Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Another Great Loss

About eight weeks ago, I had my second miscarriage.  It happened nearly identical like the last...at least, the details of losing the baby.  This baby, like the other we lost, came as a surprise.  But, unlike the last baby that I desperately wanted...this one, I wasn't exactly happy about.  I've felt complete as a family of five.  My soul is fulfilled in my three boys, and I feel like I have more than I can say grace over.  I'm completely maxed out on how much of myself I can make go around to everyone who needs me.  My reaction in finding out I was pregnant was less than enthusiastic.  It was devastation, actually.  All I could think of was, how in the world I was going to be able to manage another one.  How would Jon and I ever make time for each other now?  How would this affect us financially?  How would this affect me mentally?  Could my body go through another pregnancy and birth after the repairs that had to be done the last time?  I sobbed in the shower that morning and asked God what he was doing.

I kept the news to myself for a couple days.  I felt like I had to process the information before I told Jon.   His reaction wasn't much better than mine.  I know this was a total lack of faith in God and his plans, but it didn't change our feelings.  I told Jon at that moment, that I felt like something wasn't right.  I wasn't feeling sick, I just didn't feel pregnant.  I called the doctor the next day to make an appointment.  Because of my history, she scheduled some blood work to make sure my hormone levels were within normal range and climbing.

I got the call later that afternoon that things were looking a little low for how far along I should've been.  My estimations could've been a little off.  I wasn't exactly sure when I'd conceived, so the doctor scheduled an ultrasound and repeat blood work for a couple days later.  The ultrasound showed 6 weeks, but no heartbeat could be heard at this point, so I had a repeat ultrasound scheduled for 10 days later with new blood labs scheduled for every three days until the next ultrasound.  Waiting is a cruel sentence sometimes...especially in situations like this.  I've never prayed so much in my life...for God to intervene.  I went from devastation in learning the news of my pregnancy to begging God for a miracle.  Each lab appointment showed lower hormone levels and I knew it was only a matter of time.  I was waiting to hear confirmation that my baby was gone.  I've never felt so helpless.  I told Jon that it felt like standing on the shore and watching my child drown, and knowing there was nothing I could do to save this baby.

As a woman, pregnancy means a baby.  When you see the plus sign on the test, you don't think of cells, and science.  You think of a beating heart, and little fingers and toes, giving birth and holding that child for the first time.  Especially being a mother already.  I don't think of a fetus...I think of Jack...of Cole...of Benji.  Your mind instantly goes into mothering mode of making sure you're taking vitamins, drinking plenty of water, getting enough rest.  You try to eat the right things, stay away from the foods you shouldn't eat, no drinking, no tanning beds, no x-rays.  It's ingrained in being a mother and it's immediate.  The word "mommy" is parallel to putting someone else's needs above your own.  It's protection.  It's sacrifice and complete commitment to seeing your child thrive.  But...it was out of my control.  My child's life rested in God's hands only, and to be honest, that didn't feel secure enough.  I know God is capable and is in control...but, I also have mother's intuition, and I already knew the fate that was awaiting me.

We had an ultrasound the next week, by that time I'd already started bleeding and ended up in the ER the day before.  The ultrasound showed a heartbeat in the 70's...my baby was dying.  The bleeding was getting heavier and heavier and the doctor scheduled a D&C for the next day.  I came home that afternoon and sat in my chair in the den and stared out the window for two hours.  Tears spilled out of my eyes, but my face was emotionless.  It was tears of anger and a sorrow that washed over my soul.  I was grieving a baby that I didn't want to begin with...but now, I wanted more than ever.  The guilt of my selfishness ate me alive.  I felt like God was punishing me for being unhappy about the gift of an unexpected pregnancy.  I know in my heart this isn't true.  God doesn't punish...he isn't angry with me.  But, I was angry with myself, and I felt like I deserved this.  I've battled with these emotions since then.  And though I'm making progress in dealing with this, if I let my mind run away with one little, nagging voice, it can come creeping back and distort my view of reality once again.  

I don't know what to make of it...why God let this happen.  Is He trying to teach me something?  Is He showing this perfectionist once again, that really nothing am I in control of?  Is he leading me towards a calling I don't have, yet?  Is He wanting me to use this experience to minister to somebody going through the same thing?  I haven't figured it out...and...I guess I don't need to.  He's calling me out onto the waters to trust in Him in every situation.  All I can do is keep my eyes above the waves.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Unexpected Wake Up Calls

This morning, I'm thankful for unexpected wake up calls.  I was abruptly woken up this morning by a five year old boy who chose 6am to be the perfect time to poop.  Of course, this had to be done in my bathroom.  He sat and swung his legs and sang a couple songs.  He made all sorts of sound effects with his mouth as only little boys can do:  I heard trains, race cars, rockets, explosions, etc.  He came up with a story line and characters and played out the scenario of a "bad guy" trying to outrun a police man in his fast sports car.  This went on for nearly half an hour before he hollered, "MOM-MYYYYY, I'm done!" This really means, "Mommy, come walk into this bathroom that smells like death to find all the toilet paper rolled out on the floor, and wipe my bottom."  While holding my breath and rushing out to breathe again and wash my hands, I realized that this moment is precious.  You may think I'm crazy, but these kind of moments make me smile.  I mean, how long will I be able to catch moments like this when he thinks I'm not listening...when he sings like he's totally forgotten that anyone else in the world exists...when he can make all the little sound effects.  These moments don't last forever.  These little boys grow up...

and stop needing you to wipe their bottoms.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

She's Finally Home

Mimi finally got to go home and be with Jesus early this morning.  It's been a long time coming, and something she's yearned for asked about often.  Today, we're celebrating her life and what a pillar of strength, faith, and beauty she's been to our family.  I keep imagining what she must've been seeing as she met her King face-to-face.  I read this old blog entry over today and remembered a couple summers ago when we stayed with her over the weekend.  I remembered her asking over and over, "When can I go home?" Today...she's home...and I couldn't be happier for her.    

This weekend, my in-laws went out of town. Gary's mother has Alzheimer's and has been living with them for the last six months. Yesterday was my Mother-in-law's birthday and Gary wanted to take her away for a couple days to go fishing and relax. We have had the joy of spending the last two days caring for Mimi. I say joy because in these last twelve hours I've reflected on what's really important in life. I've been watching her: sit in her favorite chair and pick at her nails, and drift into and out of her own little world. Every now and then she comes back to us and carries on a conversation. Even though she repeats the same things over and over, I never grow tired of hearing stories of her childhood. Stories of living on a farm in Calvin, Oklahoma. She is a hard worker and has led quite a life. The wrinkles in her face seem to tell her story. She's a stubborn woman...stubborn in a good way. She's having a hard time letting go of her independence even though she seems to know she's not quite capable of keeping it up anymore. One thing seems to make her happy and that's the boys. Whenever they are around, she smiles and laughs and tells them what good boys they are. She doesn't seem bothered by their orneriness. She'll smile and say, "That's what little boys are supposed to do."

I worked in an Alzheimer's unit at a nursing home in college. I was a Nurses Assistant and the Activities Director. This disease has baffled me for quite some time. It's heart-wrenching to see someone revert back to child-like tendencies, to wander around aimlessly wondering what to do with themselves. Last night, she must've asked us where Gary and Gloria were four times. She seemed to get a glimmer in her eye when she asked, "So, I'm here alone this evening?" I had to explain to her that Jon and I were spending the night here too so she wasn't quite alone. Her face dropped and she closed her eyes. "I can stay by myself. I'll be just fine. So, you now have the burden of babysitting me, do you?"

"No, Mimi...we have the joy of spending time with you. You are NOT a burden." I put my hand on top of hers and her chin started to quiver. "I don't want to be a burden." My heart breaks for her. I'm holding back tears as we discuss how she just wants to go home. She tells me that she wants to go to her house and sit in her spot on her couch and be alone with her things. There's something comforting to us about "home". We learn this early in our lives that it's a place of solace, peace, a place where you feel at ease. I want her to be at ease.

We continue to talk a while and finally around 7:30, she tells me she's headed to bed. This morning she seems refreshed and ready to start over again. I know the same questions will happen today just as they did yesterday.

It made me think how this earth is not our home. Our home is with our Heavenly Father. It makes me long for Heaven. So, today I'm thankful for simple things. I'm thankful for health, for my independence, for a roof over my head. I'm thankful for my children and the innocence and joy that only children can bring. I'm thankful for being able to pick veggies out of the garden this morning and the sun that beats down on my back. I'm thankful for the cool relief from the swimming pool. I'm thankful for my mid-afternoon nap that I'll take. I'm thankful for my dog to keep me company. I'm thankful for good memories I have. I'm thankful for Mimi. I'm thankful for what joy she has brought to our family and lessons that she still teaches me today...whether she realizes it or not. Her worth is invaluable to me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's Been A Long Time

It's been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, time...since my last blog post, I mean.
I've been thinking about it for months now.  I've been wishing I had more time, telling myself that I'll do it tonight instead of watching TV, or doing laundry.  Having that third child has rocked my world.  Rocked. My. World.  Bravo, to all you moms who juggle four, five, six, etc.  I bow before you, like Wayne and Garth, and say..."We're not worthy, We're not worthy, We're not worthy, We suck!" (Only us kids who grew up in the 80's/90's will get that one).
Anyway, about 11 months ago, I "grounded" myself from blogging.  I did this because I simply cannot do everything.  CAN-NOT.  I am NOT every woman.  It's NOT all in me.  Anything, you want done, baby.  I do NOT do it, naturally. (Again, I'm dating myself).  Anyway, it's been a struggle for me.  I can't juggle it all-kids, laundry, carpooling, cleaning house, grocery shopping, meal-planning, breast-feeding, cooking, organizer, home-renovator,....there's summer Pinterest activities with the kids during the day, 'sex-kitten' to my husband at night (Sorry, dad), bible study, working the church nursery every Sunday morning, making a meal for the person who recently had a baby...or a surgery...or moved.  At the end of the day, I felt like a failure.  I had good intentions, but I'm only one person, and at some point, I've got to make myself believe that Martha Stewart has an entire entourage of staff who clean her house, and create that amazing garden, and label everything with a label-maker, get the permanent marker stain off her favorite shirt using only "green and organic" solutions that she makes herself, polish silverware, do yoga and "juice",  cooks the best roasted leg of lamb, and hand makes origami place cards for the Thanksgiving table.
I couldn't keep up with it all, and something had to go...so naturally, I punished myself and took away the two things I enjoy most: working out, and writing. Okay, maybe not the the working out.  I mean, I didn't take it away.....as in,...I don't...workout, that is.  I haven't since 2011, maybe 2010, I can't remember, and that's the honest truth.  But, I sacrificed the thing I did for me.  Blogging became something that I told myself I could make time for again, when I got the swing of balancing things better.
But...over these last few months, you know what?  I haven't really made any drastic improvements in managing it well.  It's still a struggle for me...and, that feels like death to a "Type-A" personality, but I really don't see things getting easier any time soon.  My life is not going to slow down in the near future.  Actually, until the boys go off to college, it's only going to get crazier, and more stressful, and more balls will be thrown at me to juggle (That sounds dirty... sorry, I live with four guys, and a male dog.  Naturally, there's a lot of "ball" humor at my house.)
So, I've decided, that once again, my idea of a "good" mother/wife, will have to change.  It will have to include something for me.  I don't want my children to one day leave my nest, and find myself wondering, "Who am I? Who are you, Steph? What are you about? What are your dreams and ambitions? What do you enjoy?"
So, since I've added blogging back onto my list of what's important, I guess something I'll have to sacrifice something else...like perfection.