Friday, October 29, 2010

Unplugged

This week has outshined most in the way of blessings. Due to the amazing staff that I work with, Sammy now has over 1000 diapers, over 1000 wipes, over $100 in gift cards, homemade blankets, and books. Wren even scored books out of my baby shower. I actually started to feel slightly embarrassed as gifts kept rolling in from these incredible people who did more than enough for us the first time around. It was overwhelming in a positive way.

Due to Dennis’ generous job, he is taking on more responsibility and received a nice promotion with it. Sammy is healthy, Wren is wonderful, and life in general is just good. It’s nice and low key, and it’s about to get a lot more low key.

As a family, we have a tendency to unplug from everything when we get the chance. TV, computer, and cell phones are all things I’ve started to view as hinderances more than helpful. In fact, when our computer fan started sounding like it was going to start an electrical fire in our office Monday, we decided to live without a computer in our home for a week. I loved it. I do realize the irony since I have a blog and usually post my blog updates on Facebook. I did miss being able to blog, but I didn’t miss being on the computer with no purpose, or with a purpose I did not particularly care about. I have computer access at work all day so it’s not like I went cold turkey, but it was amazing just to use a computer for work then know there was no access at home. I didn’t aimlessly surf the net when I could have been cleaning, sleeping, cuddling, or cooking. Though we understand we can’t permanently live without one due to job and school commitments, I think I’m going to make it a goal to not use it at least four nights a week. It was so relaxing in a way I didn’t expect.

Along with that, we are giving up our TV service. For those of you who have ever visited our house, you will know that this is not a huge sacrifice since we only had 30 channels to begin with. We just realized that the only time the TV comes on is when we are watching Netflix, not something we need cable service to do. We’ll save $50 a month and simplify, which is the real goal. If you don’t need it, why have it?

As we eliminate more and accumulate less, I’m feeling more at peace than I ever had. Five garbage bags full of clothes that Wren cannot wear are being donated tomorrow. A diaper genie may go with it since I am not intelligent enough to push the diapers in there without having my hand bitten off by the crazy closing clamp, and Dennis says the bags don’t really mask the poo smell. We’ve simplified our grocery list to include real foods and almost nothing processed, cut out almost all cell phone use, and the highlight of most of our nights is going to the park and watching Wren swing and scream “airplane” every time she sees one. Last night she did attempt to rush the soccer field during a practice which was interesting(she can kick), but even that wasn't too stressful or high maintenance. My blood pressure at my OB appointment yesterday was 83 over 62, evidence that I am pretty much stressed by nothing. Simple.

I’m not claiming that we have the secrets of life figured out. Far from it, and I learn more every day. Everything we have is a gift and any lesson I learn on any given day comes from knowledge beyond my control. I just wonder why anything in life had to ever be difficult. Why did I ever give into the demands of multitasking and keeping up with things in life that I didn’t really care about? Why did I get stressed over things that weren’t important? Why was seeing the big picture so hard? It seems easy now. The message that God has been trying to convey to me for months, I think, is that I don’t need more. I need to work with less. And I have never been as happy as now, when I finally started doing what He said.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Developments

I have written at least ten blogs in my head. Life is just moving so fast that they have not made it to the actual blog, and there are new events everyday to think about, write about, learn from. I am going to take the easy way and just compile a quick list because I am starting to lose track of the last couple of weeks.

Loss of another former student from my school, this time a student I actually had in class: Just about the time I was ready to blog my heart out about all the fabulous events of my existence, a student who was in my class two years ago committed suicide. It didn’t feel exactly right to share all my great news after that, and I didn’t feel like sharing much after that anyway. I’m now navigating through the waters of having students in my class who were friends with this student, spent time with him before his death, and are trying very courageously for their age to make sense of this. Some of them have chosen suicide as their research topic for my class this six weeks, and for better or worse I let them because it was already on the list of approved topics. Plus, they seem to find solace in the tangibility of note cards and research databases, putting their hands on information that might eventually answer the whys they can’t seem to figure out right now. Though there is part of me that would like to warn them that no amount of information is going to offer closure, I can’t. Maybe they will find something in the plethora of articles and academic journals that I didn’t after a high school friend took her life. Maybe they will get an answer. Maybe just doing something is enough of a distraction right now.

Clothe-A-Child: I still cannot get over how spending a few hours two Saturdays this month with families who needed a little help purchasing school clothes for their kids has affected me. I must confess I tend to be a “holiday volunteer”, as if people aren’t hungry, poor, or sick anytime except October-December. But this experience has me rethinking why consistent volunteerism isn’t a part of my routine. I want it to be a part of my children’s lives, God obviously calls us to do it, and I took more away from those two Saturdays than I offered. Imagine families standing outside of Kohl’s for hours, sometimes overnight, to receive $100 a child to buy winter clothes because they qualify for this program. Add to that the pride issues that probably come with not being able to do this without help. Would you and your kids be tired and maybe a little cranky when you finally got in the store anywhere between 5:30 am and 10:00 am? Well, not one person I ran into was. These families were funny, energetic, some of the most awesome bargain shoppers I have ever seen, and every one of them hugged us as they left the store. All we did was carry their bags and add up their totals on calculators, but they made that small contribution feel valuable. Some people might say why complain when it’s not your money you’re spending? I came to the realization that none of the money we spend is really ours. We’re provided it by a gracious God, so all the Black Friday crazies willing to hit people and run over small children because of some misplaced sense of entitlement might want a reality check before they hit the stores this season, including me, though I’ve never injured anyone for a sale item. It’s all a gift, not a guarantee or something we earned.

Our first fellowship at our house: I would love to pretend that without any thought or planning this whole event came together because I am a combination of Martha Stewart and Betty Crocker in a desirable 31 year old body. However, not one part of that statement would be true. After waking up at 4:30 am to help with Clothe-a-Child, we had our small group from church coming to our house that night for fellowship. Being that we are just now emerging from Hermitville and including people besides our immediate family in our downtime, this was kind of huge. Plus, we volunteered to cook for all of them. House cleaning was partially complete, so when we came back home from Clothe-a-Child, we finished most of the rest of it. Then, we napped. I’m not proud of it. It wasn’t part of the plan. But 4:30 am came very early and I didn’t want to fall asleep half way through entertaining guests. When we woke up at 3:00, I realized we had no drinks except water and coconut milk, no napkins, and I had to actually start cooking. I ran to the store and came back and started dinner while Dennis bathed our child. Around 4:15 I realized I needed a bath. At 4:45 after the quickest shower and throwing myself together possible, I caught a glimpse of my naked daughter running full speed down the hall daring one of us to try to get her into clothes. If you catch her right out of the tub, it’s not too bad. If she gets away, it’s like wrestling a kitten into water. I let my husband do it because I was still toasting appetizers and reorganizing the plates, cups, and silverware to make sure I chose the most logical order. Right at 5 the door bell rang and our first guest entered the chaos, except by then it didn’t look chaotic. Everything came together and we enjoyed an amazing night. My Martha Stewart/Betty Crocker skills aren’t what made it great; the people we were surrounded by would have made that a great night even if my child had still been naked, dinner had burned, and everyone had been forced to drink coconut milk.


I finally saw MY doctor and fell in love with her all over again:
That’s right, I love my doctor. I look forward to the appointments where I have face time with her. I shave my legs if I think there might be a below the waist exam, something my husband might appreciate me doing for him more often. I write down questions and discuss my life with this woman. Seeing her makes me smile. Plus, all of my questions about this pregnancy were answered. For instance, why am I having BPPs and NSTs every week? Because the recommendations changed for pregnant women with thyroid issues sometime between when I had Wren and now. No biggie. There’s nothing more to it than that. Whew! When is my due date? December 7th. Do all of the doctors in her practice work with women who are trying to VBAC in the unlikely case she can’t be there when I deliver? Yes, and she wouldn’t work with them if they didn’t. That’s another thing I love about this woman. While a huge portion of women will complain about their freedom and choices being violated because the right to abort their child is occasionally and not very seriously threatened, I hear almost no one complaining because our right to deliver our children the way we see safest and best for our family is disappearing and has been marred by tons of legal requirements. There is over a 99% chance that I will NOT have my uterus rupture during a VBAC. However, according to my hospital’s by-laws(and I’m not griping because I’m delivering at one of the few hospitals that actually allows VBACs) I have to be hooked up to a fetal heart rate monitor and an IV the whole labor just in case. Though doctors and hospitals make decisions that put women and babies at risk everyday without much, if any, scientific evidence to support their choices-think unnecessary C-sections and unnecessary inductions-the risk of these procedures are not emphasized or even addressed most of the time. It would be easier for me to go in and demand a scheduled major abdominal surgery than it is to find a doctor willing to perform a procedure that has less than a 1% chance of leading to serious problems. Something is so very wrong with this picture. But that’s just another reason I love my doctor, and I told her that yesterday as she hugged me on the way out of the office. Oh, and I love my little son too. He’s super cute and kicks me all the time and I can’t wait to meet him whenever he does decide to arrive.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

And so it begins

I thought about not blogging about this. I thought about not talking about it, but my mind has been occupied for almost a week, so maybe putting it in words will get it out of my head.

This pregnancy has been so normal and easy and is still going great. So you can imagine my surprise when I received a call from my doctor’s surgery coordinator on Thursday informing me that we would be starting weekly biophysical profiles(BPP) and twice weekly non-stress tests(NST) as well as me seeing the doctor every week from here on out. I won’t even be 32 weeks until Tuesday. The reason? I have a thyroid disease. Here’s the shocker: I have had a thyroid disease since I was nine, and we did not do this with my first pregnancy. However, Wren almost ran out of amniotic fluid, I am older now, and Sammy’s due date seems to be a massive moving target because his measurements aren’t exactly adding up to his due date and none of the sonograms have added up to what they originally thought the due date was. I’m going to pick my doctor’s brain a bit more tomorrow about why we maybe couldn’t have discussed this before I was 32 weeks pregnant because the shock alone almost sent me into labor. However, I think a few things just added up weird and they’re being extra cautious.

Honestly, I feel like Sammy is just fine. Is he measuring a little small? Sure, though sonograms are notoriously off on measurements, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was tiny. His sister is not large and we don’t tend to make big babies. Plus, if he is coming out the good old fashioned way like we hope, I’m okay with him not being a 10 pounder. But the fluid thing was scary. It didn’t happen till I was overdue and we caught it, but I know it would have been on my mind this pregnancy despite my promise not to worry about. No fluid equals bad things for baby, so it will be nice to keep tabs on those levels from here on out. And maybe that’s why this happened. God knows me, He made me, so maybe He didn’t want the last eight weeks of my pregnancy to be marred by stress over fluid levels.

I don’t know. This is really not something to stress about, but it’s made my mind sort of misfire and malfunction for the last few days. If everything is fine, why are we doing this? The obvious answer to that question is to keep things fine, but a small seed of concern has now been planted that wasn’t there before and is making me worry about I don’t know what. During the non-stress test I am supposed to lay with a fetal heart rate monitor on my belly for half an hour relaxing while they see if anything is wrong with my child. How non stressful is that really going to be? And the biophysical profile can take up to an hour. I’m not sure how happy Sammy is going to be having someone push on my belly with a jelly covered wand for an hour. The child is so active he may start kung fu kicking the wand and then hide.

I’m glad tests are available to monitor things like this, but the crazy testing news came on a day when I was thinking that if Sammy’s birth went well, maybe giving birth at a birthing center would be possible next time. Maybe having one successful VBAC would lead to us being more comfortable with the idea of a birthing center birth like we really wanted the first time. I really don’t know if we would have done it, but it seems like that option might not even be worth thinking about now, and that’s okay. Healthy babies are the goal. I just don’t love interventions, but neither does my doctor. That’s the beauty of being with a doctor I trust; I know she is doing this for a reason and feels that it is the best thing. She’s pretty hands off otherwise. Unfortunately, that leads to the question of what is the reason, and is she really concerned something is going to happen that is out of the ordinary? This is the loop my mind has been running for too long now. I’ll talk to her tomorrow, pray constantly, and try to relax during my hour and a half non-stress/profile appointment. I don’t really know what else to do.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Everyday Epiphanies



The search for spiritual gifts continues and took the form of filling out tons of information about our personalities this week. It was fun, it was eye opening, and it made me realize that God is showing me epiphanies every day. I’m learning about me, about who I am, who I thought I was, who I might have been once but aren’t anymore, and these are fairly earth moving realizations. Being that my mind has a habit of jumping from one thing to another without the ability to linger for more than a few minutes, I thought I better start writing these down so I will remember them. I know, they’re epiphanies, I should remember them because of how they affect my life. However, I am beginning to wonder what would happen if I lost my to-do list or didn’t write everything down, and even thinking about that makes me scared. I need a record of everything. I will add these as I’m shown them.

I don’t enjoy being a leader and am not particularly good at it
This was an epiphany because as a first child, a teacher, trainer, someone pegged to go into management at my last job right before I said no way and quit, I have always been viewed as one. I’ve accepted the role because it sort of seemed like where things were naturally going, but I don’t like it. I will take charge if needed because I hate it when people show up for something without an agenda or plan; I tend to take over out of frustration more than desire. Plus, I’m bossy and opinionated. But when we were finding out our spiritual gifts, leadership did not come up and I was hugely relieved. I am a dominant lion, but I think that just goes back to being bossy more than a leader. When it comes to the saying “lead, follow, or get out of the way”, I’ll gladly get out of the way. I’m not really a good follower either, but I’d be great at living in Oregon in a cabin off of Cannon Beach growing my own veggies, homeschooling my kids, and generally being out of the way of everything.

Noise bugs me
This one also kind of shocked me. I love music and the sound of my daughter’s chatter. However, certain noises are too much for me now. I cannot listen to mainstream radio stations because the music is horrific and the noise makes me nuts, especially in the car. I don’t want anything on for background noise. It irritates me. We listen to music when we eat dinner, generally Queen, oldies, or Charlie Brown(we’re a little random at our house) and that’s fine, but I have to have quiet at some point in my day. In fact, if my phone rings often, which it doesn’t, I start to get a little cranky. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to people, but I need noise with a purpose. Telemarketers beware! I do not see those calls as purposeful, and when they happen after 9pm, I’ve gotten rather forceful about my opinion on that issue. Something as simple as the drum line from the high school visiting for a pep rally the other day almost pushed my nerves over the edge. I was the old fart leaving them gym muttering, “do drums have to be that loud? Is that really necessary?” Maybe this is a long term effect of being surrounded by 8th graders for five years, but I think it might be permanent.


I want to write for a living
Okay, this should not have come as an epiphany since I knew this at around the age of 10, but I guess I was re-epiphanized(my own word) with this knowledge. I love writing. I majored in English and only obtained my teaching certificate as a back-up plan so I could eat if the writing did not take off. For years, I semi-pursued this quest, having poetry published, submitting short stories, but it stayed on the back burner. Honestly, I stopped missing it when I wasn’t writing, so I just kind of moved on thinking that one day I might or might not get back to it. Now, the life events I choose to partake in pretty much have to fit into t he category of benefiting my family in some way or I just don’t enjoy doing them. I know admitting that will probably lead to speeches from well meaning individuals about “me time” and “time to be who you are away from your family”, but I get it and I’m not imposing some martyr-like prison on myself to only serve family and forgot me. I like to do things for and with my family and I really get restless, antsy, and irritated if I’m wasting time away from them or not doing something to benefit them emotionally, physically, financially, etc. But I think I see now that writing can. It came back one of my highest gifts-technically it was creative communication, but I’m not actually creative in other areas, so I’m going to assume it meant writing-and I want to use it for Christ and my family. So, slowly I am going to try to reintroduce myself to the writing world. I don’t know what form that’s going to come in yet, but it can benefit my family if I’m using a gift God gave me and they are witness to that. Plus, it makes me happy and maybe along the way will help my kids find their gifts. And let’s pray it becomes a financially lucrative pursuit at some point. I’m not too artsy to say that I would LOVE to get paid for my words.

There are more, but my mind is already moving to something else I need to do. Did I mention I’ve realized I have trouble sitting still?