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.