But the one which truly comforted me the most was that our baby was in the arms of Jesus. I wanted my baby to be in in my arms, but oh, how much solace it gave me that my baby was instead in his or her Savior's arms.  That my prayer for my child had been answered already.

Someday, my husband and I will be reunited with the two babies we lost.  Our children here on earth know about their siblings and think a heavenly introduction will be nothing short of amazing.  So though here on earth we are a family of seven, truly, we are a family of nine.  Two of our family members are just living in their heavenly home.  And that knowledge brings me such hope and joy.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Bits and Pieces #14

  • Out of the mouths of my preschoolers:     Teacher:  Which animals didn't actually have to get on the ark when the earth flooded?  Preschoolers:  Pitbulls?  Unicorns?

  • Out of the mouths of (one of my) babes:   "I know why God gave us two legs!!  So our underwear would fit!"

  • "I'm super good at eavesdropping!" sayeth one of my children, rather nonchalantly.  "Seriously!  I should teach Eavesdropping 101!"  Note to self:  Speak softly and watch out for hovering children.

  • Today was superhero day at school.  I decided to take this opportunity to dress as I normally would and be the best super hero ever. . .a mom!  My youngest son dressed up like Harry Potter (though he told me was in fact, NOT Harry, but a random heroic Griffindor character -- I have no idea, having no desire to read the books), and my little daughter dressed up as 'KK! -- to the rescue!'  My husband has been saying this phrase to my daughter since she was little.  Last night when we started to think about costumes (you didn't think we thought about this sort of thing in advance, did you, dear reader?), I suggested a T shirt in her closet. . .bing, bang, done.  I'm the practical sort of lame super hero mommy.  But Daddy thought of KK!, and proceeded to help her find a leotard, leggings, and then make a shield which said KK!.  We pinned it to her leotard and KK!- to the rescue was ready for action. Daddy for the win!

  • I have noticed something about myself:  When we are getting ready to leave the house, I tend to walk through the house yelling out the remaining time until our departure, rather like a town crier.  "25 minutes!", I yell to anyone within earshot.  "15 minutes till we leave!", I bellow as I tie a shoe, finish packing a lunch, flush a random toilet.  I continue this way until the urgency increases and it's down to: "1 minute! We need to be ready to go now!".  I turn off enough lights to put the electric company employees' children through college, pet the dog and say in a morose voice,"Mommy go bye-bye" to send him packing up to my bed, and then hustle all the children out the door, continuing to shout out various directives to various people.  I feel fairly certain no one in our house would be capable of leaving without my town crier efforts.  I could be wrong, but I'm too afraid to risk it by stopping.  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bits and Pieces #13

  • My teenage daughter still doesn't have her driver's license.  This is not entirely her fault, since we are only allowing her to drive our beater van, which is my husband's primary car and is rarely here.  So, though she is 16.5, she has very few hours logged and is still awhile away from getting her license.  As this school year started, we became more committed to getting those hours in and working toward her license.  With that commitment came the realization that we just need to let her drive.  On real streets.  With real cars and stoplights and speed limits higher than 30 mph.  So we have.  And it's been nerve-wracking.  I sit on the edge of my seat, talking non-stop (which I'm sure she thoroughly enjoys), and praying we live.  I'm only half-kidding.  Truly, she's doing just fine, but there are so many details she just needs to experience before feeling comfortable.  So if you see us on the street in the Astro and I have a look of fierce determination on my face, please say a little prayer as you snicker.
  • My eldest son wants to be a lawyer when he grows up, and is interested in politics as well.  It is a family joke that he will run for president in 2036.  So I was so excited to find a shirt for his birthday that said "Vote Me for President".  But he politely asked me to return it, saying that he felt it was too lofty and arrogant since he really has political aspirations. I was disappointed, but I understood and respected his viewpoint.  Still - I'd vote for him in 2016!!
  • The other night, I was awakened at about 11:30 by a ruckus in the hallway.  I quickly got up to find one of our children in obvious distress.  My husband was with the child and we pulled the child into our bedroom to assess the situation.  The child was making continuous, loud anguished wails, so much so that another child woke up because of it.  When asked, the child thought that yes, an ER trip was in order, so bad was the pain.  The child was struggling to take in a full breath, but I have to admit, I was vacillating between two emotions:  that there was something severely wrong and my child might be in real danger, or that nothing was really wrong and the child needed to fart or poop.  But we couldn't take any chances, so my husband started to get dressed and I helped the child get some clothes on.  At about this moment, the child let out a burp heard 'round the world.  My dear readers, for realsies.  This burp was epic.  All rapid movement toward the ER slowed as we asked the child if the ailment had subsided.  While the child still didn't feel well, the child admitted that, indeed, the pain was not quite as severe.  We decided that we would perhaps save our $150(!) ER copay, and see if the child would be okay to live through the night.  Good news - the child is fine.
  • My 10-year-old son is still wearing his cast on his broken arm.  He is doing pretty well and is able to get along with most of his activities as normal.  But his bed is a top bunk, and we haven't wanted to risk him climbing up (and more importantly, climbing down) one-armed.  So he has been bouncing from room to room, sleeping in different beds and displacing their occupants.  For the last several days, he has been sleeping on an air mattress in our eldest daughter's room.  Though last night she reported that the bed was "messing with her mojo" by sticking out from under her loft into the room, she has been incredibly accommodating of her little brother-turned-roommate. She did request, however, that he please, oh please pick up his random clothing items that had accumulated around the air mattress (dirty socks, shirts, shoes. . .). He complied and everyone thinks they can hang on for the nine more days until normalcy.  Not that we're counting. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Things I Don't Understand. . .

Among many other things, the following things perplex me:

  • Kleenex in the bathroom.  Why, oh why, do you need a box of Kleenex in a room where there are rolls upon rolls of toilet paper right there at your disposal?  If you have a runny nose, simply reach over to the roll and blow your nose! A box of Kleenex for the bathroom is just one thing I'll leave off my list!
  • Middle names on Facebook.  I understand maiden names for all those people wanting to be findable for people they knew in 1985, but how do middle names fit in?  
  • Fragments and cliffhangers on social media. ". . .When your boyfriend buys you flowers for no reason. . .""They laughed at her song choice. . .until she started to sing. . .",  etc.  Do the youth of America have no idea how to form a proper full sentence?  It seems every other post from young people is a fragment, often beginning with 'when'.  And in the same vein, why must so many websites twist the truth of the article in the title?  I realize it's to get you to click through, thinking something completely opposite of reality, but it drives me crazy.  Simply state (in a catchy way), what the article is about!  Are we, the readers, unable to recognize things that interest us without false advertising?
  • Dogs.  In particular, the peculiar desire Shadow has for rolling like a mad dog in the grass to get a scent on his fur.  He will go outside and sniff the ground slowly and carefully, and then quickly shove his snout into the ground and roll wildly in the grass, getting as much as his back and head rubbed on the grass as possible.  It's hysterical to watch, although markedly less so right after he's had a bath. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bits and Pieces #12

  • Said by a child of mine:  "I breathed out of my ears once!  I did!  And my brother said it could happen!  Although. . .then he said you'd die."
  • My youngest daughter had a field trip this week at an animal farm.  She loved all the animals -- the zee-donks, the camels, the sheep etc.  She especially adored holding all the baby bunnies.  Yet, on the wagon ride out into the field to see all the animals, she leaned into me with a huge smile and said "You know what the best part of this whole day is, mommy?  YOU!"  Ah, that girl.  It's a love fest day in and day out.  I hope she never grows out of it.
  • Our dear doggie, Shadow, loves to ride in the car with us.  The other day I let him hitch a ride with me to pick up my teens from high school.  Their school is just across the street from a pet food manufacturing plant.  Often, the whole area has the distinctive (and largely unappealing) odor of dog food.  This particular day, I had the windows open and the smell was quite overpowering.  I looked over to Shadow, as it occurred to me that he might be salivating at the smell of his kibble in the air.  But I was not rewarded with any sort of reaction on his part.  He looked rather morose as usual, in spite of what had to be a glorious odor wafting over his nose.  #disappointing
  • My children have noticed a strange phenomenon.  Whenever I am asked a numerical question I can't answer (such as "How much longer till Dad gets home?" or "How much does it cost to go to Disney World?"), apparently my answers always include a seven.  I don't consciously do this, but any sort of number I have to make up on the spot always includes a seven.  Since seven is the biblical number of perfection, I informed the children I must do it because I am perfect.  Though they looked skeptical at this information, I'm sure deep down they agree.
  • My youngest daughter's baptismal birthday was recognized in chapel this week.  What a beautiful moment, to watch her standing among the other Aug/Sept anniversaries as we sang "I Was Baptized Happy Day".  Seven years ago, she entered into God's family through the waters of baptism.  ". . .God looked down on me and smiled!  I became His own dear child." Praise God for His gift of baptism!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Less is More

Recently I watched an episode of Tiny House Hunters on Netflix.  I love watching HGTV while I fold laundry.  It's (mostly) ok to have on while the kids are in the room (unlike my other faves -- Law and Order, Blue Bloods or Call the Midwife), and all the home improvement shows are fascinating to me.  My favorite HGTV show is Fixer Upper, but alas, I have watched all the episodes (I do a LOT of laundry).

Anyway, back to this episodes of Tiny House Hunters.  This episode was about a family of six (2 parents, 4 kids), who lived in LA and were moving to upstate New York.  They had a 2500 square ft house in LA and wanted to find a house about 600 square ft in NY.  They wanted to buy the house with cash and live debt-free so they would have more opportunity to travel etc.  It made good fiscal sense, but that is not what really grabbed my attention about the family.

Early in the episode, the wife talked about taking a cross-country road trip with her kids which had spanned several weeks.  When she returned home, she told her husband her interest in buying a smaller home.  For the togetherness. Instead of running far away from her kids on the heels of such a long trip in close quarters, she was craving more family time.   She saw her oldest daughter spending more and more time away from the family -- texting instead of coming downstairs and the like, and she wanted to circumvent that kind of activity as much as possible.

It really resonated with me.  While I doubt we will be moving anytime soon (for a variety of reasons), I really understood what she was saying.  My family has taken many a long cross-county trip in the pop-up and spent a lot of time together in the suburban (and Astro before that!).  And those trips are full of good memories!  Of time spent laughing, sharing, talking, singing, and just plain being together.

Even though our house is not big by American standards , it is huge compared to the pop-up, and we can spread out fairly well.  But I would go out on a limb and say that we don't really need a house even as big as ours!  People in the 1950s lived in 2 bedroom houses with 10 kids and somehow managed just fine!  This subject came up when I blogged about large families (you can read it here), and one of the first things that comes to mind about owning a bigger house is -- who's going to clean it?  A cleaning lady isn't exactly in our budget, so why would I want to take all that on?

I guess my rambling point in all of this is, why do we crave such huge houses?  If a house is big enough to give refuge and quiet when needed, do we really need all that extra space?  I'm leaning toward no.  The family years are fleeting, and daily time together doesn't last forever. Maybe 600 square ft for a family of 6 is a little extreme, but then again, maybe not.  Maybe that family is getting it right -- that talking and sitting and working and eating together is more important than everyone having their own sacred space where they spend all their time.  Maybe that family understands that compromising and sharing is a more valuable skill than retreating.  Maybe that family is sitting in upstate New York right now in their close quarters and enjoying each other.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Broken Bones and Beautiful Beaches

Thursday morning was glorious.  My husband and I kissed and hugged the kids goodbye, and after a few little tears from me, we headed out for a long weekend together.  Almost four hours into our drive, which was full of sentences that were able to be completed and conversation that didn't revolve around Nerf guns and potty words, we got a phone call from my mother-in-law.

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news. . ." she began, and my heart sank.  My sweet 10-year-old son had fallen on the playground and it was suspected his arm was broken.

We pulled over to talk to people involved and decided to wait at a nearby Panera.  We didn't want to go any further in case he needed surgery or there were complications, but we didn't think we needed to necessarily turn right around at that point either.

So there we sat, in the Panera, for about two hours, before we heard the verdict:  broken, and needed to be set before being casted. My mother-in-law, who is ever calm in a crisis told me that all was fine and we indeed did not need to come home.  She also reported that my son had said right away, "Mom and Dad don't need to come home!  I will be fine with you and Papa."  My heart was so torn. . .I was so proud of my boy for his bravery, but not to be with him in the hospital seemed hard to bear.

Turns out we wouldn't have made it home in time for the procedure anyway, and he did great through it all.  He got to go home with an awesome Sonic-blue cast, and some good pain meds.  We talked and texted often during the weekend and, save for a few minor ups and downs, he did very well.  Everyone was very proud of his bravery and calm attitude though it all.

So, while my in-laws (and then later my parents), took care of all the kids, my husband and I relaxed.  We sat on the beach (a lot), read, talked, ate well, slept in, and generally had a wonderful time.  We take this long weekend together every year, and it recharges us each time.  My identity is so tied into being a mother, and these weekends away remind my with such joy that I am a wife first.

As we came into town today, we knew we would hit the ground running.  Tomorrow is packed from 6:50 am to 8:30 pm with little break between activity, and today had its own share of business as well.  But we felt ready to tackle all that was in front of us, having been rejuvenated by the time together. We hugged and squeezed the kids and my heart was full of love for my family.

**As further proof of all the togetherness we enjoyed:  I needed to text my husband when we got home and went our separate ways.  I scrolled down my texts, looking for our last exchange. . .and I scrolled and scrolled and kept scrolling, and still hadn't gotten to my husband's name.  I went down thirty-four people before I found his name (I attribute the higher number of texts to my son's injury).  I loved what that signified!  I hadn't needed to text my husband in days and days, because we had been together!