Monday, January 28, 2013

One step enough for me.

We are done having kids.

In black and white, with that final period, with no prepositional phrase or hesitant adjective to modify it, it seems so final. It is, of course, unless there is some sort of heavenly intervention which does not seem forthcoming in my ponderings. You would think I would have prayed mightily about this, to reach such a decision. I didn't. That sounds faithless, doesn't it? No, I've always been a believer that Heavenly Father is always talking to me about what is on my mind and so I just need to pay attention to the feelings that I have. It feels like those ponderings are the mighty prayers.

When I had Tessa, things went pear shaped. I didn't  write about it here, because I wrote about it on the other blog, but she was breech, I had a c section, I had placenta accreta (which is when your placenta embeds itself too far into the uterine wall and won't come out on its own), had to have another emergency d&c, and lots more blood than I did with Maggie. I ended up having three units of blood and having a doctor tell me in the midst of it that I should never get pregnant again and that if I did, I hold be ready to lose half my blood volume and my uterus.

I'm not really sure what I was supposed to do with that at the time. I was just focused on what they told me after, which was that if I had had the birth that I wanted,  I would have been in the ICU. I just focused on the fact that stubborn, comfortable Tessa saved my life.

But it's been five months now, and I've been thinking about where to go from here for all of them. I think I have gone through the stages of grief, to a certain degree. I first was in denial--what's the big deal? So I lose my uterus. Big deal. Then I think there was some anger about them unfairness of it all. Then I think there was some desperate reaching heavenward to try to have Him say that, yes, we wee supposed to have another baby, as if somehow I could cajole Heavenly Father into overcoming this for me. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the truth crept into my heart. We are done.

Jut writing it makes me cry, and feel guilty all at the same time. I don't feel guilt for being done. No, I don't feel any personal mandate to repopulate the earth, and I effectively doubled my mom's childbearing, so that's pretty good. No, I feel guilt for wanting to mourn the idea of what I could have had when the two healthy, strong, beautiful, amazing children I have already been blessed with ply t my feet. I feel guilty for feeling robbed when I have been given so much. I feel guilty that I feel robbed of the dream that I had for our family when those dreams have already come true.

Because the reality of this is that I don't feel like I chose it, but I am in some sense relieved. I am tired. My body is thrashed. I miss the sass, spunk, and vitality that comes with consistent sleep. I miss the brain function that makes me witty. I posted something about challenging toddler behavior on Facebook last week, and someone told me that these are the best years of my life.

I know that, and it hurts so much sometimes, in these small fragments of moments, to know that I will never have another newborn. I will never feel the wonder of a first smile again. Sometimes I feel bad for just holding Tessa so tight, for kissing her cheeks so much, for reveling in her babyness...the chubby rolls of thighs, the cheeks that are so round, the sweet sleeping sighs. I see Maggie watching me, and I feel bad, because I don't want her to think that I am any less entranced by her. But I will never get those things again. Already I see Tessa changing into the older baby she is on the cusp of becoming. Already I see her fascinated by her sister, entranced by the action and activity of the house, and literally turning away from me to be a part of it. This is how it was meant to be, this is life, this is what we want for our children. Thrilling independence and the confidence to pursue life and hard things is the badge of honor for a parent.


My heart still hurts to see it, to know that soon they won't need me as much as they do now. And part of me is thrilled by that idea, because the weight of that need can sometimes be crushing. But mostly I find myself wondering what that means for me. Who will I be then, when they don't need me like they did? Who will I be to the world? Who will I be to myself?

I know that there is a time for every purpose under heaven, and that just as He helped me learn how to be a mother, He will help me change and grow into the different stages of my life as a mother. But I also know there is a time to mourn, and I think this is my time.

These have been the hardest six months of my life. I use no hyperbole in that statement. I hope I never have to deal with anything harder, though I feel certain I will.

My mourning is quiet, but it is real. So if you see me, every once in a while, hug my baby very tight with a far off look in y eye, it is my heart taking a picture. Because this time won't come again, and I don't want to forget any of it. I know I will. I know I will forget most of it.

But I hope I never forget how much Tessa loves to smile. I'd hope I never forget how sweet Maggie is to her siste, wanting so much to hug her that she practically smothers her. I hope I never forget how, before she kisses me good night, she always kisses Tessa's head. I hope I remember the sweet way they play on the floor together, Maggie briangrqing Tessa another book. I hope I don't get so wrapped up in Tessa's babyhood that i  forget that these moments with Maggie are fleeting too.

There is so much deception in mortality, that it lasts forever and that the moments are just something to get through on the way to something else, like so many airport terminals. We rush and rush and rush, pushing past people and times and moments, to try to achieve something or be something or get something gone, not realizing tht those people and times and moments are the point. Perhaps this will help me not do that so much. Perhaps knowing that the baby clothes and the maternity dresses are going to goodwill will help me walk a bit more slowly.

These moments are eternal, but not in the way I think.

We are  done having kids.

Deep breath, because we are just beginning to raise the ones we have got.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

sometimes i miss my old life.

i probably shouldn't say that, and i rarely do, but it's true. and when the sleep debt gets so big that it becomes physically sickening (as in, i'm so tired i'm nauseated) and when both of my kids decide to go through some sort of developmental nonsense at the same time and when i don't pray enough, i miss my old life.

i don't think there's anything wrong with that, because it's the same self-deception that tells us that our neighbor must be so much better of a person because of x/y/z that isn't at all informed by reality, but instead by the grass is only greener philosophy. the reality is that my old life sucked big time sometimes too. i was stressed, i was tired, i was pushed to my limit.

my limits are just bigger now.

i often feel smaller, strange as that may seem. motherhood has a way of shining a bright beaming spotlight on all of your idiosyncratic flaws and faults, making them seem as if they are the only thing there. i yell too much. i get frustrated really easily. certain things (like toddler screeching or ignoring what i say) make me INSANE.

so somedays i envy the days when i was only responsible for myself, and then for my husband. i see now, as i'm writing this, how Heavenly Father has prepared me for this time of Great Pressing Need. i am surrounded by it, and i am responsible for it, and i see how He has allowed me to learn how to take care of myself, then how to take care of myself plus another person, and now how to take care of a family.

but it's hard and anyone who says it isn't is either much better equipped for sleep deprivation than i am or a big fat hairy liar.

(i'm betting on the second.)

do you know that i didn't realize that sleep deprivation causes you to be more stressed and to deal with emotions less ably? i just read that. i thought i was just a jerk.  turns out i'm just tired. heh.

i don't know what i wanted to say, really, except to say that though i think i'm probably doing an okay job at this parenting thing, i don't think i will ever feel like i am. i feel small, most days, though the work is mighty. i feel weak most days, though i think what i do indicates great strength. i feel unable to meet the challenge of raising two girls to be mighty and faithful and kind and obedient, because i don't know how to do it. but i also don't know how my kid learned how to say "no, thank you." so i think we're probably doing something right.

i absolutely know that having children is a divine way of improving yourself, of coming closer to Him. there's no way on this earth we could do it alone. i'm still not sure we're really doing anything. there's a lot of grace in this gig, thank heavens.

i'm still tired. it's still hard. that doesn't mean there isn't joy. on my good days, i am filled with it and i see it in every toddler footfall and infant smile. on my other days, i have faith that tomorrow will be better and i will be better because of today.

and so it goes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

enjoying the journey.

this time, with tessa, i am just not as stressed out as i was with maggie.

i remember being so fretful about every little thing. why wasn't she sleeping better at naps? why would she only sleep long stretches when she was laying on my chest? how could i get her to eat more easily--and did it mean something bad? why wasn't she rolling?

the list goes on and on.

this time, i hardly think about those things. i can't know what the difference really is, though i really imagine it has much to do with our 4 or 5 week early start when she was honestly attached to me 24-7.  but i think there are equal parts in there of knowing she's likely our last baby, because of my uterus's abnormal desire to hold on to the placenta, as well as this not being my first rodeo.

we're still nursing, and i nurse her almost exclusively at night.  so if she has an off night, she's usually attached to me for most of it. and those nights are exhausting.

but i don't stress out about it as some sort of abnormal indicator.

she's not sleeping through the night, and i don't expect her to. she's doing great and while i would like to get more sleep, that's really not tessa's fault. she sleeps a good 3 to 4 hour stretch before i even think about sleeping myself, so it's not fair to be upset at her for waking up to eat.  she's supposed to. i get it.

i am not stressed out about her development. she's not rolling from back to belly yet, but i'm sure much of that has to do with the fact that she doesn't get as much floor time as her sister did because...she has a sister who doesn't really understand the idea of little fingers that can be crushed or being completely gentle with tender heads.

i think i don't want tessa to grow up much. she's in a wonderful stage, so expressive and delightful. she wakes up happy, even when she's starving.  she's happy and she's healthy and i don't remember what our family was like without her in it. 

this time, i am trying to enjoy it as it comes. i trust myself. i trust my instincts. i trust that i will know when the time is right to do new things, if those times come.  i am much more interested in those moments, when i remember that i may not get to experience this again, when i hug her tight or when i feel her sweet baby face melt into my neck as i rock and bounce her to sleep.

these moments move too fast. i think i moved too fast through them with maggie. i was always waiting for her to get to the next stage.

i'm not in such a hurry, with either of them, any more.

slow down, sweet girls.  mama can't move that fast.

Monday, December 31, 2012

thy faith hath made thee whole.

there's a story in the scriptures about a woman who, having suffered for fifteen years with what is described as an "issue of blood" but what i assume was something that we would currently diagnose as  endometriosis or fibroids,  heard about the Savior and His power. when she knew He was coming, he crawled through a crowd to touch the hem of His garment, knowing that even a minor contact with Him would have the power to heal her.  i have to believe that she considered herself unworthy of an audience with Him, feeling like her problem was not enough to warrant such attention, but was desperate enough to look for any road to healing. 

i have never thought of this story as anything other than what it is presented as in the scriptures--a story of exceptional faith. i never saw myself in it or felt the personal connection to it that i might have with other stories.

i get it now.

as i was cleaning the kitchen tonight, i stepped back and felt what has become a too-common shooting pain in my left ankle.  i don't know what it is--it started last week and i think it might have something to do with the cold--but it is very painful, much more painful than the first few steps in the morning, when i have to lean on any available surface to try to get started.

and these always take me by surprise.

so as i was wincing in pain, my yelp bringing my husband in to see if i was okay (he thought i had cut myself), i said "what if i can never run and play with my kids?"

and i began to cry a little.

while my husband assured me that it will get better (and my mind tells me it will, however frustrated my heart and body are with the slow progress), i thought about this story.

i now completely understand how someone would crawl through a crowd, hands and knees in dirt, being kicked and jostled and paid no mind, to touch the hem of the Savior. beyond the obvious, that it would be such an honor to even be in His presence, i understand that kind of longing desire for healing.  i told my husband that i guess, if it never gets better, i will look forward to the resurrection that much more.  i long to be whole so much.

i would crawl through any crowd for the chance to run with my daughter through a park. to not face every parking lot with complete terror that she might pull away from me and i will not be able to chase after her.  to not be housebound because i haven't figured out how to go down the stairs with both my toddler and my baby and my whacked ankle.

to be whole.

i say this not to elicit sympathy, but to say that i understand, just a little bit better, the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  i understand how the power to heal is such a gift. 

i wonder, a little more, how i can call upon the power of Heaven to help me in this journey. but mostly i am grateful to have found, yet again, another Someone who understands. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

valleys and mountains and all kinds of cliches.

so, a lot of people have told me how well i'm doing, how surprised they are that i am keeping (or trying to keep) a cheerful attitude about this whole broken pregnant thing.

my reaction? what else am i supposed to do?

am i supposed to whine, rage, complain, be bitter? am i supposed to let myself sink into the kind of darkness that is not anywhere close to being helpful in moving me THROUGH this? sinking seems to indicate being stuck, and i'm physically stuck enough. i don't need any extra emotional or mental or spiritual stuckness.

so i've been trying to soldier on, and it helps so much to see progress.  yesterday, i got down the stairs on my own and actually got up off the stairs without any help. it just sort of happened, and it was kind of awesome.

but with any of this stuff, there are always setbacks, and yesterday was a big one.

baby girl is breech, so i have to have a c-section.

i would like to say that i didn't see this coming, that i didn't know i was going to be asked to do this, that i didn't know that additional challenges were coming our way, but that's not really true at all. i think i knew, all along, that this was what was going to happen.  that's how God works in my life--He prepares me as much as He can along the way. 

but i was definitely hopeful, and i thought that she had turned.  they told me in the ER with my leg that she was breech. i thought maybe she had turned in the fall and would turn around again.  i thought i had convinced myself that she had.  no such luck, unfortunately. 

so here we are, a day and a half away from baby day and yesterday i was entirely shell shocked.  i don't know how else to describe it.  i wasn't surprised, but i was petrified. fear from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes and everything inbetween. i think i had imagined that it would be so much worse than it really will be--that my present condition will be almost impossible for mobility, that i will tear open the incision, that i will not be able to function in that much pain.  that taking care of my most basic needs will be impossible. that i will never, ever get to the 2nd floor of my house again. 

these are all fears, and like all fears, they are probably rooted in some degree of truth but have blossomed into something entirely overwhelming (much like the renegade bush outside my kitchen window--that thing is a demon).  the overwhelming is usually what paralyzes, and it's also usually what isn't actually so.  strangely, i find that to be true. the things that scare me the most are usually the things that never really happen.

in the meantime, though, the paralytic nature of such fear makes it almost impossible to move forward, in faith or hope or any kind of positive emotion.  instead, you just sit there, wrapped up in the fear, and wait for the worst to happen.

in this case, it means that i was dreading the birth of our baby.

isn't that awful? i hope you take that in the spirit in which it is intended--i don't dread meeting tessa. i just was so wrapped up in the logistics and scary nature of it all that i was missing the point.

we are having a BABY.

she's a miracle. her lungs are mature. she's healthy. she's about the size of maggie when maggie was born (i apparently grow them all the same size, though we'll see...).  she's active and kicking and apparently really likes being nestled up near my heart.  she's her own person, she does things her own way, and she refuses to listen to anyone else's ideas for her.  she reminds me of me, in that way.

i worry, still, that there's something wrong with her.  not a thing has been detected on her 3 ultrasounds.  i feel certain something would have, were there something to detect.  but i still worry a bit, especially with all that has come in our path the last few months.  i just worry that somehow, somewhere, there's another shoe that's about to drop.

but regardless, i have been praying to move forward with faith and hope. hope is so much what i need: hope that i will have the strength to do all that i need to do, hope that the path for us will be made clear, hope that we will have sufficient for our needs, hope that our family will be whole and healthy and strong and normal again soon, hope that our burdens will be lifted in some small measure. 

i need hope. i cling to hope, especially for myself.  i cling to it because, in the face of something i have never experienced, hope allows me the capacity to believe that i can face just one thing at a time and conquer it. hope allows me the space to know that, hey, i don't have to know it all right now. i just have to take it one step at a time.  that's all i need.

and if that's all i need to do, i think i can do it.

it's trying to see farther than that, trying to move more than that, that makes me a little bit more than just a little bit afraid.

so in the meantime, i pray for hope and i pray for joy, so that i can go into this with full confidence that the ONLY thing that really matters is a healthy, happy, strong new baby. 

everything else, i can weather.  i'm strong enough for that, i think, in my strength and in my weakness. 

i'd like to say i know why all of this is happening. i don't. all i know is that every single day, i have more of a testimony of the goodness of people, of the capacity of the human heart, of the strength of the individual, and of the absolute and total dependence i have on my Heavenly Father.  i'm still not great at praying like i should, and i should read more scriptures. but i have no doubt, not even a little bit, that He knows me, He loves me, and He is holding me and my family in the hollow of His hand. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

weakness: broken but not broken.

i have never been as in need as i am now and it's very frightening at times.

if you don't already know this about me, i am not someone who readily asks for help. in fact, i think i resist it because i don't want to be seen as weak, or because i don't want to put anyone out, or i don't want to cede control of the way i do things or my life.

you don't get those kinds of choices when you can no longer put your weight on your left leg.  you don't get those kinds of choices when you can't climb the stairs in your own home. you don't get those kinds of choices when the discharge instructions say that you should keep your affected leg elevated AT ALL TIMES. you don't get those kinds of choices when you can no longer care for your 1 year old on your own.

sometimes, asking for help ceases to be a "luxury" and suddenly becomes a necessity.

in those moments, it's very frightening.  though i am getting much better at doing some things for myself, i am no longer in the position to be the caretaker. i am the cared for, and boy can i tell you that that is hard for me.

it's not that i don't recognize that we need help. i absolutely do recognize that we need help. my husband starts his student teaching in a week. he will be gone for 8 hours a day, and i can't take care of my baby by myself.  we have tons of people offering to help, but it's hard for me to not stare that great gaping need in the face and have fearless confidence in other people. that's not to say that i don't believe in them or in their capacity to help, because i absolutely do--but it's more like i am not accustomed to this feeling, this absolute dependence on someone else, and so it scares me mightily to need so much.

the need itself is almost paralyzing, if i let it be so.

i have been humbled. i think that's not a bad thing. 

strength: broken but not broken.

i'm not sure who's still reading this.  it's fine if no one is, because i have yet to decide what to do with it now that i have another blog that deals with the kids and is protected. it will certainly take over the cute kid portion of our program, and i haven't decided if i just want to start journaling (so i can not edit myself at all) or if i want to keep this little portion of the internet for myself.

long story short, if i'm talking to crickets, it's okay. i understand.

lots of stuff going on here, most of which has been incredibly challenging.

on august 2nd, i fell on the stairs, did the split, and sustained an open fracture of my leg/ankle. i had surgery that day and was in the hospital for two more. i came home sunday and have yet to be able to get to the 2nd floor of my home. camping out, as my mother in law puts it, willy wonka style in my living room is what's going on up in here.

it's been a trial, a blessing, a learning experience, and a wonder all at once. 

i think there are moments when you see yourself for what you didn't know you were. that has been my experience with this, or at least it was for the first few days.  when it happened, i screamed in fear and freak out for about 30 seconds. then, as my wonderful husband rushed to see what happened (and it was abundantly clear that i had done something fairly horrible to myself), i switched into some sort of practical, deal-with-it gear.  i started rattling off directions, because he was understandably rattled.  "you're going to need to call 911." after he did that, i said "you need to call your mom and have her come up right away to watch maggie." and then "i'm going to need my insurance card. my wallet is in the green bag." and then "you'll need food for maggie and diapers and stuff" because he was going to follow me to the hospital in the van with the magpie until his mom could meet us there. 

after all of that was handled, i sat, beginning to shake in a splits formation on my stairs, clinging to the rail just above my head. 911 had said not to move me.  i wasn't inclined to do that anyways.  he sat on the stair below me to help hold me up. i prayed. he gave me a blessing.  i prayed that the ambulance would come soon, because i was so uncomfortable. it wasn't pain--just totally uncomfortable.  i was bleeding, and when the ambulance came (they didn't know it was an open fracture), they didn't understand why i hadn't moved.  so they helped me move.  and then they wrapped it up as best they could, and i scooted down the stairs, having the presence of mind to not get my one pair of maternity shorts bloody on the way. 

who does that?

we rode and i tolerated it.  we got to the trauma unit and i tolerated it. the only time i cried was when they tried to reset my dislocated ankle. even that wasn't too bad (by then they had given me the good drugs). i was more upset when they did an ultrasound and we found out that the baby had turned breech (i think she's turned again--or so it feels) in the fall. she's perfectly healthy and was the whole time, even under the influence of some pretty good drugs.

then they came and told me that the reset of my ankle had worked in one place but not in another.  i'd had enough by then. i told them that i needed my husband. the first time, i'd been by myself because he had maggie and the last thing i wanted my baby to be was freaked out by mommy freaking out.  this time? no way. i needed my husband.  he came. it was bad.  they couldn't get it back in and so they kept on trying. sorry to be so detailed, but i don't want to forget. i was sobbing, just saying over and over that i couldn't take anymore. 

they finally stopped, saying that they would do it in surgery.

yeah. thanks for that.

because i was 35.75 weeks pregnant at the time, they were very cautious.  on the one hand, we were far enough along that if anything happened, baby girl could be born and would be more than likely fine. on the other hand, it was two patients they were dealing with instead of just one.

as the stars always align when i have some sort of emergency, i had two of the top people on my team. my anesthesiologist was, in fact, the inventor of these nerve block pumps that they put into my sciatic and femoral nerve to try to kill the sensation enough to do the surgery on that alone. it didn't work, but it's what kept me pain and narcotic free for the entirety of my stay after surgery. he was wonderful, kind, and really concerned about me and my baby. i was very dehydrated when i went into surgery, so when they did the spinal (i was awake for the surgery because it's much safer for the baby) my blood pressure kept dropping. he told me later that i reminded him of why he hadn't done obstetrics in so long--it was too stressful!

they put me back together, ala humpty dumpty, with 2 pins, 1 plate, and an assortment of screws (cool tidbit: i got to look behind me and see the in-progress x-rays. it was very awesome to see all the hardware--and not a little surreal!).  they took me up to the ortho floor and i was remarkably not in pain. my husband was astounded. he expected me to be in horrible pain, but my pain never reached anything higher than a 3 or 4 on the scale of 1-10 the whole time i was there.

they kept me on the nerve blocks for 2.5 days, hoping to give me enough time to heal enough to get over the huge pain hump before heading home. they turned them off at 4am on sunday, and came by to see how i was doing. they had given me 2 tylenol when they turned them off. before that, my leg was really heavy and dead, which made moving really hard but made feeling also pretty impossible. when they came to check me at 8am, to see if i was ready to go home, they called me the toughest lady in the hospital. i thought they were joking, but they really weren't.

and in those moments, when i think back to them, i think "wow. i am much stronger than i think i am." you don't know that until you're tested. you don't really know what you're made of until you have to put it on the line. my mom has always had an incredible tolerance for pain, and i've always been the wimpy one. when they told me that i was the toughest lady, i thought "i am my mother's daughter." what a proud moment for me.