Saturday, December 30, 2006

Keona Marie

Hanging out on an internet board for parents gives me plenty of opportunities to talk about this subject, I guess that's why I've not posted here about it. Helping other women get through this, and helping people relate to those who've been though this, is kind of a mission of mine, a mission I share with untold millions of women through out the world and throughout time. It's time I should post about it here, as it's a big thing to me.
Advance apologize to those who love me but do not know this story, it was to to hard to tell at the time, and is a different kind of hard now as I fear hurting you with what I wasn't strong enough to share.
You see in February 2003 I got pregnant (a very common thing I've noticed, November seems to be a favorite for giving birth.) It took us a bit to get used to the idea, as we hadn't been planning on three kids yet, but I was getting excited and doing the dreaming thing.
I've found that women tend to start dreaming and hoping for their child long before it is born, and the moment we start loving a child is the moment its existence is suspected. I'm told there are women who don't feel this way, but I've yet to confirm this one single time. Nevertheless, I feel this way. A child is a gift to be cherished every moment, through morning sickness, and high school, and sometimes death.
I just never really expected to cherish through death.
I knew something was wrong with this pregnancy. With my previous two I had FELT them there (skeptics be-gone, I know what I felt). With this pregnancy though, I just didn't feel an extra little someone hanging around the house. It was un-nerving, and I tried to reason it away, but when the spotting started, well I knew what was happening. At 8 weeks gestation there was nothing for doctors to do, and my hopes and dreams were packed away in the parts of my mind I try not to disturb.
I was a mess, but I tried to muddle through, pretending it was no big deal.
I got pregnant again immediately, another accident. I embraced this new life. A child! I was so sure it was a girl, too. By the end of the "risky" first trimester I was in full swing of the dreaming and the planning. We picked a name, Keona. It means "gift from heaven" in Hawaiian. Joe's best friend is half Hawaiian, and closer to us than some of our family, so we felt it appropriate. I vacillated on a middle name. The initial choice was Faye, it seemed to flow so well. However, after a few weeks I chose Marie instead. Marie is one of my sister's middle name, and I liked the biblical and familial connection of the name better than the meaning of Faye, which is Fairy.
I thought of her as Keona Marie all the time, and watched my belly expand so beautifully to accommodate her form. An early ultrasound was ordered, and I watched that little heart flicker on the monitor. I was totally in love with this child. The presence I felt around the house was the sweetest I've ever known. Completely kind, selfless, loving, and cheerful. I couldn't wait to meet her and have her in our family.
At my 17 week check up my dear friend and brilliant physician, Dr. S (Dave, to me) had a bit of trouble finding the heartbeat we had heard a month before. I teased him a bit, and eventually he went to get another Doctor to give it a try. Dr. D came in and tried her hardest. I won't go into the feats of dexterity we performed to try and hear that little heart, but we just couldn't find it. So an ultrasound was ordered across the street at the hospital, and my husband was sent for. It was very late by the time we got into the ultrasound room, the face of the ultrasound tech was a bit to impassive, I ignored that, clinging to hope.
Dr. D was off saving someone's life with the other Doctor on duty, Dave's best friend Dr. B, so by the time they got down to talk to us it was after midnight. I didn't mind the wait, I adored my doctors, but each moment I waited I lost a bit of my will to believe that everything was fine.
Their soft and kind faces destroyed my hopes, and a wall of fiery emotional pain enveloped me even before the words "no heartbeat" could reach my ears. Through the smoke that billowed from my carefully crafted dreams they explained my child had stopped developing at 13 weeks. Four weeks, a month, she had been dead and I hadn't known it. A month my child had been loving me from the opposite side of life from where I wanted her to be.
We went home to rest, and the next day my husband and I discussed our options and decided on a D and C. I didn't like to think of doing the same thing to my deceased child as so many women do to kill their alive but inexplicably unwanted child. (The thought of THAT happening makes my soul scream in agony, but that's a whole 'nuther soap box). However with my history of excessive bleeding with childbirth (facts of life for many red-heads) a natural conclusion to this pregnancy seemed dangerous. Dr. S pulled some strings and got me the best at the hospital, and that concluded my mothering of Keona Marie, "gift from heaven" "bittersweet."

I'm sure you know that three years later, as I write this, I'm crying over my keyboard. It's the revisiting the memories in detail that brings the tears. Thankfully, I have healed enough that I can mention my losses with out blubbering. I mention them a lot though, online, on the board that I volunteer host for Babycenter. We have losses, they blindside us every once in a while, and then someone who only skimmed over a previous conversation on loss will all of the sudden need to hear the words of comfort we offer again and again.
To each of my shattered and agonizing sisters I offer a few simple words of comfort and guidance.
Your loss is as real a loss as any other. You loved your child, and your child deserves to be mourned and honored as much as any other child who has passed on before us. Don't tell yourself that "it was just a pregnancy" or that you were "only __ weeks along." You and I and millions of others know that's a lie, don't lie to yourself. However much you loved this child, that's how much you need to grieve for it.
So cry, rant, rave, scream at the sky or that blastedly blank expanse of ceiling, lock yourself in your room, tunnel under your covers, and let it out. Let it out until you can't let out anymore, then slowly start to fill that gaping chasm in your heart up again. Hold whomever you have to hold, the Father of your child, a sister, a friend. These are the people your child would have loved, these are the people who would have filled your child's life, now let them fill it's death.
Losing a child can destroy you, okay so it did destroy you, or a part of you. It destroyed the part that blissfully went from good prenatal check-up to the grocery store, the part that saw your monthly "Aunt Flo's visit" as an annoyance and not a cruel reminder of the way you've been robbed.
Nothing I could ever say is going to take away your pain, but to be honest, I don't want to. I want you to hurt with me, just a bit when you see a new baby. I want you to cry out inside when you hear of another loss, because I am crying out inside too. I want to open my arms, and pull you into the embrace of every woman who has felt this pain, who has by some miracle survived this crucible. WE KNOW.
I know for a time you will feel alone in your pain, like no one else mourns the death of the most amazing person who could have been. In time you will see, though, that your child does not go un-mourned, or un-loved. We mourn your child with you, we honor your child with you, please know that. Please join us in the the secret society of women who can reach beyond time, distance, race, creed, and their own pain and support a beloved sister. Please, learn the lesson I learned from my "bittersweet gift from heaven" Keona Marie.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Jay's Hair

As I've posted about how cute Tali can be, I thought I'd post about something Jay did the other morning. He insisted on taking his wizard's cap with him on our trip to the store. Any other hat I might have objected to, but I just can't object to him wearing a pointy black hat in public, I'm to much of a Potter freak for that.

We are getting out of the car and he stops at the door to put it on his head. "I need to put my hat on so my hair won't get wet, I just bought it."

Just bought his hair... Okay Jay, whatever you say.

Then days later he is talking to my dear friend Amanda and her Fiance Dan. He asks, "Do you like my blonde hair? I wear it all day long. It keeps my brain from falling out into the duck poop water." (note: any time he refers to the duck poop water he is talking about the famous fall off the bridge in 2005).

Sometimes I'd like to see the world the way Jay does, it seems much more interesting from his point of view.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mommy, where is your ammi?

It was just to cute and I had to share.
The kids and I went down to Florida for the weekend. My husband was down in Boca Raton at training for his company and my sister and her husband had just welcomed thier first child. So on the way down I'm on the phone with my husband and Tali pipes up in the back. "Mommy? Where is your ammi?" I'm thinking, ammunition, ammulet... no she wouldn't know about those... is she saing Auntie?
"Where is what?"
"Your ammi."
"My what?"
"Your ammi."
"My ammi..." then I had to laugh. My husband thought it was funny to.
I couldn't figure out how to explain this to her, I mean if I said "it's not your ammi it's Miami," she would hear "It's not your ammi, it's my ammi." I just couldn't get it across, and she can't read so spelling didn't help.
We reached my husband and then met my sister and her husband. He had to show them the cute thing Tali was doing. "Tali where are we?" "We're in Mommy's ammi."
Bless her, can I just keep her this way?

Monday, September 25, 2006

A moment worth recording

Today I took the kids to Super-Walmart for some odds and ends we needed. While passing through the fresh produce department Talitha was interested in a large head of cauliflower and asked if we could get it. Smart mothers don't let moments like that pass, the prospect of getting a single bite of vegetable down a 5 year old's throat is worth the cost of the entire head. So buy it we did, and they started begging for it as soon as it came out of the grocery bag. I broke it up into bits, dumped them on a plate with carrots and glopped ranch dressing onto plates.
"That cauliflower is pretty good, isn't it Jay?" I asked (making sure to frame the question with the response I desired).
"Yeah," he replied.
"I love cauliflower," Talitha interjected.
I figured I'd better write that down or no one will ever believe it happened.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Moments That Bind Us

In life there are just a few moments that are shared by the majority of us. Birth, death, 9/11, falling in love, these almost universally shared moments seem to act as the glue that holds the human race together.

I recently discovered that I had left one of these moments off my list. It had just never occurred to me that sending my child off to the first day of school could be one of those milestones in my journey through humanity. As I mentioned to people that my daughter was starting school, though, I noticed a spark of emotion in the eyes of those around me. It was as if, for a moment, we shared lives. In that moment my child was their child, my anxieties and hopes were reflected and enhanced in the mirror of their eyes.

Someone told me, I'm not sure who, that it doesn't get easier when it's your second child or third. Sure you know the drill, where the library is, how to put money on the lunch card, what kind of backpack to buy, but the feeling is the same.

On Monday I got up at 5:30 am, to the distinctly annoying beep beep of my alarm clock, hauled three kids out of their unconscious state, and poured cereal into them. Then it was time to dress them all, get the crazily curly hair into decent looking pigtails (braids just were not happening), locate the shoes and get out the door. This shouldn't take an hour, but it did, and then some. I thought we were good when we got out the door at 6:43. Then the traditional pictures had to be taken, and the little ones strapped in the jogging stroller. Just as my 5 year old led us out of the driveway we saw the bus pass the end of the block. We weren't off to a good start.

Luckily the school isn't far, I have her ride the bus so I have to get in a walk every morning, and once I've gone 5 minutes I might as well go 30 right? I digress, sufficeth to say I could still get her to school quite easily and on time, but I would miss the "first bus ride" photo opportunity. So I drove her over to the school and joined the line in the circle drive. I stopped the car, took a few pictures, got her out, took more pictures and pointed her to the door where she should go in.
Armed with a tour of the school on open house night, instructions on asking grown-ups for directions ("Honey, you see the badge, that means they are a teacher, not a stranger, you can talk to them."), and a backpack complete with a cold lunch, my baby girl walked through those doors and into a new segment of her life.

I didn't cry then, I was a tough mama with two kids in tow... In a tow away zone... But I'm tearing up now. It's not that she's not a baby anymore, or that I can't tolerate the hours of her absence, it's that from now on I'm a stranger to a part of her life. I can't help her. For seven hours a day she's at the mercy of a room full of kids. If my own school experience had been less painful perhaps my fears could be dismissed, but I can't shake them.

This week I have wanted to home school her more than ever.

She came back from school completely exhausted and refused to discuss the events of the day with me. Only with a little nap and a lot of coaxing from her Daddy did she reveal to us a few snippets of her day. She doesn't like it. She doesn't know anyone, she has little one to one contact with her teacher, the events of the day are unfamiliar. I feel like an ogre sending her back, but she needs to go to school, she needs to learn, and with the way my life is I really can't homeschool, so I have to send her back into the fray every day for the next 13 years.

So this is what that look of pity and shared pain was about. They all knew that kids don't like school and that I faced a battle. The assurances that she'll be fine were just those scripted things that society had prepared for us to say, to hint at but not reveal to much about those few moments that bind us. "She'll be fine." "_____ is a good teacher." "This is a good school." "It takes a little getting used to but you'll get the hang of it." "This is such an exciting time." Scripted, scripted, scripted, all these things are repeated at schools all over the world. Every parent hears them, every parent says them. I will say them myself someday, once I have fully stepped into the new pool of experience that waits to surround me. Just once I'm going to tell someone the truth though. That it's like cutting off your arm and feeding it to an alligator. That I wished I could turn myself into a bug like Rita Skeeter and hide under my daughter's collar and then hex anyone who was going to hurt her. I couldn't though. I could only stand by, and let her go, and hope that I'd said "I love you, your wonderful," enough times that she might remember it when someone else tells her she's not wonderful. I only hope that somehow my love can counteract the evil forces she will battle for the rest of her life.

Some days being a Parent is the hardest thing in the world. I guess that's why it's what glues us together, if only for a few moments.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Ten-Minute-Tidy System

Do you ever have one of those days when you look at your house and you find it so overwhelmingly dirty that you don't know where to start. Those used to be the days when I ignored it and crawled in a whole.
All that changed a few months ago though. I had been posting on my boards, and getting sucked deeper in and deeper into the dramas of hundreds of other people's lives when I realised if I didn't get cleaning now I would never get my house done.
So, as a true internet addict, I posted to myself on a board that I wasn't allowed to post again until I cleaned! The strangest thing happened. These wonderful women joined me. The posted after me and said they were going to clean too and let me know how much they had done.
The next day I borrowed and idea from the Fly Lady (google her she's good, but you might want to skip the emails) I set my timer for 10 minutes and ran around cleaning. When it went off I posted online what I had accomplished. I was shocked at how much could be done in 10 minutes.
The wonderful women I mentioned joined me in my crazy timed cleaning spurts and it became a bit of a boot camp for housework.

So here are a few tips for when your house is ready to strangle you:

  • Once you have certain things done you will feel a lot better about your house. Start with what bugs you most. Dishes in the sink? knock-em out. Beds a mess? tighten them up quick. It quickly breaks down the overwhelmed feeling you get when you open your bedroom to a house full of evidence that you are a mom.
  • Timing yourself breaks the day up into manageable segments. You don't have to clean until you drop, you don't have to ge the whole house done. Just do 30 minutes of concerted effort. Chances are you'll make a huge dent.
  • Reporting helps you see that yes, you have accomplished something. You can post it online, or you can make a to do list and cross things off. Or you can jsut keep a log on a piece of paper (this is especially good because then everything on there is already done and the "to do" items don't depress you. At the end of the hour, or day, you can say "Yes I have earned my play time!"
  • Make a schedule. Not long after the ladies helped me conquer my house we switched to posting our to do list. One lady was so much more organised and we were amased at her lists. She soon reveled that she had a master list that she worked from. Each day she deep cleaned one room and thenjust did upkeep in the rest of the house. So we copied her list. The first week was rough. I spent all day cleaning the one room and keeping the others half tidy. The next week though was so easy. I can now usually knock out a room in an hour and have the rest of the house in shape by noon (except laundry day, so I put it on monday so I only have one horrible day a week.) Try it, it works.
  • Reward yourself. I think this is a no brainer, especially for those of us who have hidden stashes of goodies. In time though having a clean house is very rewarding in and of itself. I love the feeling of turning away from my computer and seeing a clean room. I love to walk into a bedroom and see a made bed. I love being able to find a dvd when I want it! I think it's better than hershey's chocolate pie, though I won't turn down a slice, eaten at a clean table, of course.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Our exciting 2005 vacation

I thought I'd share the poem I wrote about our cross-country trip in 2005. I didn't include the car breaking down on the way to Vegas, or the soaked clothes in the luggage rack, or the luck of getting the last room available in a sleepy Illinois town at 10pm. What I did include was the illustration of the process by which we obtained something much more permanent, the scar on James' head.

Our exciting 2005 vacation

FLIP goes the feet and splash goes the head
AHHH! says the mom as her heart fills with dread
DOWN jumps the dad with the training of a Marine
UP lifts the kid, his head covered in red and green
PRESSURE thinks the aunt as she carries him toward the car
MOVE thinks the Mom as her feet feel stuck in tar
OPEN flies the door to the zookeeper's lair
WOOSH goes the faucet as we try to wash his hair
EEEEK yells the kid as they prod and poke his cut
TISK says the mom it'll need stitches to be shut
ZOOM goes the car as it seeks medical care
FLASH goes the card but is it taken here or there?
SIT STILL she repeats as the hour passes by
TWO is his age, and to his credit he did try
AHHH! says the kid as the wound is opened wide
SORRY says the doc but I have to get inside
THROUGH goes the needle and out the other side
ALL DONE says the doc as he shows his work with pride
SIGH go the parents as the kid falls fast asleep
BACK to the house where the aunt his siblings keeps
PUKE goes another kid all over the kitchen floor
SIGH goes the Mom, disaster is what vacation’s for.

Lest there be any confusion, the fabulously Harry Potterish purple line is a bunch of scratches, the stitches were in the dark area in his hair, just follow the part and you'll find the spot. If you ask him, he'll tell you the scar in his eyebrow is from the "fall in the duck poop water" but that's from a fall out of bed a few weeks later. The scar on his chin is yet another accident. Can anyone tell I''m raising a boy? (He's cute too!)

Friday, June 23, 2006

The lesson we can learn from grapes

A week or so ago I was shopping in a big warehouse store and stopped at a sample table. Usually these tables offer a tidbit of some delectable precooked prepackaged and pre-calorie infused treat offered in mass quantities that can be served to your visiting dignitaries within minutes of leaving the walk in freezer in your house. I buy these treats for my kids on occasion, the boxes last us for weeks. It's an easy alternative to the "Perfect Mothering" that I plan to discuss in a future blog. This particular day, though, at this particular table, the product being portioned out to club members was grapes. I popped one in my mouth, and then one into each of the eager palms presented me by my adorable children, and told them I wasn't going to buy them a whole 4 pound box because we had 4 pounds of strawberries at home.

The demonstrator overheard my comment and quickly used the sharp brain under her white paper hair net. "Have you ever had them frozen?" I admitted I hadn't, and she started extolling the raptures of the all-natural slushy-like virtues of the frozen grape. My kids were now drooling and I promised to keep the idea in mind.

A few days later the strawberries had been sacrificed to the ravages of the blender and I decided to pick up some of the fore mentioned grapes. Once they had been procured I let them sit in the fridge until I found time to clean and freeze them.

This brings us to this morning when I decided to take advantage of my children's preoccupation with their breakfast to complete this task. So while they concentrated on getting pre-packaged and pre-cooked waffles smothered in whipped cream (three pack of cans, near the milk) and syrup into their mouths I started divesting the grape vine of it's burden young.

Now most of the grapes came right off the vine and plopped cheerfully in the bowl to await the baking soda rinse that would free them from their pesticide coating. There were those few grapes however that clung tightly to their mother vine and ripped part of the vine of with them. These had to be retrieved from the bowl and the lingering vine portion carefully removed. I thought for a while that it was the fault of the individual grape, but upon closer inspection I discovered that it was really the fault of the vine.

You see the vine was weak because it had been pouring it's nutrients into the grape long after it should have started to let go. The healthy sections of vine remained intact because they had the floral integrity to let go at the proper time. The broken and withered sections had made the classic mistake of mothering to long.

It's an easy mistake to make, or at least I would assume so. (I'm trying hard not to make it.) It starts with a simple gasp of concern the first time the wind wiggles your precious grape within in your grasp. It's so tiny then, just a bud really, and you pull it close hoping to protect it from unnecessary harm. As it gets older it grows and being the good vine you are you keep it safely nestled in the heart of the bunch. When it's time to receive its dose of pesticide you make sure it gets covered, but worry that the powder will stunt it's growth.

Every day you pour everything you have into your little round joy, and you try not to think about the day of harvest when your little seed bearer will head off into the world. You stick with your darling until at length your resources are depleted, your once strong stem is withered and dry, giving every last drop of moisture, nourishing to the very end. Then one day some hot young red-head comes along and pulls him away. You have been giving for so long, you don't know how to let go, so the force with which she pulls snaps you in two.

So there you are, broken, depleted, and unable to free yourself from the bond with your off spring. Your world has changed and yet you try to live vicariously. You hope that sticking close to your little bud grown big will give you just a taste of what life was once like, back in the vineyard. The simple truth though is, this isn't your place, and there isn't enough of you left to go on.

So mothers, take a hint from the stem laying bereft and broken in my garbage can. Let go. Release your child a little at a time until the day comes when your child goes off on it's own. Do this and there will be something left of you when your child is gone. Start today. When your toddler stumbles say "Whoops! Haha, did that floor jump up and get you? Well stand back up and try again." When your child is learning to write her name find the point at which you stop putting down an example to follow. When your child is struggling in school, guide and teach, help him grasp the concept, don't do the homework for him. You have to let go!

That, my friends, is the lesson we can learn from grapes. Now I need to go put these in the freezer.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

So I've joined the internet soul bearing...

"Why not?" I think to myself when I finish reading the blogs of a friend.

Actually I could think of several reasons right off the bat against Blogging.

One of which is that everyone is doing it. Those who know me well know that a good deal of my self image is wrapped up in the fact that I'm different. Some may say strange, many have said crazy, I've also heard weird, oddball, and nuts. Most of these terms are derisive in nature and most people would take offence at such labels. I, however, welcome them because every one of them set me aside as one of a class of people who aren't afraid to be who they are. I am not afraid to be who I am, because I am Thora. I'm ever-changing, complex, quirky, and wonderful. So avoiding the ruts of normal behavior and not blogging isn't a very good reason not to blog because a blog by a slightly nuts red-head is always worth writing, right?

Another reason not to blog is that it's going to be read. Normally my thoughts can flit un-checked though my brain and have no effect on my relationships with others. Here I have to carefully measure the possible outcomes of each sentence so as not to cause hurt to those with whom I am temporarily miffed. I can't just say " _____ is a total harpy and I could happily go the rest of my life with out ___ presence." One simply can't say those things online, one has to scream them into a pillow and try not to get any feathers in one's mouth.

Yet another reason for not blogging is time. I never have enough time. I could certainly blame this on my children. Three kids is a bit of a plate full, but certainly not as difficult as imagined by those with a phobia of pint sized humans. My kids are pretty good kids, and I encourage them to play with each other quite a bit. The real time hog in my day is the computer. That's right people (gasp) I spend a lot of time on the computer.

Now, in my defense, lest I be labeled as a video game addict, I spend most of that time on boards. I spend my day reading and posting on sites that electronically link me with people around the world who share my interests, if not always my views. One is a board full of LDS parents. Well okay, so we have some posters who aren't LDS, and some that aren't parents, and some that aren't either, but they just spice things up. The other is a board for Harry Potter fans, and is full of amazing people around the globe who share one common thing, we all love the HP books. Just about everything that could be discussed about the works of Jo Rowling has been discussed, so until book 7 comes out we are mostly just chatting and sharing the joys of being a HP fan.

My frequent posting on these boards however has only whetted my appetite for a place to store all the random thoughts that flow through my fingers. So I think that perhaps I will store them here, so that the contribution that I make to the big support group called the internet won't be lost in cyberspace when the pages expire and the threads get muched. In the very least I will have collected them, and could print them, and they won't be wiped out by the latest upgrade Joe does to my computer.

So here it is my friends, the debated against blog that came to be, and it's written by no one other than the one and only me.