Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sweet and Sour

On Wednesday Rachel didn't have school. It was lovely to be able to spend the day with her (for the most part; she did through a couple of minor fits but overall it was a good day). In the afternoon we went to the pool for a swim—the forecast told us that it would be cloudy for the afternoon, despite rain in the morning. Andrew had left us the van for the day and had taken his scooter to school (during a break in the rain) so we drove to the pool.

Rachel's been begging to walk to the pool lately. I'm all about walking places but, honestly, with three kids, four towels, two floaties, and a swim/diaper bag in tow, not to mention the heat, humidity, and either an obnoxiously long walk on the road (no sidewalks here) or a short walk through long tick-and-maybe-snake-infested grass under overhanging trees dangling with spiders and things, not to mention that everyone will be wet/cold/hungry/tired/whiny on the way home...when I think about it, walking is suddenly not a high priority.

A girl on our street (around the corner), who we've discovered goes to Rachel's school and is in her grade, goes swimming with her dad and we've run into them on occasion when we're out for family walks (because I love going for walks). I think she's part of the reason Rachel wants to walk to the pool so badly. But as I pointed out to Rachel, it's just that girl, her dad, and two towels. That would be a completely different trip. But our family can't seem to leave the house without packing for a week.

Anyway, we got to the pool and had a nice swim but then these scary looking clouds rolled in, so even though I assured the girls they'd just roll right on past us (forecast said so) I changed my mind and ordered everyone out of the pool. No sooner had we gotten home than did the clouds unleash their fury.

It was raining cats and dogs, thundering so loudly that it shook the house, and go so dark that the girls asked if they should get into their pyjamas—and it was only three o'clock in the afternoon. Even though we were all dripping wet we ran from the van to the house covering our heads from the rain.

I texted Andrew to tell him about the storm but he saw no evidence of it from campus. It eventually hit him, though, so he was late coming home since he waited out the storm before attempting the drive.

Thursday was uneventful. I just checked the calendar and nothing's on it but then I remembered that I went to book club. We went on a walk to tire the children out, stopping by the park to let them play for a while, before rushing them home and putting them to bed. My goal was to have Benjamin asleep before I left but we weren't quite sure how to do that other than giving him all his bedtime cues. So, we told the girls that we were going to put them to bed as a little trick on Benjamin since his bedtime routine goes something like this:

  1. Go potty, brush teeth, put on jammies
  2. "Help" clean up living room and bedrooms
  3. Listen to Benjamin-appropriate story
  4. Play and/or listen to Miriam-appropriate story
  5. Play and/or nurse and/or listen to Rachel-appropriate story
  6. Family scripture study
  7. Impromptu wrestling match
  8. Family prayer
  9. Songs with Miriam
  10. Prayer with Miriam
  11. Steal Miriam's water bottle and drink out of it
  12. Songs with Rachel
  13. Prayer with Rachel
  14. Visit top bunk for a hug and kiss
  15. Nurse and cuddle with Mom
  16. Then, if he's still awake, more rocking and lullabies before being put in his crib (but often he falls asleep while nursing (yes, still))

Clearly he wouldn't understand that it was time for him to go to bed if the girls were still up and at it, so they got put to bed an hour earlier than they were used to, knowing that they'd get extra reading/writing/quiet play time. They thought this trick was so funny.

And it worked! I had Benjamin in bed and asleep by the time my ride showed up, which was such a miracle because on Wednesday night he had screamed the whole night through, save the hours of two and four in the morning (which is when we both slept soundly). I spent the night with Benjamin snuggled in one arm and a tube of orajel in my free hand. He'd wake up screaming bloody murder, I'd put orajel on his swollen, bruised gums, and then we'd both fall asleep for half an hour or so. It was a long night. This was with a dose of tylenol in his system, too. (But fortunately, the swelling has gone down significantly, the blood blister all but gone, and the tooth is almost, almost there).

Book club was wonderful. It was the second meeting of women I went to this month (not including Relief Society night, which would make third) where we just got together, talked about problems, assured each other that we weren't crazy, and gave non-judgemental advice. Someone mentioned that it was "free therapy."

The first was a La Leche League meeting, where I was struck by how everyone had a history with breastfeeding. Not one woman in the room found nursing an always-blissful relationship. Of course, that might've been because it was a support group and who goes to support groups other than people who need support? Still, every single person there came with a unique problem or having already faced a unique problem. I went because every now and then I get an urge to start the path to become a lactation consultant but had never even been to a La Leche League meeting. So I went to one just to see how it was. And it was interesting. But a little uncomfortable for me, mostly because I didn't know anyone there and that gave me a bit of anxiety.

It struck me as such an amazing idea that everyone in that room had struggled with breastfeeding at some point in time. I'm not sure that I knew that people struggled with nursing as a young mother (younger than I am now, obviously—don't be so quick to toss me into the been-there, done-that category; I'm still exploring motherhood here). I remember feeling very alone and felt that everyone was watching me to mess up.

Once when I got mastitis (granted, it was like the third time before Rachel was six months old) a friend actually suggested to my face that my hygiene was lacking because otherwise I wouldn't keep getting it. Another friend told me that she found nursing to be so easy; her baby latched right on and they'd never had a problem. And then there were all the evil lactation consultants who made me feel like a failure and gave no helpful advice whatsoever—"Oh, you're having that problem? Tsk. Tsk. Have you tried doing something completely obvious. Oh, that didn't work? Well, I don't know. I just don't know."

Seriously—I didn't figured out fore milk imbalance until Miriam also had it and I did a bunch of research online. Baby with bright green poop, intestinal pain, always eating, always hungry; mother always (always, always) engorged with milk shooting across the room. How did a lactation consultant seriously not put two and two together? Because, duh.

I've always felt like I went through my fair share of nursing struggles and I guess I have because every woman in that room had troubles equal to my own.

Also, the meeting was held at a Quaker church; I haven't ever had much contact with Quakers, so I just thought that was interesting. The meeting itself was nondenominational, naturally, the church being merely the locale. That has little to do with anything except that I thought it was interesting.

Book club was kind of like that. At one point a woman was talking about watching the decline of her parents, who are in their eighties. Another woman nodded, and described watching her mother die after battling cancer for 12 years (she was 22 when her mother died). They both had a hard time with it—watching their parent(s) turn into a person so unrecognizable (both physically and personality-wise). My parents are, of course, still living, and aren't approaching the end of their lives as the first woman's are. However, I felt a tie to their stories even though my situation is much different, which naturally it would be. (And, yes, that's meant to be as cryptic as it sounds.)

I really don't know which scenario I would pick if I had to: my own or one of theirs (or an entirely different one altogether). I certainly don't envy either position while I'm also not quite pleased with my own lot. I guess that's why some things are just handed to us. The Lord knows what we can handle, what we need to handle, and that's what he gives to us. And then he leads, guides, and walks beside us through the task.

There's that story about everyone putting their problems into a pile so they can give their up in favour of someone else's, but when it comes time to choose a new problem from the pile everyone winds up choosing their original problem. I think that's how this is. I think we—humans—take comfort in familiarity. I know I can handle what I've been handling, and whether your problems seem larger or smaller than mine you probably are just handling what you're handling as well. Neither one of us would actually enjoy trading places.

We also had more light-hearted conversation at our book club meeting regarding babies (or the painful the lack thereof) and raising children, assuring each other that we're all doing the best we can and extending offers to help each other through because parenting is really difficult. Oh, and we also talked about the book.

Friday was an exciting day for Rachel. She was invited to a friend's birthday party and had been dying to go since she opened the envelope. She had such a fun time and I'm so glad she's made this little friend—and that I get to become friends with her mom because her mom is really nice, too.

Andrew took Rachel because this friend lives about as far away from the elementary school as you can get in the opposite direction from us (we're near the edge of the boundary as well) and I didn't feel like driving that far. I stayed home with Miriam and Benjamin while Andrew studied on campus. We had just had dinner and were heading out on a bedtime walk when Andrew and Rachel came driving home. They joined us on our walk and then we accidentally wound up at the park and spent far too long and got the kids in bed far too late.

Earlier in the day we had checked out Ollie's Bargain Outlet because we've lived here for over a year and hadn't set foot inside and everyone was raving about it at book club. We hadn't planned on getting anything but then Andrew spotted some pillows—he'd been talking about wanting a new pillow for quite some time. He was really excited when he saw they had Sealy pillows for $7. I don't even know how he knows to be excited about such things. Or at least, I didn't.

We got two on a little splurge (Rachel's been complaining of a flat pillow as well so I magnanimously offered to give her my old pillow (which she was super excited about, by the way)) and it felt like sleeping on heaven. So apparently pillow brand does matter. I don't know—it did feel like the best sleep I'd had in a while (and Benjamin slept until like 6:00 before waking up to nurse).

It was around 9:00 when we heard the sounds of the girls pitter-pattering around the house: closing our bedroom door, opening the TV cabinet, navigating through Netflix (which is much more possible now that Rachel can read). They turned on Dumbo.

Andrew and I stared at our sweet sleeping boy for a few minutes before Andrew grabbed his phone to get the news of the day. After a few minutes he handed me the phone. There was a message from my mom, sent at 3:10 AM (just after 1 AM her time):

So, dad was hit while riding his scooter, but he is going to be fine. Lots of stitches and he looks pretty awful, and his scooter is toast. But all's well that ends well. If Josie posts a picture, don't freak out...

"Seriously?" I asked Andrew. More bad news? Really?

My nephew, by the way, got hit by a car on his way home from school the other day. He's also relatively fine. But, still...enough bad news is enough, is it not?

"That's not all," Andrew said, taking the phone back and pulling up an email from his mom, sent at 12:57 AM (I think that's in our time, so 10:57 her time):

[Uncle] Trevor was in a bad bicycle accident today. All I know is that he was on a mountain trail and had an accident. When he was found, he was in a creek and unresponsive but breathing. He was life-flighted to a hospital in Denver and is in surgery tonight to fix bleeding in his head and stabilize his broken neck. There will most likely be serious paralysis, but there's no way to know the extent yet. That's all I know.

And I said, "SERIOUSLY?!"

"I know," Andrew said. "Enough world—come on!"

By lunchtime we had this picture of my dad (courtesy of Josie):

And that's why you always wear a helmet. Seriously: ALWAYS.
And knew this about Uncle Trevor (courtesy of Karen):

The surgery to stabilize Trevor's neck went well. Apparently at some point in recovery he woke up enough to try and take out all his tubes. So at least there is some movement in his arms. But there is no movement from the waist down. The doctors put him in a coma to help him recover. The spine was fractured at the C7 level, I think, but the spinal cord was not severed. There are no other injuries. From what Linda can guess, he must have flipped over the front of his bike and landed on his head. He will be in the hospital at least two weeks and then will go to a rehab facility for who knows how long. Keep praying.

I took the kids swimming after lunch, but before we left we gathered in the living room to have a special family prayer. I know some people don't tell their children about difficult things, but I just do. I think kids are smart enough to know when something's up and that getting things out in the open is healthy. So I told them about what happened and how things are now and why Mom and Dad seemed a little even more stressed out this morning (if that's even possible; apparently it was) and instructed them to add Bumpa and Uncle Trevor onto our ever-growing list of close friends and family members to pray for. Rachel, my feeler, crawled onto my lap and cried. Miriam said, "Oh," and stuck her thumb in her mouth and twisted her ear.

We prayed together, and then we went to the pool and had fun. We had it all to ourselves (aside from some older couples who were sunbathing together). And when the wind picked up and the kids got so cold that they opted to get out of the pool (yes, my children chose to leave a body of water), I made them sit in the sunshine, wrapped up in towels, while I swam some laps, which was lovely.

We went to a barbecue with some church friends for dinner and then came home and bathed the kids. Benjamin was pitching such a fit about getting out of the tub that I let him stay in until the water drained. When he still started kicking and screaming, I left him playing until he was shivering. And when he still wouldn't let me pick him up and take him out I left him there and told Andrew to get him out and somehow Andrew managed to get him out of the tub without dropping him (wet babies are the slipperiest) or causing him to cry.

Benjamin is a complete momma's boy, which means there are certain things momma simply can't do for him without causing undue stress. Momma can't buckle him into his carseat, but Daddy can. Momma apparently can't take him out of the bathtub either (though Daddy can). Silly boy.

So that was the rest of my week—a little bit sweet, a little bit sour.

I feel like this blog has been such a Debbie-downer lately, so perhaps tomorrow I will think of something that's 100% happy and beautiful to report. But I make no promises.


  1. I am so sorry that there has been so many heavy things going on right now, I am glad that so many of them have silver linings! My thoughts and prayers and with you and all your family.

  2. Lots of hugs and love to your family. So sorry that things are tough right now, send love to your parents for me.

  3. My heart aches so much that I begin to wonder if I could possibly endure any more. And I am so tired of crying.

  4. This has not been a good summer for you. I'm glad your dad is not worse off! He looks miserable, and I'm sure it hurts but I'm glad he is as good as he is. I hope your uncle will be ok.

  5. Oh, Nancy. I don't even know what to say... except that I wish I could be there with you to take you out for ice cream or something. and that I miss book club terribly. Hang in there -

  6. I feel like I've had a lot of bad news lately as well. I am sorry for these hard times in your life, and pray your loved ones are better soon.