Friday, April 24, 2009

Something good happens

One year and one day ago:

I remember waking up in the early morning hours with labor pain five days before my scheduled c-section. Brian was already awake, getting ready for a business day trip. We had to determine if this was really "it" as I'd been having false labor in the days leading up to it--so we prayed to make a good decision about sending Brian off for the day or not. 5 minutes later my water broke, so we made a good decision.

Me: But it's April 23rd. He can't come on April 23rd. Nothing good happens on a "23rd."

Brian: Nothing good?

Me: Nothing good.

Brian: I was born on a 23rd.

Me: ......Oh. You're right. Well that's something good.

We all know women in labor must not be held accountable for anything said or done while in it, and I blame my oversight on compromised mental faculties. But I'm grateful for the two very good things have happened on the 23rd.

One year and 8 months ago:

It's strange how the hardest physical thing I've ever done required no movement at all.

Some people run marathons, jump from planes, lift cars, climb Everest. Not me. I laid in bed. 100% immobilized by the suffering that is HG.

But look at the amazing trophy I got in reward for my effort.

There's not a day of my life that I don't appreciate my baby in a sacred sort of way, knowing the process of getting him here was monumental. It definitely took a village: TEAM CAYMAN. We all played different parts, but it took every one of us. Him. Me. The family. The prayers. The friends that swooped in and helped us live our life in my "absence."

I don't like to bring it up too often, at the risk of sounding 'woe is me.' (Or 'woe was me.') But yesterday marked Cayman's first year of life, and I feel I pay tribute to the hallowed time spent creating that life when I reflect on the experience. The feeling may be akin to a cancer survivor who values life just a little more for having faced the real possibility of losing it. The battle with HG is different because you are not facing death literally, rather the mental battle of relentless suffering. And this battle does not always end well.

Ashli Foshee McCall suffered Hyperemisis Gravidarum so horribly that she terminated a pregnancy over it, a decision that haunted her from the moment she was rid of the suffering, and one she will always regret. She has spent all of her years since engaged in helping mothers who suffer the same illness to endure it well, to know their medical options, and never to give up. I admire her so much for turning her own heartache into positive energy that can change the course for others.

Her book was my lifeline during this time: Beyond Morning Sickness. And Ashli herself sent several personal emails to encourage me through the darkest days. She will never know the difference she made for me in my little corner of the world. (Or the bedroom, in this case.)

I marvel at the miracles that are children.

I have never felt closer to death than when sick in pregnancy, but have never felt more alive than when holding them for the first time. I have never been more exhausted than I am every day as a mother, but nothing energizes me more than my children.

A look, a smile, a laugh, an I love you, a pudgy little hand in mine...the greatest joys I've experienced. Their tears, their wounds, their heartaches...the most hurt I have felt.

Opposition in all things. You must know the bitter to experience the sweet, and there is nothing sweeter than little eyes reflecting back to you your deepest and purest love. It is worth anything it takes to get them here.

Now the fun part....


Just a simple family party. The kids were 'decorating and games' committee--they were awesome.

He liked the cake coming toward him when we sang and he cried when we moved it back to the table for his siblings to blow out the candle for him. Just you wait, kiddo...

See, you get your first piece of birthday cake!! (Wait, that was child number one. You've probably had cake five times already, but this time you get a piece of your own.) Could there be a better happy birthday?

Hmmm....nobody's taking it away from me. I could get used to this.

Darn. Cake seems to be gone. What should I do next?

Lick the plate clean, of course.

And since nobody's giving me more, I'll just go ahead and eat the plate.

Oh, it's so good to be ONE. And mommy is so glad dad is taking me straight to the shower.

Now onto the presents! You never thought you'd see this face clean again, did you?

That about sums it up. We love you, Cayman!

Monday, April 20, 2009

I wear flip flops.

My husband and I laid in bed feeling very introspective last night, the eve of our 10th anniversary. We were evaluating the years of our life together, and at one point he asked me: "What if you woke up tomorrow morning and it was 1997, we had never met and all of this had been a dream?" I know it was hypothetical, but please refer to #4 of my random things list (below) and you'll know I had to suffer physically for a minute anyway, just at the thought of it.

Because WHAT IF it had all been a dream?

My first panicked thought, strangely, was that I needed to edit my list of random things. I needed to erase #23 into total oblivion. Let me quote myself:

"I wouldn’t trade my age and stage of life for anything…but…I do miss the carefree feeling of younger days and less responsibility."

Backpaddle, backpaddle. I think I overstated. I'm sure it seemed true enough when I made the list--in fact I'm sure there was much responsibility in the way of laundry, dishes, poopy diapers, etc., piling up as I made the list-- which may have influenced the sentiment. But I will take every speck of dust in my house, every patch of grime on my children, and every last item on my daily list of to-do's if it means I get the last ten years of my life...and the joy of home and family.

I am living the life I always wanted and the thought of anything else makes me feel so empty, so hollow, sooooo sad.

I'm thrilled to be celebrating ten years of the man I love, the family we have made, and the life we have built. I'm ecstatic that when I woke up this morning it was all real. Yes, two of my four children greeted me with the same morning news: "Mom, I wet my bed." And yes, my husband and I are both sick on our big day, and yes, I have spent the first three hours of my day-o-love tending to all that 'responsibility' that can be so tedious...

but I have been able to take it all in stride because of that horrid question: "What if it had all been a dream?"

So happy anniversary to the man of my dreams, and here is the official, no regrets amendment to #23 on my list of random things:

#23 I wear flip flops 90% of the time.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

25 Random Things about Me

This flies around Facebook and although I haven't posted there yet, I'm making a valid effort to blog more often, so I thought I'd share here first.

1. I can’t leave short messages on phones. I talk to the person almost like they had answered and usually get cut off by the beep.
2. I am too interested in too many things to be great at any one thing.
3. I am paranoid of anyone ever feeling left out, and as much as I love a good party, it’s hard to host one at my house because I can’t fit everyone and I don’t know how to narrow my invite lists.
4. I feel things to the extreme no matter who they happen to. Every sad story in the paper or on the news affects me and I can spend days in a funk when something sad or bad happens to a perfect stranger.
5. I know the proper grammar for #4 would have been “no matter to whom they happen” but I have a strange complex about using too proper of grammar.
6. I sneeze like a cat and I always sneeze in fives.
7. I think ‘spooky action at a distance’ is the coolest concept ever and I experience it often.
8. I am the princess and the pea about my bed. I have a fantastic mattress, then memory foam on top of that, and I unabashedly claim the only expensive pillow in the house. As a teenager I prided myself on my ability to sleep anywhere, and I never thought I’d be the mom who took an air mattress camping…but now I see no glory in sleeping uncomfortably.
9. I secretly believe I am married to a superhero.
10. Raising children has taught me more than anything else in life.
11. I love reptiles just as much as anything cute or furry.
12. It absolutely, positively gives me the willies to have anything touch my belly button. And yet my daughter—who never took a bottle or a pacifier, has used her finger in her belly button as her soother from the time she first discovered it. I call this God’s practical joke number one. Practical joke number two was having to get my gallbladder removed—the biggest incision being made in my belly button, of course.
13. Thirteen is more than my lucky number, it is magic for me, and has never let me down.
14. I have witnessed too many miracles not to believe in God.
15. I can’t remember the ending of books, the story line of movies, the punch line to any joke, or what I said five minutes ago, but the lamest facts can stick in my head forever (like a phone number I haven’t dialed in 25 years, or something I read once about how after age 40 you should wear cream instead of black, etc.)
16. One of the guys I dated in college called my feet water skis. Ouch. But that's OK, I've obviously forgotten all about it. :)
17. I am super proud of the fact that I overcame my spider phobia. It was really extreme, and I feel triumphant for tackling it. I don’t kill them anymore—part of the new pact between us.
18. I can’t imagine life without one of my senses. Seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, touching…all huge to me. I can imagine life without laundry, though.
19. Best foods: Thick chocolate malts, goat cheese, red peppers, hot In N Out fries, dark chocolate covered strawberries, cinnamon bears, kalamata olives, the gourmet meals my husband makes on mother’s days, Los Hermanos chips and salsa, and ANYTHING from CafĂ© Rio.
20. In my life, I have been surrounded by the world’s greatest people.
21. Sore ribs from laughing hard is the ultimate satisfaction.
22. I love heartbeats. Hearing my husband’s heartbeat at night lulls me into the most comfortable, safe kind of sleep. Mine happens to beat irregularly, but it keeps on beating, and that’s what matters.
23. I wouldn’t trade my age and stage of life for anything…but…I do miss the carefree feeling of younger days and less responsibility.
24. I have eaten rattle snake, cliff dived, bridge jumped, skinny dipped in the red sea, galloped bareback, ridden a Harley, a dirt bike, an elephant, a camel, raced 120 mph in a car, rock climbed without ropes, gone caving many times, four wheeled in a Fiero, been trapped under a raft in white water, been blamed for a forest fire I didn’t start, sent an Iguana through the mail, seen a UFO, rock repelled, visited Chitzinizu and the pyramids of Giza, punted the Cam, climbed the Eiffel tower, sang in front of the statue of Liberty, visited England, Scotland, France, Wales, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Dubai, Canada, Mexico, and more states than I can name….BUT….
25. ….I have never been to Hawaii, and I am afraid to open the Pillsbury crescent roll cans that pop.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Happy April 'I'd be a fool not' to Day!

This won't come as a shocker if you know me, but I'm a really big fan of holidays. There are no small holidays in my book, and any and every holiday should be celebrated. (I'm even up for holiday poaching, which is why I celebrate Catholic Lent and have tried to figure out a seamless way to give my Mormon son a Jewish Barmitzvah when he turns 13, but that plan needs some work.)

I am sometimes consistent in the way I celebrate a holiday, repeating the same tradition year after year, but as you may have guessed by the flaw in the phrase "sometimes consistent" that I can also be very liberal with new ideas, new rules, and new ways to celebrate.

And today is one of those let's-tweak-the-norm-just-a-little-bit examples.

First you have to understand that my family of origin is serious about April Fool's Day. I believe a blog post in April of last year documented what I mean by that, but let's just say that in my family you are highly esteemed if you pull a clever prank and "get" someone on April Fool's, especially since we are all on our guard. I have even learned the hard way that April Fool's Day starts officially at midnight, and the wee hours of the morning are fair play. (Harrumph, Adam, you still have it coming to you for that one.)

This devotion to April Fool's Day has naturally carried over into my new little family of 6, and believe me, my husband has plenty devious genes of his own to bring to the table. So of course I've been racking my brain over the past few days to think of the perfect joke to play on him or anyone else that has it coming to them.

But in my planning attempts, I kept getting stuck on the word "fool" itself, and realized the day could be about more than just playing jokes. So I would like to share with you this year's approach to April Fool's Day. It's been an interesting combination of selflessness, productivity, indulgence and fun--which all in all has made for a pretty great day.

This year I have morphed the title April Fool's Day into the phrase April 'I'd be a fool not to' Day, which has dictated how I've spent the day. Here are some examples to clarify:

The selfless part: My husband has been getting nice little love notes all day to the effect of: "I'd be a fool not to thank you for..." or "I'd be a fool not to tell you..." etc.

The productive part: I've gotten little projects done today that should have been done a long time ago--all in the name of "I'd be a fool not to... finally put the leaves in a trash bag that I swept into a pile three weeks ago" for example.

The indulgent part: I decided that the rules of celebrating today's holiday override the rules of celebrating the holiday I've been in since Lent started, and after several weeks of no sweets I thought: "I'd be a fool NOT to eat chocolate today", and so I did. Just for today. See, the beauty of making up holidays is making up the rules about celebrating them.

And lastly the fun part: I still get to play tricks, because, after all...(you guessed it) I'D BE A FOOL NOT TO.

And this blog entry? Well, doesn't it just make sense to catch up on my blog on a day when I'd be a fool not to?

Hope you enjoyed your day as much as I've enjoyed mine!