About Me

My photo
It's interesting to look at your life, past to present, and think: "It has all led up to this...." And then wonder where it will lead to next.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Weekend for Two. Or three... or four...?

After over two and a half years, I finally got up the nerve to leave my baby boy over night. My mom offered to take him for the weekend so that Aaron and I could have a couple days to ourselves before the birth of Gabriel and the insanely busy months of summer (a combination I am still a little nervous about). I understand that it is probably long over due, but honestly I've thought, what's the rush? He is only a baby once, and when he's out grown that title and the sacred bedtime routine that goes with it, I'll happily hand him over to the grandparents as often as they like. Until then, my hesitance will most likely remain.

As the weekend approached I thought of list after list of details and directions I needed to write down for my mom. I figured sticking to routines and familiar foods and activities would make it easier for him not to notice my absence. Well, the weekend snuck up on me, and I barely finished packing his things by the time they were ready to leave, much less wrote the novel I intended. Plus I started to wonder if I was being overly controlling. My mom has raised eight kids after all, she could handle Aiden for a weekend. He was happily distracted by his cousins who had come with my mom and didn't even seem to notice I was not joining them in the car. I didn't want to make a big deal of him leaving, but an ache more intense than any homesickness clung to me as I watched them drive away.

I happily distracted myself that night. My sister and her husband had just arrived back from the Dominican Republic so we made plans to go to dinner. A double date. No babysitter required! It felt freeing, but at the same time it was a hard concept to grasp. I kept thinking I was forgetting something, like one of those bad dreams where you suddenly remember you forgot to feed your baby all week- or that you even had one. I hate those dreams. By the time we were done with dinner and on our way to the Chocolate Lounge for drinks, the dull ache in my stomach had turned into straight nausea. When my mom called me around 10:00 p.m. with a sobbing Aiden crying for me to come to him, I thought I was going to hurl or burst into tears myself. This was supposed to be easy! I thought to myself angrily, recalling all the stories people tell me of how hard it is to leave your child for the first time but how once you do it's "totally worth it". I was not convinced. I struggled to fall asleep that night, but felt comforted by the fact that I would get to sleep in the next morning- with Aaron. That was a rare treat!

4:30 a.m. Bing! My mind was suddenly aware of a painful sensation in my lower abdomen. My first thought was that someone was kicking me and it hurt. Then I realized someone was kicking me. And it did hurt. I really had to pee and the someone who was kicking me (or punching?) was Gabriel- it felt like he was deliberately grinding his heels right into my bladder. I rushed to the bathroom, almost falling over and walking into a wall in the process as my mind and equilibrium tried to keep up with my flight to the toilet. After a few incoherent thoughts of giving Gabriel a serious time-out, I dragged my feet back to bed thinking I was so tired I would have no problem falling back to sleep. Instead I tossed and turned for an hour before finally caving to hunger. Fine, cereal and the book of John it is. I thought to myself, slightly more than peeved not to have a vacation from insomnia. When I still couldn't sleep by 6:45 I decided to wake Aaron. This was our weekend and if I couldn't sleep then we would make the best of it! Luckily my desperate enthusiasm and sleep-deprived eyes were enough to convince Aaron that getting up to the see the sunrise was a good substitute to boring ol' sleep.

As we drove up the parkway we reminisced about our dating days. Although romantic drives on the parkway were common in those days, they always felt just as special as they did that morning. We talked about the past, the present, the future. Allowing ourselves to dream as we watched the orange and purple creep up over the grey mountains. We sat there until our stomachs groaned, then made our way to our favorite breakfast cafe. That's right, Morning Glory, baby! We had plans of going hiking after breakfast, but first had to meet one of Aaron's clients who were going out of town that day and wanted to pay him for a job he had done and make an estimate on another. We had an agreement of absolutely NO work, but who can argue with getting paid? It was actually really nice to see Aaron in his element. I've seen the work he's done, I know he's awesome at his job, but to see him all professional, talking the lingo, coming up with figures, explaining what needed to be done and how he'd do it, and seeing how happy his clients were with the work he had already done... I was impressed to say the least. As my friend Sam would say: "I'm not gonna lie- it was hot."

The rest of the weekend continued to not go as planned. We intended to spend lots of time outdoors in the mountains, eat at all our favorite places, stay up late, and sleep in. Well unfortunately, my body decided after the lack of sleep and constant going of the week before that it was going to collapse on me. Nausea, similar to the night before, hit me again around noon. I continued to feel nauseas, light-headed, dizzy, and out of breath throughout the rest of the afternoon with little relief, although I forced myself to keep going. This was our weekend, damnit! I would not waste it! We spent most of the day in the car as I'd usually find that once we arrived at our destination I did not feel well enough to get out. To top it all, we received a call from Aaron's work partner who had left that morning to pick up a trailer in Charlotte, informing us that his truck had broken down minutes after getting the trailer! So for the rest of the day and into the night Aaron was on and off the phone and computer trying to talk him through the process of fixing the truck and trying to figure out if anyone else could go pick up the trailer. We finally decided it just made more sense for us to drive down there ourselves since we had to go the next day to pick Aiden up anyway. Our romantic "get-away" weekend had unraveled before I even noticed the loose string.

I ended up watching Aiden the next morning while my mom went to church and Aaron ran around trying to find the right sized trailer hitch for his truck. We hung out with family that afternoon, then Aaron spent the last few hours we were there cutting down some big dangerous branches that hung over my parent's driveway. Ok, I know what you're thinking, this sounds awful! I must be fuming, or at least severely disappointed. I think part of me wanted to be, but honestly, we had a lot of fun. I was secretly pretty happy to spend that morning with Aiden after two nights away. Aaron and I had a lot of fun hanging out with my brother and sister (James and Jenteal, for those of your wondering which!) who joined us for a delicious lunch at the Asia Market then took us to a quaint French cafe in downtown Charlotte (or "NoDa" specifically, as I am told it's called). And I loved seeing how insanely happy my mom was to have her tree safe and healthy again. Although I won't say I'll rush to drop Aiden off at anyone's house for a weekend again anytime time soon, it was good to see he could go a couple days without me and survive- and even have fun (besides screaming for me every night). And though the weekend wasn't at all what we had in mind, anytime I felt tempted to complain about that fact, I couldn't help but not. Now that's a first!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Cocoon

"...I broke the twig from the limb and carried the cocoon home. For this was my cocoon. My darkness. My soul incubating within.
   Back home I carefully taped the twig with the cocoon to a branch of a crab tree in my backyard. [Later,] I stood at the window watching the cocoon, which hung in the winter air like an upside-sown question mark. Live the question, God whispered.
   Knowledge descended into my heart and I understood. Crisis, change, the myriad upheavals that blister the spirit and leave us groping- they aren't voices simply of pain but also of creativity. And if we would only listen, we might hear such times beckoning us to a season of waiting, to the place of fertile emptiness."
   - Sue Monk Kidd

I am a torn and selfish human being. Not that I am unique in this description. In fact, it's a big part of what causes me to blend in despite my individual characteristics. But it disturbs me no less. As I lay awake last night yet again and tried not to think, I thought a lot about a lot of things. Mostly me. God. My family. The future. The world as we know it. The world to come. The more I thought, the more I wondered what I was supposed to think. As I read through the book of John the answers I found brought up more questions, more confusion, more of a desire to know. Then I realized, I was sick of thinking and I was sick of asking. I just wanted to know. I get discouraged when I don't know, I feel as though I am doing something wrong, or not doing something right enough. I'm tired of the internal struggle, I want to hitch a ride on the escalator to the next life and bypass the hassle of the journey.  I'm an American damnit, I have my rights to the easy way! And this is where I had a little heart to heart with God. Why do I have to keep waking at 3:00 a.m for hours on end? Really, if you would let me sleep I could get up earlier and read the word then. Am I even getting anywhere with these hours of tired half-awareness? As I tried to convince God that the lack of sleep is really not doing anyone any good, I finally came to the conclusion that sleep was not going to come at all. Ever. Again. It was a useless fight, my choices were to sit there in misery, not accomplishing anything, or comply. Except I wasn't sure what it even meant to comply. I'm still not really. I have this vague sense like God is calling me. I keep trying to say, Speak Lord, for your servant is listening. But I can't tell if I am really saying it. Does that make sense?

I have been rather hypocritical. I speak of life and its hills and waves and how it's a journey, that some big climax and fairy tale endings are not to be expected. I say that, but then I find myself sitting around anxiously waiting for the climax in my life. I endlessly pine after the fairytale ending I secretly long for. The fact that I am not satisfied constantly haunts me. I try to forge feelings of deep spirituality and soul-quenching emotion, but the honest truth is.... funny how I thought I might be able to finish that sentence once I started it. The honest truth is, I'm still trying to figure out what the honest truth is. I used to rededicate my life to God every few months, thinking, or at least hoping, that with each dedication it would be a little more real or long-lasting. I kept waiting for the time when I would finally reach some epiphany that would drastically change my life forever, allowing me to never need another re-dedication because I had some how "made it" to the plateau of my Christian walk with God. I have long since given up this theory. Or so I thought. Sometimes it creeps back into my confused subconscious.

I keep waiting for some big, new, ground-breaking truth that forces me to change completely, and hopefully all at once. Instead I feel the painful agony of lies being revealed and then slowly chipped away from my innermost being. Lies I didn't even realize I still- or ever- believed. And so I find myself relating to words and passages that hint at questions my mouth doesn't know how to express. I can taste it there at the tip of my tongue, all that I long for but can not yet attain. And then it hits me for a split second or two. This is all part of the inescapable journey. Not signs that I am failing, but that God is answering my heart's call to be changed.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"When you hear of wars and rumor of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains." - Mark 13:7-8

Since Aaron and I bought a new mattress last week I have had night after blissful night of sweet, deep sleep. That is until Aiden's nose incident. I have woken up each night around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. unable to sleep for a good two hours if not more. Usually a bowl of cereal and some time in the word are the only things that can get me back to sleep for an hour or two before I have to get up for the day. After months of practice, I have given up trying to keep my eyes closed, finding a more comfortable position (it doesn't exist), or thinking idly about the sleep I am missing out on. Instead I pray and try my best to hear what ever God might have for me to hear. Last night when I woke, Japan was on my mind. So devastating. And scarily it is not the first, or even worst hit our world has taken, nor will it be the last. With so much disaster, war, disease, and extreme poverty that consumes our world, it is so easy to get overwhelmed. What can I do? I ask more times than I count, safely tucked in the bubble of my own little world, feeling helpless. Almost hopeless. Last night as I read through Mark, I realized something. Whether conscious or not, I think I've been focusing on the wrong question.

We have been warned. We have been commanded to be on guard. The birthing pains are no new thing to be surprised by. But they are still painful. Devastatingly painful. Lord, let us not dull the pains with false hopes, or illusions of security. Keep our eyes set on you, that our lives will speak only of the truthful hope held in your promises alone.

Friday, March 11, 2011

To be [prepared], or not to be? It's a silly question really.

After a few days of recovering from the trauma of thinking my son was going to die, if not suffer from severe brain damage, I've found that life has pretty much returned to normal. Or mostly. I still have moments of terror when I cannot stop the images from replaying in my head. And tears still find their way to my eyes when I wake up in the night and it hits me how blessed I am to have Aiden in my life. I thought I might turn into an overly protective control freak, but luckily I don't feel any more protective than usual. Today, however, I caught myself making lists, both mentally and on paper. Being prepared is always something that has been important to me, but not necessarily followed through on. I didn't have Aiden's room set up till a few days before he was due. I didn't take a birthing class. I never wrote a birth plan, much less really have one (besides a mental plan to "go with the flow", which I don't think counts). I didn't take infant CPR until he was two (and apparently it has changed again already!). And despite all the helpful warnings and advice, I did not "toughen" my nipples before breastfeeding. I had good intentions to do all those things, but life threw a lot at me all at once and so staying above water was about all I could manage at the time. Well, here's the thing about life. Its like an ocean. Some days the waves are bigger and crash harder than others, but even during the calm, the waves don't stop. So we should probably be prepared for that. Now, I am not saying that we should even attempt to dream that we could possibly be prepared for anything and everything- that is where the beauty of trusting in a omnipotent God comes to the rescue. But perhaps the time has come for me to take being prepared a little more seriously.
Today I wrote a list of emergency numbers to put on the fridge and looked up visual emergency and CPR steps to print out and have handy. I realized that even though I knew in my head what I was supposed to do, putting it all in order and in action felt impossible when in shock. I'm hoping with pictures available, my body will have an easier time doing what my brain is telling it to. I am also looking into updated CPR classes for Aaron and I both to take. It was not very reassuring to know that if I had had to use CPR on Aiden I would not have been using the updated method. Next I made a list of things I want to get done before Gabriel is born. I've had a mental list, but writing it all out actually made it seem a whole lot more possible to get done. I wrote out my birth plan. I didn't think I would need to since I didn't with Aiden and everything went smoothly, but then I thought- what if it doesn't this time? I even wrote a list of what to pack for the hospital. With Aiden I didn't even pack a bag till I was in labor! Theres nothing like your child's life being in danger to convince you to be prepared. Preferably before the moment of crisis.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Scariest day of my life. By far.

I have always wondered how I would respond in an emergency situation with my child. It's not something I like to dwell on, my child's life being in danger, but I have wondered what it would be like and what I would do. When things happen to other people, my first instinct has always been respond! Whether I know what to do or not. But yesterday, as I held my son's seemingly lifeless body in my arms, I froze.

We were at a my friend Abigail's house, and Aiden and her son Oliver were playing as we talked and she watched another friend's four-month-old son. The boys were running around playing with cars, trains, vacuums, basically anything with wheels and having a blast. They made their way to Abigail's bedroom as they always do and after a quick game of pretend nap they began their bouncing game. Bouncing on the bed doesn't bother me too much, as long as they don't get too rough and I am there to monitor I have no problem with it. My biggest fear with it is that one might fall off and hit his head, so I always stand guard to make sure that doesn't happen. Well that day they were being exceptionally civil. Normally bouncing leads to wrestling or unintentionally smothering each other with pillows, but they seemed quite happy to simply bounce in their own spaces. When Aiden's face came down and hit Oliver on the top of the head as he was coming up, it really didn't look very hard. But then Aiden's face turned red and he started to cry a silent cry and I knew he was hurting pretty bad as he rarely gives a silent cry if he even sheds tears at all. I pulled him into my arms to comfort him, and when he still didn't make a sound I began encouraging him to breathe, telling him it was ok. I suddenly realized, he wasn't breathing because he couldn't. Panic clinched my chest as I watched his eyes widen, his pupils shrink, and his lips begin to turn purple. "He's not breathing!" I screamed at Abigail. "I don't know what to do!" She ran to search for her phone. I didn't know what to do, a million thoughts entered my head, but all I could do was repeat, "I don't know what to do! I don't know what to do!" over and over again. I am CPR certified, but the steps were all jumbled in my head, and what was I supposed to do when he was conscious, unable to breath, but not choking? His arms began to reach out in a way I have never seen, like he was grasping for something with closed and twisted fists. Then I watched in desperation as his eye lids slowly closed and all life seemed to leave his body. I screamed for Abigail who still could not find her phone, and ran into the dining room carrying my unconscious son, not really knowing where I was headed, just that something had to be done and quick! At this point I was too much in shock to sit still and really check his breathing. His chest did not appear to be moving and his lips were still purple, so I assumed he was still unable to breathe. When Abigail finally got 911 on the phone they told us that the closest emergency vehicle was 30 minutes away and that they could not give us any medical advice. "Get in the car, we have to drive!" Abigail yelled at me as she made her way there, still on the phone with 911. The closest hospital is 30 minutes away, even if I was performing CPR while she drove, I knew Aiden's chances of making it without oxygen were not likely. The fire department was right down the street, so my immediate goal was to get there as soon as possible. As I headed toward the car I looked back to see poor Oliver, obviously traumatized by the commotion standing in the doorway of the house, not moving. "OLIVER! COME NOW!" I screamed at him. Every second that went by was a clock ticking my son's life away. Just then I felt Aiden move, and I looked down and his eyes were wide open and he was breathing! He was confused, his nose began to bleed, and he started to cry, but I cannot describe to you the relief that ran through my body to see him awake and breathing. I collapsed on the ground, unable to stand, cry, or do anything but examine my little boy and try to reassure him that everything was ok, while trying to make sure everything was ok. Abigail called her doctor who told us to take him to the ER. Luckily, Aaron was right down the road so he came and picked us up right away.

At this point Aiden was mostly acting normal, but I was still pretty freaked out. Thoughts like, "Why am I not a nurse already?" and "I need to be more prepared!" ran through my head. I never wanted to feel so helpless again. I kept watching him for any signs of a concussion or anything that would have caused him to stop breathing or might cause it again. As we approached the highway Aaron slammed on his breaks to avoid hitting some idiot that was turning around in the middle of the on ramp, only for us to see that all the traffic ahead was at a complete stand still. Side roads would take us an extra 15 minutes to get to the hospital and we could see that whatever had stopped traffic was not far ahead, so we opted for the emergency lane. Unfortunately, so did about 30 other cars. We crept for about 100 yards, what felt like a life time, before reaching a power line that had come down across the highway. With no fear of cops (as they were all on the other side of the highway headed for the power lines) we pushed our little Isuzu to its very limits and made a mad dash for Mission Hospital. The whole drive Aiden and I talked about the cows we had seen that morning. Aiden expressed his sincere desire to go back and feed the cows grass from his hand, explaining to me that we would just open the fence so we could get close enough to the cows who usually keep their distance from the road. All the while thoughts of how Aiden was never going to do anything outside of a bubble circulated my mind. I could never lose him.

By the time we got to the ER, checked Aiden in, and sat in the waiting room, I was feeling more confident that Aiden was going to be just fine. Thinking through all the details, I started to wonder if he had simply passed out because he was crying too hard to breathe. It came to me that he hadn't even gasped for air when he woke and he had been out for at least a minute if not two. He said his nose hurt, but didn't show any signs of a concussion and seemed to remember quite clearly that he had bonked his nose on Oliver's head. Saying, "Oliber's head hurt nose mommy... ouchy!" He was alert and even quite happy. We were feeling relieved to say the least. Our fears were completely set to rest when we finally saw a doctor and he told us that it was actually quite common in kids Aiden's age to pass out from crying too hard and Aiden was perfectly fine.  Aiden was pretty excited to learn his action filled night would end with chicken nuggets, chocolate milk, and a race car. Aaron and I had to keep ourselves from completely smothering him with all the hugs and kisses we were showering him with and I had keep stopping myself from crying.

Long after I kissed Aiden good night for the millionth time, details from the afternoon kept racing through my head. Aaron held me as we allowed ourselves to process all that happened and thank God over and over that our little boy was alive and well. Today is back to life as we know it and I am relieved to say that I have not become the psychotic mom with her son in a bubble as I thought I might. Even though he was not close to death as I imagined during the chaos of those moments, the reality and heart-stabbing fear that I could actually lose him has never been so real. Or so terrifying.