Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

One in a Thousand

It is with immense gratitude that I lay here in my bed at home writing on my blog once more. 

Last Tuesday I noticed while exercising that one of my legs was really tired.  I sat down several times to rest, got back up to continue, and finally teased Kathy that I would just watch her jump around and benefit vicariously.

Later that night I sat on the couch writing the last post.  I got up for dinner and felt a strange sensation.  My thigh, my whole leg even, felt like it was wrapped in a band or a cast.  It was like my muscles were seized up and it was hard to bend my knee.  I figured I had some how strained a muscle, or many of them, but strangely, there was no muscle pain.

A call to Guru Ellen, expert masseuse, for muscle advice led me to actually look at my leg.  It was swollen, a little purple and blotchy.  "Call" she said, so I did.  My midwife asked lots of questions about lumps, hot spots, pain, vericose veins - but I had none.  She said some women have cirulation problems in pregnancy, to gently stretch and elevate, and call if needed. 

I went online... there were references to blood clots, with a long list of symptoms, but I had none of them besides the swelling.  Anyway, the info said that the chances of a blood clot in pregnancy were one in a thousand.  One in a thousand.  Certainly not me.  I elevated my leg and wrote a post on my blog.  The theme of it now seems ironic in retrospect.  I went to bed.

At about 4AM I woke moaning.  My back was killing me.  I was feeling strong cervical pain, and then I had a contraction.  I headed to the bathroom, and upon standing a small but sharp twinge of pain shot through my leg.  I woke Guy, "You need to take me to the hospital.  Something is wrong"

We got in the car and he asked where to go.  Roseville was the newer, more modern hospital, but South was 10 minutes closer.  I figured closer was better, so I said South.  It would come to make all the difference.

When we arrived at the hospital I had Guy take me to Labor and Delivery (L&D).  "We can skip the ER," I said.  I knew that at 25 weeks I was finally to the point in my pregnancy where they would try to save my baby. 

In triage I was checked by nurses and then an OB, all with smiles and calm voices.  My pulses in both feet matched, and I turned to Guy and said, "Well, looks like we're going home".  The OB came back and said she was just going to send me over for an ultrasound of my leg "to be on the safe side". 

The radiologist, Jane, was sweet and careful.  Soon I was realizing that this scan was taking a long time.  After having had four miscarriages, one learns the body language of a radiolgist, and I could tell she was finding something.  She called in a woman in a white coat.  Jane asked her vague and carefully worded questions.  A finger point to the screen and a nod.  Back to the calf, back to the thigh, back to the groin, now to the lungs... something was clearly not right.

The specialist left.  "I know you can't tell me anything, but I think you found something." I said with the lilt of a question.  Jane smiled gently and said, "You're right, I can't.  Let's just say there is a reason you are here.  It was a good thing you came in tonight."

I was glad she said it.  I guess it echoed in my mama heart that somehow I had listened to a voice from somewhere deep within; one I had always wondered if I would hear in the time of a "real emergency".  But honestly, this didn't feel like one.

Back in L&D they tucked me into a bed.  One sure sign you ain't goin' anywhere is when they tuck you into clean sheets... if you are going home, you stay on paper. 

I don't really remember what happened next.  Guy says Dr. P came in and told us that I had an "extensive blood clot".  I remember trying to ask what that meant, but not getting a clear answer.  My nurse, Donna, was sweet and kind and smiled at me.  She retold me about the medication I would be given soon, but I don't know how much I understood at the moment.  It was confusing, and it was about to get worse.

(continued here)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

For the Birds

Did you know that birds don't actually live in nests?  Yes, the build them, and then they incubate their eggs in them.  But once her young have officially flown the coup, Mama-bird abandons that nest.  She doesn't sleep there.  She doen't  bring worms and berries back for snacking.  She won't even seek refuge from a storm in that old nest.  She doesn't ask where her next meal is going to come from.  She just does what God put her here to do and He provides.

Not long ago our washer went out. A repair man came and, shaking his head, told us to make the washer as comfortable as possible in it's last days, and enjoy what ever time we had left.  It was a goner.  It was a slow, agonizing appliance demise, preceded by many leaks, until one day it...just...*sniff* ... died.

Friends who had bought a new home that came with appliances found themselves over-blessed in the laundry department, and they shared their blessings by giving us their old washer.  It worked beautifully.

Next, our dryer began to fuss, or to be more precise, squeak.  Soon, what had been the chorus of a few mice became like a frantically braying donkey on helium.  Fearful that the police would be called on us for invisible animal abuse, I looked up "squeaky dryer" online and fancied I had learned all that would be needed to fix it.

You know how you can't beleive everything you read?  Yah, you get me.  I bought a $50 part from a local parts shop, then found the same part for eleven bucks online.  Bought that one too, thinking I'd return #1.  WELL... 6 youtube videos, both parts (#2 was crap) and a whole Saturday later, we nearly had a working dryer, but we couldn't get the belt configuration right before having to leave for the evening.

On Monday while  Guy was at work, I called my Go-to Angel, Dan Mealey for advice (which means, of course, that he shows up in an hour, tool box in hand).  We got the whole thing put back together, and I was feeling so proud.  Not only had I saved us the repair fee that would have been about $200, but we had managed to get it working in time to surprise Guy when he got home.  I imagined my husband beaming with marital pride at my handi-woman-ish-ness.  Dan sweetly said, "You know, Marion got a new set of machines at Christmas and I almost just threw the dryer in the back of my truck, but I know you worked real hard on this one.  Ya' done good, kid."  Bliss.  Compliments from Mr. Fix-It himself.  Cloud nine and a half, baby.

As Dan pulled out of the driveway, I put away the tools with a smile on my face as I listened to the dryer hum perfectly.  I picked up the waste basket to put back between the machines, but all the futzing had left them too close together to squeeze it in.  I figured I'd give it a little bump with my hip to nudge it back over.

(You know how in the movies when the music gets scary and a girl is reaching for the attic door and you are screaming, "No!  Don't do it!"???  Yeah, you can start screaming that now.)

Bump.  Bump...  SQUEAK!

"No.  Oh, no!  No no no NO!  Don't do that!"  I yelled at the cold, unfeeling monster.  From deep within it's belly it laughed at me in a falsetto pitch.  I wiggled it, nudged it, tried to put it back, tried to UNDO whatever the heck I JUST DID! 


it answered back.

I walked out of the garage, leaving the beast to sing it's ridiculous song like a mockingbird copying a car alarm.

I consoled myself that while I had probably fixed the damaged part that was causing the first squeak, I must not have realized that there was some OTHER problem causing the first part to become damaged.  Yeah.  That's it.  SURE it is.  Then I called Dan.  In a few minutes Guy came home.

This had not gone down at ALL the way I had planned.  It was rather like they night I tried to be all woo-woo and give Guy a massage and the dang "warming" oil got to about 250 degrees and we had to go scrub ourselves down.  Very romantic.

Yeah, this was sorta like that, only instead of thinking I was sexy, Guy was supposed to come home and be all proud and impressed with his wife for saving $150 and fixing the dryer.  Which, now that I think about it, is even SEXIER.  Not feelin' too sexy now, that's fer darn sure.

I summed up the afternoon to him with a helpless smile, and handed him back his keys.  "Dan is waiting for you at his house.  They are giving us their old dryer."

Fast forward one week.  A child comes out of the garage with the dreaded call, "The washer stopped and it is all full of water."


Guy wants to call someone.  I jump at the chance for redemption.  Youtube, blah blah blah, parts store, blah blah blah... Ethan and I actually manage to fix the darn thing.  It was a much smaller repair.  The directions were clear and easy.  It was just one of those days where everything went just as it should.

Sometimes we work hard.  Sometimes by working hard we get just what we need.  Sometimes we work hard, miss the mark entirely, and God makes up the difference. 

And sometimes God just blesses us. 

Birds don't sit around waiting for worms to wiggle up the trees and say "Here I am all plump and delish!  Eat me!"  The bird still has to hunt around.  There is some work involved, but the bottom line is, God provides.  And he does, and will, for each of us, too. 

  "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"  Matthew 6:26

Sunday, February 17, 2013

In the Still of the Night

It is around 1:00 AM  
when I head off to bed, working late on Valentines for the kids.  Silly notes and little treats to put into their "mail boxes".   It is my goal to bribe them with sugar often enough that they not remember that I was "da mean mama" that made them pick up dog poo.  I definaltely think its working.  Maybe.

I wearily waddle to my room (yes, at night I waddle.  It's easier than bending my knees) and find my side of the bed occupied by a little person.  Correction.  A not-so-little-anymore person.  He is practicing his famous Diagonal Rib Crusher, a sleep circus-manuver that falls somewhere between a cartwheel and a high speed yoga move.  I am too tired to lug his rag-doll bod to his little bed nearby, so I spin him around and skootch him over close to Guy.  Alas, as soon as my head hits the pillow, Jonah-boy slides right back, wraps his chubby, cool arms around my neck and mumbles "mama".  I let his cheek stay right where it lands on mine, and smootch his squishy face, then I nudge him down a little and tuck his head under my chin.  He nestles into my side and sighs contentedly.  I lay there listening to him breathe and smelling his hair.  The sounds of the house meld into a steady drone.  The slosh of the dishwasher, the hum of the faraway dryer, the faint squeek of a hamster wheel.  Guy's deep slow breathing is echoed in doubletime by the light wispy breaths of Jonah.  It is the nightly song of our sleepy house.  I shut my eyes.

A thump in my belly calls my attention and coaxes a smile from me, but before my hand can reach to feel the spot, the thumping stops.  A trickle of chilly air sneeks between the frames of our tired old windows, and I burrow down into the covers and finally begin to drift off...

My eyes pop open at the familiar thud of heals hitting the hardwood floor.  I wait, and the footfalls soon tell me it is Tessa; partly because of how faint and quick they are, partly because there is suddlenly a running sound into the livingroom.  I slide The Acrobat off of my arm, flop my big-ol' self off the side of the bed and head out to find The Sleepwalker.  She is standing in the kitchen.  She starts telling me about a bunny on the floor that only she can see as I take her by the shoulders and guide her into the bathroom.  When she is done, the dull blur in her eyes disappears and in a moment she hugs me sweetly and says "nigh-night", heading back out to the livingroom.  I spin her around like they do in cartoons and give her a nudge down the hall toward her room.  Back in my room, I bump my shin on a laundry basket in the dark.  I begin to lay down only to find a diagonal Jonah cris-crossing my pillow.  The 3 seconds it takes to get my spot back makes my tired head feel so heavy.  I slump under the blankets.

Before I have time to take Jonah's feet back off of my hip for the second time, I hear a big thump on the floor.  This time there is the jingle of a dog collar along with big boy footsteps, and Adam's bedroom door opens.  The toilet soon flushes and then I hear the sink turn on.  I smile in the dark over a boy who washes his hands in the middle of the night.  Good job, Addy, I whisper.

I hear a train, and a confused little bird calling all alone.  In the other room, Toby falls off the bed with a kerplunk that shakes the floor.  Jonah's breath scudders.  Guy coughs a little.  My heart burn kicks in and I grab for the chalky tablets by the bedside. Ellie murmers in her sleep.  The baby thumps around, reminding me of my low bladder capacity.  I smack my shin again on my way to the bathroom.

Back to bed,
heart pounding in my ears.
Baby bumping. 
 Heater clicks on. 
Jonah throws his leg over me. 
I leave it this time.
The bird again. 

In the still of the night.
Still awake.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Valentine Baby

When I was three days "overdue"* with Ellie, Guy and I went to a Chinese restaurant.  My fortune cookie teased me;
"The wish of your heart will come true tonight."
Yah, that would'a been a nice story.  It would be two more days.  She didn't quite make it to Valentine's day, thank goodness, but I have always
thought of Ellie as my Valentine baby.
Ellie was my fastest labor at only 8 hours.  I got to 9+ centimeters and would be stalled there for several hours.  And then suddenly, BAM! she shot out. I remember looking down and seeing this mop of black hair that reached to her shoulders in the back and thinking, "whose baby is this?"
As a baby Ellie truly looked like Snow White; ivory skin, round, rosy cheeks, red-red lips, and that shiny black hair.  She was a happy baby.  She would go for 36 hours without even fussing a tiny bit.  She was itty-bitty... ridiculously tiny for the first two years.  She learned to walk at 8 and a half months and started running 2 weeks later.  At only about 14 pounds it was a bit frightening to watch.  People would gasp as I set her tiny little self down on the floor and she would dart away.
Ellie learned to wink when she was 6 months old.  She laughed all the time. 
She was a delightful little child. 
age 6
(there should be a lovely little collection of pictures -here- of Ellie, ages birth through 5 years.  Sadly, they are on ROLLS of actual FILM in my closet.  30 of them. The skeletons in there use them for bowling practice.) 

age 8

age 8
age 9
Birthday Girl
age 10
(with all of her presents ON at once. 
Thank you Ruth for the beautiful scripture case.  She loves it!)

Mama usually makes a beautifully decorated cake (or at least one that was intended to be beautiful), but this year Ellie wanted Tres Leches, a firm cake that is soaked in cream and sweetened milks.  It turned out to be uncooperative when it came to the beautiful part.  The milks didn't soak in as well with the new recipe I tried, and the whipped cream slid around all over the top.  I gave up and went with sprinkles and told Ellie it would have to be a party in her mouth.  She was a little sad.
It wouldn't be the only time tonight.
An interesting thing had happened earlier.  Our neighbor who hails from Armenia came by at about 4PM with a giant platter full of Armenian food; barbecued ribs, pork fried rice, hand made flat bread, and lovely scones "to have later with tea".  The smell of that gorgeous food was amazing, and with cake to make and gifts to wrap, I kind of didn't see the point of going ahead with the taquitos and sweet potato fries that had been requested by the birthday girl.  I figured we could have the Armenian food tonight while it was fresh, and the special order for tomorrow.  I asked Ellie, and she said it would be fine,
 though with a slight hesitation that I should have picked up on.
As we were setting the table I noticed Ellie sitting at her place looking a little sad.  When I asked what was wrong she began to cry and said "What was the point that you asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner
 if we're not even going to have it?"
I felt defensive, (I know, so smart of me.  I am the Rocket Science of good parenting) and tersely asked why she told me we could go ahead with the Armenian food if that wasn't really what she wanted.
"I thought you would get mad at me." she said through tears.
Fabulous.  I so rock this mom thing.  So, not only do I get my feelings hurt when my kids are being (ahem) KIDS, but I have subtly communicated to my children that they need to intuit what their mother wants, smother their own feelings, and go with a program they aren't happy with in order to hopefully please me.  That even when being asked what they want, it is not safe to REALLY say it, because they need to worry about sparing my feelings.
 Where is my award, people?
 I should have an overpass named after me. 
Forget birthday presents, Ellie, here is 50 bucks for your therapy fund. 
 Please don't leave home at 17 with a biker named Thrash.
I don't think well on my feet, but my autopilot said "Make taquitos", so I did.  I grabbed meat off the table, rolled up corn tortillas and TAQUITOED the heck out of 'em.  Guy nuked the frozen fries and then threw them into the broiler.  Somehow it was all done in about 12 minutes.
Ellie was thrilled.  She didn't even seem to mind that there was no monkey on her cake like she had asked for (though I cushioned that blow with the promise of a picture of a monkey for her room.  I figure if I am going to draw something, it may as well be something that won't attract ants).
I think I let Ellie down a lot. 
 I don't know how to be her mom as easily as I do the others, for some reason.  She perplexes me, and I guess I let it show.  I was remembering tonight the three years in my life when nothing was done for my birthday.  On two of those days I made a cake for myself anyway, trying to "fix it". 
Cake can fix a lot of things, but it can't fix that. 

 A little girl shouldn't have to care-take for someone else on her birthday. 
 I learned a big lesson tonight, and it had less to do with a birthday
and more to do with the other 364 days of the year. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

By any other name...


I was named after my mother, Sharon.

Not many people know this, because from the very first day I was called by my middle name, Laine (pronounced Lane).  My mom always hated her name, Sharon, and I always knew that.  She had told me that it was dad who wanted to name me after her, though she protested.    There is a strange feeling that comes in being named after someone who hates their own name. 

So I always felt funny about my name.  Like it wasn't quite mine.  It felt like a hand-me-down dress that someone gave me because they never really liked it. 

Then one day, about two years ago, my dad told me a new story.  Sort of an addendum.  I said something about dad having named me, and he said, "Well, truth be told you sort of named yourself."

He told me that they had called me "Lane" from the day one (which begs the question, what is up with a totally unused FIRST name? but as usual, I digress...).  As it goes with fuzzy-headed little beings, a baby-fied version of my name began to be used; "Lainie". 

"One day when you were about four," he told me, "you announced that you would no longer answer to "Lane", that your name was Lainie, and that was that."

It was only a story, and it didn't really change a single concrete thing in my world.  It is still hard to order a pizza ("Um, how do you spell that?"... com'mon, kid, it's pizza, not my birth certificate, spell however the heck you want!).  I still can't sit in a doctor's waiting room without wondering where the heck that Sharon-woman went and why she isn't answering the dang nurse... oh, wait, that's me.  I still don't really know how to sign my name... S. L.?  Sharon L.? S. Laine?

But there is a sort of magic in knowing that, before I was even old enough for the outside world to have gotten in, as a small child I knew who I was.  I have always liked my name, but since learning that story, somehow I liked it more because I had some say in the matter.

I have always thought it was strange that people who just barely met us get to name us.  Some folks even name their babies before they ever meet them!  I know, I know, you say you KNOW them, yada yada.  OK for you, I suppose.  I don't feel like I know my kids till they have at least puked on me a few dozen times, and that is just the "pleased to meet'cha" phase.  Who they are, who they will be for years, for decades, for a lifetime???  That is a big, hairy deal.  What is in a name? A universe.

I read in a book called Dare Dream Do by Whitney Johnson, that in one hospital it was found that one surgeon had a 35% lower rate of complications and fatalities in his operating room than the rest of the surgeons.  The reason?  Before surgery, he insisted that everyone in the operating room know everyone else by name.  Introductions were made.  People, that before were just a green mask and scrubs, were now individuals.  It is believed that by voicing their own names, they later felt confident to speak up if they saw something that didn't seem quite right.  Lives were saved.  Somebody out there is playing ball with their kid today because a resident named Joe knew that the nurse next to him was named Carol.

I met a man named Shamus once.  What were his parents thinking?  Shame Us.  That was his name. "We are already disappointed in you son, just thought you should know".  It was like the character Willie Loman from Death of a Salesman.  The author named him Willie (Will he?) Low-man, to show us a man who may never amount to anything.  Names are important.  Our names are a huge part of who we are.  Just remember back to a time when someone called you by the wrong name and you know what I mean. 

I have been on the phone a lot lately with nurses.  To them I am Sharon, but to the nurse I spoke to yesterday, I was Laine.  She made it a point to remember that and call me by it, though her computer screen told her otherwise.  I felt like a real person to her, and she helped me more in one phone call than I had been helped in the past two dozen phone calls.  By the way, her name was Mary.

I have to choose a name for a small person soon, for them to use their whole lives! Not an easy task when you are married to a school teacher.  Guy has had at least one annoying student in his classes over the years with every one of the names I like. 

Wouldn't it be easier of we all just named ourselves?
If you could have chosen,
 what would you have named yourself?
What if this baby would just pop out
with a little name tag stuck to it's chest..
"Hello!  My name is..."

Good thing we have till June.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Thoughts on Eggs (and other little things)

I have been thinking about
our chickens lately.

I am afraid I have been a bit oblivious of them.  Since I learned that our puny family of a mere seven souls would be joined by a sneaky little stowaway, I have been a deer in headlights.  I have always told Guy that if babies would have come to us easily, and we were younger, I would have rolled out the pink-n-blue welcome mat and bought an insurance policy for my nursing bra collection. It's not the wanting them, it's the loosing them that has left a weakness deep in my bones. After the shock of "the two pink lines" faded, the headaches and cramping came, and I waited for the end. 

In that time, our chickens - "The Girls", as I call them- have been watered and fed, mostly regularly.  I had the kids throw some hay into their coup to edge out the drafts.  Guy tacked up a tarp to cut the winter chill.   Basic maintenance.  They stopped laying when the cold hit, and let's just say I haven't been going out there to cuddle them.  Yeah, not at all.

The other day I finally stopped passing the black farm hat to the kids and went to the coup myself.  I cleaned it up a bit, watered the girls and restocked the food.  Then I noticed some golden brown orbs poking out of the straw.  Ten eggs.  Ten!  While I was on the couch trying to make the the molecules in the air stop crashing together so loudly, those birds were out there in the cold working their little egg-makers off.  I know they aren't even trying, they are just out there, doin' their chicken-thang.  The eggs grow, that is just what they do.

And while I have been in here watching dust bunnies swirl on the floor when ever someone walks through the room, a certain tiny human has been growing retnas and a spleen and, apparently, little thumpy limbs.  In my brain, I was "pregnant", a temporary and frequently fleeting condition around here.  But something occured to me the other day...

Um... hello... there is an actual BABY in there.  The soon-to-be pooping, crying, needing-a-name kind.  And it is getting sorta, I dunno, ... big.  All energy has gone to getting the heck outta that evil "First-trimester jungle".  Once out, I forgot that the baby (not just my bod from the earlobes down) is actually growing.  I picture the baby about 3 inches long ricocheting off the walls of my generous vessel like a ping-pong ball in a dryer. 

You would think after (a-hem)... five... of these little biology experiments I would know what was going on.  But it just now occurs to me...

We are having a baby.  And all my "I'm too old" and "People will judge" and "It probably won't even survive" has not detered the wiggly critter beneath my ribs from organizing it's DNA into a  nano-human.

Holy moly.  We are having a baby.  Well, wha'do ya' know.

Eggs are amazing.