Sunday, February 13, 2011

Two and a half weeks

I know when people run a distance race, like a marathon, there is a wall they hit, and get past, and then run till the end. 26.2 miles. The thing I was thinking about today is, they know it is 26.2 miles. If you say to a marathoner something about running 26 miles, especially a new one, my experience is that they are careful to mention the point two miles. It is NOT 26 miles. It is 26.2 miles. That point 2 is significant, because the race is precisely that long. If they train and run expecting to run only 26, they will be bummed out when they have to run another fifth of a mile at the end.

I'm trying to gear up for the end of my race, but I don't know how long it is. It could be soon. My body feels a little different. I've had a number of observers point out how "low" I am or how I've "dropped". And I feel different. My blood pressure is higher, I'm taking a higher dose. My snot is bloody, usually a blood pressure indicator. I feel like emptying my bladder takes some work because the baby seems lower.

But I don't know really. I could go back to the doctor in a few days and still be at 1 and 50. I'm not in labor. I'm sure of that. But I could be soon. I could be tomorrow. Or the next day, or the next week or in 2 and a half weeks. I don't know.

My family and I are gearing up for the unknown end. We are ramping up . . . but it is hard to time the taper when you don't know when or how long the race is.

But here is my other thought tonight: I am really gearing up for a journey. I've been reading The Hobbit and thinking about lembas bread (yes, I know that is in the trilogy and not the hobbit) and working on a song, but now that I'm really working on it, I realize it's going to be some work because I'm drawing on John 15 and Hosea and Song of Solomon "who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her Beloved?", and I'm aware that I'm writing this song for the journey ahead.

Bilbo left for his journey without a pocket handkerchief, with only an urgency that he was about to be left behind. He didn't know how long it would be, where exactly he was going, what he would need. Had he known some of the answers, he most certainly would have stayed home, in comfort.

The funny thing about lembas bread was that it had a quality such that, the more it was all you were eating, the more it sustained and satisfied you. Reminds me of manna. Just what you need. Sustaining. Satisfying.

I am setting out on a journey into a kind of wilderness, during which I, like Gomer (Hosea's unfaithful wife) will learn to lean on my Beloved. I will learn to abide in Christ, Who is my strength. When I abide, rest, stay, remain in Him I can do all things. Apart from Him I can do nothing.

The more He is all I have, the more He is all I need. The more I depend on Him, abide in Him, rest in Him, the more I am satisfied in Him.

This whole skirmish, this whole internal wrestling match will be, in the end, not a battle for how much farther until the end of the race, but rather how much longer till the beginning. The journey begins when I receive into my arms my 12th child, and become a mother again, this time of a dozen, many of them small and needy, and I learn to lean on my Beloved.

I have never given birth to a new baby while I've had a 5 month old. I haven't adopted before. I haven't parented a child of a different ethnic background. I've never had a more needy toddler than my 10th is. I've never had a baby with Down syndrome, which my husband and I both believe this child to be. I've never been so needy in my life.

Jesus is lacking nothing, but I must be connected to Him. I must abide. That is how I can get ready for the end of/beginning of this race. And I have GOT to finish this song.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Walmart gripe

Okay, here is what happened. A few months ago, a friend gave me a can of Walmart formula, and I keep forgetting to take it in and exchange it for the kind I need, and last night I finally did. And I understand that there are probably people on WIC or whatever that "buy" it and then try to return it for cash.

But I wasn't trying to return it, just exchange it for a different kind. The young woman behind the counter simply did not smile, was not kind, and made me want to never, ever go to Walmart again.

I am big and huge and going back to a different part of the store, getting the kind I needed, bringing it to the front, paying for the difference in price but not given a receipt for the extra paid ("you didn't come into the store with a receipt, you don't get one now"), even though I'm going to now walk through the store with this can with no proof I paid for it but the bag it is in, she could have at least looked me in the eye with some manner of understanding.

I get it that a place like Walmart is likely to attract people who might be tempted to steal. But in order to stay in business they need big spending cheapskates like me to keep coming, and since we don't wear nametags that say "freeloading thief" or "paying customer", it would be to Walmart's distinct advantage to treat us all like the latter.

I almost walked out forever last night. But I can't. Because I am a bigspending cheapskate, and that's where I can afford to go.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Nothing left to say

Since before I can remember my parents have been friends with these two couples, I think they were originally all part of a couples' group at church. Even after none of us lived in the same town anymore, we went camping every summer together. The oldest kid except for me was a boy named Chad.

Most of us kids have grown apart and lost touch over the years, so I was unaware that Chad and his wife had tried for years to get pregnant, and were due with their first baby on the same day as me. Last night I got a couple e-mails from my folks saying that in the last few days, Chad's wife, Sara, and unborn baby were killed in a car wreck. They tried to save the baby, Miranda Evangeline, but she was without oxygen too long before the c-section, so she was finally taken off life support last night.

If the baby in my tummy has Down syndrome, I will have every reason to be grateful. If he/she dies, I will still be wealthy beyond imagination. If I lost one or half or even all my children, but still had my husband, I would still be so very blessed.

My childhood playmate has nothing left but Jesus. Please pray for him today.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Suspense . . .

First of all, let me say that cookie dough ice cream never has enough cookie dough, but that it is greatly improved with bananas and some added chocolate chips.

Secondly, lamb palak is one of the best foods in the world, but is also the ugliest.

Thirdly, I want to acknowledge that my whining here is grossly inappropriate in light of the magnitude of blessing in my life. I know I am blessed beyond measure, wealthy beyond my wildest dreams in the most priceless form. I have friends who have suffered much, lost much, grieved long and hard, and every pettiness I express here is quite ridiculous in light of true pain. So I apologize for doing this, and I hope you dear friends know that I know I should just shut up and be thankful. I'm just processing, thinking, feeling in a written form, but I do know how precious my struggle is.

I think I figured something out, talking to my sister today. I've whined about there being so many more variables this time. Normally the choices are A) I'm pregnant until I am induced for high blood pressure (after an appointment), or B) I'm pregnant until I go into labor at 41-ish weeks. So either after an appointment or in 3.5 weeks. But having the possiblity of a baby equipped with an extra chromosome means that I could really go any time - that is a new scenario for me.

So my list of unknowns are: Boy or Girl, 46 or 47, Induced or Spontaneous, Anytime in the next 3 and a half weeks. Compared to normal for me which is Boy or Girl, induced after check-up or Spontaneous at 41 wks.

Here is the thing I hadn't thought through, though. (How often do you use thought and through and though consecutively?) If our baby has Trisomy 21, there are pages of unknowns. Will he/she nurse well, breathe well, need oxygen support, room in, have heart defects, and a vast array of other issues. Vast. I have frequented, on the Down syndrome pregnancy board over the last few months, and have paid much attention to things like markers and labor with Ds and Nicu stays, and have dropped by the Down syndrome board (for moms of children with Ds) but very little. Very, very little.

There is a world of unknowns. And I have not gone there. Part of that is the old optimism I got from my mother - no need to worry about what you don't know yet. Part of it is scriptural - Jesus said not to worry, that tomorrow will take care of itself. And part of it is practical - even if we had a diagnosis, all we would know is that our baby has an extra chromosome. The rest we wont know until we meet him/her.

But part of it is cowardice. And that timid me is lurking. And when I deliver, boy or girl, sooner or later, induced or on my own, easy or hard, 46 or 47, I will have to confront that.

I have accepted the "idea" of having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality. I have not begun to consider much beyond that. Oh I did a little research about Early Intervention and homeschooling with Ds. I talked to some friends (and strangers) who had kids with that and other disabilities. But I have not emotionally gone all the way there.

How can I? And yet . . .

That is the suspense. Not that I knew anything when any of my other children were born. I didn't know what struggles they would encounter, what battles they would face, what abilities they would have, what failures they would experience. Taking it one day at a time is something I'm good at, maybe too good.

On my baby's birthday, I will have a baby. We will deal with the immediate needs. Feeding, pooping, peeing, jaundice?, milk supply, umbilical cord, circumcision maybe. Perhaps other things, pumping, nicu, testing, weight gain, temperature.

But all of that is just the starting gate. It's just the wedding. None of that is the marriage. None of that is rubber becoming acquainted with road. The happily ever after.

So even on that day, there will still be a world of unknowns. I'll just have a slightly better grasp on how very little I know. Or a slightly greater curiousity to know what I can't know.

You see where crystal balls, fortune telling, tarot cards, palm reading, horoscopes and signs, all of that has so much power with us. We want to know what is ahead.

The good news is that I am in the confidence of the One Who knows all. The bad news is He doesn't tell me everything. S'okay. I couldn't handle it if He did. The other good news is that He will give me whatever I need for whatever is ahead.

So I've settled on the following strategy to deal with the suspense: I am going to try to be ready for anytime, but plan on having a baby in March. March is a good time to have a baby. And all the other questions, I am asking my Father to prepare my heart for the gift He has for me.


The power of the tongue. The tongue, the eyes, the tone of voice, can do the same thing to a heart that a bomb does to a city. Laid waste. Ruined. Shut down. Immobilized. Even though it can be re-built, eventually, with time and patience and tedious labor, there are scars.

And initially, the ruin.

My husband taught me, by example, early in our marriage, not to say things that would tear down, things I can't take back. Not that I'm a quick learner.

Proverbs says a wise woman builds her house, but a contentious woman tears it down with her own hands. My words can build and strengthen and heal, or they can wound and maim and destroy.

And my words come from the well of my heart. What is happening in my heart? Does my heart bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things? Is my heart listening to the voice of my enemy or my Friend? What treasures am I laying there?

If I am laying a stockpile of unforgiveness, of believing the enemy's lies, of hurt, of hate, of unresolved anger, then what will come out when I am provoked? Nastiness.

If I am daily walking through the painful exercises of forgiving when hurt, of blessing when cursed, of showing mercy (having received mercy), of turning my wounded heart to the One who can heal it, then when I am provoked, and I most certainly will be, I will pour out mercy, grace, forgiveness.

I am full of the mercy and grace of my Savior. I bathe in His kindness regularly. I abide in the consiousness of His marvelous love.

When you cut me, I will bleed. But what will come out of my wounded heart is mercy.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Bright Side

Fat ankles are way easier to shave.

My mother comes from a long line of bright side gazers. For her and her people the cup is not only half full, it's getting fuller all the time. She has a gift for finding the silver lining, the up side, the other hand.

I mostly blog for me. It is a marvel and wonder to me that anyone reads it, and even more so that it does anyone any good. So, for my own sake, I am writing today about the bright side of staying pregnant. You might think, "duh!" If you think that, don't read my blog anymore.

I have little theories about how God did things a certain way that help us, like putting smell in poop so we know to get rid of it, or making us need sleep so He has a chance to get new mercies in the morning, or making the end of pregnancy miserable so we are nutty enough to be glad when labor starts. I'm there. So this is my personal coping for the last few days/weeks of pregnancy.

It is good for me to have each day of enjoying my external children, especially the little ones. Each snuggle, each story read, each time with each young one while we wait is good. I am a woman divided between 12 humans. Soon each of them will get only a 13th of me. So now is good for my heart and theirs, and helps us all be more ready to share our slice of mom further.

It is good for my baby to have more time to get bigger and stronger. The bigger and stronger little Dozer is, the healthier he/she will be, the better at nursing and sleeping and waiting. Each day makes us more likely not to be jaundiced, not to have trouble maintaining temperature, not to have difficulty nursing or have low blood sugar. Each day pregnant is a day sooner to be reunited and returning to normal after delivery.

It is good not to have a baby in a blizzard (not that we actually got one, but we did have major highways closed and my husband stayed home to work two days, which never happens).

It is good to get my house and family more ready for my absence. There is laundry to do, dishes to do, my bedroom floor to find, supplies to purchase. And while there will always be those things with us (like "the poor you will always have with you," said Jesus), I would like to be in a much better place with those things. I am not ready.

The more pregnant I be when I go into labor, the better said labor will go. All of my experience bears this out. If I want to have a great labor, I will wait to have a late labor.

There are some events, good and bad, that would be better over and done with prior to baby's arrival. These things also will always be there, and some I cannot possibly make, but in the near future, there are things that must be done, and for them, I will gladly wait (or patiently, anyway).

At almost 40 years old, I have to be honest and say, this is certainly one of my last pregnancies, if not the last. As uncomfortable as I am, as difficult as it is to put on shoes, as large as my feet are if I don't wear them, as lousy as reflux is each night, as ginormous as I feel, this may be my last time to feel this way. And pregnancy, at its worst, is still a very good way to feel.

Finally, waiting is an exercise. I'm better at waiting than I used to be, better at trusting than I once was, better at resting in my Father's arms, more convinced than I have ever been that He knows the date and time and way my baby will be born, that it is the very best for me, for baby, for my family and for others, though I may not know why this side of heaven. I have been young, and now I am old(er) and I know I will not be forsaken if I trust in Him. And I do.