Wednesday, February 20, 2013

when words fill this small space


There is only a small space between life and living. A short time between life and death.

And this time that I have in this small space is essential. It's simple and complex. Breathtaking. Overwhelming. Quick and frightening and absolutely perfect. Which makes the ability to put my life, my small existence, into words that much more necessary.

But I've been staring at a blank page for years.

The stained and frightening parts of my life have come as quickly as they have gone. They're usually closely accompanied with bouts of depression that I usually like to fight alone, quietly. But that was where words had been faithful. I may not be able to talk about my feelings or keep many friends close for long but I could always get everything into words.

But something happened when I was in college. While writing gave me some sense of pride and purpose, I was in a relationship with someone that was constantly demeaning it. I found an outlet that gave me worth but I was listening to the words of a man who said I was anything but worthwhile. I took a love I felt I deserved and that fed my self loathing. That was something words couldn't help me with.

And I was staring at a blank page

when something else happened. 

Through a series of sappy love story events, my life took a drastic turn towards something hopeful. I met a good man. A godly man. He showed me just by living that this small existence was being wasted. How I was smothering anything good that could come. That I was worth more than what I was settling with. So I didn't settle.

And I was happy. I was comfortable. I was in love.

I found I actually had a really hard time putting all the good in my life into words. I needed to write to make sense of things. I desired to write because I find beauty in words expressed. I loved to write because my voice was in it. 

I existed when I wrote. 

My words were what made me feel heard. No one would read them except for me - but that was all I needed.
But I was happy. And the love I held and the happiness I lived made me feel truly heard more than I ever had. I didn't need to make sense of anything.

I lived poetry. I didn't need to write it.   
((But that's all for another post.))

So I cut off my bittersweet relationship with words.
And then I had my first baby.
More than anything in my life I have always loved my kids. I have to reiterate - I have always loved my kids. I loved them more than I didn't love myself. No matter what I did with my life, I had always planned to put it on hold to raise my kids.

But I had my first baby and suddenly doubted I could do it at all. I doubted every fiber of my being and every substance that held me together. I doubted my place here and I doubted all the pieces that fit so snugly together to fill my life.

Suddenly, life wasn't comfortable anymore. 

Things were scary and sad and dangerous. And I just couldn't put anything into words. I desperately needed to make sense of anything I was experiencing.  Everything should have been right and it absolutely wasn't. With every attempt to find the right words, I was only disgusted by the clumsy ones I watched fall onto the page. I didn't recognize them.  
Between listening to damaging words (from outside and within) that convinced me I was less and giving up writing anything, I've been devastated and frustrated to feel that I've lost my voice. 

I've grown afraid to write for fear that all of the words I would find would be wrong, self-serving, immature, dramatic or angsty. 
(My computer tells me "angsty" isn't a word but I don't believe that for a second.)

But I've been staring at a blank page for years.
And here's what I decided to do with it .

It was time to stop grasping the veil between myself and this life so tight. It's been time to step out of the darkness so easy to hide in. It's time to release the white knuckled hold I have on words like "worthless", "stupid" and "weak". It's time overdue.

It's time to speak. 
Of the shameful and the prideful and the hurtful and the beautiful.

Because I've been staring at a blank page for years.

And there is only a small space between life and living. 
And this time that I have in this small space is worth more than I still know.

I've let a blank, wordless page intimidate me. 

I can dwell in the sadness of its emptiness or embrace it's vast potential to start again.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Little talks

Tonight, I whispered small words to my small girl. Telling her she was getting so big and she was turning 3 this next weekend. She smiled as she watched our conversation in her closet mirror. She watched her smile grow and my awe grow with it. I admired her conversational mind and the sharpness in her eyes.

She snuggled into my lap as I started to sing our lullaby.

"Stay awake"
"don't rest your head."
"Don't lie down"
"Upon your bed..."

And I couldn't keep the tears away. She couldn't fit on my lap. Her limbs stretched so long they could hardly tuck into her chest. Her hair smelled like it always has, like a baby. But she wasn't. And the tears running past my lips onto her sweet hair protested the time passing too quickly.

But it has and it will.

To see God in this sweet little thing, that has grown too big for my swaying, is obvious. And it's so easy to thank God for her, for your child. But it's also easy to grow exasperated with Him at the speed life passes. I need more time with my little girl before she's a big girl and she's too big for me and my songs. For our little talks.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Project: Clean House

I easily have one of the messiest houses of all my friends.
And it's really hard not to be embarrassed about it. I can be very good at convincing myself that it's just how my house is. There is no changing it. I can get it show worthy in an entire afternoon and it stays that way, try as I may, only until the next moment that we actually live in the house. 

But it's not just affecting my eagerness to invite people over. This house has become the physical manifestation of my life.
I have to regain control of something here. So, the house it is. And this is my plan.

I've made a task list for the family using tips from I Dream of Clean's blog. It's more of a reference sheet for my family when things feel too messy or I just need help getting things around here under control. And keeping it there.

Here's what it looks like.

End Result: Happier mother/wife. 

Here's to hoping for some order in our lives!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Isla Sparrow (cont)

The day after she was born we were waiting for the nurse to bring us the paperwork so we could be discharged. They had Isla in the nursery for the routine tests to confirm she was ready to go home. I was putting on a little makeup (you're welcome, world) and Palmer was scurrying around getting everything packed and gathered so we could leave. When I finished putting on a pitiful amount of makeup, I took a seat on the hospital bed to warily peek under the ominous dome covering my breakfast. It was an ordinary moment until one of the pediatricians making rounds knocked on our door.

"Well, a lot has happened in the past hour," she said as she crossed the room to sit in the seat nearest the bed. As in...we're going home, right? With a new baby? Somehow I doubted that wasn't what she took a seat next to me to say. 

She went on to explain that Isla had started raising some concerns to the nurses. Namely, that she had failed a test that monitored the oxygen flow through her body, or something like that.
All I heard was,
'Scary, scary, something's wrong with your baby'.  

"What does that mean?"
"Well, it could be nothing or she could have a heart defect."
I literally spaced out and thought back to this repeat moment 2 years earlier after I had given birth to Bella.

I had Bella at 8:00am, after an exhausting 26 hour delivery, and was awaken by my doctor at 3:00am the next morning to inform me that they were life flighting my newborn to the nearest children's hospital. The helicopter was called and on its way.

"She had some labored breathing and when the nurses tried to insert a breathing tube they couldn't get it to go in and it drew blood."
"What does this mean?"
"We're concerned she may have a condition where her nose doesn't connect to her throat."
" common is that?"
"It happens in about .5% of babies born."

I was in a daze that felt, and probably was, drug induced as I listened to her extraordinarily unexpected words. She told me they would bring in her bassinet so I could say goodbye. She left the room and I was left with a mess of terrible words still echoing in my head. I crumpled into my hands and sobbed until they brought her in. Everything was devastatingly uncertain.

When they brought her in, I held her little hand from within the incubator. From underneath the wires and sensors, she looked so peaceful and perfectly healthy.
Bella on her way to Children's Mercy

Which it ended up she was.


Two years later, 'heart defect' were the chosen words echoing in my head this time. 

How could a heart defect not have shown up on an ultrasound? Is this going to take surgery? Will she have a normal life? Will she survive??
Or is she perfectly fine, like the other extreme possibility suggested and how Bella's situation resolved?

With each test they conducted, she borderline passed or borderline failed. With each borderline result a new nurse saw something else that piqued her interest which then resulted in yet another concern to monitor. With each new concern it then tacked on another 12-24 hours of hospitalization. And with each setback we had absolutely no answer as to why we were even there.

Sweet Isla and all her wires

After the situation with Bella and after finding out we were expecting again, Palmer and I discussed many times how getting through that obstacle in our first pregnancy made us feel very empowered with this pregnancy. We said many times how this time we will not hesitate to take things into our own hands and tell the doctors when we did or didn't want to take action and what that looked like.

Well, here was our opportunity to test that bold statement we made over and over. Now is the chance to confidently say, "No. My baby is fine. My instinct tells me my baby is safe. I'm not going through this again and you're not putting her through anything unnecessary."

Being confident was a nice thought. 

Waltzing out of the hospital, smiling, holding a "Hollywood newborn" where they're already smiling and cooing as we made the ill advised yet triumphant decision for our child and family was a nice idea. baby could have a heart defect. She was slightly laboring to breathe...and what if something awful happened when we got home?
So, I was insistent that we were doing the right thing. We'll stay another day and let them monitor everything. We'll take her home when we're certain and settled.

I want to give props to the wonderful nurse, Cora, who was in the nursery with us. She was very friendly and quieted most of my fears about, well, everything. She was also hands down the best lactation consultant I've ever met. In the slightest of ways she was immensely supportive and encouraged me in my attempt at breastfeeding. I had yet to meet a lactation consultant who could spin my worries and breastfeeding dilemmas into a positive learning experience. So, that being said...

Cora quieted the echoes of fearful words and helped us get through those next several hours. At the next shift change, I met a new nurse who pointed out yet another new cause for concern. I don't even remember what it was, or what any of the other concerns were. I just remember it was always different and always seemed to never truly end with an answer.

On the second day of monitoring, Isla passed blood work and chest Xrays. On the afternoon of the second day, her vitals and the numbers they were tracking evened out and were perfect without reason or explanation. I updated our family and friends by explaining they "miraculously leveled out" because, well, the doctor was totally and openly perplexed. She wanted me to feed her a few more times and monitor her "pulling", as they were calling her labored breathing, to see if she was having some sort of issue with an underdeveloped...stomach flap or something. I never claimed to be educated in anything medical so I have no idea what was happening. This was all really good news, though. The doctor made it sound like a very optimistic thing if that were the case.

Silly girl would stretch and then leave her legs stiff and elevated. She had to have loved stretching out so much! I kept telling her there was more room outside the womb! 

I fed her once, they checked stats, fed her again, checked stats again and I was supposed to feed her one more time and then see how she was doing that evening. We went back to our room and laid down in silence while we waited for the hours to pass. This time, though, the silence felt much different.

This silence was one of rest rather than quiet dread. 

A random woman came into our room talking to us about a good time to take pictures and I'll admit I was in a really bad mood.
My gut response was to very irritably explain that our baby isn't with us in our room anymore because everyone thinks something is wrong and no one seems to be able to agree what it is, why it's happening and how it seems to miraculously fix itself. So, if she wants some freaking pictures of our cute little family that she's probably going to charge us $50 to take, she can get our baby discharged for us, bring her in, de-wired, take our cheesy pictures and send us home. I'll smile really big and everything.
Oh, and by the way, who the heck are you because you seem to think we've met and discussed these details.

I didn't say any of that, luckily. I did explain our situation very politely yet void of most emotion. I was too tired to fill anyone else in...kindly.

This is now a moment where I recognize the fact that I was a cranky a-hole, in my head at least. 

She nonchalantly said, "Oh, okay, I'll talk with the nursery and get things scheduled so that we can get it done."
" much does this cost?" (Again, we had never seen her or talked about taking pictures...)
"Oh, it's complimentary." (Ooo, complimentary)
"Oh, okay, that's cool." But wait...
"How long will it take?" I ask as that second thought abruptly halted the initial excitement of "complimentary". We gotta get a baby home. Ain't nobody got time for pictures.
"It shouldn't take too long. We'll just do it in here and I'll bring in some props."
'Well, Oooookay, we'll see about that,' I thought with a challenge. I was pretty sure we were getting tricked into something. At this point I must have been an exhausted conspiracy theorist. The hospital photographer lady was out to get us, apparently.

Maybe two hours go by and the photographer comes back in. She has a basket, a little mat that looks like weathered wood planks and a large white sheet with a ribbon. She leaves and then returns shortly after and who do you think is following her? Take a wild guess.

She's gorgeous. She doesn't walk. She poops in a diaper. 

 Photographer lady became my hero! She apparently did everything I unfairly, in my head, told her to do. She came in with Isla being pushed in behind her in her little bassinet. She was even de-wired.

And then even more alarming, the nurse said she was fine and could be discharged!

Isla approves!

Now, please, don't get me wrong; we wanted to get home SO badly...
but WHAT?! 
We waited that long, went through so many if's and maybe's and were waiting to leap through yet another hoop they required of us just to have it all dismissed in the end? All it took was the photographer asking for pictures??

What's weirder is we never got an answer to anything. The nurse gave a "well it must have cleared up!" kind of reasoning and we never even saw the doctor again. It was such a weird collaboration of emotions: total joy and excitement that we were finally going home, frustration that we were put through such emotional stress, gratefulness that she's totally healthy, confusion and even hurt that we didn't get a real answer to a single thing, even anger at the whole system.

All of those emotions are okay. And even justified.

But ultimately, I held Isla Sparrow without worrying about the wires and monitors, felt her round warmth, kissed the needle pricks on her feet and hands, admired her perfection and took in the true peace of knowing all was well. 

But to be totally honest, that moment I had with Isla didn't happen in the hospital. Our circumstances changed so dramatically that I wasn't at ease until we were home, on the couch, safe. I wasn't convinced that the doctor wasn't going to come back in and take my baby for more tests. Or that a nurse wouldn't take notice of something else necessary of more questions and worries. (Although now I knew I could send photographer lady in to take authority and make demands for Isla's return. She must run the hospital, after all.)

Something silly happened before we left the doors of the hospital though. We had been so terribly anxious and ready to leave the hospital with our new little one and we finally were. A nurse walked my mom, my dad, Palmer, myself and little Isla down to the front doors where we then waited for Palmer to bring the car around to pick us up. I sat there near the carseat where Isla quietly slept and panic rose from the pit of my stomach into my throat.

Like rising waters, the pressure and fear took my breath and sent my thoughts adrift to unexpected places. 

What if she isn't okay?
What if I'm not okay?
What if I'm not able to handle this change?
What if something terrible happens?
What if it's my fault?

I imagined getting home with her and our house was dimly lit and cold. (And needed new carpets.)
I didn't want to go to that. I wanted to stay here, where things suddenly felt predictable. And well lit. With lots of windows where I felt like my thoughts could breathe - I didn't know if they could breathe at home.

If the flood of panicked waters in my chest could swallow me alive at home. 

None of this makes sense, I know! Those kinds of thoughts don't have to make sense for you to succumb to them, though.

Palmer pulled up and we got into the car which literally looked 3x too small. I worried about her safety in the car. I worried about the ability for all 4 of is fit in it.
And that was all I could take, I guess, because when we pulled away is when the waters broke and I fell into a mess of tears and fear.

I hate to cry in front of people. I hate it so much. So being hormonal and prone to tears through this pregnancy was horrible and humiliating. My breakdown in front of Palmer was that much more embarrassing. But after the flood of words and sobs I let loose, Palmer was able to ground everything again. She's healthy, we're together, our friends are looking out for us, our family is right here to help in any way, we'll really be okay. Through the first year of Bella's life there were many times where things weren't okay or where we weren't together. In those times and shortly after, this time - right now, the time of our life we're currently living - was not certain and definitely not guaranteed.

Here we are. We'll really be okay.  Things are hard and freakishly incapable of balance but we'll be okay. In fact.
We are okay.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pinteresting: Buttermilk Ranch Cheeseball

Write up a review? Ain't nobody got time for that.

I brought this to a superbowl party and I didn't love it. I also brought half of it home, so that's also weighed in on my conclusion.