By Heather O.
This is not a pity post. I wrote that one a year ago . This is more of a sharing post. Let’s share. I’ll go first.
We have 1 child, a son who turns 4 on March 1st. In the past 2 and a half years, I’ve had 4 miscarriages, 2 of them second trimester losses.
After my first miscarriage, I was sort of a mess. I miscarried while my husband was in an entirely different state–Arkansas, to be exact, where he was getting us a house and moving our stuff into it in preparation for his year working as a law clerk. I had my D&C, took a day off to sleep, and the next day flew basically across the country to a town where I knew nobody except my son and my husband, and moved into a house that was only partially unpacked. I hate to move. I hate to unpack. And I hate, hate, HATE cockroaches, which are beyond abundant in the South. It was a hard week.
As hard as it was, though, I did not consider myself changed much. Well, I guess any trial changes you, for better or for worse, but I still thought of myself as a bascially healthy person who had just had a minor setback. And after all, scratch the surface of any Relief Society, and you’ll find a plethora of women who have had miscarriages. I felt like I had my turn, and once I pulled myself together and felt good again, I felt ready to put the incidence behind me, and get back to the business of building our family.
Things continued to go contrary to my plan, however. I miscarried again while in Arkansas, and twice more once we moved to DC. After the second one, I had an inkling that this whole family thing wasn’t going to be easy, and I felt myself sliding into a new category. I went from the “healthy, young, and fertile” category to the “she’s having trouble” cateogry.
I’ve been in the “she’s having trouble” category for quite some time now, and ironically, I’m almost comfortable there. You get into the rythym of the doctor’s appointments, the rounds of testing, and life somehow goes on. I did have to redefine some of my thoughts about family, and certainly our number goal dropped significantly, but I still never fully stepped into the “she can’t ever have more children” category. That seemed far away, distant, different from where I was. I continued to believe that the next test would reveal the problem, my OB would hand me the magic cure, and we’d have that second baby, at the latest, by the time Jacob turned four.
Jacob will be four on March 1.
And that “she can’t ever have more children” category just zoomed a lot closer.
Again, in the interest of TMI, I won’t go into all of my various medical issues, but I was told today that if I were to ever get pregnant again, there would be risks. High risks. The doctor who told me this is not an OB, but he did tell me that I needed to speak to my OB, sit down with her and discuss whether or not she thought a pregnancy was really a safe option. He did not say, “You can’t ever have more children,” but he did say, “It comes down to a risk/benefit analysis, and you need to understand that there will be some higher risks for you.”
Pregnancy–a risk/benefit analysis. Sounds almost like he was selling life insurance.
So, I want to be done. I want so much to be done. I want to look at my perfect son, rejoice in his happiness, and say, “This is what we’ve got? Wow, thanks!” and move on. And go an entire month without seeing or talking to a doctor.
Something won’t let me, though. Call it my heart, call it my upbringing, call it a prompting, call it hoo-doo voo-doo, but I don’t feel like we’re done. And everybody who has gone through similar issues tells me “You’ll know when you’re done”.
I’m not closed to the idea of adoption. Not at all. So many members of my immediate and extended family are adopted, it’s practically turning into a family tradition. For those of you who have adopted kids, how do you know when it’s time to throw in the infertility towel and pursue other options? Short of your uterus falling out onto the pavement, how do you really know when your body can not possibly give you any more?
I want to do what’s right, and I’m learning to to give up, little by little and not without more than a little fight, my will to God’s. I dunno–maybe the spirits that have been promised to our family just have some serious work to finish before they could come to earth, and I just have to have faith. I mean, hey, that’s cool, but it sure would be nice to know if I should buy a bigger house.
By Tracy M
By my reckoning, I have spent more than 1460 hours hooked up to a breast pump. And I don’t want to do it again. There. I said it. I’m waiting for the waves of guilt to wash over me, and the La Leche League-ers to start banging on my door.
Neither of my sons have been able to naturally physically nurse, but I was bound and determined to provide breastmilk any way I could, so I pumped. Every ounce of milk my first son ate for the first eight months of his life, I pumped. With my second son, I only lasted about four months, before the exhaustion wore me out.
When you are pumping instead of naturally nursing, to keep your milk supply up you have to be rigorous in your pumping schedule. If you let it slide, your supply will begin to diminish and the hormones that keep the milk coming will slow down. So, every three hours, around the clock, no matter what was happening, I would sit down to pump. Even when the baby would be sleeping, I had to get up and pump, or risk jeopardizing my supply. Baby would wake up, I would feed him with the previous pumping’s milk, change him, get him back to sleep, then I would go and pump for 15 minutes, prepare the next bottle, wash the pump, and fall exhausted back into bed, only to wake (if lucky) two hours later and do it again. Yes, I am dead serious. Even when baby started sleeping longer stretches at night, I still had to get up and pump. It was a special level of hell, let me assure you.
Before anyone asks or jumps to conclusions, I have tried everything known to mankind, including but not limited to: LLL meetings (little freaked out by the lack of tollerance for other methods of feeding and by a 7 year old lifting mom’s shirt for a ‘little sip’), Lactation Nurses- both before birth, at the hospital, after birth and home visits, breast shells, nipple shields, suction devices and other means of torture, hospital-grade industrial pumps, carrying the baby in a sling constantly nuzzling my breast, and even surgery. All to no avail.
So, with the imminent arrival of number three in just a few weeks, I have been thinking about what I should do, dreading starting the routine again, wondering how I will still be fit for human company and reasonably mother two and four-year old sons. No matter how I try and spin it, I don’t think I can humanly manage. The baby would reap the benefits of my milk, but the price my family would pay is extremely steep, and after the months of hyper-emesis they have already suffered through, is it fair to ask even more of them?
I am teetering on the edge of “my milk is perfect for my baby” and “just screw it”. Has anyone out there eschewed breastfeeding and just asked for a bottle at the hospital? Even thinking about that, the guilt wells up, I can feel the nasty stares from the nurses, and hear the boot-clad feet of the LLLeaguers goose-stepping down the birthing center hallway…
Good Mom, Bad mom
24 Feb 2006 03:12 pm
By Heather O.
Sometimes I am a good mom. Really, I am.
Other days, I kinda suck.
And some days, it goes both ways.
Yesterday, I took my kid to the grocery store and ordered a custom cake for his birthday, completely fitting with the “theme” he picked out months ago (what can I say, he likes to be prepared. No, he didn’t get that from me.). Good mom.
Today, I picked him up 20 minutes late from preschool because I was hurridly trying to finish things at work that should have been easier to get done. When I finally picked him up, Jacob clung to me and told me, “I was so worried about you.” Bad mom.
After we got home from preschool, we played a rousing game of dominos together, complete with explanations about numbers. Good mom.
The dominos game was from Wendy’s where we stopped after preschool because I didn’t have time to eat lunch. Bad mom.
I woke up early with him and read Spiderman in the newspaper with him. Good mom.
I just plugged him into the TV to watch “Go Diego Go” while I blog. Bad mom.
Sometimes I just feel a little schizophrenic.
If you’ll excuse me, I have to get some cookies out of the oven to feed to my son while I snuggle with him to watch the last part of Diego. Good mom.
The cookies were frozen and came straight out of a package. Bad mom. (sigh)
By Tracy M
My two-year old, Eric, is worrying me. Well, maybe worry isn’t the right word- causing consternation? Here’s the deal- In only a matter of weeks, the dynamic of our family will be changing again, as we welcome baby #3, our maybe-girl into the world. And while I want to shout and cheer and do an awkward and unsightly pregnant dance for joy at the fact I will no longer be barfing, my littlest one is simply not ready to be displaced.
I need help. I need advice on how to prepare him, what to do, how to make him feel ok about the whole thing. My four-year-old, Jeffrey, is beside himself with excitement and can’t wait for baby to be here- possibly because my mom keeps telling him he gets to go to Disneyland ‘after the baby comes’, but regardless- he is thrilled. He was happy when his brother was born too, though, and has always liked babies. He is kind and gentle and caring with children smaller than him, (which is good because he is a moose and most of his friends and classmates are smaller anyway).
Ah, but Eric is another story. A few Sunday’s ago, when I was holding a friends’ baby at church, he tried to bite her on the head. This is not new- any time I hold another baby, he is physical and tries to hit, pull or otherwise maim said baby. We have tried all the things we did with Jeffrey to teach him to be gentle, with no success. We got him a baby doll, and while he likes to play with it, he is ‘physical’ and likes to throw her and shoot her with his “laser-shooter” (a mystery spot on his wrist that blows things up, in his world). We have spent a great deal of time talking about the baby in my tummy, and how she will be here soon- We have talked up the whole “big brother” thing, even getting him a shirt with that claim to fame. He’s a physical and fearless kid, and I am out of ideas on ways to make this more comfortable for him.
Jeffrey never worried me when Eric came along, but I am concerned now, both for Eric’s ability to acclimate to a new family dynamic, and for the safety of a tiny, helpless newborn. Anyone with any sage advice or experience on this, please chime in!
Martha Vs. Oprah
22 Feb 2006 03:04 pm
By Heather O.
This was buried in the comments of the Oprah thread, and I think it deserves its own discussion.
“Just out of curiosity–I’m interested in how y’all would compare Oprah and Martha Stewart. After all, Martha is the only human ever featured on her covers; she’s pretty bossy about how people ought to live; her personal life is (ahem) far from admirable; she’s at least as out of touch with actual people as Oprah, and yet I suspect a lot of Mormon women like and respect her. My hunch is that she is OK because she has (publicly, anyway) confined her preaching to an area in which Mormon women find it acceptable to excel, whereas Oprah has rejected those boundaries.
(A disclaimer: I have no dog in this fight–don’t own a TV, have only seen one episode of Oprah ever. I find her magazine more distracting than Vogue when I’m huffing through that last 20 minutes on the Stairmaster, but haven’t ever subscribed. My involvement with Martha Stewart is limited to having once made a squash soup for Thanksgiving using a recipe someone clipped from her magazine for me.)”
As usual, Kristine has brought up a great question.
For me, I think that Mormon women revere Martha because she is a tangible example of somebody who had actually achieved what every Mormon housewife is striving for–domestic nirvana. Also, I think for those of us who like crafts, homemaking, etc, having a successful woman like Martha validates a lot. Oprah validates nothing, and sometimes even goes so far as to criticize and riducule certain lifestyle choices common for Mormon women.
For the rest of us, however, who are craft challenged, nay, I would almost say craft disabled, Martha represents something far worse–a smack in the face and reminder of our failures.
I don’t like Martha. Can you tell?
Still, I guess she does have some good recipes. You know, if you have terragon and majoram just hanging about the house.
Any other thoughts?
By Heather O.
A friend of mine threw a baby shower for another friend of mine recently. I volunteered to help with the prelimenaries–food prep, cleaning, etc. I went over to my friend’s house, and was doing my duty when her husband walked in and tossed her some new dish towels.
I was holding an old dish towel, and asked what was wrong with the one I had. It was perfectly fine, really. No holes, no stains, and it even had a pretty pattern. Ok, the color wasn’t fantastic, but it’s a dish rag, who cares?
My friend explained that while she was getting ready for the shower, her husband had told her that those dish towels looked “ghetto”, and that they needed new ones. So he literally went out and bought new dish towels that day that were white with a brown pattern. Yes, they looked nicer than the ones they had, but the ones they had were not bad. I certainly would not have described them as “ghetto”. But, her husband was adament, so new ones they had.
Sometime later, she explained the real reason her husband didn’t like the dishtowels. Turns out, his mother wasn’t much of a cook or a housekeeper. Her son’s reaction is to overreact to anything that he feels isn’t really nice in the kitchen, even when the things they have are perfectly passable.
I said to my friend, “Wow, I’m never showing my dishrags to your husband ever again!” My dish rags, sadly, probably could be considered “ghetto”, what with the stains, the holes, and the faded color patterns from being bleached too often. But my friend said that the concern doesn’t carry over to other people’s houses. He doesn’t give a crap what my dish towels look like because they are not in his house, and he doesn’t have to associate ownership with them. And that’s good, because if a man judges me by the condition of my dish towels, we are all in serious trouble.
But the point is that this person, who actually is a fairly nice, normal guy, has picked up some idiosyncratic habits because of the habits of his mother. He is in direct revolt of something she did, or a part of who she was. It’s harmless, I guess, needing nice dish towels, but it is sort of an interesting obsession, don’t you think?
And of course, the whole episode got me thinking about what my own son will do in direct rebellion to how he grew up. Will he hate peanut butter and jelly because he eats it practically every day for lunch now? Will he demand to have his children have organized toys because his current play room is affectionately nicknamed “The Pit of Despair”? Will he obsess about always having clean socks because that is the one item of clothing his mother seems to have a hard time providing for him? And those are just material, temporal things. Are there more sinister, deeply hidden emotional issues that he will have to share with his therapist because I spanked him for climbing on the counter?
It’s scary, really, to think how we are shaping our children. I’d like to think that we are just sort of gatekeepers, that our job is to provide a base, a solid foundation for our children so they can climb to new heights without ever having to worry about what is underneath them. But then I meet somebody who can’t handle having slightly faded green dishtowels and blames that on his mother, and suddenly my role in this whole parenting gig takes on a whole new meaning.
And we work so hard to protect them from all of the evils and hurts of the world, but who’s there protecting them from us?
I suppose I have my own revolts, my own rebellion against my upbringing. They’re not big rebellions, but they are there. I suppose everybody has them. I guess I just thought (or hoped) that when my son grows up, he will clearly think I am the most perfect mother ever. I mean, is that really too much to ask?
On the off chance that he doesn’t grow up and think I’m perfect, I guess I should at least make sure he has some nice dish towels.
A new me
18 Feb 2006 03:23 pm
By The Wiz
Hooray!! The cast is off, and the wrist is still in pain (but OH! I never thought I’d love washing my hands as much as I do now. Warm water on both arms - what a miracle). I try to maneuver it in ways that were totally natural before, but apparently my wrist likes to say things to me like “Sorry, throwing balls is no longer something you will be able to do. Please drive through.”
But I’m working on getting my range of motion back, because finding a babysitter for sessions of physical therapy is something I do not want to ever deal with. I’ve got 3 weeks to get my wrist maneuverable before the doctor checks me out to see if therapy is recommended. It’s coming. Go me. I can do it.
And…I have brand new eyes. Last night was my appointment (finally!) for Lasik surgery, and although I can see fairly well today, the eyedrops every half an hour are a pain, and the whole surgical experience was less than pleasant. It was remarkably unpleasant, actually. Ok, it totally sucked. From the waiting for 3 and 1/2 hours to the taping open of my eye when it’s not quite numb, and the horribly bright lights in your face (”Don’t squint, honey.” “Don’t squint? Those are hugely bright lights and they hurt to have anywhere near my face! And I am NOT your honey!” “I know, I’m sorry, but don’t squint) to the video they give you! They videoed it? Who wants to see that? The ewwwww factor is big there for me, but DH is dying to see it. And then I went home in these weird eye shields that had Toddler-Man laughing at “Mommy’s silly face” and let me tell you — half a valium at 2:00 does NOT help when they finally squeeze you in at 5:30! But I can see today, which is nothing short of miraculous, and a few thousand eye drops is a small price to pay. Of course, the bill is not a small price to pay….but I’ve been saving. Let’s hear it for eyesight!
So….just one more surgery left, lots and lots of follow-ups, and a scan (possibly just one, but likely more) in my future, and then hopefully I’ll be able to re-enter the world of people who don’t go to the doctor 8 times a month. Yippee-ki-yay, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! But I do know that there are people who NEVER are able to enter that realm, so in the spirit of rejoicing - YEE-HAA! Someday I’ll be well again (assuming all goes as planned).
So…all these posts on sickness must have everyone wondering what on earth is going on over at MMW. Well, I just don’t know. Maybe the moon is in some weird retrograde thing that makes all motherly bloggers get horribly ill at the same time. Maybe our computers are toxic. Maybe we’re all just too old. I do have a theory, and it involves aliens and Jean-Luc Picard and Star Trek being real, (except that DS9 crap) and maybe Death really does look like Brad Pitt, and that all cosmically works together as we are all slowly being poisoned by fluoridated water. But nobody seems to really buy into that theory. So maybe there is someone out there who needs to hear about our sickness, or maybe we just need to talk about it to heal, or MAYBE……this is the universe’s way of telling us to slow down. It could be, perhaps, that we do too much, and our bodies need to force us to slow down occasionally. Naaahhhh……
By Tracy M
Am I the only one who just doesn’t get it? It would seem that even the cynical and wry David Letterman has fallen prey to the social inertia that is steadily moving Oprah Winfrey towards sainthood. And I’m not talking our kind of Saint.
First, I must openly admit, I do not watch the Oprah program anymore. There are many reasons I stopped tuning in, not the least of which is a busy life full of children and family things in the late afternoon. But that isn’t the only reason- even if I sat around doing nothing all day (ha ha ha!), I still would not be interested in most of her programs.
See, I just cannot relate, and don’t believe a career woman, who has never been married, has no children, and enough money to support the GNP of a small nation, can relate to me. She might be able to read about me, to nod empathetically, to bring on some expert on “stay at home moms”, but all this does is turn me into a caricature, a shadow of myself. And really, it’s not her job to represent me- she is an entertainer; and herein lies my problem. I think Oprah believes her own press- and tries to be every woman. She is not- and never will be.
The philanthropic work is great, the charity work is great, the donations and school-building in Afghanistan are great. But every time I think I will give her another shot, maybe tune in, maybe read an article out of Her magazine, the same thing happens. Every show is a celebration of Her, what is happening in Her life, what is on Her bookshelf, and what she is wearing on the cover of Her magazine this month. And it just turns me off. I can’t go for the Rah-Rah, pseudo feminism and celebration of Her Oprahness. Women like me don’t have personal trainers, personal chefs, a make-up artist, a hair stylist, and the finances to support and carry the careers of my nearest and dearest. Women like me don’t go out and buy the fabulous new Prada diaper bag and the 4″ heels to match- nor would most of us, even if we could.
When I watch, which is seldom, what I see is pop-psychology, a propensity toward over-consumption, a misunderstanding of traditional families and an overabundance of dysfunctional families, subtle and ever-so-slight reverse racism, discontent, and tiny undercurrent of hostility towards men who are not exactly John Travolta or Dr. Phil.
So I simply cannot understand why so many women seem to rabidly love her. And David Letterman gave new meaning to “Obsequious Toad” during his at-long-last recent interview with her. I cringe just thinking about it. What am I missing?
By Heather O.
I need to give credit where credit is due (and possibly mandated by law!). The title of this post is from a talk given by Emily Watts, a mother and an editor for Deseret Book who often speaks at the popular “Time Out for Women” events around the country. She has written 2 books: _Being The Mom_, and _Take Two Chocolates and Call Me in the Morning_. I highly recommend both books.
Anyway, she and I were chatting once about this talk she gives, called “Surviving your greatest blessings”. I haven’t actually heard the talk, but I’m sure it’s fabulous. She says that two of our greatest blesssings are also two of our greatest challenges: our bodies and our children. We followed the Lord’s plan to come here to earth to get a body, and yet so many of us struggle so much when it comes to bodies. And, of course, we all love our children and are grateful for them, but somedays you just need a break!
So I’ve been thinking about that lately. I think originally Emily was talking about body image issues, how none of us are completely satisfied with the one that we got, but lately I’m thinking about it from a different angle. I’ve talked before about some health issues that I have had, and other administrators on this blog, as well as some of the commentors, have alluded to other serious health issues, too. Sounds like we are all sort of a sick bunch. And it’s hard to be sick. It’s hard to have a doctor tell you that your body is not functioning the way that it’s supposed to. It’s hard to realize that you can’t do the things that other people can do, or have the things other people have. And it’s hard to come to terms with a situation that you have really very little control over, either because God hasn’t let you in on His plan, or your HMO gives you people like Dr. Ugly Teeth to work with.
So in dealing with being sick, I’m trying to put it all in perspective, and try to understand what my Heavenly Father would have me do with it. And I think I have an answer.
God wants, above all, me to rejoice.
There are other things as well, but I think this is the key, the big one. So I’m going to rejoice.
I can poop and pee without pain–REJOICE!
I can brush my hair without it falling out–REJOICE!
I can walk up the stairs in my house–REJOICE!
I can eat solid food–REJOICE!
I can brush my own teeth–REJOICE!
I can put on my own pants and tie my own shoes–REJOICE!
I can lick chocolate icing off my cheek when I’m stuffing chocolate cake in my mouth–REJOICE!
The list can go on, and making a list like that makes me feel like my body may be in pretty good shape, especially since I know people who CAN’T do the things I just listed.
So it may be simple and silly and sound sort of like a primary lesson, but I think the answer to surviving our greatest blessings is to rejoice in them. Completely. Always.
Now, if I could just remember that the next time Jacob colors on the walls….
Hey, he’s artistic–REJOICE!
By The Wiz
Is there a secret, underground society that teaches mothers how to put together cutesy little valentine’s bags to hand out at school? Did I miss a memo? What happened to the giving out of valentine cards, and JUST cards? When I was young, I remember looking at all the different types of valentine’s, and loving the characters, and just the fun of getting 25 different cards at school, and then your teacher would give everyone a box of conversation hearts, and you’d sit at lunch and trade those around based on the phrasing on each heart, and try to sneak the boy you had a crush on a particularly naughty heart, like ‘love ya’ (but don’t let him know it’s from you!) and valentine’s day was a blast!
Today, my children get so much candy, you’d think it was Halloween, except they didn’t work for it. And, not a single box of conversation hearts to be found! No, I look for them every year, because, on principle (yes, I have very strange principles), Necco wafer candy conversation hearts are the official candy of St. Valentine. And so I want to give those out to the people in the various classes, because I understand that ‘bad Mommy’ points are given out to moms who send their kids to school with just a card for their classmates. Candy must be involved somehow, or, you, like, get impeached or somehting. I’m not really clear on the punishment, but I’m sure it’s very bad for both parent and child.
Anyway, this year, those hearts were nowhere to be found! I finally found some that I thought were authentic, and then I got them home, and they were like ‘extra tart’ or something, and yes, they had phrasing on them, but they were nasty! NOT THE FLAVOR OF VALENTINE’S DAY AT ALL. My kids did not understand my disappointment. Candy is candy.
Also, I am paying money to send my child to ballet class, to be taught ballet, only to be told that Thursday (the 9th! A full five days before Valentine’s!) is a Valentine party day, so please bring a treat to class for everyone in the class! I pay money for the privilege of having my child get loaded up on sugar an hour before dinner, and I also pay to hear the joyous fight in the backseat as my 5 year old tries to keep Toddler-Man from stealing all her candy. After all, she has tons, and he has none. I can see his point.
“When YOU take ballet, then you can have candy.”
“MINE!! WANT SOME!!”
“NO! You didn’t go to ballet today!”
“Honey, that logic’s not working on him, let me hide the candy up front until we get home?”
“But my teacher said I could eat it in the car!”
“MINE!! WANT SOME!”
“Stop pulling your sister’s hair!”
Do you feel the love? Same argument, essentially, on Sunday, only this time it’s in Sacrament meeting because some Primary leaders felt it would be fun to hand out a Valentine treat at the end of sharing time. Except Toddler-Man doesn’t go to sharing time, due to the fact that he’s a toddler, and hair is flying all over the pews in Sacrament Meeting as we try to look like a loving family who never invites the spirirt of contention.
My 5 yo (just turned! I can’t stand it!) received her third bag full of candy Monday at preschool. The day before Valentine’s day. She is so excited for Valentine’s because maybe she’ll get more candy! She is wrong. There will be no more candy forthcoming.
My 6 yo is excited to get treats in school today, which is OK with me because it’s actually on the holiday. But she will be handing out suckers taped to a card. (I could not bring myself to send those nasty, fake, trying-to-be-the-real-thing conversation hearts). I know she will come home, and her valentine box will be filled with bags filled with candy, tied with raffia and ribbon, and beautifully prepared by mothers who didn’t miss the memo. I know there will be fights as she tries to hide them from Toddler-Man, whose candy radar is so keen he can sense it a mile away. I know there will be sugar induced tantrums, and I know I will be throwing out candy after everyone’s asleep. Or…maybe I’ll just eat it.
A Price Above Rubies
12 Feb 2006 11:27 pm
By Tracy M
One of the greatest blessing of this Gospel are the promises we have of the hereafter. Maybe I am so keenly aware of it because I have not always had it, but the depth of the restored Gospel and what it promises us is astounding. It is truly the Price Above Rubies, or more accurately, that Pearl of Great Price.
This weekend, I lost my last remaining grandparent. My grandpa died quietly in his sleep, and we got a phone call from one of his VFW buddies telling us the news. It was not unexpected, as he had declined minor surgery for a small heart problem, knowing full well what it meant. His facilities were entirely about him, but, like many proud men of his generation, that Greatest Generation, he refused to depend on anyone or anything for his the rest of his life. He went out like he lived his life- on his own terms and in his own time.
When my grandma died just over six years ago, I watched how the grieving process effecting my loved ones, as well as myself. Even though at the time I was not yet a member of the Church, I knew that my grandma was not gone, that her spirit was simply moving on, as it was supposed to, and this gave me great comfort. Members of my family, and specifically my mother, had no such faith, thus death becomes a thief, a robber who steals away your loved one, and there is nothing to fill the void. When you think that life ends when a body dies, death then becomes a terrifying unknown, a thing to be frightened of and by. And, even more scary, is the idea of your soul going nowhere, ending, snuffed like a candle flame. It feels utterly hopeless. And so the healing cannot begin, and a person floats, directionless on a vast sea of tears and questions that have no answers.
Contrast that with the brilliant and glorious light of the Restored Gospel. Maybe it feels so bright to me because of the contrast I have with not knowing, but I cannot imagine anything greater than knowing I will see my grandparents again. I will someday again touch my grandma’s cheek, and will be able to hold her hand, and that maybe, after all of their earthly trials and even their divorce half a century ago, my grandparents have the hope of being together again. I know there is work to do, but just the thought of my grandma greeting the long lost Love of her life as he entered the kingdom yesterday, is a miraculous gift. (I suspect she had a few choice words for him, if I know her!)
To me, this is the miracle of Christ’s atonement, the holy grail, if you will.
I’ve been thinking about my mortality a lot lately. Why? A handful of reasons, really. Permit me to ramble (I hope the kids are napping, ’cause this is a long one) and forgive my hasty editing.
Chronological age has a bit to do with this. Hitting those big decade markers can be a nasty eye opener (an eye with growing crow’s feet in my case). I recently hit one of said markers, so there’s that. Which one? Well, when I drive through the university campus near my house I’ve got a good ten years on most of the Uggbercrombie and Floss wearing co-eds. They’re lucky I am so infatuated with my new(ish) guilt-mobile that I don’t imbed their jay-walking-while-spaced-out iPod/cell phone laden young bodies into my grill. They likely wouldn’t even really smoosh into it softly - their youthful tabernacles are still firm enough that they’d likely really leave a mark.
Speaking of marks… I gave birth for the first time last year. I know, I know, if you took the time to do the math your equation would yield thusly: 1 thirty year old mormon woman married >5 years just now giving birth = freak of nature hell child. Well, you don’t have to remind me. I see and feel it every week at church when I see what I assume is a Laurel or even Mia Maid lugging a baby or two and I think “Oh how nice, she’s helping a mom” and then she heads into the mother’s lounge fumbling with her blouse. Yeah. I get it. I’m late to the party. What I don’t get is how I can be SO late to the party when I was using my Holly Hobbie Easy Bake Oven, playing Bionic Woman and Evil Knievel, and being mesmerized by a lite brite only yesterday. If you have young children and you have no idea who the Bionic Woman was then it is you to whom I refer when I speak of the Mia Mommy/Lactating Laurel at church. You are beautiful, you are the picture of righteousness, and you are a stereotype. Yes, you will be sending your child on a mission before you are menopausal. You and your husband will have heirs in the kingdom yea even a third generation before you even qualify for social security. You have the energy to home school and lactate without end. You have many miles left in your maternity wardrobe (size 4) and you somehow manage to smile through it all. You may even have the moxie to wear a bathing suit in public ‘cause um stretch marks? – nu-uh. Oh to have the breasts and energy of a twenty year old. I am so tired. Sick and tired. And sick.
Ahhhh sickness. Nothing smacks of the finality of it all like being conscious of your own deterioration and disease. I’ve been sick on and off for upwards of 15 years. Come to think of it, the 15th anniversary of my first major bout of illness is this weekend (perhaps I should have a cupcake!). You name it I’ve sampled it. Chronic? Check. Accute? Check. Life threatening? Yup. Nothing like years and years of doctors and diagnoses and theories and tests and surgery and drugs and ER’s and clinics and scans and probes and co-pays and appeals and Bring the Lady her Acronyms Honey and the office staffs of Drs. Oops & Dope. I have an extra special place in my heart for Dr. Incompetent. Unlike Heather O with her Dr. Ugly Teeth I have absolutely no problem naming a name with my Dr. Incompetent: DR. HARVEY SWAN I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU. I’m sick of being sick. I’m sick of having to think about living wills and advanced directives and whether or not I need to be thinking about my astoundingly sympathetic husband remarrying and what I should do in the way of making sure my son knows who his mother was (hello? past tense?). No, I’m not currently dying so relax with the oh goodness whatserbucket can I bring you a meal. Just promise me you’ll be vigilant about staying on top of your health and we’ll call it even. So they say they think they “got it all” but still – I have to go back every 2-3 months for several more years to get checked and after that every 6 months for the rest of my life. That I even have to consider all of those end-of-life things right now and plan vacations around cancer screenings – sucks.
Sucking. If I didn’t sufficiently allude to it above, breastfeeding sure does a number to those melons, doesn’t it? The sisters have never been so low. When I was a kid and I’d sneak peaks into the nudie pages of National Geographic I always wondered why those ladies in Africa had breasts like that. They looked like the orange in the toe of my Christmas stocking or like a deflated banana. I thought, “hmmm boobies in Africa sure look different than boobies here”. What I didn’t realize was that boobies here are hoisted stuffed tucked and supported in ways that are comparable to the engineering feats supporting the world’s largest and longest suspension bridges. Having perky, erect bosoms after lactating is about as natural as Joan Rivers’ face. Maybe some of you managed to lactate without qualifying yourselves for the “tribal” category in the Breasts of the World edition of National Geographic, but my ladies are there. And how. Their tour of duty was epic (baby sucking, baby biting, mastitis, plugged ducts, hot and cold compresses, cabbage leaves, lactation consultant visits, lanolin, saline soaks, nipple shields, nipple guards, fancy-ass bras and nipple nappies, machinery nozzles – the works) and it shows. The decay of youth is ever evident right here on my chest.
I am daily reminded of decay. To get nearly anywhere I need to go, I have to drive past a cemetery. It’s kind of an old one, too. I looked it up, and its first interment was in 1845. There are more than 124,000 folks pushing up daisies in the 300 acres down the street from where I sit. They were all young once. They were all someone’s baby. Plenty of them never even got to be old, let alone complain about it. As the seasons pass some of the graves get attention. This can be in the form of various floral deposits both natural and plastic, flags, or mementos. One grave got a little fence of candy canes and a Christmas train display with gingerbread people around it this year. The thought of the life remembered within that makeshift shrine and the likelihood that it is that of a child haunts me. Compared to a lot of those folks in the cemetery I am already old. So what constitutes old anyway? I wonder if I will get to be the kind of old where you are all gray and wrinkly and use a cane and have a lot of knitted things in your house. I mean health and stuff notwithstanding, I could get hit by a bus in the morning and POOF! No knitted stuff, no cane. What will be of my life when I go? Is somebody going to feel bad for me if I don’t get fake mums on my headstone on mother’s day? I suppose I really ought to thank my lucky stars and garters (and girdles and support bras and wrinkle cream and fiber supplements) that I’ve gotten to be on this crazy ride as long as I have. Fact is… I’M NOT DEAD YET! I just feel like it some days. Sigh. Thanks for listening.
By Heather O.
I went to the doctor yesterday. I do that. A lot. Especially lately, but I won’t get into that in the interest of TMI. Let’s just say that I had to see my OB/GYN about some unexplained, mysterious womanly events that sort of freaked me out. I called my HMO for an appointment, only to be told that my previous doctor moved to another facility, and she didn’t have an appointment available that day. The only doctor who could see me that same day was Dr. Ugly Teeth. Hmm…never heard of Dr. Ugly Teeth, but, if he could see me that day, fine.
I’m calling him Dr. Ugly Teeth because I feel bad publically bashing (oops–spoiler!) a medical physician by name. And seriously, he had way ugly teeth. And a gross little mustache. Men, take note. Women hate mustaches. Unless you’re Burt Reynolds. Which most of you are not. Sorry. Deal with it.
Anyway, this man comes into the room and procedes to tell me that my problem is nothing to worry about. Really? Nothing to worry about? Yes, yes, nothing to worry about, and then precedes to explain to me how a woman’s cycle works. Yes, this MAN is explaining it to me. ME! A woman who has been pregnant several times, who has gone through countless ovulation kits, pregnancy tests, hormone testing, and heaven knows what other kind of infertility crap. Clearly, he thinks I am misinformed.
Now, I don’t mind getting explanations from doctors. Actually, usually I like it, because they give me information that helps me make informed decisions about my medical care. But I don’t like being talked down to, and I don’t like a doctor assuming that I don’t know that when a woman isn’t pregnant, the lining of her uterus sloughs off, and that’s considered the first day of her cycle. Thanks, but I learned that in the fifth grade, compliments of the California public school system.
The other thing that drove me nuts is that this man dismissed my concerns about my body. Now, I’ll concede that maybe my problem is nothing to worry about. In fact, I hope he’s right. I’ve got plenty of other things to stress about without thinking about my uterus all the time. Still, I’d rather be reassured than dismissed. Doctors, take note. There is a difference. Men, take note again. Women don’t like to be dismissed.
And what kind of man wants to be OB/GYN in the first place? Dealing with a bunch of hormonal women who are freaking out all the time and trying to regulate a system that makes absolutely no sense and can be thrown off at the slightest provocation? That sounds like fun? Whatever. If it were me, I’d pick something safer. Like podiatry. Women love to have pretty feet.
Anyway, I has highly disappointed with my care yesterday, and thoroughly pissed that I had to pay a $10 copay to have a man with bad teeth and nasty facial hair who barely bothered to look at my face, much less any other part my body, tell me that I’m fine.
Needless to say, I’m not going back to Ugly Teeth again. I have better things to do with my time and my copay. Like go to Starbucks for some serious almond steamer/chocolate cake therapy. Now there’s some medical care I can endorse.
08 Feb 2006 09:56 am
By The Wiz
My little Toddler-Man was born during a ward baby boom. No less than seven babies were born in that year spanning from May to August. Six of them were boys. (Let’s just say that our nursery leaders deserve to be exalted for handling an 11 boy nursery.) Most of them were also first babies. And they’ve all grown up together and have a party in the foyer at church. It’s very fun.
Well, since Toddler-Man was not my first, and most others are, suddenly I have become the ward expert on preschools. Suddenly I have to explain to everyone where I sent my girls and why. Now, I am happy to do this, because I like the preschool I’ve used, but when questions get thrown at me like “Are they CPR certified?” I have to admit that a question like that never even crossed my mind.
“Why did you choose that one?”
“Ummmm…they were the cheapest.”
“How many did you look into?”
“Ummmm….just the one.”
“Will they have my kid reading by kindergarten?”
“Nope. You should go elsewhere for that. They will teach letters and stuff, but they are very low stress. They don’t push the kids.”
At this point I get one of two responses.
“Huh. OK, I’ll go look somewhere else, thanks.”
“I love that! Perfect!”
And then the questions I never thought to ask come along, and I feel like a horrible mother who just dumps her kids at the first place she sees. Which, in actuality, is exactly what I did. But I kept putting my kids in, because the teachers are cute with the kids, they like the school, and hey, it’s cheap! And that’s what preschool is for! A break, some fun time for your chitlens, and an intro that school doesn’t suck. At least that’s how I feel, anyway, but I can see how it would be good to have the teachers certified in CPR.
5 Lawyers and a mom
06 Feb 2006 04:00 pm
By Heather O.
DH and I went out to dinner the other night. I know, wonder of wonders, but we managed it. We went to dinner with 2 other couples who are loosely connected with DH’s work, and we didn’t know them very well. Actually, I didn’t know them at all, and DH had met them all only briefly in the past. It was a “get to know you” kind of meal, which is always a bit of a crap shoot, if you ask me. I mean, what if you get to know each other and find out right away that you have nothing in common, and actually can’t stand each other? That kind of stuff makes you feel like dessert is a long time coming.
In this case, everybody was fairly pleasant and easygoing, but I did discover something very rapidly:
I was the only non lawyer at the table.
Now, when you are married to a lawyer, this happens, unfortunately, quite frequently. I’m usually the only nonlawyer at these kinds of things, as well as the only mom. However, the other night, this was not the case. The other 2 women were mothers too, but worked, full time, as lawyers.
So, when the inevitable question came, the “And what do you do, Heather?”, this time put to me by a new mom who had just gone off about how hard it is to find good day care, I coudn’t do it. I couldn’t look her in the eye and say, “I’m a stay at home mom”. I knew the minute I did, it would shut down all conversation, all relationship building, all pretense of easy going-ness, and tension would fill the room. So I just said, “I’m a speech therapist”. There was the obligatory, “Oh, that’s interesting,” the pause as she tried to figure out what that meant, the smile, and the change of subject when she decided she didn’t know what it meant and didn’t really care to invest the conversational energy to find out. And that was fine–I was more willing to take the indifference I knew was coming rather than the coating of ice I knew would cover the rest of evening if I revealed the truth.
Interestingly, when I have been in this situation at a table dominated by men or older career women, I don’t have a problem saying, “I’m a mom who works perdiem as a speech therapist”, or “I’m at home with my son, and work occasionally.” Somehow, when a man asks me what I do, I feel proud to say that I’m a mom. I know that he doesn’t feel threatened by what I do, and the conversation can still continue on amicable terms. But the other night, when asked by a woman my age who works VERY full time with a 2 year old in day care because the nanny just didn’t work out, I had a harder time telling her about my life in the same terms, just because I knew (or imagined) that she would feel threatened, and the conversation and relationship would then progress on a less amicable level.
I could be, perhaps, reading into the situation far more than was really there. When it comes down to it, she may not have cared about me enough at all to feel threatened by anything about me, much less threatened by who takes care of my kid. But I still felt that I couldn’t tell her that I am, for the most part, a SAHM. Sad, but true.
Anybody else have similar experiences? Anyody else feel the differences between talking to men about Stay-At-Home momhood vs. women?
Dessert, by the way, was delicious. Chocoloate creme broulee(sp?), a.k.a death by chocolate. Yum!
By Heather O.
Sleep deprivation and cement don’t mix. She should’ve called in sick.
Gives “self service” a whole new meaning. (NOTE: This is a truck. No room for car seats. Maybe Dad needs some sleep too?)
Things in side view mirror are closer than they appear.
I just moved to the coast.
My visual spatial skills are not what they once were.
Hey, Snarky, what are you doing with your helmet on backwards?
The Great Zucchini
02 Feb 2006 05:53 pm
By Heather O.
I originally posted this on Tuesday, then took it down in favor of my political soapbox. I was going to let it rot in the “Save as Draft” folder, but then Tracy mentioned that she liked it and was inspired by it, so here it is, resurrected, if you will. Happy Reading.
I have a new hero. The Great Zucchini.
He’s funny, he’s upbeat, he’s great with kids, and, perhaps most importantly, he’s hot.
If I were ever to hire a nanny, I’d hire The Great Zucchini.
I want to be just like him when I grow up.
Who is this super veggie, you say? He’s is, quite simply, the best child’s entertainer around. Seriously. For $300 per half hour, he can be your child’s entertainer. Just be sure to book 6 months in advance.
What makes this squash-like man so popular, you say? Does he do tricks? Does he dance on his toes? Does he make balloon animals so amazing, they put the Macy’s Day parade to shame?
Nah, apparantly he can’t do balloon animals to save his life. He tries, but they just keep hitting him in the head.
His tricks are pretty bad, too. Any 3 year old could see where that card is hiding!
He can’t even juggle. He’s always dropping the balls and slipping on them and stuff.
He doesn’t even know that stinky diapers go in the trash. He puts them on his head instead. Ewww!
He understands kids. That’s it. And kids love him. He understands that 3 year olds don’t get irony, or sarcasm, but they have a particular love of the absurd. And they like to feel smart. Seeing an adult act like a total idiot makes them, well, feel good. So they laugh. And when the Great Zucchini is around, they laugh a lot.
And he doesn’t dress up like a vegetable, either, by the way. He wears dirty painters overalls so the kids can say stuff like “Eww, dirty!”, and I’m pretty sure he picked his entertainer’s name just because “Zucchini” is a pretty interesting name for a 3 year old to say. Try it. Draw out the “ooo” after the “zz”, and speed up the “ini” part, and well, you have a pretty funny sounding word. (You are all puckering up your lips and doing it right now, I know it.)
Of course, it turns out that the Great Zucchini, as successful as he is, has some problems. He’s a compulsive gambler, and hopelessly disorganized. And I don’t just mean “Hey, did I forget to pay my Visa Bill?” His personal life goes beyond dysfuntional, and he’s lucky he’s not in jail, for a variety of financial reasons. I won’t elaborate, but reading about him made me feel practically OCD because I pay my bills on time.
Still, he taught me a lot about relating to preschoolers in the 10 minutes I spent with the magazine article about him, which was lying about in the doctor’s office. I tried implementing some of his thoughts about kids, and their love for the absurd. This afternoon, I fell down, stiff bodied and face first, on my bed in front of Jacob. I pretended to eat his treat, then held it in plain sight next to my face, and told him that I must’ve eaten it, because I didn’t see it anywhere. And when we went to Target, I crashed (gently, mind you!) the cart into the aisles every few feet, saying, “oops” every time I did it. When he opened his mouth to eat something, I told him I could see all the way down into his toes.
Jacob literally spent our afternoon laughing. Not a single whine in sight. How refreshing!
So I thank the Great Zucchini for teaching me about my child today. And I seriously wish I had the extra $300 for a live performance. I have no doubt that it is worth it.
Maybe I can get the Great Pumpkin on the cheap.