Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sadly?

Last weekend I accompanied Abby's high school orchestra on a little overnight trip to the University of Illinois. The trip was fine. Fun, actually.

The best part of the weekend was hearing Abby's orchestra play their 25 minute program. What a spectacular performance! Those kids can play!

I have to give most of the credit to their conductor. This woman is so hard-working; all weekend I noticed that she really loves what she does. She should be so proud of the work she is doing with those kids.

So if my following comments seem like I'm picking on her, I'm not. I have nothing but admiration for what she does. It's more a cultural thing that I noticed last weekend that I just have to get off my chest.

As the orchestra was warming up, their teacher was having them practice a difficult transition in one of the pieces. She was explaining to the kids that she wanted it to be a smooth transition, almost romantic-like.

As she was describing the type of flowing music she was looking for, she said to the kids, "Pretend you live in the 1950's and, sadly, you're a wife waiting for her husband to come through the door, and you're handing him a martini." Then she stopped herself and, as an aside said with a chuckle, "No, I guess I don't mean 'sadly'."

She knew the minute the word was out of her mouth that she shouldn't have said it. But it was too late. She had already given the impression to a roomful of high school students that being a wife who stays home is a "sad" thing to be.

Guess what. I'm one of those wives. I'm one of those mothers who stays home. (No, I don't hand my husband a martini when he walks in the door--B doesn't like martinis.) And you know what? I'm not sad at all.

Believe me, it took me a good number of years to get to this point. When my children were younger I was sad. I struggled. A lot. Those days were the hardest days of my life, and I would have given anything to just get a job and head to work in the morning.

But B and I had made a decision that someone would stay home with our kids when they were young. Financially, it just made the most sense to have me do it.

Now that my girls are older and, yes, my days are a little easier, I can say that I made the right choice to be home with them. I love being their mom; I love that I can walk Maggie over to school in the morning; I love that I can be home when they get home from school; I love the relationships that we share. It's a great job.

Here's the thing I keep thinking about. If the feminist movement of the '60's and '70's was about giving women choices, why is it considered "sad" if a woman makes the choice to stay home with her children? I mean, it is MY choice, is it not? And if I'm happy with my choice, why should others consider it sad?

I admit it, I was deeply offended by the off-handed comment made by this teacher. I'm usually not easily offended . . . at all . . , but one word--"sadly"--diminished the choice I have made. It made me feel small, worthless, and, yes, sad.

That's not how I want my daughters to look at the life I've chosen. And if they should make the same choice, I don't want them to think it's second best.

Should they choose to have a career and work while their children are small, I would support them in that too. Because there is no right or wrong way to do things.

The thing I want my girls to know, the way I would want them to look at their future choices, comes from I Corinthians 10:31 where it says, ". . . whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

As long as we remember that--no matter what we choose to do with our lives--we can be assured that we have chosen a life well-lived.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Travel Tuesday - Late Edition

Once again, Travel Tuesday comes in under the wire. I was going to talk about Covent Garden because one of my girls suggested it, but that'll have to wait.

Instead, I was dreaming, as usual, about travel. I was thinking about where on each of the continents, I'd like to visit at some point in my life.

So I thought I'd share that list with you.

NORTH AMERICA
There are still so many unexplored regions of North America that I'd like to see. I've never been to the Northwestern United States (too cloudy for my tastes). I've never been to much of Mexico (Tijuana and Nogales just didn't do much for me).

I think the place I'd most like to see in North America that I haven't already seen is Montreal. Known as the second largest French-speaking city outside of Paris, it just sounds romantic.

SOUTH AMERICA
I've been to Brazil, but didn't get to see much of the country, so I'd love to see more of the Brazilian countryside, especially the Amazon region. But I'd also like to venture to Argentina for the beef. Oh, and also for that wonderful little Malbec wine they make. (What can I say? I'm a foodie at heart.)

EUROPE
Oh my, there are too many wonderful places in Europe to even begin to choose. I would love to explore more of Switzerland (and besides, B owes me some fondue). I'd love to see Germany. And Prague. But if I had to narrow it down, I'd say two places in Europe I'd love to see are Provence and Tuscany. I think I could fall in love with both of those areas if given the chance.

AFRICA
Kenya, of course. I've been dreaming of going on Safari for as long as I can remember. For now, I'll just have to look at my friend's pictures--she got to go last summer.

ASIA
Now it's getting a little tougher because, honestly, I don't have a strong desire to go to Asia. I guess Japan would be where I'd head first.

AUSTRALIA
Another toughie for me. Australia seems hot, dry, and dusty. But I suppose if my arm is twisted I could manage to go there.

Now, I know that this is not technically on the Australian continent, and having done a little research I found that this place is actually a "continent" of its own. One place in the Australian region I'd like to go is New Zeland. It seems like such a lush, green, and beautiful country. The people seem warm and friendly. And we have friends who live there, so who knows? Maybe someday we'll get there.

ANTARCTICA
Since I have rather strong feelings about winter, all I can say about Antarctica is . . . no way, no how, not EVER.

So now I'd like to know . . . where would YOU like to go?

Do the Hokey Pokey . . .

I love words. I love what you can do with words. Words bring me joy. Words make me smile.

I also love those little plaques that they sell in girly boutiques that have pithy sayings on them. Some of them make me laugh. Some of them make me think. I even have a couple of them in my own home.

So you can imagine the chuckle I got from this sign that I saw in my daughter's school library yesterday:

"What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?"

Friday, February 20, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday

-1-

I am laughing to myself right now because, according to B, I went "off the grid" this morning. Now, this is a new term to me, but I kind of got the essence of what he meant. Apparently, leaving a silly Facebook status and then leaving the house for a couple of hours and not taking my cell phone with me causes a nationwide panic to set in.

Literally.

I had people from Georgia to Arizona wondering what was going on with me.

I'm fine. Really fine. Just being silly.

It is nice to know so many people care, though. Thanks everyone!


-2-

Now, on to more serious matters.

I heard yesterday that shares of Hormel are going through the roof because sales of Spam and Dinty Moore Beef Stew are way up due to the economy. (Is it just me or is everything these days tied to the economy?) I got my fill of Spam as a kid, thankyouverymuch, and I just can't stomach that stuff. The squishy jelly that surrounds the "meat," the strange combination of spices, and even the protein itself (it's hard to even call it meat)--all of it just kind of freaks me out. I might as well be eating Thunder's food.

Sorry, kids, as much as I'd enjoy the challenge of making that stuff actually taste good, I am NOT going to treat you to that piece of cultural literacy.

-3-

While we're on the topic of the economy . . . I've pretty much stopped watching the news these days. My heart can't take what has happened in our country over the past few weeks. But this guy--Rick Santelli--caught my attention with the interview he did with CNBC yesterday. Watch the video, even if it's just the first 2 minutes or so, and let me know what you think.

A couple of his comments made me think, like when he says, "You can't buy your way into prosperity."

Or when he asks, "President Obama, are you listening?" I wonder . . .

-4-

I'm already in deep, so I'll just take the plunge . . . I feel like I live in a cesspool called the State of Illinois. Now it seems Rolland Burris wasn't exactly truthful when he gave sworn testimony in front of the Illinois Senate. Apparently he did contact Blogo's people--a few times--to let them know that he'd be interested in the Senate seat if offered to him. Oh, and if he needed a little help with some fundraising, just let Burris know.

These people just won't quit, will they? And the good people of this state are left trying to figure out how to pay for the mess these politicians have left for us.

O.K., enough about that.

-5-

Back to #1. Want to know what my Facebook status was? I said I was "trembling with fear."

Want to know what I was fearful of?

This afternoon I will be getting on a bus and riding three hours to the University of Illinois with 140 high school orchestra students. If that isn't enough to leave you quaking in your boots, we are supposed to get somewhere between 6 to 10 inches of snow tonight and tomorrow. So, combine a bus, high schoolers, and all that snow, and you've got one trembling mama.

But do you want to know why I'm going? Well, the orchestra teacher sent an email to all the parents saying that she needed chaperones, so I asked Abby if she'd want me to go (hey, I'm not stupid--I'm not going to put myself through this kind of torture if my daughter didn't want me there!). To my surprise, Abby said yes, she would love it if I came along. It sure didn't take me long to email that teacher back to sign up. I know the day will come when Abby says that, no, she wouldn't like me to come along, so as long as she wants me there, I'm there.

So, here I am, about two hours away from a new adventure. With high schoolers. Should be interesting. (I wonder if I should pack sometime soon.)

-6-

This morning was a bit of a milestone for Maggie and me. I dropped her off at school on my way to the gym. (No, that's not the milestone! Keep reading!) Normally we walk to school--it's only 2 blocks away--but I was on my way and the wind chill is below zero again, so I dropped her off.

Now, Maggie loves me. She REALLY loves me. She's what you might call "attached" to me. I haven't worried about it--I figure she'll grow out of it in about a year or two when it's not cool to like your mom in middle school.

But on days past, especially if I was leaving for a night and Maggie wouldn't be seeing me for a while, she would have made a big production out of hugging me and kissing me and saying goodbye. She would have said, "Bye! I love you!" about 20 times. (She gets her closure issues from me.)

This morning, however, Maggie gave me a hug and a kiss, said "I love you" and simply got out of the car and headed to the school. No big production. No sappy tears. She just said goodbye and walked away.

In a way, it made me sad, but in another way I was so relieved. It was just another sign that Maggie is growing up. It didn't mean that she didn't love me any less than she did yesterday. It didn't mean that I wasn't still her #1 person. It just meant that she didn't feel the need for all that drama. She knew that I would be back tomorrow night and that everything would be fine.

This, my friends, is a huge milestone.

-7-

I have no #7. I think I'm just so wrung out over politics and the economy that if I wrote any more, things would get ugly.

So I'll stop right here and just wish you a great weekend!

(Thanks, Jen at Conversion Diary, for hosting this very fun carnival. Pop on over there to read her 7 Quick Takes.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Someone I'd like you to meet


Today I want to introduce you to someone who has, as they say, more talent in her little finger than I have in my entire body. Someone who is creative, thoughtful, and well-travelled. Someone who loves God, deeply.

This person is an artist extrodinaire who, in the past few years, has gotten into calligraphy. So well has she "dabbled" in this medium, in fact, that last year she won the prestigious Newberry Purchase Award for one of her pieces during the annual Chicago Calligraphy Collective juried art show.

She has studied with some of the world's foremost calligraphers. (Ever heard of Timothy Botts?) And last year, as a result of the Newberry Award, she travelled to Brugges, Belgium to study calligraphy there.

Believe me, this girl can make beautiful letters!

Please meet my sister-in-law, Julie Wildman. She has started her own blog recently where she highlights some of her work and you can check it out by clicking here.

I have a couple of Julie's pieces hanging in my house (including the one in the picture above), and I absolutely love them. If you'd like to have a couple of Julie's pieces hanging in YOUR house, you can contact her through her blog to purchase them.

And if you'd like to see some beautiful calligraphic work in person, you can visit the Newberry Library in Chicago through March 28 to see the Chicago Calligraphy Collective juried art show.


Learning Hard Lessons

Does it sometimes seem like God is hitting you over the head with a theme?

A while back I wrote about how my dear friend admitted her feelings of loneliness to me . . . such a gift to this lonely mom. Her transparency blessed me that day and on many days since.

Then last week, Lysa TerKeurst wrote about women and relationships. Again, it has stayed with me.

Today I stumbled across this post about friendships.

On Monday of this week I had a brief, unexpected visit with an old friend--kind of "God thing." We started talking about life-in-general and ended up, on my end of things anyway, having a great conversation about trusting God with our future, no matter what He has in store for us. It was encouraging. Deep. Quick. But it was the kind of encounter that I wish I had more often with friends. With women.

After reading, writing, talking through all of this I wonder what God is doing. Why He's trying to get my attention in this way. I used to think it was because God was affirming all of my insecurities about other women. I used to think it was because He was somehow agreeing with me by putting those posts in my way. ("See, God? They really are petty and catty!")

But now I'm thinking that He has something more for me to learn. To change. I think He's tapping me on the shoulder and trying to get me to look at how short I fall in the friendship arena rather than at those who might have fallen short, in my own estimation, with me.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Travel Tuesday - Redeux

On Sunday night I received such a treat when Kate asked me if I'd watch "Notting Hill" with her.

She certainly didn't have to ask twice because "Notting Hill" is one of my all-time favorite movies.

(Eventually Abby joined us. And then B. But not poor Maggie who, even though she was in bed, felt VERY left out--she's nowhere near ready for "Notting Hill.")

Anyway, as I was watching the movie, it occurred to me that I needed to resurrect Travel Tuesday. The scenery reminded me of one of my favorite places--London--and more specifically Portobello Road Market which takes place every Saturday in Notting Hill.

I first visited Portobello Road when I was a college student, and I remember being energized by the environment there. Crowded. Bustling. Loud. Haggling. It was one of those electric environments that you just never forget.

And so, when I took Kate to London last spring, I knew I wanted her to experience that environment too. Besides, I wondered if it had changed much in the 20+ years since I'd been there.

It hadn't. It was still so much fun. Even walking to the market was a thrill as block after block more and more people joined us until, by the time we reached the first market stalls, everyone was pretty much walking shoulder to shoulder. There was no way a car was going to get through the streets on that day.

Let me tell you, Portobello Road on a Saturday morning is something worth seeing--and there is anything and everything you'd ever want to see there.

Need a violin? Take your pick!


Hungry? Have some paella! Isn't it beautiful?


Need some entertainment along the way? These guys were GREAT!


But the thrill of my morning that Saturday was finding this:

It's The Travel Bookshop of "Notting Hill" fame. (In case you haven't seen the movie, one of the main characters runs a travel book shop where they only sell travel books.)

Kate and I took a couple of minutes to walk through this maze of a book shop. It's crowded with books and filled with tourists, but it stays true to its roots--the store still sells nothing but travel books. Oh, O.K., we also saw some maps, but still, those are travel-related, right?

So, if you're heading to London, definitely take a Saturday morning to visit Portobello Road and visit The Travel Bookshop. But if you're not going to get to London any time soon, why not watch "Notting Hill" and get your fill of some really great London scenery.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Going Somewhere?

A few summers ago I decided to read the original "Dr. Doolittle" to the girls (the original title is . . . get ready for this . . . "The Story of Dr. Doolittle: Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts Never Before Printed"--whew!). You know, the 1920 classic by Hugh Lofting that is nothing like the 1967 movie version with Rex Harrison and even less like the 1998 movie with Eddie Murphy.

One thing the book and the movies all have in common, though, is a character called the Pushmi-pullyu. I best remember it from the movie I watched as a kid. It was kind of like a siamese llama, all fluffy and white, with a head on each end.

This poor animal, though, didn't know which direction it was going. One head wanted to go one way; the other head wanted to go the other. Both heads had to really work together to get anywhere.

On a lot of days I feel like that poor Pushmi-pullyu.

Take today, for instance. It's President's Day, which means no school. Most of me wants to do something fun with the girls, like go see a movie or head to the mall. But what HAS to be done are dentist appointments, eye doctor appointments, laundry, music lessons, and getting one child to her job. Today will be a day when I'll be heading in all sorts of directions and probably not getting a lot done.

To widen the scope a little bit here, when I look at the future, I feel much like that Pushmi-pullyu, too. Do I want to keep my focus, as it has been for so many years, on being "Mom" to my girls? That's a wonderful thing and something I love doing. Or do I want to pursue other options that swirl around in my head? Writing? Speaking? Teaching? And if I pursued those options, when would be the right time to do that?

The tough thing about being at this point in my life is that I could spend years wandering around, contemplating, wondering which direction to move. And nothing would get done. I don't want that to happen.

But here's the great thing. I have options. We all do, whether we realize it or not. Yes, I feel pushed and pulled in all directions right now, but that's O.K. Maybe that's just what life is all about.

How about you? Are you being pushed and pulled? What are the options facing you right now?

(Just a note: if you have kids and are looking for something good to read with them this summer, check out Hugh Lofting's "Dr. Doolittle" books--there are several. You might enjoy one of them as much as we did.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dear Blog,

I love you. I really do.

Over the past eight (can it really be EIGHT?) months you have become a constant companion to me. You have provided me with many hours of enjoyment. You have been on my mind more than I care to admit.

Plus, you have stretched me to do things, say things, write things, that I would have never dreamed I would do, or say, or write. I'm thankful to you for that.

You have brought new people into my life. People I now look up to. People I have learned from. People who read my words and like them.

Dear Blog, you are a wonderful addition to my life, and I just wanted to take a minute to thank you.

But, dear friend, I have neglected you lately. I have not brought you out and played with you as much as I should have, and for that I am very sorry.

So, I want you to know that in the midst of my busy life, I haven't forgotten about you. And I'll try to do better.

Next week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I love me some Chinese Acrobats

You know what they say about life in suburbia. Never a dull moment. And last Saturday was no exception, friends, let me tell you.

I had hinted last week that we were taking our family on a "very special" outing. A cultural experience of sorts. An experience so body-bending and fast-paced that it's hard to even begin to describe.

But I'll try. Because that's what I do.

Are you ready for the suburban thrill of our weekend last weekend?

We took our girls to see the National Acrobats of China. Yep, we do know how to show our girls a good time.

Actually, it WAS a good time. If not a little twisted and weird, but a good time, nevertheless.

The program started out with a bang--16 women holding five sticks of spinning plates in each hand. For ten minutes they spun those little silver plates while standing on each other's shoulders, or doing the splits, or doing a somersault, or forming a pyramid. For about five minutes I believed they were actually spinning the plates; for another five minutes I whispered to my husband, "They're attached. I know they're attached. There's no way they could keep ten plates spinning for that long!"

Unless, of course, they are mothers.

The next "act" was called Hoop Diving--you know, where these men run really fast and throw themselves through a hoop. Then they add another hoop, and another, and another, until the top hoop is about 8 feet high. And they still make it through! While doing flips and such.

Unfortunately, while the hoops were only two levels high one guy missed and knocked the whole thing down. He's probably still cleaning the latrine on the bus for that one.

The entire night was kind of like a circus with acrobats performing stunts I had never seen before. It was colorful, and musical, and fun.

And costumes! Oh my, those Chinese know how to put together a costume! Unfortunately, one act involved martial arts "warriors" running around the stage in very tight spandex outfits that, well, showed every. little. thing.

Here are some of the other highlights of the evening.


Somehow they figured out how to get 16 women on one bicycle. We've decided to ditch the minivan and just go with the bike.


The straw hat juggling was incredibly cute and fun. Those boys do know how to party! At this point in the program, though, Abby said she was craving Bugles. Their straw hats were shaped just like the little corn snacks that we loved to put on our fingers when we were kids (and some of us still do!).


This girl did her entire act balancing on one arm. From a tiny pole. On top of a platform. Oh my gosh, I want arms like hers. Buff, I'm telling you. Buff!

Of course, Abby had to add to the moment by observing that "she must have a really bad wedgie."


But my favorite act of the evening had to be the contortionist. (Hopefully no men are reading this, lest they get some unseemly images in their head.) But I kid you not . . . that girl put her butt on top of her head! (You can't even picture it, can you?) While holding candelabras in each hand. And on each foot. And one in her mouth. It was a sight to behold.

And that's all I have to say about her.

So, never let it be said that we don't treat our kids to some pretty whiz bang cultural experiences.

And now excuse me. I need to go to the gym and work on my arms.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

And now, for the RESSSST of the story

When last I left you, we were in the three ring circus that was Maggie’s birth. Moms were drugged, Dads were fainting (“Sue, we have a dad down!”), and nurses were scurrying around trying to hold both of us together.

It really was a mess.

But sweet Maggie was born and, as I told you, I held her for about 30 seconds before the nurses took her from me. Not because I was still sleepy, but because there was a little something going on with her that I was not aware of right away.

Our doctor noticed something ever-so-slightly wrong with the way she was breathing. The nurses didn’t believe him, insisting that she would clear up in a few minutes.

I had never seen a doctor do this before, but he very nearly stomped his foot and yelled at the nurses saying, “NO. We need to get her downstairs. Now.”

The nurses wrapped my newborn and placed her in an isolette and quickly whisked her away.

My fuzzy head cleared quickly and my eyes opened wide as I realized something wasn’t right. Downstairs? What did that mean? Where were they taking her?

“We’re taking her to the NICU,” one of the nurses explained. “Dr. thinks she’s having a little trouble breathing.”

This was serious.

If things were circus-y before, they were all-out chaos at that point.

Maggie was born around 11 p.m., so by now it was literally the middle of the night. We had no family there with us; we felt very much alone. I’m pretty sure that B and I just clung to each other and prayed. Hard.

A few hours later we were able to go see Maggie in the NICU, and here’s what we saw.



In one way it was tragic—all those tubes and wires—and in another way it was very funny to us. Yes, our baby was sick, but she was also 7 pounds, 12 ounces and compared to the other babies in the NICU, she was HUGE.

I held onto that, sensing that her size was an advantage. She was strong, I told myself. She had to make it.

Maggie was born with a pneumothorax which is kind of like a pocket of air that develops around the lung. This then caused a collapsed lung. That then turned into pneumonia. Combine all that with severe jaundice, and you’ve got one sick little girl.


(This is her under the bili lights--don't you love her faceband?!)

Thankfully, within 24 hours the doctors told us she was pretty much out of the woods, but they wanted to keep her there for a while. “A while” turned into seven days.

During those days when Maggie was in the hospital I learned a lot. It seems God is always teaching me to just plain trust Him, and I had to at that point. I couldn’t control Maggie’s health. It was (and is) entirely up to God to decide whether she would live or be healed. It was up to me to decide whether I would trust Him with His decision.

I also learned that I should not worry about what I could not control. Over and over again throughout my girls’ lives, I’ve come to realize that I have absolutely no control over them, ultimately. It would be wrong for me to worry about what is out of my hands.

This morning in church we sang one of Maggie’s favorite hymns, “In Christ Alone.” The fourth verse really hit me today, as I was thinking about this post and the early days of Maggie’s life. Here’s what it says:

"No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand."

From Maggie’s first cry until her final breath, I believe that Jesus commands her destiny. Nothing can pluck her from His hand.

Today Maggie is just fine. She’s a strong, healthy 11 year old who just went outside to ride her bike. She does have asthma—my only daughter who does—but I don’t know if that was caused by what happened at her birth of if it’s genetic. I’ll never know.

I do know this. God caused Maggie, but even moreso B and I, to go through this situation for a reason. I really believe He wanted to show us His power to heal our little girl, but also to give us a benchmark to look back on—a time when we needed to trust Him completely for our daughter. And, on those days when I just don’t want to be a parent, I look back on those early days with Maggie and realize that I wouldn’t want any other job. I am so lucky to have this beautiful little spark of energy in my life.

Last summer Maggie went to camp and had quite a time with her asthma. But the thing her counselors were impressed with was how she carried on, despite her illness and difficulty breathing. “She’s a real trooper,” they told us . . . several times.

You know, I think those counselors were right. Maggie has been a trooper since the day she was born. She doesn’t let those little things (like breathing well) stop her from doing all she wants to do in life. She pushes through, and she succeeds.

So, Maggie, our trooper, I wish you another happy birthday. We are so thankful you made it.

Mom

[edited to add: P.S. I forgot to mention Maggie's froggie legs in the pictures! Aren't they funny?! She had been breech for so long that her legs just went like that for a while. They settled down after a couple weeks, and now her legs are just fine.]

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You . . .

Some of you have figured out that Maggie's story wasn't finished. I promise, Part 2 is coming soon, but things have gotten out of control in my week again and I didn't get it done in time.

Plus I have to figure out how to scan in a picture. Always learning, I am!

Plus today I'm taking four little girls on a "field trip" to the Shedd Aquarium. It's actually Maggie's birthday party, but it feels like a field trip. Anyway, that will take most of the day today.

And tonight is a special family outing that I'll probably be writing about next week.

So, hopefully if I can get one of my technical staff to help me out with the scanning of the pictures, I will get Maggie's Birth Part 2 up and running sometime today or tomorrow.

Hang in there with me, people! I love that you're reading (and I'd love even more some comment love).

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Don't read this if you don't want to read someone else's birth story . . . and really, who does?

My baby’s birthday was yesterday.

For weeks I had been hearing that she’d like a new digital camera thankyouverymuch because the old one used (gasp!) double-A batteries. And those cheap batteries ran out of juice too quickly.

So please make sure it has a lithium ion battery. Oh, and I’d like a camera that’s colored, please—not boring silver.

Imagine, a woman in this household who knows what she wants.

Anyway, we have a few birthday traditions around here. Some that are easier to pull off than others. Some that involve draping our entire first floor with colored crepe paper and balloons. Some that involve choosing your birthday dinner. And definitely one that involves cake.

But the birthday tradition we all look forward to is the telling-of-the-birth-story.

Usually that involves sitting around the table after dinner and one of the girls remembers that they haven’t heard that story in, oh, about a year, and they’d like to hear it again. It’s never because Mom or Dad remember to tell it.

And last night was no exception.

As I was telling the story for the eleventyhundredth time, I realized that it might be fun to share parts of it with you. Because Maggie’s birth was so much fun. Thirty hours of fun, it was.

So, if you read my list of 25 Random Things, you would already know that I’m usually on time or early and that all three of my daughters were born early. Maggie was due on Valentine’s Day—I was thinking that would be kind of cool to have a love child on Valentine’s Day—but she decided to start to arrive on February 2.

I know, you’re thinking, “I thought you said her birthday was yesterday” and you would be right. Remember the 30 hours of fun?

Maggie started to come on the evening of the 2nd of February, 1998. Labor began, but there was a bit of a problem that I’d been trying to ignore for months. She was breech.

In the months prior to her birth the doctors had given me exercises to try to get her to flip around. Now, try real hard to NOT imagine a hugely pregnant woman on the floor on all fours, rocking back and forth to get the baby to flip. Or even lying on her back with her legs up on a chair, just willing that baby to turn over.

Nothing doing.

(If I had met Maggie before she came out, I would already know that this was only a precursor of things to come.)

Anyway, labor began, but needed to be held off (Really? They can do that?) until the next morning because the doctor who would have performed the C-section (she was breech, remember?) wouldn’t be in until then.

It worked.

Next morning I met Dr. C-section for the first time (my doc was a GP and not allowed to do any cutting). He took one look at my enormous belly, checked my chart to see that I had already given birth twice before and announced magnanimously, “You’ve got plenty of room in there. I think I can turn this baby around.”

Now, let me warn you, the next time anyone says the words “external” and “version” in the same sentence while looking at your hugely pregnant belly, get out of that bed and run down the hall as fast as your thick ankles can carry you.

I had not had that warning so I stayed in my bed, awaiting his magic hands on my belly.

And magic did he perform. On my belly. All kinds of contortions that were the most painful pushing and pulling I had ever experienced—before or since.

While two EMTs in training watched.

Along with a couple of nurses who had “never seen anything like that before.”

All told, there were eight people in the room, not counting myself and B whose hand I was squeezing so hard he couldn’t feel anything for a week. I guess I was somewhat of an oddity.

So Maggie was now sunny-side up, and all was good to go. Except for me. Suddenly my labor stopped, and I was faced with two choices: either go home and wait, or induce labor.

Which one do you think I chose?

So from there things progressed pretty normally. Drug-induced contractions ensued.
So did vomiting, shaking, and then drug-induced sleeping. Me, not B.

B was too busy fainting to sleep.

No kidding, that labor and delivery room was like a three-ring circus.

By the time I was ready to start the work of actually getting that baby out, I was sleeping. All I remember were the faces of nurses standing over me saying, “Wake up, honey, it’s time to push.”

Yeah, right. I rolled over and wanted to go back to sleep, but B wouldn’t let me. I think he may have slapped me a time or two, but that may have been the medicine.

An hour or so later, our sweet Maggie was born. I held her for thirty seconds exactly before the nurses grabbed her out of my arms.

And then the real story began . . .


Monday, February 2, 2009

25 Random Things You May or May Not Want to Know About Me

Seems like everyone is getting into the "25 Random Things About Me" craze these days on Facebook. I've been "tagged" (Facebook lingo) a few times, and it just seems like too much work to figure out how to put it up on FB, so I thought I'd just post it here.

Now, saying all this, I realize that even beginning to think that there would be 25 things that anyone would even want to know about me, and then actually posting them to my blog, seem a little self-serving. I mean, really, who cares?!

But just in case you do, here you go.

1. I love my life. So far, it has turned out better than I ever dreamed it would.
2. Nearly 24 years ago I married the man of my dreams. Literally. Because when I was a little girl I used to picture the man of my dreams and he looked exactly like B. Weird, huh?
3. My husband makes me laugh every day. I love that about him.
4. I have given birth to three of the most beautiful, intelligent, headstrong young women I know. I am the luckiest mom in the world.
5. The greatest compliment I’ve ever been given was when one of my friends told me, “You are the most intentional parent I know.”
6. Being a mom is the absolute best job in the world.
7. I love to cook. I dream of being on The Food Network someday.
8. I am not driven. Which is why I will never be on The Food Network.
9. I also love to write and dream of writing a book someday. I hope that one comes true.
10. I’m usually on time or early . . . for everything. Even my three daughters were all born before their due dates (3 weeks, 2 weeks, and 10 days early).
11. Speaking of the girls, they were all born on a Tuesday. Is there something to this? I’ve always wondered.
12. Being offered an adjunct position at Wheaton College (more than once!) was one of the biggest surprises of my life. I love(d?) being a teacher.
13. When I was in 8th grade I raised a cow for my 4-H project and won a blue ribbon at the 4-H fair. I’m proud of that accomplishment to this day.
14. I always felt like a bit of an outcast in high school. Most of those years were lonely ones for me.
15. College was another story. I loved every minute of it and would go back and do four more years again if I could.
16. I love to travel. My dream job would involve travelling to exotic places, learning how to cook their exotic food, and then writing about my experiences in their exotic land.
17. I have been to nine foreign countries; only about a hundred more that I’d like to see.
18. When I was in college I went on a study program to Oxford, which is when I first realized my love of travel. It’s also when I fell in love with England where I hope to live some day.
19. Being an introvert, I would much rather spend time with one other person than be in a group. Groups give me hives.
20. Losing my only brother when I was 11 was one of the most defining moments of my life. I thank God that He used that tragedy for good.
21. My family is very close, even though we live thousands of miles away from each other. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them.
22. I hope I live near my girls when they are grown. I loved having my grandparents right down the road from me when I was growing up.
23. I have strong political opinions which I sometimes keep to myself.
24. My friends have had a profound influence on me; sometimes that’s a good thing.
25. My relationship with God is the most important influence in my life. It changes the way I look at everything.