Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Free Moment

My husband took our little guy for the day so I could have a bit of down time, as well as a big chunk of time to clean our very dirty home. Our son has recently decided he cannot sleep without his mother, and that he has no need of sleep until very late. That means no down time for me, and no time to clean without him around. So this day alone is a gift. Our friends from South Africa arrived safely last weekend, and their guys and my guys are hiking today whilst I enjoy the quiet.

I have recently discovered the joys of Nutella, so that will be on the menu for today. And if I can get out of my pajamas (the perfect cleaning uniform), I may even treat myself to a meal out all by myself. Or maybe a nap. Yes, a nap sounds lovely.

I have nothing deep to share, but wanted to pop in and say hello. Since making my other blog more private, I feel like I should at least write a bit more over here. But honestly, this season of life has me rather protective of myself, wanting to keep my heart and mind safely tucked away from view. But maybe, one day, I'll feel like sharing again. Or maybe I'll find a fun writing contest to enter, which will give me an excuse to post here.

Blessings to the 2.5 people who read this (if that many). =) I'm off to go clean with my remaining four hours of freedom.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just Some Updates - Happy and Sad

* The hospital meeting went well. I look forward to hearing their conclusions, and to seeing what tangible things they offer. They said my story was "compelling", that I was "eloquent" and "articulate and clear", among other encouraging things.

* I have an appointment at a major hospital in Vancouver for some tests to help the surgeon know what to do, and another one coming up to help me process some of the emotional aftermath of all of this.

*The head of the hospital where I delivered is going to contact the Vancouver area surgeon to see if there is any way to speed up my surgery and get me healed faster.

*My youngest brother and his wife lost a baby girl this weekend. Their full term baby girl was delivered yesterday. We are all heartbroken and heartsick. There is nothing to say. So many questions and wonderings. So much pain. And there are three little kiddos who have no concept and will never know their baby sister this side of eternity.

*The "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" organization is very much worth your support. I have read about them on many blogs of women who have lost children, and they stepped in and recorded some precious memories for the few moments my brother and sister-in-law had with their little baby girl.

*Based upon some of my discussions with physiotherapists (physical therapists for you Americans) and with the hospital heads, I think that becoming a type of advocate may be in my future. A passion for gently educating women about their options for everything from continence therapy to post trauma issues is something forming in my heart and mind.

*Finally, I'm so ready for this world to be made new again. This Fall stuff is too hard to bear most days. Literally. The Fall even impacted the bears. We've had a rogue bear making meals out of our son's diapers lately, destroying a 4'x4' garbage shed with two locks, tearing the doors off the hinges. I'm ready for Narnia bears that are good. Do you think Heaven will have those? That would be fun.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Learning To Be A Brave Advocate

The news arrived today that some top folks at the hospital have agreed to meet with me to hear our story. It will happen in a couple of weeks.

My goal is not only to get my story heard and to find some sort of resolution to our issues, but to advocate for all women whose choices are removed and who are injured when protocol is not followed. I'm new at this and am planning and preparing a ton so that my presentation is clear, concise, and professional.

Cheer me on and hope with me for justice and the right things to be done!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Is This How It Is With Us & God?

So my son is teething. His top front teeth have been trying to come through for some weeks now, but despite hugely swollen gums, nothing else is happening. He's in a lot of pain, and that combined with his hesitation to sleep when he'd rather be spinning around in circles, made for a rough bedtime routine tonight.

I fed him, gave him pain meds, read to him, rocked him, and nursed him before laying him down the first time. He cried and cried and cried. And these cries were not angry ones, but pitiful and frightened ones. So after a few minutes, I went and got him. And rocked him and tried to nurse some more. He wasn't having it, but wanted to play, so back to bed he went so I could eat sushi with my husband. (Oh My Goodness, that was wonderful. Of course, we didn't get anything that had raw meat in it. Everything he chose was cooked for my sake.)

Grasshopper cried solidly and again they were not angry cries, but ones that let me know he really needed me. So we dimmed the kitchen lights and went and got him, taking turns holding him so we could eat. But when I was finished and went to rock him, he just wanted to move all over the place like a squirmy worm. I knew he was so tired and desperately needed sleep, and that if he would just relax and stop turning circles in my arms that he would go right to sleep. But he wouldn't, so back to bed he went as there was nothing he would let me do for him.

Finally, his cries were getting totally frantic and I could tell from the volume that he was now standing in his crib, facing the doorway. He needed me. So I turned off the living room lights, went and got him, and then came back and rocked him.

This time he was ready. He melted into my chest under his flannel blanket, sucking his thumb contentedly. Awhile later, I could feel the slow, even cadence of his breathing, letting me know he was ready to curl up in his crib by himself. He practically melted into his crib mattress too, curled up in a little ball before sprawling out on his tummy as I covered him with his blankets.

And it hit me. Am I like that with God? Does God know that I desperately need His comfort and rest, and want me to just melt into His lap so that He can give those things to me? But instead, I spend my time turning in circles, looking to other people and things for comfort, calling this person and that person never satisfied that anyone really understands me, doing a bit of retail therapy we really cannot afford, eating chocolate anything not thinking of how it will show on the outside of my body, refusing to just settle down with His Word in the quiet of my home. And I wonder at my unhappiness and unsettledness, confused and surprised that nothing is making me feel better. But then desperation sets in and I run to Him with overwhelming emotions, throwing myself headlong into His mercy.

Before I know it, I'm passed out in the rest and comfort He gives, finding my tense muscles melting into the original supple way He designed them to be. And I realize that this could have happened much sooner had I only run to Him first and let Him be my comforter.

And I wonder, does God see me as I see Grasshopper?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


There are a lot of things conspiring to get me to just give up. But today I decided something after being disappointed by an expert for the millionth time this month.

I am going to fight. I am going to be valiant. I am going to write my own story with the ending I want. Sure, I cannot heal my broken body on my own. But I can make other important decisions that shape me as a woman, a wife, and a mother. And I am going to listen to my Father God and use the wisdom and the heart He gave me. And I will decide. I will write a good story. And there will not be a victim in it anywhere. Just a good and true and valiant woman striving to love her God, herself, and her loved ones well. Fighting for justice, for healing, and for hope.

I am tired. But I am determined. Once again. At the end of my rope. But still hanging on.

If you want to hang on with me, as I know some of you have expressed, I'd be glad for the company. There's always room at the end of this rope for another hand or two to grip alongside mine.

Yes, this story is growing longer than I ever wanted. But it's good to be reminded that I am the author and I get to do the writing, even if I can't control all the characters. So this redheaded author is going to write a good story with a good ending. Even if it takes a million pages.

Sorry For The Quiet

It's been a little busy over here. A sick babe, multiple physical therapy and surgical and other medical appointments for the mama, guests from out of town, trying to find real help for the mama, and the usual tasks of life have kept me quiet. I'll write again soon.

In the meantime I'll leave you with this....

When a person is in need and you have a friendship with them and some ability to act (working hands, a working mouth, working feet, whatever), don't just offer words of solace or prayers, DO SOMETHING PRACTICAL AND TANGIBLE to let them know they are not alone in the world.

I would love it if some human out there could be that for me. But my prospects look grim. See to it that those in your life have better looking prospects today. =) A grateful redhead thanks you for making the world a less lonely place.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Well then...

I'd like to get on here and say that life is wonderful. In reality, it is very hard.

British Columbia has no money for healthcare until next year. That means only a miracle will get me in for surgery before the new year. We're looking into paying for it, even though we really cannot afford it. We have a tiny bit in savings - for an emergency or for the beginnings of a down payment on a house. But I don't think I can keep going on living unless I get my body fixed.

No one seems to want to advocate for me, and I am learning how to work the rules of this crazy Canadian system. Socialism works if the government isn't broke. When it runs out of money, a screen door on a submarine is more effective at keeping out water than socialized medicine is at taking care of people.

I am low. I've cried out for help. But there really isn't much anyone can do. And people are tired of trying.

I am numb. Because really, if I allowed myself to feel what I'm feeling to its fullness, I would probably not make it.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Life is very hard right now, and I'm thinking that the only thing at the end of this tunnel is probably an oncoming train.

Don't you just love my optimism? Yeah. Me too.

Monday, July 13, 2009

And This Was Going To Be A Long Post

But my dear son is grumbling in his cradle, apparently only wanting to nap on me today. Ah, he will sleep when he's 18. Until then....well, at least he's cute. Here you go...

Friday, July 3, 2009


Today is my birthday. I am 35. When I was a kid, I remember my brother and I having a conversation about how 35 was middle aged. Now that seems funny to me because I'm pretty sure 50 is the new middle aged, and I still feel like a kid who is playing "dress up" and "house".

It's weird to think about, but now that I'm a mom, I've discovered that it's okay to do work on your birthday. And now that I'm a wife, I've discovered that it's okay to cook your own birthday dinner and make your own birthday pie or cheesecake. Granted, we aren't celebrating until next weekend due to other scheduling commitments. But today I found myself doing dishes and laundry as if it were any normal day. Temporarily gone are the days when I lounged around all day and acted like a princess with no duties other than reading a book and eating chocolate. Things like nursing and changing diapers don't stop just because someone is turning middle aged. =)

I've been totally blessed today. My husband left me a special e-card on my computer to find this morning. A friend of mine - who just had her second child mere days ago! - called and left a sweet message and then took time to talk later. A blogging friend sent me chocolate and the coolest diaper clutch ever. The border wait was very long and hot, but despite bringing enough goods back into Canada that they could have charged me duty, they let me pass without a comment (and they were nice, which isn't always the case). My brother closest to me in age called me. And my parents are soon to be sending me a refurbished Mac to replace my aging and rather apoplectic one. It will have a built in camera so we can more easily stay connected and they can see Grasshopper's growth and latest accomplishments. And because it hasn't been dropped twice (and Lord willing, won't be), its battery will actually work without having to be plugged in all the time.

So I'm feeling loved. Now, if the cheesecake recipe I've dreamt up from my imagination turns out when I make it sometime in the next day or two, it will be perfect. (I'll let you know if it turns out. I have this vanilla/strawberry/ganache idea going on, and I think I know how to pull it off.)

But I do have a question. Does a person ever feel like a grown-up? Do they ever feel like they have a right to be sitting with adults and conversing with them as if they belonged there? I'm just wondering, because I still feel so strange in that one aspect of my life. An incredibly responsible nine year old who loves my baby spent the day with me this week to help out, and she plans to spend a day each week this summer spending time with Grasshopper so I can get work done around the house. I remember when I was her age or a little older, doing the same thing for a lady named Winona, among others I begged to allow me to help. The women who allowed me to do that are the reason I was totally fine with babycare for Grasshopper from the very beginning. They invested in my life, teaching me so much. I only hope that I was a blessing to them. It seems so surreal that now I'm the grown-up, investing in a child's life, helping her become a capable and skilled babysitter.

Anyway, that's my burning question. Do we ever grow up? Do we ever feel grown up? And is it a bad thing if we don't feel that way? I mean, is this like some sign that I've got some deep seated therapy-needing issues to work through? =) Is it possible to feel mature and be young at heart? And why is it that I feel less mature at 35 than I did at 19? Just wondering.

So this isn't a brilliant post or anything, but I just wanted to record today that I feel blessed. I am so totally imperfect and disappoint people (namely my husband) almost daily. And yet, people (especially my husband) love me and delight in me. There is a little boy sleeping in a cradle who will one day figure out how to call me mama, and he smiles a unique smile just for me. There is chocolate in my pantry and a cheesecake in my future. Yes, I am blessed. If I counted all the blessings of these 35 years, you would be reading a very long book. Life has been hard at times (even now), but it has also been very good (even now).

In other news, I survived a special test a couple days ago that involved me drinking copious amounts of really gross barium and having an IV. Hopefully, it will help the surgeon see the path of the fistula. And then we just wait to hear when I get to have my turn having surgery. It will probably be at least a two-step surgery, and I'll probably still have to see another specialist for another birth injury issue that is currently putting a serious cramp in my outdoor loving style. It's going to be a long road, but I'm hoping to be able to celebrate next year's birthday at the beach with no fear of infection or having to have indoor plumbing within a few yards walk. And hopefully, my body will one day be healed enough that we can give Grasshopper a sibling. I'm hanging in there. There are days when I fall apart, but this week has mercifully been devoid of any of those despairing moments. And for that, I am so very thankful.

Happy late Canada Day. Happy early Independence Day. =)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When The News Feels Real And Close

My husband and I were talking tonight about an NGO we support. Lately, they have hired a new president who has changed the focus and tone of the organization in a way that we feel is less than positive. We had talked about dropping our support to put it towards another organization that helped in a way that matches what we care most about, but then decided first to call to see if someone would first meet with us to perhaps cast their new vision or tell us if their original vision really is gone for good. So we'll be meeting with a great guy who writes incredible letters to supporters next month when he comes to our house for dinner.

But what brings that all to mind is how we were talking about this NGO's new focus of straight relief work, and how the new president likes to quote numbers of those lost in natural disasters and damages in terms of dollars. We talked about how that no longer really touches us because it is so prevalent on the news.

Such and such a place had a hurricane and hundreds of people died? So what. That happened just last year somewhere nearby, didn't it? That country had an earthquake and thousands are dead or homeless? So what. Earthquakes are always happening, and poor people are always losing their homes to some natural disaster.

That is unfortunately our unconscious response a lot of times because we have all been deadened to the shock and reality simply because we are inundated with it through all types of media. Nothing touches us anymore. Or does it?

My Bohemian Midwife friend knows what it is like to hear a news story and have it touch the core of her own heart, to cause such agony of soul that sleep and peace are lost in the midst of the grief and helplessness caused by being thousands of miles removed and unable to do anything.

Did you hear about the murders in Yemen? Did you know that those nine people were real people with senses of humor, real heart, real lives, real conversations, real dreams, real families, and real stories? Did you know that they spent their time saving lives every single day in a rather ill equipped hospital, and simply went out for a picnic together, never suspecting that they would soon be murdered? In that group, a family of five is lost forever. Can you imagine?

For the first time in a long time, a news item on the media has finally touched my heart. But only because I know my friend is grieving a deep loss.

It makes me realize how careful I must be not to stay permanently desensitized, and it also cautions me against making sweeping decisions about where my money and help go without first talking firsthand to those in the trenches. We need to know the stories, to know the people, to connect heart to heart.

Don't know if this makes sense or not, but it's something I wanted to put out there, mainly for my own benefit to remember.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

For Our Favorite UK Housewife

I got tagged. I don't usually do these, but since I really like visiting over at my favorite UK Housewife's blog found through my cousin's blog, I thought I'd cooperate with her kind request to play a game of tag. Fortunately, it doesn't involve real running, so I don't have to worry about various organs falling out of me. Ah, the lovely side effects of giving birth. But I digress. Onto the game....

What is your current obsession?
I'm not really obsessive, but as for something I REALLY like, well, it might be those miniature seedless watermelons.

What is your weirdest obsession?
Again, I'm not obsessive, but my weirdest habit might be melting chocolate chips to have as dip for Granny Smith apples. In my twisted way of thinking, the fruit justifies the chocolate.

What are you wearing today?
Gray crop athletic pants, a white nursing tank, and the most adorable light pink short sleeved top. Someone once told me redheads weren't allowed to wear pink. I've recently discovered all over again that I LOVE pink, and so I'm forgetting that someone ever told me pink wasn't for me.

What's for dinner?
The most amazing and kind sister of a friend of ours came over and spent her whole day cooking in my kitchen and taking care of Grasshopper so I could do some chores. She made a delectable vegetarian chili that had butternut squash in it. It was so yummy, and I had two servings topped with fresh cilantro and shredded cheese, along with a slice of my own homemade whole wheat toast. I had only met this woman once before, and she lives four hours away. But she spent all that time to come here, and she not only cooked, but she stocked my frig and freezer with fruits and veggies, and even gave me some special products known for their healing properties. What a gift, and what a yummy dinner. She was such a blessing to have in our home, such a calming and sweet presence.

What would you eat for your last meal?
Salmon with a marinade of sundried tomatoes, garlic, and parsley; roasted root veggies, grilled green veggies, and homemade rosemary focaccia, with chocolate torte and homemade mango sorbet for dessert.

What's the last thing you bought?
Living butter lettuce and a huge artichoke.

What are you listening to right now?
The sweet silence left after my child finally stopped crying. He's past the point of going to sleep, and so he's been sobbing with exhaustion, but can't seem to give up and sleep. But the silence tells me maybe it finally happened. Thankfully, his daddy has been with him during this time, so I could have a bit of a break. (We don't leave him to cry like that alone, thinking that is horrid.)

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
I really love and miss Baskin Robbins chocolate fudge.

What do you think of the person who tagged you?
I am so glad to have "met" her through my cousin's blog. She makes the world a better place because of how she lives out her beliefs and what is in her heart. And I wish so many good blessings for her.

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
Somewhere in BC with a view of a mountain and water, preferably the Pacific. But then again, I like snow, so it would probably have to be a bit away from the Pacific. And ideally, it would be on a plot of about 40 acres, complete with forest, orchard, garden, and horse barn.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
The Caribbean or maybe Hawaii. I long for a beach.

Which language do you want to learn?
As a future Canadian, it would behoove me to speak French. My husband keeps trying to teach me, but I'm woefully incompetent at forming the sounds properly. And because there are so many East Indians here, perhaps it would be good to learn Farsi or whatever it is they speak.

What's your favorite quote (for now)?
Eugene O’Neill has written: "Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is the glue.”

What is your favorite color?
Purple and light pink. (How girly am I?!)

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
It's a toss up between this very pretty ocean blue layered skirt I bought the other day and my wedding shoes - crocheted espadrilles wit ankle ties that I actually still wear on special occasions.

What is your dream job?
A novelist and non-fiction author writing under a pseudonym.

What is your worst habit?
I am terrible about putting laundry away and keeping an uncluttered home. This really needs to be fixed.

If you had £100 now, what would you spend it on?
Can a woman buy sleep? Okay, clothes and shoes.

Do you admire any one's style?
The 50-something director of women's ministries at my church has amazing style. (It's funny that I was once shocked by that same style, but now I love it and wish she could take me shopping. And I kind of wish I could pull of the diamond nose ring too.)

Describe your personal style?
Classic, washable, feminine, with a penchant for outdoor technical clothing and the odd flirty skirt.

What are you going to do after this?
Sleep until the next nursing session.

What are your favorite movies?
Pride and Prejudice (A&E), Anne of Green Gables

What is your favorite fruit?
Fresh picked raspberries.

What inspires you?
I'm going to keep what our UK housewife said:"good honest people who dare to live the way we all should".

Your favorite book?
Currently it is: God and I by Lewis Smedes.

Do you collect something?
Books and sweaters.

What is your favorite smell?
Lilacs and my baby.

What is your fave HGTV show?
I don't have a television, but I used to enjoy Design on a Dime.

Okay, that was fun. Now onto see about getting some sleep before the wee one wants to nurse.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sabbatical of Sorts

In an ideal world, someone would offer to pay me to go on Sabbatical, where I would spend my time reading, writing, traveling, and touring.

But in my world, which is not even close to ideal, my time is spent taking care of a baby and waiting for him to sleep deeply enough so I can either shower or attend to chores. My world also involves dealing with waiting for doctors and hospitals who can't make up their little minds and keep throwing curve balls, a baby whose tummy hurts because of some meds he's on to cure the rattling in his chest, and other messes too hard to relate. So in my less than ideal world there is a need for me to retreat and just be in my little home, disconnected from everything else.

So I'm taking a break. I don't know how long. Heck, I don't even know if I'll be on sabbatical tomorrow. Maybe I'll wake up and suddenly find I have something to say that can actually be put in print. But until that happens, I'm going to just be quiet for awhile. I'll still probably visit my favorite blogs, and may even comment there. But here I'll just be quiet. I need that right now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hanging In There

I haven't had much lately to write about. Well, it hasn't been possible to write about a lot of it. But suffice it to say, we are hanging in there.

For a week, I had the most beautiful respite from pain, and I walked and shopped and lived like an almost ordinary woman. But this morning, that respite came to an end, and now I am once again moving with slowness and pushing forward with courage. I'm disappointed that the pain would come today, of all days, for Grace is coming to visit for a week and she arrives tonight. I have much to do to prepare for her arrival, but instead I'm resting on the couch while the pain meds kick in, and praying my little guy doesn't need to nurse until the highest concentration of the drug in my milk passes. But despite my disappointment, I'm not growing bitter. The credit for that is not owed to me. It's really a God thing, a faith thing, if you will.

One thing I'd like to learn through all of this is how to keep close to Jesus even when my pain levels are good and my mind and body can focus on just enjoying life. I think it is too easy to get through the easy times of life without thinking about the One who enables it all in the first place. It's when we are in pain, when our hearts or bodies are in agony, that we remember to cry out for help. But if God really wants to be personal with us, if He really wants to have a friendship of sorts with us, then surely He wants us to hang out with Him on the good days as well as the bad. It's hard to explain, but it's a lesson I'd like to really and truly grasp.

One thing I am learning in this is how much the human spirit grows during adversity, and how much beauty can come out of it when the human spirit determines to act with courage and grace instead of with whining and a sense of entitlement. For most of my life, I've actually responded to crises in the latter way. But for the first time, I'm somehow finding my responses mirroring the former way. It's refreshing and exciting, truth be told. But I can't get all prideful about it, because anything good coming out of me right now, really isn't from me. It's really a God thing. If I were left to my own devices, I'd be looking and sounding a lot like Eeyore.

Another thing I'm learning is how to savor the moments of life that are good and enjoyable, and how to treasure even the most mundane of abilities. I like that, for it's actually helping me understand and see others in a more true light. When I see an elderly woman walking through the grocery store, I now can see how it is no simple thing that she is walking on her own. And when I see a new mom, I know what it means for her to be walking around as well. Does that make sense? It's hard to articulate exactly what I mean here. (The pain meds are kicking in after all, so my vocabulary is going the way of clear thinking for the next few hours.)

In other news, Grasshopper too is hanging in there. He has had a bad cold for a week now, and the little guy is coughing and congested in a miserable way. He shared his cold with me last week, but I recovered for the most part by Sunday. He is still struggling though. I believe in large part it's because he is too young to take Oil of Oregano and I am not. I took it a few times each day during the time I was sick, and it seemed to help. But wee babes cannot take such potent stuff, especially because they don't test natural remedies for safety in infants. It sounds crazy, but Oil of Oregano is pretty much the main reason my getting a cold no longer means it will develop into a sinus infection requiring antibiotics. I really do believe in the stuff.

But because Grasshopper has had the cold for eight days now, and because his cough seemed to be moving deeper into his chest, I did take him to our doctor. When I called first thing this morning there were no appointments available, and my only option was to wait for the afternoon when our doctor was serving as the walk-in clinic physician. When I arrived just moments before the afternoon walk-in clinic hours were to begin, there was already a two hour wait to be seen. But when I arrived, there was also a blessing waiting for us.

Our doctor was actually standing there speaking with the receptionist. So I said, "We are here to get in line to see this guy (pointing to our doctor), so Grasshopper can be seen." That is when the receptionist said there would be a minimum of a two hour wait. So I said, "Sure. Can I give you our name to get us in line, and then come back in awhile?" And that's when the heavens opened and angels started singing. Well, not actually. What really happened is that our doctor looked at us with a smile and said, "Why don't you just come on back right now?" And with that, Grasshopper got his lungs checked out and was given the all clear. It's just a cold that he will keep on fighting, but he fortunately doesn't appear to need medicine or other intervention.

So from the time I pulled into the parking lot to the time I pulled out of it, we were there for 15 minutes. What a total blessing, especially on a day such as today. Our family doctor really is a gem, and his heart is full of compassion. He and I may not see eye to eye on the treatment of infant colic/GERD, but I trust him and appreciate him very much. And for a mama with a painful fistula flare up, today I appreciate him even more.

I am going to rest while Grasshopper is still asleep. Perhaps I'll soon be able to put up some recent pictures of the sweet little guy. For now, the one bright side to this flare up is that the specialist will have something to see on Friday if I really do get to have that appointment I've been waiting for these past six weeks. I was beginning to think he would not have much to look at, but if today is any indication, he will have something to occupy his time. I just hope he can fix me soon. I've given up hope that I'll get to climb or take a trip to the ocean for wading this summer, and I've begun to let go of my expectation that I'll have any normalcy this year. But I do hope to have health soon enough, to make up for all the months I am losing because of these crazy childbirth injuries. The one promise I hold onto with full hope and joy is the one where God promises to restore the years the locusts have eaten. If He could do that for countless folks in the Bible, He can do that for a short redhead who wants to get back to a life of climbing, being a wife, and being an energetic mama. I just know He can.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Now We're Cooking With Grams

I have recently fallen in love with some cookbooks from the library. I even ordered my own copy of Nigella Lawson's Feast off of, for the wonderfully low price of $4 and some change. (Ooh, and I found a piece of fiction from Arthur Quiller Couch in the UK that is being mailed to me quite soon. I am so excited. I imagined myself becoming another Helene Hanff, writing letters to some book shop owner in England. But that is a rabbit trail for another day.)

Nigella Lawson uses measurements that this American girl only studied in chemistry or some such science course at some point many moons ago. My doctor's wife is a friend of mine, and she is from England. So I ask her lots of questions about measurements and what certain terms mean like caster sugar and double cream and golden syrup. It's quite fun to learn.

But now it is time for me to break down and buy a scale that uses grams, ounces, and pounds/kilograms. So if anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

Yesterday, my son cooperated fairly well to enable me to bake a blueberry coffee crumb cake for my husband. He loves it, but as it uses 3/4 of a pound of butter, I am loathe to make it very often. It turned out to be a good idea because my husband had completed a hard day at work where he made a rather costly mistake. He was bummed and needed reminding that he really is a skilled and diligent carpenter, not to mention the most wonderfully handsome mountain man and gifted outdoor educator I know.

The coffee crumb cake recipe is from the King Arthur Flour Company, and I add a cup of blueberries and 1.5 pints of homemade blueberry jam in between the cake and crumb layer. (Using jam as filling for cakes of any kind is a great way to empty the pantry of homemade preserves before a new season of berrying begins.) It was inspired by a treat we used to buy from a bakery across the river. I got it into my head to figure out a way to make it myself. The dessert isn't the cheapest to make because of all that butter, but it is decidedly cheaper when you compare it to buying the individual pieces from the bakery. It makes a huge lot, which I cut in pieces and vacuum seal to freeze for a later time when the babe isn't wanting to let his mama bake.

Ah, I love being creative in the kitchen. It is so fun to tweak recipes, change up leftovers to make them into a whole new dish, and come up with my own concoctions. Last week's success was a chocolate pudding cake from How It All Vegan that I tweaked by adding Morello cherries, cherry juice for half of the boiling water, and a bit of coconut. We won't talk about last week's failure of beef enchiladas with salsa verde. Who knew you needed to saute the onions and garlic before baking?!

Anyway, the babe is asleep after keeping us up all night, and I am thinking once again about making something special in the kitchen while he cooperates by staying in his cradle. It is quite the challenge to cook and create when a little one is wanting to be held or fed or talked to. That is one hard balance I am learning to keep, which currently means late suppers and a rather messy house. But it will get better. They go to college eventually, right? =)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Four Months, Two Weeks

My baby will be four months old this Thursday. The time is flying by, and I am loving motherhood even though I'm rather limited in what I can physically do. I saw an eight day old baby today who weighed a full pound and a half more at his birth than my baby at birth, and yet he still looked so tiny. Can my baby really have been that teensy? Those days were such a fog of pain that I barely remember life with my babe, and we didn't really take any photos until my parents arrived one week later. Ah, experienced parents were right. Time really does fly when they are wee ones.

In two weeks, I'll be off to see the specialist. I admit to being afraid of the exam and of what he may say about surgery and wait times. While I've been through the exam before and I know I will not die even though it will be very painful, I am still fearful. But hopefully, my courage will rise to the occasion when the time comes, and I will gut it out once more with aplomb. It really amazes me how my courage is growing through this. I am such a fearful wimp when it comes to needles, drugs, doctors, and hospitals. But those things are becoming old hat, and I'm getting braver as the days go by.

I am ready to be better. Someone told me today that she saw a long road ahead of me in the healing department. I am hoping she is wrong. It's already been a long road, and I'd really like it to come to an abrupt conclusion with a suddenly healed fistula. I don't care how that happens - a miracle from Jesus, a surgical procedure by a competent colorectal specialist, or a fairy godmother with a medically inclined magic wand. (Okay, so the last option is pretty fictional as far as I know.) I just want to be better so that pain will be a thing of the past, being a wife and active mommy will be a thing of the present, and climbing will be in my future.

If you don't know what fistula is, I encourage you to google it. And then I encourage you to read up on the stories of women in developing nations who suffer these on a regular basis. If anything, my future may include supporting or helping NGO's that help women in Africa find healing from fistulas. If I thought my life was difficult from mine, their lives are far more challenging.

Finally, I was sharing with someone today that I feel like my life has been on hold for four months, and that it will remain on hold until all of my injuries are resolved. (And there may be other issues needing surgery after the fistula. I discovered some rather prolapsed body parts during a brief jog to the car the other day. Really, a woman should never feel like she's about to drop an organ like a chicken drops an egg while she's running.) And though I hate feeling like my life has been on hold and I'm impatient for it to get back to normal, I am learning a great deal. I've never been able to read books about the holocaust before now because the sense of suffering was too overwhelming for me. But now, I've read seven books on the subject, and have been helped by some of the stories I've read of women who found their lives on hold due to long stints in concentration camps. I've watched as they continued to live, and I want to be able to do the same once this time of suffering has passed. And like the women in the stories I've been reading, I also want to adequately grieve and forgive and move on when the time is right. I don't want to be bitter or focused on this hard experience as all negative. I've met far too many women on a birth board who sound like bitter old hags harping about their negative birth experience. My precious baby is worth too much to have me act like that. He needs a mama who can find the good in this hard time, and he needs a mama who can model peace and quiet joy even in sorrow and suffering.

If anything has occurred to me during these past four months it is this: it is possible for courage, beauty, and good fruit to come out of suffering and trauma, and that possibility is only dependent on my attitude. We may not get to control this life as we'd like, but we can make it a positive experience even during hard, unfair, painful times. I can't really articulate that as I'd like, but it's a work in progress, as am I.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Glorious Naptime

My baby is napping. He did not nap yesterday for any real length of time thanks to various interruptions into our peaceful little world. So last night and today he is seemingly making up for it. While I should be showering and getting into real clothes as it is decidedly past noon, I am instead enjoying reading a few cookbooks borrowed from the library, catching up on blog reading, and just thinking in the quiet of my home.

And this is what I'm thinking....

Are there other women out there who experienced traumatic birth injuries to themselves? Did they also long for a book to read that could identify with their experiences? Did they too wish that someone could really understand them? Did they also go through thinking about suffering, strength, and endurance? Did they too wonder if there were a greater good intended in all of this?

Do I have a book in me? Do I need to have a book in me? Is there a reason? Would anyone else be interested or helped by that kind of thing? Even though there a billions of books about a zillion other subjects out there?

This is what I wonder in the stillness of my home right now. Maybe if the words come I'll write a book. And maybe if it's any good I'll see about sharing it somewhere in some way.

But right now, I'm just thinking about it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Because That Grin Is For Me

I got a new name on January 7, 2009. My name is Mama, sometimes Mommy, or just that woman who has a reason for getting up in the morning with a smile.

I've always wanted to be a mommy. Sometimes I wondered if it would ever happen, or if I'd just be that girl who loved on other people's children. But one day last May, I didn't have to wonder any longer.

As we survived the first trimester of intense sickness, reveled in the wonderfully energetic second trimester, and watched our baby boogie in my womb during the third trimester, we hoped and planned and dreamed big for our little boy. So it was with much excitement and a bit of trepidation that we headed to the hospital to meet the one who had previously only been known to us as "Grasshopper".

When I look back on the labor and delivery, I see God's handprints all over it. My husband's car was in the process of breaking down when I called him to tell him to come home since my water had just broken. He didn't tell me what was happening until later, but a friend of ours just so happened to be driving through that area to our neck of the woods and was able to get him back home without me any the wiser. A nurse who was the mother-in-law of my husband's boss was our primary nurse, and if there was ever a woman meant to be a mothering and nurturing sort of nurse, this woman fit the bill. She was exactly what I needed. My own doctor was working a twelve hour shift at another hospital, but came by afterward when she heard I was still in labor and things were not progressing. And I see God's hand in sustaining the life of my son and my own, even when some medical folks made some poor decisions. Of course, I wouldn't know they were poor decisions until nearly three months later.

When our sweet Grasshopper finally made it out of the womb, his exit via forceps injured me severely. Days later an abscess would form. Three surgeries later, we would think the abscess was finally healed. One plane trip of 2,232 miles to the States to see family who wanted to meet our sweet boy would lead to the news that the abscess had developed into a fistula. Suddenly, an American girl who had always grown up with wonderful private health insurance would understand what it is like for the millions of uninsured Americans because she is now living in Canada and has their "free" government health care that comes with its own caveat. Waiting. That led to wondering if we should risk our financial stability to have the surgery immediately in the States, or if we should wait for surgery in Canada. The wait just to have the initial consultation with the specialist is over one month, and there is no guarantee that surgery can be immediate. That means balancing pain pills with nursing schedules, and praying that infection doesn't go further and that the fistula doesn't grow. And this is just the short version of a long and hard journey that no one planned on.

On this long and hard journey, I am discovering some things and learning some valuable lessons.

I understand now what it means to truly act selflessly, to lay aside selfish wants and even needs to care for someone else. And with that, I understand now why the motivation to act unselfishly cannot be the simple rightness of that quality. No. The motivation must be love. And oh my goodness, no one ever could help me grasp the depth of the love a mother feels for her own. But my sweet Grasshopper has captured my heart, and I find myself acting in ways I never thought possible. The love of my sweet boy spurs me on to be strong for him, to keep pressing on even when the pain becomes unbearable, to keep clinging to Jesus, and to concentrate on getting well instead of getting angry. When I look into his trusting eyes, I know that I cannot let him down. And when he wakes me up before dawn with bright eyes and a grin that begs one to play with him, I can't help but smile back.

I am a mama, and I will give my efforts to fulfill that name my whole heart. Because that grin - his grin - is for me.

*This post is for Scribbit's Write Away April entry on the topic of "Mom". While it may not be my most fabulous specimen of writing, it was written while truly experiencing the topic. Four diaper blow-outs, two baths, three nursing sessions, two hours in the rocking chair, and one cd of lullabies later we have ourselves a complete post. Honestly, we're lucky to have one coherent thought after all of that. Motherhood - there's nothing better.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Oh The Irony

When I was first pregnant, my big fear was post partum depression. When it came time to pre-register at the hospital, I filled out special forms requesting to speak with a social worker in a proactive manner about that very thing. And I even called up the health nurses one teary day and took a test to see if I needed help, and I'm meeting with a health nurse every so often in my home just in case. The crazy thing is that despite all these horrid complications from my childbirth injuries, and despite occasional dark clouds that I have to fight through, I actually don't have any resemblance of a full blown case of post partum depression.

Do I have emotions that are hard? Yes. Do I wonder if there will ever be light at the end of the tunnel in the realm of my broken body? Heck yeah. Do I have to fight through feeling like it would be easier to not have to keep breathing? Yes, sometimes. But am I depressed in the clinical sense? Actually, surprisingly, not really. I've been there and done that, and what I'm going through in my heart and mind isn't what I've gone through before. This is manageable with just a bit of sunshine, a listening husband, and a dose of chocolate. Sitz baths aren't overrated either. I'm quite shocked to be writing all of this. After all, my picture is probably next to the definition of "melancholy" in the dictionary. And yet, though I do have teary and sad moments that threaten to overwhelm me, I don't have that constant sense of sadness I once had years ago.

So I found it kind of funny that when I gathered my courage to ask my maternity doctor yesterday if she had any knowledge of the phone call I got from the midwife, she said that the midwife was thinking of calling me again. Apparently, the midwife is very concerned that I might be struggling from post partum depression.

What the midwife is really saying is this: "I feel like an idiot for not calling in help sooner, and I feel guilty that I've caused the life-altering injury of a new mother. But I'm too chicken to admit it, so I'm going to call into question her mental health just in case she squeals on me."

I took the high road and didn't tattle on her to the doc. My only goal was to make sure my relationship with my maternity doc is good. After all, I did promise her a climbing trip this summer, and I mean to make good on that promise. We're good. That's all that matters to me.

Meanwhile, the midwife (if she has a conscience at all, and I think she does) is going to find herself feeling like a character in an Edgar Allen Poe story. I just hope she finds the courage to be honest before her guilt eats her alive and makes her totally crazy.

And meanwhile, my primary goal outside of mothering the most adorable boy is to get well. Once I'm well, I may think about "squealing" in order to protect other women. But that's really not my first priority. I'm just a girl who has a broken body that needs to get fixed so she can take her son climbing as soon as he graduates to big boy underwear and has the walking and running thing down solid. And I WILL get well. My mind and heart are "more well" than I realized, so I've got hope that my body will follow too. And if any more dark times come, I'll trust in the One who loves me most to keep me going and help me to stand and fight.

In the meantime, I've got a whole lot of living to do. Conflict resolution is so valuable, believe me. It makes a way for a girl to get around to all that living.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How To Dismantle A Bomb

It's not an atomic bomb, and I'm not U2. But I think I know one way to take apart a bomb without allowing it to explode and wreak havoc on the world. Wanna know that one way? It's simple. It's two little words.

I'm sorry.

And maybe four more words.

I was an idiot.

There. Doesn't that feel better? Didn't you just hear that bomb stop ticking? Did your shoulders just descend from being stuck in your ears with stress?

I thought so.

If more people would use these helpful words, this world would be a better place. Even if the midwife let me push for four hours with not enough progression. Even if the doctors wouldn't allow me to decide for myself what I wanted because I'd been laboring too long, and they left it to my husband to make a decision with limited and inaccurate information. Even if the doctor broke her promise to properly prepare my body for forceps. I could cease being pissed if they'd just say they were sorry. If they'd stop justifying, blaming others (including me), and making excuses. If they'd just admit to being an idiot for one second.

But instead I'm left to diffuse my anger alone. It's a long and ugly story that didn't have to happen. If only someone would admit to being an idiot.

Oh God, this must end sometime. Until then, You've got to keep me going. I am too weak to keep this up on my own. And I think I exploded tonight. So I need a little help with clean up in aisle five. Okay. A lot of help.

Gotta run. My son is teething. It's gonna be a long night on so many levels.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

When We Walk Through The Water....

....He will go with us.

God seems silent. But He also seems present in some of the moments of this journey.

We're considering surgery options in the States because we've heard about some financial assistance and I can't bear to wait until May just to see the surgeon. Plus, can I really trust that the surgeon will give me what I need since he first thought I was okay enough to wait until JULY to see him? We were originally under the impression that you applied, waited to hear, and then got the surgery if they said yes. Turns out you have to have the surgery first, then they decide how much - if any - that they will write off. So we've got a lot to think about.

But before we can decide that, we have to recover from the worst stomach bug I've ever had. We thought it was food poisoning, but six people from my family have come down with it so far, so we're thinking it's a bug. It has rendered me to weak that I cannot even carry my own son, and he feels like he weighs about 100 pounds. He only weighs about 14. I've been able to deal with some tiny amounts of juice mixed with Sprite, some ice chips, and some lukewarm water. I never want to see food again. Interestingly enough, the bug further caused pain with my birth injuries. This is such a long journey.

My husband is taking care of our little one now that he is recovering, and we're doing a bit of formula and a bit of nursing. We are hoping and praying that our little guy doesn't get what we have.

Because of all of this, we had to change our travel plans. We're now supposed to leave on Thursday, but I'm thinking that is awfully close for me to have time to get well enough to have a full day of travel with two flights, one long layover, and a whole ton of carrying luggage and a baby.

Normally, during moments like this, I find myself begging God to let me escape. This time, I'm just asking Him to cling to me and keep walking me through it. He's used it to show me some yucky stuff in my heart that needed to come out - things like pride and judgmental attitudes involving mothering issues. It's amazing what goes through your mind when you physically feel so terrible that death seems like a welcome option. I can't really feel Him as I'd like, but there is a sense that I'm not exactly alone in this.

I'm exhausted and full of questions, waiting for what I hope will be clear guidance from the One who loves me most. I am hoping He chooses not to be silent in this. But we shall see. The one thing I do know is that I don't think some folks ever get to the point when they stop doubting and questioning their faith. At least, that's where I'm at. The one huge consolation is that if He's really there, then He's really big enough to handle my questions, my doubts, my what-ifs, my forgetfulness, and my pain.

It will probably be quiet around here for some time. We have a lot of decisions to make, and I'm feeling pretty awful. We just need time to "be". And I need time to heal.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Clarify

I am loved by a family of bulldogs. Okay, not really. My family is entirely human. But they are quite passionate about protecting each other, and that extends to me and my health. In other words, I've been sensing their frustration with what they see as being Canada's fault. But it's not.

What happened to me - the long and insane hours of pushing, the forceps without episiotomy, the missing the fistula diagnosis, etc. - are all issues related to individual decisions and individual judgment calls. It isn't Canada's fault. If anything, the midwife should have followed a policy of not allowing me to push for more than two hours, and she should have called for help earlier. The Ob/Gyn who used the forceps should have done what she promised and performed an episiotomy. And had I known how this would have ended up, I should have asked for a c-section. All those "shoulds" are related to individuals, not to a country with nationalized healthcare. Those situations could have just as easily happened in the United States.

Right now, I am barred from getting the care I need here in the United States while I'm on holiday simply because of money. It costs too much. And if you had heard the bored and unconcerned tone of the administrative employee who called to tell me that the minimum estimate for this surgery would be $6500, you would know that some in the healthcare system here have lost sight of the original purpose. It's not about money. It's about helping people. The surgeon here gets that. She waved part of her fee at the office visit when she did a procedure that increased our bill by $100 after they'd already told us it was going to be "just" $165. And she was willing to wave her fee for surgery. But not everyone gets that - specifically the insurance companies.

If you want to take a hard look at reforming the medical system here, it must start with the insurance companies. I believe it begins and ends with them. They are the ones who tie the doctor's hands and keep hospitals from getting to focus on healing instead of bookkeeping. And I hope and pray someone does reform this system. I've already seen the horrors of debt that can occur when someone has a serious illness and doesn't have coverage. And I don't want to imagine how my parents are going to get by once my dad retires and gives up his company provided top of the line group plan. Something has to change.

So to those of you Americans who think that my troubles are because I'm in Canada, please know that isn't exactly accurate. My troubles are because I didn't go to medical school and therefore didn't know enough to recognize that some choices were being made that would lead to poor outcomes. If anything, I owe a debt of gratitude to Canadian healthcare. In nine months of care that included one emergency room visit and one emergency ultrasound, I don't owe a dime. In a long hospital stay, three surgical procedures already done and at least one more in my future, I don't and won't owe a dime. The only money out of my pocket has been for pharmacy costs once we are home. And when my husband lost his job when a construction company went defunct, I didn't have to worry about our healthcare plan. It stayed the same, regardless of what our employment status was.

The waiting isn't exactly something I like to do, and I know that some Canadians have had to wait a long time for things that would have greatly increased their quality of life. So it's not perfect. And I wonder if the wait times are more related to the government paying for medical care or to the Canadian doctors who are leaving for the richer pastures of USA medicine. I don't know. But I do know that life and death issues will get you pushed ahead in line, and a good family doctor to advocate for you makes a difference. The wait times could be improved, but really, that's an easier problem than figuring out how to help Americans keep from going bankrupt just so they can be healthy.

So be a bulldog. Keep loving on me. Please don't "should" on me or encourage me to "should" on myself. And if you want to become an activist to somehow improve the system you have here in the land of the free and the brave, know that you have a redheaded cheerleader on your side.

Monday, March 30, 2009


We are in Missouri with family. Our little guy is smiling more and more, and he has discovered how fun it is to grin at himself in the mirror. He loves his Granddad and feels safe with his Grandma. His mama likes the fact that she gets a break now and again to have a real nap.

I've had a setback in the health department. With all of my heart, I wish I'd had a c-section 11.75 weeks ago. And with the same part of my heart, I'm wishing there was such a thing as a butt transplant. But then, I've never been a medicine person, and all those anti-rejection drugs would be hard to comply with. And really, just how would one go about picking out a butt anyway? Thinking through all of the possibilities in that realm gives me something to chuckle over. Could you get one that had a permanent bikini wax? And what about no cellulite? Really. What kind of butt would you want?

My husband and I got to see a surgeon today. I so wish she could help me. If I had $5,000 or more, she could. But I'm in the realm of Canadian medicine now, and no longer have the wonderful insurance that once upon a time enabled me to partake of the insanely expensive healthcare of the United States. So this surgeon's findings will just have to be taken to Canada where I will get in line, and someday have the surgery that may fix me once and for all. I'm not incredibly hopeful anymore that this saga will ever be over with a good ending. If others have strength to hope for me, that would be nice.

I've talked with both my maternity doctor and my family doctor today. I've asked my family doctor to take over my care so we can get things centralized, and he agreed to talk with my maternity doctor to coordinate things. I don't want my maternity doctor to feel like she failed or like I'm upset with her. She has been a gift, and I really love her. I just want and need someone who can be a bulldog with my care anytime of the week and has an office staff that is more reachable. The only way I can ever get in touch with her is to call her on her cell phone, and that seems like a boundary violation to me. Her office staff is nice, but I always feel that they are a little cold and clueless. Plus, they are only open three days a week with very limited hours those days. I'm most likely going to forget about following up with the Ob who had been involved. I no longer can trust her to know enough or be thorough enough, though I really like her bedside manner and her gentle ways. Still, I'm sad that this is happening. I wish I could just keep seeing all of these doctors. I hate to disappoint anyone, and it feels like that is what has happened.

I am learning some things during this waiting to be healthy time. I'm braver than I thought. I can take more pain than I ever imagined. I'd rather not find out if I can take more though. How people deal with such awful diseases as Crohn's and cancer, I'll never know. Nor do I want to. I can also get through tough examinations with no pain meds with a gracefulness that amazes even me. But I'd like to be done learning. It would be nice if we could move onto things like climbing, going to the beach, walking, running, and enjoying the finer things in marriage. But instead, I'm waiting. Waiting to be better. Waiting for someone to fix me. Waiting for a miracle.

Here's hoping it comes my way soon.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hey Guys

Isn't that just a cute face? I love that he gets to look at me and that I get to look at him all the live long day. Someday he may sass me, but for now, he adores me. After all, I do have the milk. He is cuddly and adorable, and I fall more in love with him each day. Even his projectile pooping incidents cannot dampen my enthusiasm for spending time with him. He is truly a fun blessing.

We are all headed to the States to visit family this week, and we are trying to pack a ton of preparations into a tiny window of time. I was supposed to have help on Friday with our little guy to give me time to clean, but that didn't happen after all. Yesterday, the little one and I were on our own all morning while his daddy headed to an outdoor show, and then it was off to a town an hour away to pick up the most insanely expensive stroller bag I've ever seen. (I am seriously regretting it and wondering if it's really necessary. But then I imagine the gate check guys losing one of the three wheels to our Bob stroller and I momentarily forget that the stroller accessories such as the travel bag have eaten up whatever college fund we had for our little guy.) Then when we got home, I cooked dinner from scratch for the first time since the whole sage of childbirth complications. It was deliciously amazing and made me wonder where I've been all my life. Ha. Seriously, we have missed my cooking.

That leads us to today. I had been hankering to go to church simply because I miss the community of friends we have there, and I hadn't gone since sometime around Christmas. Between the snow, giving birth, and wishing for the first ever lower torso transplant after childbirth, we just hadn't gone. So it was such a treat. So many people came up and loved on us, cooing over our baby. What really made me tear up was when our pastor said he'd had a "Henry David and Inkling sighting" and had us stand so everyone could see that FINALLY the answers to their prayers for my healing had been mostly answered with a resounding yes. But what was the most fun was the music and watching our little guy stare wide-eyed with wonder at the musicians. He and I both loved the music, and I really wish I could have been inside his mind to know what he was thinking and know how much he could actually see.

We came home from that after picking up a roast chicken at the grocery store, and after a lovely lunch of that and roasted veggies, I apparently zonked out on the bed while nursing the little guy. Now we are awake and the day is half over. I still have a bathroom to scrub, floors to vacuum, clothing to go through to figure out what will fit me for this trip, and preliminary packing to do. (May I just say that a bad first trimester sickness wise and a serious childbirth injury and infection for the mama to go through really suck, but that the bright side is the fact that I can fit into pants I haven't been able to wear for two years.)

So that's what's been happening. I am really and truly on the mend at long last. The last surgery happened two weeks ago tomorrow, and it seemed to be the ticket to finally helping me turn the corner. I have four more weeks of recovery where activity is somewhat restricted, but it looks like I can at last see the light at the end of this tunnel.

I'll see you later. We've got a trip to the States to take and great grandparents to meet the little guy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring Is In My Future

On Monday I had surgery to correct some nagging issues leftover from a rather traumatic childbirth. There will be physiotherapy (physical therapy for you American readers) and maybe more surgery in my future, but for now, I seem to finally be on the road to real healing.

And with that healing comes hope. Hope for getting to enjoy the spring. I have essentially missed the winter with these nine weeks of being a near invalid. And with the spring comes walks in the park, Easter chocolate, flowers, sunshine, and most loved of all - climbing. Sunday it looked like climbing season was once again going to be kept from me. But Monday's surgery may just have saved it for me. If I keep on feeling like I feel right now, I see a climbing helmet and a harness in my future.

Can anyone say Squamish?!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Ways New Moms Like Help

Learning to ask for help is humbling, frustrating, and wonderful all at once. It's not something I yearn to do often, so here's hoping a bottom near me starts healing soon. =) I have been blessed, so I am indeed grateful. But I have also learned a thing or two, and want to chronicle them in hopes it helps keep another mother sane.

~ If you commit to come to a mom's home, arrive on time or call to let her know you'll be late. And when you commit to come, be up front about how long you plan to stay. In other words, don't spring the surprise that you are staying for lunch on her thirty minutes after you arrive and that you'll be happy to eat leftovers. If you want to stay for a meal, I suggest bringing and assembling the ingredients yourself.

~ Don't offer to come to do a project and then stand around like you expect her to offer you tea and cookies. Initiate getting the work begun. She probably already feels awkward asking you to do her chores, so don't make her ask twice.

~ When you offer to do a project, do the project. Don't go all ADD on her and flit from one thing to the next without finishing any one thing. If you say you'll do her laundry, chances are she is counting on you to do just that.

~ If she asks you to put together a recipe from her own archives, now is not the time to change it up by deciding to cut the salt in half or leave out the white sugar. And you might want to follow the directions in the order they are given. After all, cooking can involve scientific reactions, and it would really be a bummer for her to have to throw out an entire batch of something because directions weren't followed. But of course, you'll never know this, because she will be too shy to tell you that you made a fatal error with her much anticipated cookies.

~ If you bring a meal, make sure it isn't spoiled. And again, please include something green.

~ If you clean or wash dishes, be thorough. Oh, and ask which one is the hand soap and which one is the dish soap.

~ Study up on the Biblical character of Martha. See her capabilities, even if she did get a little too task oriented at times. She had a real gift. Who knows? Maybe the mom you are serving has that gift too, and maybe it's hard for her to accept help. And maybe it's even harder for her to be grateful for the help she accepted when it leaves her feeling like she has an even bigger mess on her hands.

~ And if you are the mom, maybe it would be better to just let the laundry pile up, buy frozen meals and paper plates for a couple of months, and order a boat load of movies to keep you company. There are just some days that idea will seem a heck of a lot easier, especially if you are a particular mother like me. I had no idea I was so particular, and it was a big surprise to find out that not every one does it the right way like me. =) (Please catch my humor and don't think I'm really that arrogant. I do like "my" way and think it works well, as the women who came before me in my family would also agree. But I'm learning that not everyone has a clue what hospital corners are, or that it's a good idea to wash hands before beginning a cooking project. While that drives me bonkers, this world would be really boring if everyone looked and acted like me.)

I'm low in the cheerful, laid-back attitude department at the moment. It could be because I'm still doing laundry, making a new batch of cookies, and figuring out what meals we'll make this week while dealing with a baby who has a sore tummy and takes cat naps. Oh, and that doesn't include the latest "guess which body part this is" game that is my life now that everything below my waist has been rearranged and changed. I see the OB in two weeks, and will find out from there what specialists I'll get to see in my future. Frankly, I just want to be able to leave my house for extended amounts of time without packing a diaper bag for two people, if you know what I mean. Repeat after me.....this will get better.....this too shall pass (and without stool softeners!).....this sense of humor is not a bad thing....this really will get better....and one day you really will be able to take all things bottom related for granted again....I just don't know when.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How To Help The New Mom

We've been blessed with help and support during this tough time of healing and recovery. I've been filled with both gratitude and a little frustration, so this post is going to be the explanation and remedy to that.

My parents both came, and my dad extended his stay so that he could be with us over a week. He was our emergency room chauffeur, cook, errand runner, and night duty nurse with a little boy so the mama could sleep. My mom will have stayed a full month with me by the time she leaves, and her willingness to extend her stay has also been a huge blessing. She is my errand runner, cook, cleaning lady, baby burper with the magic touch, nurse for both mama and baby, and all around personal assistant. I'd be lost without her. Having family come and generously serve you in whatever way you need cannot be underestimated in terms of value. It is a most priceless gift.

The health unit here has been faithful to call to check on us, offer visits, and they've given encouragement and praise regarding how I'm functioning as a mama despite rather large challenges in the delivery complications department. I'm grateful for them, especially for the last reason, for it's kept me going during some pretty emotional times.

We've been blessed with gifts out the wazoo for this little guy. From my husband's boss to the mom of one of my husband's friends, and from my creative cousin in the States to one of my husband's cousins, our little boy has been loved on in tangible ways.

Cards and emails have come, and those have been even more appreciated than phone calls because this redhead can read them at her convenience. They've been the tangible reminder in her inbox that she may be stuck at home, but she is remembered and loved. (This is something I'm not always good about doing, and this time has taught me how much a card means to a person.)

A friend of mine who is a midwife in Ontario is back in BC visiting family, and she has also been a huge blessing to me. From ordering me some special tea for the bath to bringing me an extremely generous gift of special juice (4 bottles!), she and her mom have gone above and beyond just being neighbors. And what's even better is that they gave us a meal that totally fit who we are in terms of menu items and disposability.

People have also brought us meals, and that has been so appreciated. And that's what motivated this post today. I wanted to include a few pointers that I'm discovering are not exactly natural to everyone even though they are incredibly kind to provide meals. So if these pointers can help someone else, this post will be worth it.....

~ Call at least a day ahead to let someone know you'd like to bring a meal. That way, they won't have already taken something out of the freezer. If you can let them know even earlier, that is awesome.

~ I cannot stress this one enough: Bring your gift of a meal in entirely disposable dishes or items you do not want returned. This not only means you don't risk losing a dish, but it makes perfect sense. If the recipient is getting a meal because they cannot cook for themselves, it follows that they may not have the energy or capability to take your dish back to you. And, if they have been given meals from multiple folks, it gets tricky remembering the owner of each dish. Plus, if they need meals because of an illness or injury or other similar need, they really don't need one more task added to their plate. Washing and returning your dish is one task they could live without. So invest in some foil pans, some Ziploc bags, some glass jars from the thrift store, and some cheap plastic containers (or even ones formerly used for yogurt or sour cream). Not only will they remember your meal, but they will remember your thoughtfulness and wisdom, which will make them appreciate you all the more.

~ I know it's a gift and all, but it will be even more appreciated if you ask the recipient what types of food they appreciate most. Are they into brown rice, veggies, and whole wheat? Then you might want to stay away from minute rice, white bread, and include a something green. Do they have any allergies or tolerance issues? That is great to know, because you'd be sad to find out they had to throw out your generous offering because they could not eat it.

~ Are there any instructions for heating or storing your meal items? If so, write them down and attach them to the specific item.

~ If you are hoping for a visit when you drop off your meal, ask first. If a new baby is involved and you are hoping to hold the wee one, wash your hands after you've been invited to stay for a few minutes. And the few minutes thing? That's a really important thing to remember. Few means exactly that. Keep your stay under 15 minutes, unless the person you are visiting clearly lets you know they hope you extend your visit. While I'm sure they love having time to be social, especially if they've been stuck at home in bed for weeks, a simple visit can actually be pretty tiring. Besides, if you brought dinner at dinner time, you can imagine they are hungry and ready to eat. So be sensitive about not staying too long, and make a mental note to see about visiting them at a more welcome time.

~ Ask first if you want to bring your children. And if you do bring them, keep them with you at all times, even if they have previously had free run of the kid friendly bookshelves. After all, this visit is being made because your friend is recovering from something, and they don't have their usual energy. And to be honest, they probably aren't in the state of mind to focus on someone else's child right now.

~ If you are bringing children and there is a new baby involved, don't even consider bringing a kiddo with the remains of a cold. And make sure your kids know that we don't touch a baby's hands or face, and that the baby's mama will invite them to touch or hold the baby if she's comfortable with that. If she doesn't offer, don't ask. Just give her time.

~ Finally, meals are awesome and practical gifts that make the recipient glow with gratitude and feel relieved beyond words. But if you call and say, "I'd like to bring three meals tonight," don't be surprised if they turn you down. Three meals means freezer space has to be reserved, and they might not have that available. If you have three meals you want to offer, consider investing the extra time and effort to bring them at three different times. Yes, that takes more out of you, but it also means you'll be that much more appreciated.

***As a new mom who is having a long and arduous road to recovery, I can say that this post is from my heart. At this point, I can say that I'm finally on the road to recovery, after three weeks of setbacks. The challenges are still looming large, and it will be a long time before I'm back to doing every day tasks most people take for granted. So that's why offers of practical help matter to me all the more. I truly could not keep on going without them. If it were not for my parents, I would have to hire someone to help out with basic needs. So if there was one more thing I could say about helping a new mom, it would be this......if it's in your power to help out a friend in need, make room in your schedule and do just that. And even if it requires an investment of time, money, or a sacrifice on your part (giving up vacation time, finding sitters for your kids, etc.), your gift of service will be the most valuable thing you could ever give to your friend. They may not be able to repay you for your generosity, but I'm pretty sure God will keep that in mind and you'll be blessed someday down the road. In the meantime, there's no greater gift than being a practical blessing to a new mom in real physical need.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

One Strong Woman

Hello everyone, this is Grace, aka Inkling's best-friend and mama to her Sara Orange Gang. She has asked me to give everyone an update for her, so here it goes...

On Monday when Inkling went into the ER for the procedure she mentioned below,she was met by some rather rude nurses that were not happy that her doc had sent her through the ER to get to her. Then after two hours of waiting, she was told that there would not be an OR available after all.

So on Wednesday, Inkling had an in-office procedure done by the OB that performed the emergency forceps delivery. For this procedure, she was given a local that did nothing for the pain, but she endured it with the hand of her mother squeezed tightly. This was supposed to have drained the abscess that has formed, but it only made it worse, and the abscess just filled back up causing her excrutiating pain.

On Thursday, her maternity doc examined her and decided that the OB's report was much different from what she was seeing and something needed to be done. She put her on antibiotics and told her to come in for a procedure to take care of it on Friday. Thursday evening, the abscess separated and necessitated a trip to the ER immediately. Thankfully her maternity doc was the one on call that evening and was able to call ahead to the ER to fill them in on what was going on.

Upon her arrival at the ER, she was immediately given care. Thankfully she had wonderful docs and nurses this time around, and she and Henry David were able to joke around with them and keep everything a little lighter. Her maternity doc and the other doc in the room are both Christians, and she was blessed to have them stop everything and pray over her before they moved on to what needed to be done. They sedated her right there in a trauma room and did the surgical procedure required to drain the abscess and packed it with gauze. After she woke-up, they sent her home to recover.

Currently she is on antibiotics, pain meds, high doses of vitamin C, and several other natural things. One of the pain meds she is currently taking means that Grasshopper cannot nurse for 6 hours after she takes it, so during that time, he is recieving formula. Yes, that's tough for her, but she knows that it's not forever and in order for her to heal, she has to let someone else care for him for now. She isn't taking that particular pain med around the clock though, so she is able to nurse him for several feedings in a row. He seems to be making the switch between formula and breast well.

One of the biggest things she needs now is sleep. Her body needs to rest so that it can begin to heal itself and allow the meds to do their jobs. She is working very hard at staying positive and looking for the good that's going to come out of all of these trials. God's going to use this time in her life for good in someone's life someday.

Please, as you leave comments for our friend, be encouraging. She's not a poor, pathetic soul that needs our pity. She's an amazingly strong and courageous woman who is going to see the other side of this challenge and be able to hold her head up and say "I did it with the dignity that only my Jesus can give me". Please hold her up. Hold her up as a woman. Hold her up as a wife. Hold her up as a new mom. Hold her up before God in your prayers.

Specific Prayer Requests
- Please pray for Grasshopper. Pray for his little mind. Pray that he notices none of the stress everyone is under and only feels the fact that there are extra people there who love him dearly. Pray that he knows he's loved. Pray for his comfort. He's having some serious gas issues. They aren't sure if it's normal baby gas, or if it's being caused by the antibiotic his mama's on.
- Please pray for Henry David. Pray for his endurance to see him through this time of their lives. Pray that he gets enough sleep, as I hear he needs his sleep. Pray that he is able to comfort his wife in the ways she needs him to.
- Pray for Inkling's dad. He's going to have to leave in a few days and that can't be easy. Pray for his safe journey home and for peace in his heart while he's away.
-Pray for Inkling's mom. She's caring for two of the people she loves the most around the clock right now. Pray for her energy levels to be where they need to be. Pray for her to stay positive in the midst of all this seemingly crazy stuff happening right now. Pray that she is able to serve Inkling in the way she needs right now.
-And of course, pray for Inkling. Pray for quick and complete healing. Pray that she is able to turn off her mind and get the sleep that she needs to get for that healing to take place. Pray for her emotional health. Pray for her "mama's heart" as it struggles with letting someone else care for her little guy much of the time. Pray for peace. Pray for encouragement. Pray for comfort. Pray for a pain free exsistence, so she can get on with her life as a new mama.

There's a children's song about a bear (or lion for some people) that I've always recited to myself when I've been going thru some of my own trials with something similar to what Inkling's dealing with now. It's always been one of my fav's during all my years teaching preschool children. To my knowledge, I've never mentioned this strange little recitation to anyone, but strangely enough, the other day, Inkling herself brought this song up in one of our conversations. Here's the lyrics...

Goin' on a bear hunt.
Gonna catch a big one.
I'm not afraid.
Look, what's up ahead?

Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Gotta go through it.

Goin' on a bear hunt.
Gonna catch a big one.
I'm not afraid.
Look, what's up ahead?

Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Gotta go through it.

Goin' on a bear hunt.
Gonna catch a big one.
I'm not afraid.
Look, what's up ahead?

Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Gotta go through it.

Goin' on a bear hunt.
Gonna catch a big one.
I'm not afraid.
Look, what's up ahead?

Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Gotta go through it.

Goin' on a bear hunt.
Gonna catch a big one.
I'm not afraid.
Look, what's up ahead?

Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Gotta go through it.

Goin' on a bear hunt.
Gonna catch a big one.
I'm not afraid.
Look, what's up ahead?

Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Gotta go through it.

Goin' on a bear hunt.
Gonna catch a big one.
I'm not afraid.
Look, what's up ahead?

Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Gotta go through it.

Feel yourself along the wall.
Oh, oh What's this?
Something funny.
With a long soft thing on it's end!
With two sharp things!
Two big gleaming sharp things!
Run for your life!

Run out of the cave!
Crawl through the grass!
Swim across the river!
Run through the gate!
Run around the trees!
Jump over the sticks!
Slosh through the mud!
Run into the house!
Close the door!
Run up the front stairs!
Crawl under mom's bed!

This is a time in Inkling's life that she can't go over, she can't go under, and she can't go around. She has to walk straight through this thing. Thankfully she's not walking through it alone. Jesus is holding her hand the entire time. Actually there are times where she's being carried by His strong and enduring arms. For some reason, not known to her yet, she must walk through the mud, the sticks, the trees, the gate, the river, the grass, and the cave to get to the other side. All things are made beautiful by God, and sometime in the future this time in her life will be used as something beautiful for Him.

Monday, January 19, 2009

To You Oh Lord, I Lift Up My Soul, I Trust In You....

So goes the Psalm. And so goes Inkling, though she is scared on the inside, hurting on the outside, and facing unknowns everywhere.

There have been some complications with my delivery and recovery due to a partial fourth degree tear and four hours of pushing before the emergency forceps delivery. I've courageously faced them one by one these past 12 days, but now am in need of extra help. I'll be heading to the hospital this afternoon to be sedated so they can take care of an abcess, some extensive bleeding from my stitching near the abcess, and perhaps some other things.

I pumped two ounces last night in my first ever pumping experience, and am trying to pump this morning. But my body isn't wanting to release the milk, most likely because I can now only lay in one position and it isn't ideal for pumping. But I'm still determined to try. We hope to only need enough for one feeding. If he has to temporarily go on formula, I will not die. But I will feel like dying. At least I've been able to watch him grow plump and big from my milk already. That is saying a lot because he has a partial tongue tie that they cannot repair (because there is nothing to cut), and that makes latching painful for me. So even though his latch isn't great and thus our time nursing takes a long time, I have been able to keep on providing for my son up until this moment. I pray I can continue to provide for him in that way.

I would ask you to pray for us. Thank you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

On Flexibility

So having a baby means you make plans, change them, change them again, change them again, and then discover you can indeed be as flexible as a contortionist if you really find it necessary.

This is a life lesson you would be wise to remember for times, like say, when the boiler repair guys put your landlord off for the second week in a row and they are no shows to fix the boiler in the room your parents will be using in less than 24 hours. But you will still want to throw a fit, because you will find so many reasons why what is happening didn't have to happen. And it will seem like giving birth was rocket science, while this situation was Kindergartener's play. And you'll wonder why in the world everyone else isn't as intelligent and wise as you would have been were you the one administering the repair plans. But you would do well to be flexible anyway. Your blood pressure will stay low; you'll gain another step in maturity; and after all, this is not life or death. Childbirth is. Broken boilers are just a pain in the rear, but not life or death. (Granted, childbirth is a pain in the rear too, literally, but we're not going there.)

So the baby thing is real. I did it. Not at all like I planned, but that's okay. Why? Because I am discovering that I'm one courageous and strong woman, even if I still feel like a wimp who hates pain. But considering the recovery process and its very interesting complications (which I will not explain) and the fact that I'm being a good mama despite my own infirmities, I am a woman who is stronger and can go through more than she realized. "How did I do this," you ask? Well, behind every strong woman is a stronger God. And if she's really blessed, not only will she have a very big God giving her strength, but she will have a husband standing alongside her every step of the way giving her his strength. And those two persons will show her what is inside of her.....determination, guts, strength, the ability to be flexible, and courage.

If she can just remember that in relation to boiler repair issues, she will be set.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Missing The Point ***Updated

Sometimes humans miss the point of something.

This holiday season was another example of an entire group of folks missing a very large point. I just need to vent a tiny bit to process this, okay?

I participate in Freecycle, though I'm thinking that I'll soon withdraw my membership since it seems to have gone from something really cool and helpful to a way for people to be lazy about taking out their own garbage.

Over the holidays, I don't know how many "wanted" posts I saw for things like Wii systems, new games, and other things people wouldn't be tossing in the garbage. This confused me and irritated me. It confused me because Freecycle is helping people recycle things in the community while keeping usable items out of landfills. The Wii system seemed a little too new for anyone to be throwing it in the garbage. It irritated me because it seemed greedy to use a forum meant for one purpose for another purpose. The intended purpose is to be a responsible caretaker of this planet, not to save a person from having to shell out money for a gift.

The latest thing that broke this very pregnant camel's back was the offering of an expired carseat. The person offering it readily admitted it was expired, and then suggested using it at the grocery store or on public transportation. Hello. Illegal postings anyone?

I think my Freecycle days are seriously numbered. I'm tired of picking up dishes that need washing, baby items that need washing (after I pick out all the animal hairs), misadvertised items that really should be thrown away, getting boxes of miscellaneous junk thrown in with the one item I did agree to pick up, and having people respond to my offers of items but never picking them up. (Obviously, I'd wash any item I received, but these items have involved serious scrubbing and soaking. We're talking people donated them in a truly used and NEVER washed after usage condition. Eww.)

What started out as a good idea has quickly turned into a place for people to be lazy, greedy, break the law, and be generally unintelligent. Or maybe I'm just grumpy and passionate about complying with little things like doing what is right. Actually, a compelling argument that both sentences are true could easily be made right now.

I'm off to go watch more snow fall, and contemplate what it must be like to be a meteorologist who is rarely correct. I sure hope they don't gamble for a hobby.

I have just requested the moderators remove me from the Freecycle community in my town. The response I just received from my letter to the moderator about the carseat was poorly thought out and clearly written from someone who is inexperienced with babies, car seat laws, and ICBC. At the same time that response came through, someone posted a "wanted" ad through Freecycle for a sectional couch and recliner. I'm done.

I'll continue to live responsibly by donating usable items to our thrift stores in town, recycling other things that are not usable, repurposing still more items, and composting what I can. But I'm done with Freecycle....if they comply and take me off the list. It will be a relief. I was getting dozens of emails a day from them, which ironically all went in the garbage. At least it was virtual garbage.

Friday, January 2, 2009


No, I'm not talking about any faithfulness I can muster of my own. I'm talking about the faithfulness of God despite all the crazy happenings around me and inside of me. He is faithful, even when it doesn't feel like it.

As we met last night with a woman who became our answer to prayer for help in childbirth instruction, I had a chance to recall so many Ebenezers from this past year. Ebenezers are just little moments where you realize that God has helped you, and you've made a marker there to remind you.

From a mysterious gift of money to an ivory sweater set, from a tough three months with an unfeeling midwife to a chance meeting with an incredible doctor in a park, from prayer times with some precious women to a three hour drive to a retreat with two strangers, from a broken freezer to a sudden cold snap enabling us to save most every piece of food, God has shown me that He is in the business of never leaving us or forsaking us.

I need that now, in these coming days full of uncertainty with battles to be fought against fear.

There may be snow piling up outside on our cars unequipped with winter tires or chains, and there may be no plows about town. There may be further boiler issues and other challenges yet to be faced with our living situation. There may be uncertainty with work, the economy, and our finances. There may be dozens of unknowns in the development of our wilderness ministry/business. But there is one thing that trumps all of that. The faithfulness of the One who loves me most rises above and beyond anything that could seek to destroy me.

And that faithfulness is what I'm going to cling to in these coming days full of mystery. I am not alone, and that is the most comforting thing ever.