Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sometimes it's yes to a different question.

When asking for God's will, I'm not always prepared for that answer. Sometimes I wish he spoke more clearly, louder and perhaps considered using those electronic road signs.

It became increasingly clear my marriage and home weren't safe places for me recently, nor appropriate for the children. I can't go into detail here, but sometimes the answer isn't what we first think.

As I left to give some time and space, the peace that entered my heart was surprising. I'm upset, saddened and dreading the battle ahead but I know I'm taking steps in the right direction.

I just wish it didn't hurt so much.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sometimes he says yes

"Please, God," I said, "I need your help. This is so much bigger than me, I can't carry it any more and I don't know what to do. I don't want to lose my husband, my family, and I don't know how to fix this. I want your will, and I'm desperately hoping that includes keeping my family together. I trust you, I need you and I can't do this without you."



I stayed on my knees for over an hour, sobbing and praying. The words, like my emotions and face, were messy and raw. It was a conversation long overdue, like many I've had recently.



For too long I've failed to ask for what I need and be honest about what's happening. With God, my husband, my family, my self. It's all come out now and there is some relief to be had in that, but there is no missing the fact the mess would be smaller and the repercussions less devastating had I only spoken sooner about so many things.



Our financial health is a mess at this point, thanks to a series of bad mistakes and decisions on my part as well as a lack of communication. For too long I've been hesitant, reluctant and downright afraid to have the hard conversations with the people I've owed the information to. Different decisions could and should have been made, and now the mess is bigger than it had to be. While I feel bad about asking God directly for money, I'm hoping we can improve our situation professionally and improve our personal situation as well. We have a hole to dig out of. Prayers for financial stability and recovery for ourselves and those we are responsible to would be deeply appreciated.



My physical health could be worse, and I'm fortunate in many ways, but I am not well. The time I spent ill last year, my lack of sleep and the stress of carrying many burdens without talking about them to the people who most needed to know has created some problems. I am anemic, my blood counts are not where they should be and several items tested were "off." Ultimately it boils down to not taking time to heal, and severe stress and anxiety. I'm having heart palpitations, sweats, fevers, and panic attacks. My lymph nodes are huge and I have recently been told I have a large cyst on my ovary, while still dealing with the interstitial cystitis. On the upside, I'm significantly closer to my goal weight, having lost an incredible amount of weight in a short time. Not in the proper way, I'm afraid - lack of proper sleep, having to force myself to eat, pacing and a racing heart have been the major contributors to my weight loss. Ultimately, weighing less will be a good thing and if I can get my anemia resolved and my energy level up I can actually exercise, which would be great stress relief and potentially help with my depression as well. I am hoping the recent events leading to full disclosure will ultimately lead to a reduction in my anxiety, but we have a lot of work to do to get things where they need to be so I don't anticipate the anxiety to abate immediately. I'm asking God for physical healing, and would appreciate your thoughts and prayers in that direction as well.



Mentally and emotionally, I've been barely holding my head above the surface for some time and I've finally reached the point of really losing it I am afraid. I'll be okay, eventually, and I have no intentions of doing anything foolish or permanent so I don't want to cast any doubts in that direction. I will admit there are times in the last few days I have hummed "they're coming to take me away.." but I am notorious for making terrible jokes when I feel at my worst. It didn't help matters to find the wheels falling off the cart and see my husband take his wedding ring off just days after the two year anniversary of my brother's murder. It has been a hard, difficult time and some have said I am holding it together but the only people who think that are those who are not looking closely enough.

There has been a bit of relief in the disclosure, more in the conversation held several days after I thought my marriage might really be ending when it was decided that we really are going to try to work things through. It would not have been my decision to divorce, but there were several days when it appeared that would be what my husband wanted. There's still a long road, a deep hole and much work to be done.

Part of that process is going to involve an attempt to return to working full time outside the home. I'll miss the days with my children, more than I can express, but keeping our family intact is more important. Somewhere along the way, I lost myself. The decision for me to stay home was mutual, but I have realized staying home altered my position in the relationship - at times making me feel as if I were a lesser partner. My contributions to our family are valuable, but harder to measure. As my husband was the one working full-time out side the home, and I was working part time but falling further behind in that work, I became more and more reluctant to have the hard conversations with him about finances choosing instead to juggle instead of saying "we can't do X." My guilt over our situation and what I wasn't disclosing led me to also swallow other things that bothered me, creating a situation in our relationship where I rarely talked about what bothered me.

I'm working on being healthier in a lot of ways. Another of those will be to pursue something of my very own outside of the house, not just in terms of a career but also a creative/social outlet. I have the best friends in the world, many of them living way too far away, but I rarely make a point to see even those who live across town. I allowed myself to feel so badly about how far behind I was in my work that I felt guilty even scheduling get togethers for a couple of hours, knowing there were other things I should do. I haven't been living my life, and it's time to change that.

In all of this, I am talking - finally talking. To God, my husband, my friends and trying to finally work through all of this. There are many, many things I feel grateful for including another chance..

I asked God if he would hold our marriage and family in his hands and help us work through this, if he would help my husband see we have something worth fighting for....and he said yes.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

While we wait for the results...

...a conversational nugget.

My husband called this afternoon after my appointment with the doctor. I told him the doctor had ordered quite a bit of bloodwork, told him some of the possibilities and that we'd know more on Monday.

Then he asked me if it was possible they'd screwed up and taken my bladder instead of my uterus.

Not what happened of course, but it made me laugh.....and made me think for just a moment...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Back to the doctor for me

I'm not sure what's wrong, which seems to be a recurring theme with me, but I find myself struggling again with feeling crappy. I'm running fevers, having the occasional chill (though those are easier to deal with) and sweats. My skin feels like it's burning, I'm exhausted and run down.

At first I thought it was due to an increase in medication, but now I'm just not so sure. I was told if it was the medication, I was looking at a pretty short adjustment time but this has been going on for weeks. It might be hormonal, but I'm not sure that wouldn't explain actual fevers.

I don't know what's going on, and though I have an appointment with our general doctor tomorrow I'm just not feeling convinced I'm going to come away from the appointment knowing anything more than I do right now. He'll probably order bloodwork, and it will mean more waiting. Hopefully some answers, but my optimism fails me right now.

I just want to feel better.

Monday, March 2, 2009

My parents.

Twelve years ago, my dad broke his neck. It was an unexpected accident, shocking and overwhelming, but his recovery was nothing short of amazing. He had a tremendous amount of damage to his vertebrae, but none to his spinal cord. After 12 hours of surgery, months in a halo and vest, he was able to go back to work. A portion of his hip bone replaced some of the damaged bone in his neck, and until recently he had no complications from the injury other than slightly decreased range of motion.

Recently, however, we've had some serious scares and it's not over. He'd apparently been having some symptoms for a few months that were put off, until one day he tried to stand and collapsed. It seems there's a problem with one of the discs. I don't understand it fully, but his situation involves a disc out of place, a bruised spinal cord and pinched nerves. If he's to retain his ability to walk, surgery will need to be done. Monday.

Meanwhile, mom is trying to care for him while not well herself. She's fighting the effects of multiple myeloma, a cancer that is currently in remission for her. Her own back is weakened, and while bringing in groceries a couple of weeks ago she fell -breaking her breastplate just above her sternum. A CT scan has shown that there is a fragment behind her sternum and surgery will be needed to remove that fragment before it causes significant problems.

My parents are overwhelmed, scared and struggling to hold it together. There are so many hopes pinned on my dad's surgery. They are fortunate to have good health insurance, but he's been unable to work for several weeks already and in March they will have to pay the premiums themselves. I wish I was in a position to help them financially, but all I can do is lend moral support.

Today my dad called me, seeking a promise that we'll make sure someone stays with mom if the surgery goes south. He's not so much scared for himself, as worried she'll stop taking care of herself. Apparently when he was in the hospital in February, she spent four days not eating ...just laying in bed, crying, drinking soda on occasion.

I worry about them both. I wish life had taken some different turns for them, so that if this was to be the end of my dad's working career he could just retire and they could still make it - but the end of him working would be financially devastating to them, especially because of their health needs and insurance issues.

I keep praying this will all be ok, that they'll both get through this and things will start looking up for them. They had started thinking things were getting a little better for them financially right before this all happened. As long as they have each other, I know they'll find a way to be okay....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The me I used to be

I can't remember the last time I saw her, face relaxed and smiling, eyes sparkling. I know it was before stress and tension caused the night time teeth grinding and clenching, before it forever changed the line of her jaw into something tight, tense, older looking.

I know she used to laugh more, smile more, and go entire days at a time without feeling as if her stomach were turning inside out. Those wrinkles weren't around her eyes. Tears were almost always close to the surface, but they could just as easily be from laughter, joy or simply being moved as from grief, pain or fear. I know there were times she felt broken, but there were times in between that she either felt whole or felt confident she would be again.

I want to tell her it's going to be okay again. That all this sucks, it really really sucks, but God is there even if he feels far away. That he is carrying her through this even if she feels so weighed down she struggles to lift her legs to climb the stairs. I know she knows the only way out is through, and I watch her struggle to open her mouth to talk about it, watch her struggle to hold it together when it feels as if everything has shattered into a million pieces. I want to remind her she is loved, that there is always hope, and the sun will come up tomorrow even if it's still cold outside.

I watch her grasp at the moments that make her happy - playing with the children, moments of laughter with her husband, and I want to point to those things and say, "see! even with all of this, look at the miracles you hold in your hands. They haven't slipped away yet, you can keep this family together. You can."

I tell her, as much as I can, but I say it softly....for fear that these conversations in the mirror might just really prove that she has cracked once and for all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

glue.

I keep meaning to update, but the truth of what's going on for us right now is harsh enough without seeing it in writing.

The kids are doing well, for which I am eternally grateful. The rest seems to be falling apart and we're barely holding it together.

The economy stinks and our business is seeing the effects big time, my health is still not right and I'm also fighting the effects of an increased dose of antidepressants in hopes that the bad effects are temporary and the good ones kick in soon.

Mentally it's the worst possible time for me to take on more, but I've had to. I'm lucky to have found two great kids to watch alongside my own for some supplemental income, but at the end of the day I'm absolutely spent. I have no energy left and I can only hope that gets a bit better soon. I think once we hit a groove, it will, but meanwhile I'm treading water. My dad's health issues don't really help matters.

It's not all bad -I love my husband and my children immensely and each day we have found several things to laugh about. I thank God for that, and hope he helps us hold this all together.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A girl and her daddy.

We now live about a mile from my husband's office, making it easy for him to come home for lunch most days. For the family cook (me) it has meant an adjustment to what lunch means, in general. He'd grown used to leftovers being sent for lunch - complete with a main dish, fruit, vegetable and sometimes even a treat. Meanwhile, it wasn't uncommon for me to fix a mixed plate at home - a bit of cheese, a handful of grapes, some baby carrots and a chunk of cooked chicken or turkey. Sometimes it was just a reheated waffle and some fruit. With all of us eating together, those worlds have collided and the family cook (me) has needed to adjust to being prepared to serve a full meal.

There have been some benefits - leftovers never go to waste now, I've learned to plan for each meal to count at least twice. My husband's wasitline has gotten smaller as he can no longer forget his lunch (conveniently or otherwise) and dash out to the fast food place down the street. Our house is closer than any of them.

There have also been drawbacks. I'm not always in the mood for a full lunch, but the opportunity to sit down as a family has meant that's what I do. I've learned to use the small plate from our set instead of the full dinner plate and that has helped. Our routine is off at times, as often Joseph wants a nap right as daddy is coming home for lunch, and there are days I'd like to put Emily down a bit earlier but she is NOT about to go down for a nap while Daddy is still home for lunch.

The best part, I think, has been the opportunity for the kids to see their dad in the middle of the day. Sometimes he has to work late. At the old house that could easily mean he didn't see them at all that day. This way, he's guaranteed to see them and when they are in good spirits. Well, most of the time. He gets to see how excited they are to see him and he gets to hear my daughter squeal with delight when he opens the garage door. I don't think any of us would trade the newest part of our routine.

Garage door opens, he walks inside. He hears Emily squeal and yell, "hide! hide!" and she races to one of three hiding spots. No matter how I've tried to talk to her about how hide and seek is supposed to work, her next step is usually to yell, "come find me, Daddy!" often followed by "I'm hiding...." and tells him exactly where.

He finds her. They laugh. Then she asks, "will you marry me?"

I don't remember how that last part started, but it's such proof of her love for her Dad.....and it makes them both light up when she asks and he accepts.

No matter how hard things have been around here at times, those moments make my day.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where to begin?

Tonight I found myself edgy. Irritable. Stomach cramps sent me running to the bathroom, and then my chest started heaving. I couldn't breathe, wanted to call someone but didn't want to talk. Better still, I didn't know what I'd say when they picked up. I paced my house like a caged animal, not knowing which rooms I'd be walking into or why. Tears streaming down my face and fighting the urge to scream, only because I knew it would wake the children. For the life of me, I didn't know why.

Then it hit me. Hard.

Only and already, a year ago, we took Joseph to the hospital as he struggled to breathe. Watched as they worked on him. Watched and held him as he got a spinal tap and didn't flinch.

It's not that I was unaware of this date looming, though it wasn't a day I had any intentions of observing. I wanted it to fade into the calendar.

I was completely aware of the timing on Tuesday, when I found myself headed to the emergency room with Joseph. My daughter had opened the gate at the top of the stairs to get something from the playroom, and for the first time I'd failed to hear her open the gate - and she'd failed to close it. Joseph fell down our stairs, landing face first on our stone entryway.

My SIL lives between our house and the hospital, so she watched Em as I was in the ER with Joseph. It was just him and me, and that was the only thing allowing me to hold it together. As soon as we were entering the ER, a wave of panic hit. The flashbacks I have anyway were intensified, and they came wave after wave after wave instead of just a few images. I felt like I was drowning, but I had to hold it together for him and I did.

But tonight, my husband is at band practice. The kids are both fine, asleep and we are just past that time of night when it is polite to call. There are people I could call and they would understand, one in particular, but I can't dial the phone. I just can't. I know part of it is because even as bad as this is, I don't want to fully surrender to it. I don't want to feel all over again the fear and the worry and the panic. It's hell, and I just keep reminding myself that it's over. No matter how bad the memories are, they are memories. It isn't happening now. It just feels that way.

Tonight comes down to timing. Not just a date on the calendar, or the coincidence that practice night fell on this night as it did a year ago....that Emily was sleeping and I was trying to rouse Joseph for a feeding.. after he'd gone from seeming fine to seeming lethargic to skipping breaths in such a short, short time. I know that part of why I'm having this breakdown is because I can. There's nobody awake in the house but me, so I don't have to look brave or sane, for that matter. I don't have to pretend to be okay.

At one point I thought I'd set a counseling appointment for this week, but then life got busy and I didn't make it a priority. I should have. I'll probably still call tomorrow to see about next week.

In the meantime, at least typing it out has helped calm me a bit. I still think it's a bit freaky that I forgot long enough to actually wonder WHY I was flipping out. It's almost funny.

Almost.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sometimes I wonder how two people can experience the same thing, yet process it so differently. A bit like the joke about having 5 people involved in an auto accident and the police receiving 6 versions, our memory and experience are so easily colored by who we are and where we are in life. I know that, and yet I still sometimes have struggled with how my husband has perceived the last year...longer than that actually....my pregnancy and Joseph's life so far. There are times we talk about what happened and I find myself wanting to yell, "you were there, how could you not know/remember/get this?" A lot of that boils down to his wonderings about why certain things didn't get done or why I'm still recovering. I'm sure, too, that a lot of it has to do with my tendency to minimize how sick and in pain I was. It doesn't help that never once did I say, "I can't do it." I just DID for the most part.

I've been frustrated, feeling like he's handled so much of what happened better than I have. He doesn't have flashbacks or moments when it seems his stomach is caught in his throat. Why? Am I just so poorly equipped to handle all this, that I'm failing miserably while he is not? It seems so unfair. Where is that strength in me? Where are those bootstraps I need to pull myself up?

Occasionally, however, there is a glimpse. A glimpse that maybe at the time he did get it, that maybe he's still processing some of it too.

On the night before Joseph's birthday, I had a horrible dream. One that even now I can't talk about. I can't type it, I haven't told anyone, I just know the root of the dream is tied to all the days of fearing we'd lose him, the times we came close, everything we went through. The next morning, my husband said, "I had an awful dream."

It wasn't the same as mine in detail, but the root was the same. So very tied to our fears and the realization that he's ok.

I would have never wished a nightmare on my husband, but in hearing his expression of fear there was some validation of mine. A reminder that yes, he was right there, gripping my shoulder until it bruised as we watched them work on our son. A year ago today, we were so naive. We had no idea what we were in for, and I'm glad because we had those few days of peace before our world became a very scary place.

Sometimes I wish for strength, but other times I'm ok with settling for the knowledge that these emotions weren't mine alone. Sometimes I think maybe it would be good for us to go to a counselor together...though I know it would be more for my sake than his, and sometimes that seems unfair.

I just know I'm ready to put some of this behind us, move on, and stop feeling like I'm dragging the weight of these emotions with me.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dear Joseph,

Bobo, Bojo, Jojo, Bogee, Jogee, Boge, Monkey-a-bobo....my son...My sweet, sunshine boy.

Before your heart began beating, before any test could confirm your presence, I knew you were there. Maybe that's why, despite being shocked at how fast your first year has gone, it feels as if I have been loving you forever. You have always felt like a meant to be baby, even before we knew you were on the way.

We held onto that feeling, your dad and I, when things with the pregnancy got scary. Each trip to the hospital, "This baby was meant to be" was a bit of a mantra for me. It was scary, and I held onto faith, family and friends, hoping you would be all right. Hoping I could do my job in keeping you safe until you were ready for the outside world.

On the evening of January 16, 2008, after spending months in preterm labor and weeks in prodromal labor, I wrote a letter http://fireflycafe.blogspot.com/2008/01/dear-little.html to you about reaching the milestone when you could be born into a room full of joy, not fear. You were born January 17, 2008 at 10:09am to a room filled with joy.

Our world changed forever that day. For Daddy, Emily and me, you have been our sunshine boy. Smile maker and heart healer, you made our family complete. On the roughest of days, you bring joy to our hearts.

We have had a few rough days, I'm afraid. I wish I could say things got easier for you after you were born. You spent 8 days in the pediatric intensive care unit for a pneumonia caused by my illness when pregnant with you, two weeks on oxygen after that. A few weeks later, during what should have been a routine procedure, you almost needed a blood transfusion. And, instead of having a healthy mama, yours has spent the majority of your first year being ill.

The thing is, nobody would ever know this by looking at you. You are a miracle, many times over, and we are so lucky to have you. We are blessed beyond comprehension. Your are beautiful and healthy...I have to say it again...perfectly HEALTHY.

During the complications of your pregnancy, your dad and I reminded ourselves and each other of the feeling we'd always had - that you were meant to be. When you were sick, it was harder, but again we reminded ourselves. We joked about the big destiny you must have before you, to go through all this and come out ok. We've now lost track of how many other people have said you were meant to be, that you have a important life to lead. Total strangers stop in their tracks, just to talk with you. A Jyotish reading, strangers, a woman halfway across the world - all have made a point to say you were meant to be, have a big destiny, and that somehow we are your perfect parents.

I don't know what your future has in store, what your role in this world will be. I just know you have changed my world for the better, a thousand times over. Your dad and I feel honored and blessed to be your parents, and your sister can't get enough of you. You're such a happy boy, your grins and giggles are contagious. One day we were in the store and a pretty grumpy looking guy finally broke down after you kept smiling at him and trying to get a reaction from him. He said, "how am I supposed to stay in a bad mood when he keeps grinning at me like that?" Exactly.

I'm writing this at 4:15 in the morning, unable to sleep, and remembering at this time a year ago, I was waking your dad up to tell him it was time to go to the hospital. How time flies.

Happy, Happy Birthday Joseph. I can't wait to see you dig into your cake, watch you amuse the relatives with cruising around the furniture and putting the wrapping paper on your head. If you happent to look back on the pictures of this day and see tears in your mama's eyes (or even maybe dad's) please know they are tears of joy, relief and tremendous gratitude for every day and every breath of this year of your life.

We love you and we thank God for you every day.

Happy Birthday, Little.
Mommy

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I've always been a crier. Angry, excited, happy, frustrated....regardless of the emotion, once it hits a certain level - I cry. In the soundtrack of my life, the music would be full of those moments when the music swells.

At times that's been something that frustrated me, especially when I was angry. Nothing ticked me off more than to be angry and have tears well up in my eyes, and along the way I learned some tricks including one in a seminar about women in business. The speaker suggested if you find yourself in a situation where you feel you're going to cry but it just isn't something you can allow to happen, drink a glass of water as fast as you can. It's really hard to cry while you're drinking water.

Which means I must have spent the last several months drowning.....because there have been times I've kept waiting for the floodgates to open and found myself shocked not to be crying. Matter of fact, there have been many monents over the last year that I shocked myself by not sobbing. Maybe it was shock? Self-defense? I don't really know...because it's not that the emotions haven't been there. Prior to this, the only time I didn't cry when I fully expected to was my wedding .....and that was because EVERYONE expected me too and I was trying so hard to hold it together. Though my voice did waiver, my eyes did fill with tears...but I wasn't the gooey mess everyone expected.

I'm almost sorry I didn't open up betting among my friends and family for when my breakdown might occur. It might not be too late. Some might have expected it to happen after my first surgery, or the second, or when I broke my foot this summer. Possibly when I discovered it is still broken? Or when we bought a house? Figured out we're going to owe WAY more on taxes than we thought?

I thought for sure I was going to lose it when I got the diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis recently, and the accompanying news that it's a forever condition. That they want me on a three times a day medication that won't even start helping for 3-6 months. That it can cause debilitating pain at times, and that part of it just might not go away...and in the meantime I'm on a special diet to figure out what my triggers are...and so far they are some of my favorite things. Like REALLY spicy food. But no, that didn't do it.

Neither did the discovery that I have tons of scar tissue in my urethra from Joseph's birth - scar tissue that should have come to their attention every time I had a catheter after his birth. I had a procedure this week that will need to be repeated three more times and it is excruciatingly painful.

No, the thing that might just do me in is probably the one that most people around me will not understand at all. After my procedure I was given a medication high in salicylates, which happen to be boldly marked on my chart as something I'm very allergic to. I've been having to take benadryl until it gets out of my system and pump and dump milk until it's gone.

Pumping hasn't been working, I haven't been able to pump ANYTHING and I chalked it up to stress, reaction to the medication, etc and then it hit me.....I've been taking benadryl. An antihistamine that can dry up a milk supply in no time flat. I may have just weaned my son without even realizing it, and while I know logically that my first responsibility was to take care of myself, I will be devastated if this is the thing that brings a complete end to nursing.

Most people around me won't understand what that means to me, and if I tell them I'm upset about it most will blow it off. I'm sure to hear things like "well, he is about to turn a year old..." or "that's what formula is for..."

They won't understand that it has been a point of pride for me that through all of this I've still been able to nurse my son, that it is one of the few things in his first year that I don't feel was taken away from me. That infertility and illness have left me feeling broken and betrayed, and nursing was a case of my body NOT letting me down.

I'm sitting here, sobbing, and feeling like very few people are going to understand why I feel so broken hearted. I wondered when the tears would start, but right now I'm worried about whether they will stop. People in my life have said I've been strong through this, they don't know I've held it together, etc.

The thing is, I don't feel strong, I don't feel as if I've held it together. I feel very weak, completely overwhelmed and discouraged and as broken apart as one can be.