Saturday, August 23, 2008

Grief and Perseverance

20 years ago today, I was halfway around the world. I had just arrived in Taipei, Taiwan for a visit with my grandparents. Dad, Nancy, Nate, Elizabeth, Anna and myself....we were all tuckered out. It was a long trip and we were excited to be there. I was 9 years old.

The phone rang. It was Grandaddy, and he asked to speak to my Dad. I remember seeing his face turn from a jolly "we're here!" look to a horrified look of disbelief. He hung up the phone. The entire room was frozen. We didn't know what was wrong. He brought my sisters and I into the adjacent bedroom and he said those words I won't ever forget. The words I am sure that no Father ever wants to share with his children. "Your mom has passed away."

*************************************

Grief is an interesting thing. Each of us has our own way to deal. Some ways are better than others, but we all mange loss and pain so differently. First comes denial, then anger, then pain, then depression; and the cycle repeats. I was reading an article recently where someone was quoted as calling grief "a bittersweet beauty." He was talking about how grief shouldn't be banished. That as humans we must love it, share it, understand it and use it. And that is why on this 20th anniversary of the largest loss in my life, I can reflect.

I have talked many times in this forum about that loss. About how horrible it has been for me to live through, and how tremendous the feelings still are. There is no doubt that the sadness still lingers. But really, as the years go on, I realize that this grief will never really end. Instead, it will cycle through, and each year leads to more understanding. I have gained so much that is positive from her loss. I can actually say that now. I still miss her terribly, but the things I have learned about life, and myself, and this whole big plan are a bit clearer to me now. It's like seeing the lighthouse through the dense fog. And it only took 20 years to get here!

There is not doubt that I am sad today. I am. But, I haven't cried yet. I always kept my feelings nestled inside, only for me to know about, only for me to see. I cry in my own space, on my own time. It's just how I deal. I miss her today. I do. I miss all that she has missed by not being here, but I know that she is in a far superior place than this Earth. And one day, I will get to see her again. There is no greater hope than that right there.

I am going to leave you now with this YouTube clip. A good friend sent it to me not that long ago, and it really sums up a lot of the learning that I have done over the last 20 years. No one understands this kind of grief like God does. He has been in my shoes. He has felt this pain. And somehow that makes it feel so much better.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On The Road Again

Today, my little brothers are on the road. Headed to Arizona to start school. For one of them, it's a new venture. His freshman year. For the other, it's nothing new. Just the same old, same old, but this time, his little bro gets to come along for the ride.

It's hard to believe that these two are already in college. The house is getting emptier and emptier as the days go on. Mary is the only sibling left now, and pretty soon, my parents will be empty nesters. I can hear my Dad's sigh of relief from a million miles away. It's been a long time coming for him. He has been raising children for the last 34 years consecutively. That is a long time!!

Nick (see above) has always been the jokester in the family. It's pretty obvious in that photo, isn't it?? He is always cracking jokes, and making the entire room burst out into laughter. It's going to be weird not having him around, or watching his lacrosse games, or seeing him when he comes over to watch Tigers games. It's kind of sad to think he is all grown up now. On his way to college for the first time, and he's a man now. A Man. No longer a little boy, he is no longer my "little" brother (he has me beat in height even!), he is a man now. A grown up, about to endeavor on a huge adventure. And I am so excited for him.

Nate is a lot like me. Or so I started to realize over this past summer. He has opinions, and lots of them. He likes to argue, and even when you are agreeing with him, he is still arguing his point. I think he might find himself becoming a lawyer one day. He would probably be rolling his eyes at that comment, but I think he would make a good one. Nate was the first little boy in the family, and he was the first tiny baby that we welcomed into our 3-girl-deep household. I loved pushing him around in the stroller, and feeding him his bottles, and taking care of him like I was his mom. I was fascinated with him when he was little. And I still am. He has turned into an awesome young man. He's still sweet and sensitive like he was when he was little and it's been fun watching him grow up. (please note, Nancy's AWESOME race car cake!!)
These two aren't young anymore. Neither is Mary. Neither am I. We are all growing up, and it's been a whole lot of fun watching this family evolve over the last 25 or so years. I am so lucky that I get to a part of it. I feel truly blessed today that I get to call these two my brothers. My life wouldn't be the same without them.

If you could, say a prayer that they arrive to Tucson safe and sound. I have a feeling they might get into a little bit of trouble on their way, but I know that God has them in His hands now. And that makes all the difference.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Gigtastic!"

Firstly, thank you to those of you that responded on my previous post. You all had some very encouraging words for me, and I appreciate that very much!!

********************

Last night, we had the opportunity to see K.T. Tunstall at Frederick Meijer Gardens. I wasn't a HUGE fan, but I do love her music, and so we bought tickets awhile back. Let me just say, that I came away a new HUGE fan. What a treat!! She is really great, and her band was awesome too.

She kept us all entertained throughout the evening and she was enthralled with all the names of the cities surrounding Grand Rapids. She thought it was neat that we were GRAND, and that there was a BIG Rapids, that wasn't as Grand as our Rapids is. She also thought that Kalamazoo sounded like a place where people had stretchy legs and wore circus attire. She called the setting at the FMG "GIGTASTIC!" (which it really is, by the way) and overall, she was a great entertainer. We even did her signature "pulsating wave" and the entire crowd went nuts waving up and down the hill.

One thing that surprised me was how pint sized she is. She is a teeny little thing, and out comes this raspy, larger than life voice. And her British accent is awesome. I have a thing with accents. I just love them, and sometimes I wish I had one of my own. Or well, one that didn't resemble whatever a Michigander talks like.

It was a great night out, and even little Peanut liked the music. He was bouncing around in my belly, and I think all that bouncing caused a serious case of the hiccups, because he had em' pretty bad!! I think he is going to like music a whole lot. Just like his Mom and Dad.

Check back tomorrow for a picture of the teeny tiny KT and her rockin' band.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Natural Born Worrywart

I have anxiety. On a normal day, I am like an anxious freak, constantly knawing my nails, not allowing my brain to rest for even a second. During this pregnancy, I have done pretty well at controlling my anxiety, but lately, I feel a little out of control again.

They say it's normal to experience this anxiety, especially at this point in my pregnancy. I hate self-doubt, though. It's a horrible, horrible thing and I hate it. This should actually be a part of my 10 Things I Hate list, but I thought it needed it's own separate post.

Transforming from independent, selfish old me to a mother is hard work. And the worry is there constantly. Will I be good at this? Will this child love me?? Will I be able to hack it?? Do I have the patience for this?? Does my marriage have the patience for this?? All of these questions keep streaming through my head. Everyday that I get closer to my due date is one more day that I worry. I am not even remotely worried about the actual delivery, I am more worried about what is to come. And what happens if I suck at this? What then??

The compounding stress at work also doesn't help. Trying to line things up for maternity leave; not feeling 100% confident in the person that is taking over my duties, not feeling like I have half a brain to do anything right anymore...it's all been weighing heavy on my heart. And then I remember it's August. And 20 years ago this month is when I lost my own mother. It hurts to not have her here to help me get through this. Maybe she would have those wise words that I so desperately need to here to right now. YOU CAN DO THIS.

Everyone says that once that baby is here, that all of this worry will go out the window, presumably for a whole different set of worries. Life is constantly full of worry. I know I can never escape it, but I think what is more daunting is the waiting for it all to happen. I want to know I can do this, I want to know I can handle being a good mother, I want to know NOW! I would be lying if I told you that I was feeling confident in myself at this point. Because, I have no idea what to expect except for that this is going to be hard work. Rewarding work, yes. But, hard work indeed. And for now, I am not allowing this anxious feeling to consume me, but that is tough work too. Maybe my motherly instincts will snap into place. Maybe they won't. I guess only time will tell.

And please, tell me I am not alone here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

10 Things I hate About You, Pregnancy

So, here it is....the short list of things that are hard to deal with during pregnancy....at least for me. Some of this is a bit TMI, so if you can't handle TMI, then stop reading here.

1. The constant peeing: When I say constant, I mean constant. At Rothbury, I had to be sure that I was within 10 feet of a bathroom at.all.times. Even today, I get anxious if I am not close to a bathroom. Car rides?? Oh yeah, those are fun. I don't think I have ever used rest areas more in my entire life!! At least I know I am getting my tax dollars' worth. My boss joked that I needed to start bringing in my own toilet paper because the company was going to go bankrupt if I didn't. :o)

2. The snail trail: Now, this is gross. But the ever-lovin' discharge that emerges the second you pee on a stick is insane. I am talking, INSANITY at it's very finest. I need to buy stock in Always with all the panty liners I go through.

3. The headaches: This is my biggest complaint so far. I have been a chronic migraine sufferer for half of my life, but daily headaches are a beast. You just want to close your head in a vice and be done with it already.

4. The summer heat: Now, I always try and look on the bright side and remember I don't live in Dallas. But, this heat is insane. It makes it very uncomfortable to do anything outside.

5. The Sweat: I have always been the sweaty type. I even have a prescription for my overactive sweat glands, but it's like the floodgates have opened and the sweat has come pouring out. Gross.

6. Round Ligament Pain: R.L.P. 3 letters that I can't wait to curse away forever. RIP, RLP. This is the pain you get when your ligaments decide they need to stretch to accommodate the visitor in-utero. It happens whenever I sneeze, cough, roll out of bed, or just look the other way. Seriously. This is not fun.

7. The Insomnia: Trying to maneuver a gigantic belly from one side to the other side, with a pillow under your legs, and one behind your butt. Yeah. Just picture it. There is a lot of tossing and turning when you are pregnant.

8. The Waddle: I didn't think I had it, but I do. People are lying when they tell me that I am not waddling. Your whole center of gravity is OFF. Way, way off. I feel like a duck on a good day.

9. The Fatigue: I can't climb a flight of stairs without huffing intensely at the top. It's like I have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro just to look back and only see 14 stairs.

10. Chafing Legs: Who knew this would ever be a complaint of mine. I can't wear skirts or dresses without Spanx, because my sweaty legs rub together until they burn. Monistat Chafing Powder Gel is my best friend.

And now, the list of things that I CANNOT complain about, that most pregnant women DO complain about:

1. Heartburn: I have had none. There is an old wive's tale that suggests that this means my child will have no hair. We shall soon find out if I have a grizzly or a baldy.

2. Constipation: I have had one instance where I needed some over the counter intervention. Other than that, I am more regular than I have ever been in my life.

3. Itchy Skin: I don't have any itch issues. And I barely lotion up my body. I do have stretchmarks, but those aren't on my hate-list because I really don't mind them that much. They are my battle wounds.

That's all for today!! The list isn't so bad, I suppose. But, 10 more weeks of this seems quite daunting. I just have to keep my eye on the prize and remember that all of this is a means to an end.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

10 Things I love About You, Pregnancy

In honor of being 3/4 of the way done with being pregnant, I decided to make a list of things I love about this experience. Don't worry...it's not all peachy. Stay tuned for the "10 Things I HATE" edition tomorrow.

1. My expanding belly: This falls into both the LOVE and HATE categories. I love it right now, because I know what is inside of it and what is being accomplished inside of it. Being tall has played in my favor too, as I don't have a lot of the comfort issues that someone that is much shorter might have. At least not at this point.

2. Feeling our little man break dance up against my ribs: Sounds horrible, right?? Well, it's not. I love it. It's reassurance, excitement and amazement all wrapped into one.

3. Hearing that little heartbeat: It sounds like a galloping brood of horses. It's so fast, and steady, and competent. It makes me smile every single time I hear it.

4. Knowing that my body is capable of growing a human: This one is hard to wrap your head around until you actually experience it. It really is awesome that my body is capable of all that it has accomplished so far.

5. The hair and nails factor: I have always been a nail biter. Always. Right now, my nails could screech down a chalkboard so effectively that you might just scream. They are that awesome.

6. The fact that I get to eat, and eat and eat: 300 extra calories isn't a lot, but when you have been dieting for the last 3 years, it's pretty awesome to have EXTRA anything. Even if the GD diet has been restrictive, I still get to do one thing that I love to do; EAT. And gaining weight is actually OKAY!!

7. Huge boobs: I have always had some serious jugs, but now they are even bigger!! And I actually don't mind it. Neither does the man in the house :o) It's like getting a boob job for nothin'.

8. My new wardrobe: I have never had any excuse as good as this to go shopping. And maternity clothes have come along way from stirrup pants, and stretchy knits. It's like I have a brand new closet, and even though it's temporary, it's still fun to wear new things.

9. The Glow: I know not everyone has it, and I have had my fair share of acne and other fun things, but I always get comments about the GLOW. Do you think they are just lying?? :o)

10. The prospect of the end result: The fact that at the end of all of this, I get to take home a precious little bundle. Something that Curtis and I made together; a piece of each of us....that is something that I find so truly special and so absolutely amazing. The gift of life is truly something to not take for granted and I know that now more than ever.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Growth Ultrasound #1

We just got back from our appointment with the high risk OB. It went extremely well and we got a chance to see our little Peanut again.

My fundal measurement has been showing that I am 3 weeks ahead, but this ultrasound showed that I am measuring at about 31 weeks. So, just about a week ahead. He is about 3 lbs 10 oz, and he is in the 62nd percentile overall. He does have a big head, but that is genetics playing a role. And I am pretty sure that the head measurement was just to freak out the person that has to push this child out of her body! :o) He is head down and using my bladder as a pillow. I figured he had to be head down because I feel kicks up high and hiccups down low. Sure enough, he is head down and very comfortable in there. Everything looked perfect and it was such a joy to see his little body on the screen again. I have to continue these scans every 4 weeks until I deliver to continue to be sure that the gestational diabetes is not affecting him too adversely. So far, so good.

Here is a picture of his adorable little face. The ultrasound tech said that he has chubby cheeks and full lips. You can really see his chubby cheeks in this picture! What a cutie, right?? We can't wait to meet him!!

Oh, and we finally have a name! Middle name and everything...it's a good one, but you have to stay tuned. I can't share it quite yet!