Thursday, February 16, 2012

My blanket

Sometimes there is so little that can be said. It is impossible to express such complicated emotions. It seems that in writing about some things their fullness would be lost. Facts alone illuminate and the reader's imagination must suffice.
I fully believed myself to no longer be pregnant. I had the feeling of closure that comes from accepting the inevitable. Then I found out that there is a heartbeat. My uterus has continued to grow as would be expected. So there is loss and joy all mixed up together, but I said I wouldn't try to explain. Everything is too intricately woven to be disassembled into distinct threads. Behold the blanket in all it's complexities.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When you're waiting

When you are waiting it seems like it will never be over. Waiting in line, waiting to see the doctor, waiting for the dawn when you cannot sleep, waiting for help to come, waiting for the midwife when you are in labor, waiting for a phone call, waiting to hear about a new job, waiting for medical test results, waiting, waiting, waiting...
When we wait we are not the ones in control of the situation. We can feel trapped and at the mercy of others. It is in the nature of waiting to feel unsure and to question ourselves. We can feel angry at others either for being ahead of us or for not having to wait. We can fall into despond as the waiting drags on with no clear termination.
And then it is over. You reach the front of the line, the letter comes in the mail, there is a knock on the door...your situation changes and you are no longer waiting. Now you know. However sad the news or disappointing the results may be, it is a relief.
Waiting is given to us. It is a kind of suffering. Then it is gone.

"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but when the desire cometh it is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Something to enjoy

This weekend I have been trying to embrace my old self and find joy in the small things that my condition seemes to make me blind to. It is important to try, to struggle against the darkness.
As a mother of a growing family of four small children with a husband who does physical labor for a living as well as a lifestyle, food preparation consumes a lot of my daily ritual. Since the onset of my morning sickness a few months ago however, food preparation had changed from a creative joy into sheer drudgery. The smell of aromatic ingredients, the texture of raw meat, the environment of the kitchen were overwhelmingly unpleasant to all my senses. Strangly after the my first signs of an apparent miscarriage I have been able to stomach the experience of cooking much better.
This morning I made one of my favorite salads. I got the basic idea for it from a vegetable cookbook. Today I chopped up two firm but ripe avocados, two stalks of celery and two Braeburn apples. Then I stirred in about an eighth of a cup of walnut halves and an equal amount of raisins. I stirred it gently and then covered it with a simple dressing of mayonnaise (about a tablespoon), a third of a cup of milk, and a tablespoon of sugar. I stirred it enough to coat the vegetables so it turned a greenish hue from the avocados. I seriously could have eaten the entire bowl. The combination of crunchy veggies and creamy avocado with the slightly sweet dressing tasted life affirming somehow.
One thing is certain, that it is nourishing.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I was looking over some "successful" blogs today. They all seemed to have daily posts which were accompanied by photographs. When I think of blogs I think of the written word, but when I look at blogs it seems writers must also be photographers. I used to fancy myself a bit of an amateur photographer, but that was in the days of film and paper. I have gotten away from photography due to the move towards digital and my resistance to it. I enjoyed spending hours in my makeshift darkroom playing with exposure times and chemicals. I had the feeling of creating something from beginning to end, of fashioning it with my own hands. Photoshop programs are so intangible. There is no textile experience except that of ones hands against the hard plastic surface of a keyboard and or mouse.
We live in a culture of duplicity where people move forward with technology while many are also longing for a connection to the world. One that they can feel through their hands and smell with their nose (including the smell of manure). Photography seems to have fallen through the cracks of my straddled position, one foot online the other in the chicken coop. 
Maybe a digital camera is OK for me. Maybe I don't have to give up my visions of red lamps and developing trays. Maybe it all has a place and a purpose and adding one doesn't preclude embracing the other. Will those digital photos be real in the same way that my film prints are real to me? Is photoshoping, if that's a word, cheating? I want to capture the real world as I am seeing it, and not create an artificial one. I want to hold onto the vision of that moment because it will pass so quickly, all the while afraid of cheapening it with digital effects.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A reason to blog

"We read to know that we are not alone." -C.S.Lewis

After my last post I was left wondering why I blog about personal things that I would hesitate to mention to any but my closest friends. It is not that I am simply journaling to keep a record of life events for myself. I want people to read what I have written.
I write in hopes of being known and understood. I hope that people will read my words and that it will make some difference to them. I tend to isolate myself. I am not always good at maintaining friendships and keeping in touch. I can get lost in my thoughts, trapped by ideas that bind, confused by ideas that conflict, worried by my doubts, struggling for freedom. These are not easy things to share. Often the hearer does not know what to say in response. Sometimes the things people do say leave me unable to reply.
When I first started having symptoms of a miscarriage someone dear to me called me up. "It must be better this way, don't you think?"
What the heck do I say to that? Yes, my theology supports the belief that, "God works all things together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose."  That does not mean I am ready to rejoice at my lose before it is even complete. I hate to make anyone upset or uncomfortable though, especially someone I cherish, so I stifled my feelings and made some mild noises of agreement.
With blogging no awkward silence or grimacing smiles need to be passed on. I can feel less alone without feeling trapped by my desire to please others. I can say what I think about and how I feel. I can share my beliefs and my struggles.
Maybe I am alone, but with writing I try to bridge the moat between myself and others that my inverted personality digs around me.

What am I waiting for?

I have been covered by a heaviness lately that is so pervasive that I don't even notice its presence unless it lifts. Then I can feel a brief lightness. I find myself singing and smiling and acting silly. Yet unnoticed it returns. I walk slower with weighted steps. I do not pay heed to the sunshine. I long to lie down and close my eyes.

Partly it is physical. My persistent "morning sickness" has turned to mourning sickness and back again. I do not know the condition of my pregnancy, whether the baby I am carrying has passed from this life or continues on. My midwife has suggested that waiting is the best course of action. Any tests that find me to be pregnant or that show a heartbeat can be falsely encouraging. Yes, there may be a heartbeat today, but there is a small likelihood that this will continue to be a viable pregnancy.

My symptoms are contradictory and sporadic and no matter how much I would like to think that I know my own body, I have to admit that I do not. There is a strange wisdom that comes with pregnancy and birth and sadly, with miscarriage as well. My body has a wisdom of which my conscious mind knows nothing. Not for any of my pregnancies did I know the moment of conception, when the spark of new life ignited and that one cell began the magical process of duplicating itself. I did not know the instant of implantation, that miraculous joining of a tiny life to mine. I certainly did not predict the time that my body would begin contractions and force my child from my womb. No more did I anticipate the cramping and bleeding that signaled the beginnings of a miscarriage. I know nothing about it, yet it is me. It is my body doing these things. It is not making a mistake neither is it confused. It is doing just what it needs to do.

I cannot will my baby to live. I cannot will the miscarriage to complete itself. I do not even know which I should be hoping for at this point.

"I hear you are expecting."
"Yes, I am expecting. But I know not what to expect."

I suppose all of my life is like this. My body is doing millions of things every second over which I have no conscious control. I am integrally connected to this world by a physical body. It is not just a cage for my spirit, it is me.

The Apostles Creed states "I believe... in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting." We are this flesh and this blood. We need it to be complete. It carries in it wisdom put there by God the Creator. Sin has marred it all but the wisdom of the Creator shines through in the magic of pregnancy, birth, and even in miscarriage. It weighs my heart with much heaviness yet I cannot help but to observe it with wonder.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Competative homemaking

Sometimes I feel this undercurrent between mothers, an unspoken rivalry. Sure we are friendly and want the best for each other, but we sort of wish that the women next to us wasn't more organised then us, or didn't keep a neater house, or wasn't so incredibly crafty. If you happen to be the most organised, patient and "successful" mother in your circle of friends, it might not bother you. But, if you are like me, it can really become grating. I see other mothers doing it to themselves and that is what saddens me the most. To me they seem to be pressuring themselves to be "better" homemakers and their value is all wrapped up in this endeavor. I am not being critical. I have to fight the ugly green monster myself. When someone posts a photo of their latest homemade creation, I feel a twinge of bitterness rise up within me. I look around at my kitchen counters ornamented with dirty dishes, the floors littered with dog hair and paper scraps and my piles of laundry in every stage of laundering and wonder "What is wrong with me? Why are other women able to accomplish so much while I seem to be struggling just to deal with basic housekeeping?"
I console myself with comfortable answers, but the fact is, if those women had identical circumstances to my own, they would still accomplish these great feats of homemaking. They are more organised and determined. I feel my will weakening at the sight of my laundry room's condition. I fall to questioning myself and determine to never let this happen again, although I know it will. Before children (BC), I was a decent housekeeper and a somewhat diligent pursuer of the domestic arts. Now, I am the head of our very own disaster cleanup crew.
But what does it matter? Why am I rating myself along a scale of domestic efficiency? It's not like I am competing with anyone to keep my job, or fighting for that next big promotion.
I am  sitting on our futon, typing on my laptop (which is missing a few keys) while my little son snuggles into my arm. This is a great job. Sure I would enjoy our house more if it was cleaner and more organised, but that is not reflective of my value. I think it is fun to bake beautiful meals and desserts, knit and sew, and tend our little backyard menagerie. They are valuable pursuits but they do not give me value.
I do not think I am alone in this struggle. It seems to me that there are many wives and mothers who are comparing their domestic accomplishments to those of their friends and feeling the need to outdo one another. So what if you handmade every single Christmas present for everyone you know? So what if you made twenty different kinds of Christmas cookies all from scratch with butter you churned yourself and placed them in tins that you decoupaged, and then wrapped them up in your own hand stamped, hand made wrapping paper? I just hoped you enjoyed it and didn't do it because you felt you needed to impress someone.
I guess I wish as women we were not competing with one another for the "homemaker of the year" award. At least don't bother competing with me.You've already won.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Morning sickness

Morning sickness seems to distill things for me, daily priorities mostly. There is just so much that I can do before I find myself shivering and gagging. I have to eat every two hours or so, otherwise I will find it almost impossible to eat at all. Leaning over and dealing with laundry goes way to the bottom of my list. Expecting another child however has sent my mind reeling. We currently live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house that is just under 1000 square feet. We have 4 children already crammed into their little 10 by 11 bedroom. What are we thinking? At first I just comforted myself with the usual maxims, "People all over the world live in huts the size of our kitchen and have larger families then ours...We thought the house would be too small to have baby number 3 and baby number 4 here, and we all live here now. I guess we can fit another baby too...Be content with such things as ye have (Hebrews 13:5 excerpt.)
As much as I believe these things to be true, my spirit has become restless. I want to move on before this next baby is born at the end of the coming summer. I want to be settled in a bigger nest, closer to our families, within walking distance of the Paulins Kil Trail. I can just see the trail stretched out in both directions. It is a long stretch of reclaimed railroad tract. It is mostly level, with steady grade changes, and it meanders along the Paulins Kil, a wide generous creek that makes it's way through northeast NJ to the Delaware River. I could hop on the trail and make my way in either direction to family. I have walked on it countess hours of my life and if I miss anything about NJ it is the quiet hours of reflection on that tract of apparent wilderness that waited just outside my door.
In this regards the Internet can be a very dangerous enemy to the virtue of contentment. I can spend hours browsing the Internet seeing what houses are for sale, where they are, how much they cost, and how you can attempt to fund your hopes. Fuel for my restless mind. Did I find someplace I wanted? Sure. Did I connive a way that we might be able to finagle it? Of course. Is our current home in salable condition? NO. The noose around my neck, the place that ties me here when have I wanted to be gone years ago, our house. Our too small, adorable but unfinished 'bungalow" keeps us from our family, and from being able to move back east. So I found a miraculous place, so cheep something must be terribly wrong with it. It is located right where I want it to be. My restless mind wakes me up. At 3:30 in the morning I lay with my stomach quivering from morning sickness, burping into my pillow, unable to stop my mind from trying to figure it out, trying to make it happen in my imagination so that somehow it will become a reality.
If "godliness with contentment is great gain" should I even want anything else? Should I be thankful for what I have and forget that we will, Lord willing, soon have 5 children sharing one room? I am actually asking. Che sara, sara, right?
Or should I beseech the Lord to answer my prayers? Should I come before Him, and like the persistent widow in the parable, just not leave his door until I get an answer? I tried that before and I got his answer on that account, NO. Does that mean that sort of importunity doesn't work? Should I just "let go and let God?"

You can check out my old blog to see the back story to this one. It is long and very personal and some of you may think, very misled. God was good to give the answers he did. It would have been wrong for our family. Maybe he was preparing me for something else? Maybe for contentment.