Monday, November 10, 2008

My Little Love

I thought I should officially introduce Kate, as I have been thinking that my blog would be infinitely more cheery with a photo or two of my little love. I know that I can be gloomy (especially lately), but I assure you that I am not always that way. I do my best to keep my neurotic tendencies at bay when Kate is around; I don't always succeed, but I do my best and I'm working on it.

Kate, of course, is a huge part of the reason that I am trying to work through some old issues, which have reappeared in my life after having had a hiatus. I felt great for quite a while after Kate's birth, but in the last seven or eight months, I've been experiencing some of my old negative thought processes again. Who knows why exactly. It's probably a combination of a few factors: some difficult life circumstances from long ago and from the recent past, which have not been fully dealt with; Kate getting older and becoming more independent, thereby freeing up time for me to think more about myself; and dissatisfaction with the condition of my body. I want to be more at peace with myself not only for my sake, but for Kate's as well. She is the one person who really provides me with the motivation I need to work at being happier with who I am. So, without further ado, here is Kate.




She amazes me with her intelligence, she makes me laugh, makes me proud, makes my heart melt, and makes me want to pull my hair out, all on a daily basis. I love her more than I can tell you, and I worry that I'm going to fail her somehow, despite how much I love her. I am going to do everything I can to avoid failing her in some huge and permanently damaging way. I have so many doubts about my parenting skills, but I know one thing for sure--Kate will never have to doubt how much I love her. I will be telling and showing her, for the rest of my life, that I love her, and that nothing will ever change that.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wild and Precious Life

I have been taking a writing course for beginners, which is offered through The Loft Literary Center, for the last eight weeks, and last night my teacher introduced a new genre: poetry. I have felt some trepidation about all of the genres we've covered in class so far, as I have almost no writing experience, but poetry is especially intimidating for me. I'm entering into this brief overview of poetry with the preconception that I will not be capable of crafting a poem. Perhaps that will be the case, but whatever happens, I think I will enjoy knowing a minuscule amount more about poetry, and I'll enjoy reading the poems that my teacher provides as examples. Last night, my teacher read a Mary Oliver poem, which I have read before on a couple of other blogs. It's a moving poem. Its title isn't exactly fitting given today's weather in the Twin Cities, but the message is seasonless:

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I think I may start repeating those last two lines to myself as a new mantra.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hello

Hello to those who know me and may be visiting for the first time. Yes, I have a blog (though I'm not exactly a prolific writer -- 13 posts in 11 months). I have been in the blogging closet, and I'm feeling panicked about being out, but I wanted to leave a comment on Emilie's blog today and she has changed her settings for comment posting, so I couldn't do it anonymously. At first, I thought I wouldn't leave a comment, and then I thought that perhaps there was another way around it, but after a while I realized that maybe Emilie had done me a favour. I mean, what is the point of having a blog if no one (well, almost no one) reads it, or knows it exists? I am a very private person, so having a blog, and now making it known that I have a blog, is a scary thing for me, but I figure it's about time that I take a step in the direction of letting people in. This is a small step in that direction.

If you know me and would like to tell me that you've found my blog, please do. On the other hand, if you would prefer to keep it to yourself for any reason, that's fine, too. I'm really not sure that revealing some of these personal things about myself is a positive thing; maybe some things should remain private. That's a reasonable opinion. I guess, for me, it's just about trying to be more authentic than I've been in the past. It's about being tired of keeping quiet and keeping secrets. I truly hope no one is offended by anything I've written thus far, and I hope that what I've written doesn't cost me any friends. I don't really know where I'm going with this blog, or what its real purpose is, but I can tell you what I'm thinking about it at this moment: I'm viewing it as a place where I can practice writing, and practice being honest about who I am. Hopefully, over time, I'll get better at both.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

I'm not planning on writing much of a post here, but I thought I'd make an appearance on my poor neglected blog. I've grown tired of looking at the blue background, so I thought something a little lighter and brighter would be nice. I love the colour blue -- most shades of it I would say, but the former blue of my blog has been eliciting somber feelings lately, and I don't really need that right now. I'll give this colour combo a try for a while.

Speaking of changes, I am going to make a couple of them in the near future. I have decided that the answer to the therapy question is a most definite yes. I found a woman who works close to my neighbourhood and who sounds, at least on paper, like she'll be a good fit for me. I shall soon find out. I won't scare -- I mean bore -- you with the reasons for my decision to pay someone to listen to me complain, but suffice it to say that I've become increasingly nutty over the last month or so. Hopefully, this woman will help me reduce my level of nuttiness to something that is acceptable to me and to my family. She's well educated and has many years of experience so I'm feeling optimistic.

I'm also going to start exercising ... I think. No, I am. I do not feel, or look, like myself anymore and that has got to change. I am not this overweight person who is drained of energy and who can't EVER (well, almost ever) find an article of clothing that fits properly. Well, in truth, I have become that person, but it feels like I am not being true to myself, like I'm letting myself down. It's like there's this imposter in my life. I was putting up with her for a while, but I'm getting kind of annoyed with her at this point, so I think I'm going to have to ask her to kindly leave -- if only it were that easy. I think I might cut and colour my hair, too. Maybe a new hairstyle will set the ball rolling.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ectopic

I lost a baby about 11 months ago. I'm looking at the word "baby" and wondering if that's accurate, really. That's what it felt like to me, but it was very early in my pregnancy so I'm not sure that baby is the right word. The point is that I was pregnant. I had just found out, but within a few days of having a positive pregnancy test I started feeling bad -- very bloated, easily winded, generally uncomfortable. I felt differently than I ever had with Kate so I was a little concerned, but not overly because I thought it was just a different pregnancy and it wasn't necessarily going to be identical to the first time.

I scheduled an appointment right away, though, just to be sure everything was okay, which it was not. The person who examined me thought my symptoms seemed strange, but not overly worrisome. However, she suggested that I have an ultrasound just to be sure everything was okay. I also had some blood drawn so that my HCG levels could be checked. I had my ultrasound and the doctors could not see a fetus in my uterus. It was still really early in the pregnancy, though, so I don't think the doctor I spoke with could say with certainty that there was not a viable pregnancy there. I then had my hormone levels checked again (within 48 hours of the first test) and found out, when the results were ready, that the hormone was not increasing as it should in a normal pregnancy. I was told that the pregnancy was not likely viable. I was also told that I should have a D&C to make sure that there was in fact pregnancy tissue in my uterus.

The doctor I was dealing with explained that it was possible that it was an ectopic pregnancy, so if they were to find pregnancy tissue in my uterus, that would rule out a tubal pregnancy. He felt it was critical I have the procedure done because if the pregnancy was ectopic, my life could be in danger. I was having difficulty (to put it mildly) making the decision to go ahead with the procedure as I couldn't help but wonder about the possibility, albeit remote, of the doctor being wrong. What if there was a chance that this embryo could make it? How could I live with myself if the doctor was wrong and I made a decision that would kill my baby? This embryo could turn into a person as wonderful as Kate. The doctor then made it clear that if the pregnancy was ectopic and my tube ruptured, I could bleed to death in about ten minutes, so the decision was made to go ahead with the D&C. I figured I should probably do my best to stick around for Kate and Sean. I don't think I've ever sobbed so much. I was awake for the procedure and I cried the whole time, all the while squeezing Sean's hand incredibly hard, as though the harder I squeezed, the less emotional and physical pain I'd feel. The result of the procedure: there was no pregnancy tissue in my uterus.

So, by process of elimination, it was determined that I likely had an embryo growing in one of my fallopian tubes. I was admitted to the hospital so I could be watched. Basically, for two nights and a day and a half, they drew my blood a lot to check the HCG and hemoglobin levels (there had been some internal bleeding into my abdomen), and they checked my vital signs. Not to be dramatic, but I actually thought I might die; I wrote a letter to my family and friends in a little notebook one night before going to sleep, just in case I didn't live through the night. I wanted to be sure that I told them one last time how much I loved them. I probably didn't need to be that scared given that I was in a hospital, but sometimes several hours would pass before someone looked in on me, and I figured that it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that my tube could rupture and I could bleed to death before they came to check on me.

The doctors were pondering surgery to remove the embryo, but also thought it was possible the situation would resolve itself. Eventually, it was decided that they would do a laparoscopic surgery because the HCG levels were not dropping enough to indicate that the worst was over. As luck would have it, I had a very good surgeon (or so I'm told). So, I had the surgery (I have three small scars on my abdomen); they removed the embryo from one of my fallopian tubes (which is now useless); I stayed in the hospital for one more night, and then I got to go home.

It was definitely one of the worst experiences of my life, but it did serve to help me appreciate what I have. I am lucky in many ways. I can still get pregnant, and I already have an amazing daughter. I am grateful for what I have, and I know that many people are far worse off. It's just that when stuff like that happens, and it's followed by a skin cancer diagnosis and plastic surgery, one starts to wonder if there really is such a thing as karma. At least, that's what I wonder. And if so, what the hell did I do in a past life, or in this one, to be punished in this way (uh-oh, I'm feeling sorry for myself). I have a tendency toward blaming myself for every bad thing that happens, and when I think about it, believing in karma fits into that self-blame paradigm. I don't think I really believe in karma, but I still find myself wondering.

I did mourn the loss of that baby, especially during the first few days when I discovered it was not "viable", but the mourning turned to fear for my own life, and fear that I wouldn't be here for Kate and Sean. I wonder if the baby would have been "normal" had it implanted in my uterus instead of my tube, or if it would not have been viable regardless of where it made its home. I felt, and feel, so sorry that it didn't make its way to my uterus, to the place where my body could have nurtured it, kept it safe, and helped it grow into a little person.

I'm reluctant to try to conceive again for a couple of reasons, the first one being that I don't trust my body to do what it's supposed to do. I'm afraid for the embryo Sean and I may create, and I'm afraid for myself. I've also become unsure about my ability to parent two children. I questioned my capacity for caring for more than just Kate 11 months ago, too, but I suppose I must have been feeling a little better about myself back then, a little more confident. I have lost some faith in myself since last September. I want that faith back.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hope

I haven't written about my friend Emilie yet. She's the reason I started this blog; I didn't know anything about the blogging world until I started reading her blog. Emilie has been on my mind a lot lately as she is sick. She was first diagnosed with cancer last August, at which time she underwent a lengthy surgery to remove a large tumor from her abdomen. She was pregnant at the time, so nothing further was done. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy in March, and then she had a CT scan in April to find out if she still had cancer. She found out that she does, in fact, have cancer, and her prognosis is not good. That's what the doctors say, anyway. We have only known each other for a little more than a year, but the news is heartbreaking and difficult to accept, nonetheless. Emilie is someone I admire and like very much, and I feel I know her quite well, in part because of her blog and the fact that she is a wonderful writer. If you aren't familiar with her blog, or her battle against a rare cancer, please visit her at lemmondrops.

It's an unbelievably difficult and sad situation for Emilie and her family, but they are dealing with it heroically. I feel like I would fall apart if I were in her shoes. I know you can't ever know for sure how you would deal with something like that until you're in the situation yourself, but still, I can't imagine handling it as well as Emilie seems to be. I know that it's not easy for her, and that she has weak moments sometimes, but you should see her. She's an amazing woman. I can't do her justice with my words, so I'm not going to try.

I don't often meet women with whom I feel a connection, and whom I want to make an effort to get to know. I don't make friends easily as it's difficult for me to let my guard down and trust people. Emilie is one of the first women I've met in a long time for whom I wanted to put myself out there. I feel like knowing her is making me a better person, and I felt that way before she was diagnosed with cancer.

I am going to remain hopeful that we'll have the opportunity to get to know each other better over many years. More important, I'm going to remain hopeful that she'll be able to see her two young boys grow up, and spend many more years with her much-loved husband. I have hope.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Jack Johnson

Sean and I took Kate to her first-ever concert yesterday. We drove to Riversedge park near Somerset, Wisconsin to see Jack Johnson, who is one of our favourite musicians. Kate likes him, too, as he did the soundtrack for the Curious George movie. The concert was to start at 6:30 p.m. with Mason Jennings as the opening act, so we figured it was early enough for a two-year-old to attend. Part of what encouraged us to go ahead and buy the tickets was the fact that it was free for children under 5, which told us that this particular concert and venue were child-friendly. So, the three of us embarked on our little musical adventure, with Sean and I only mildly concerned that we might be asking for trouble.

We knew there would be people around us who would be smoking (both legal and illegal stuff), drinking, swearing, and behaving in a generally debaucherous manner, but we figured that the overall vibe, if you will, would be calm and peaceful considering who the main attraction was. I didn't love the fact that Kate would be breathing in some second-hand smoke, but I told myself that at least we would be outside and it is a very rare occasion that she is around it, so the benefits of listening to and watching live music outweighed the risks.

We were pretty much right on all of our assumptions, and Kate really seemed to enjoy herself. She started dancing (in her funky, Elaine Benes style of dance) as soon as the first band began playing! I wish I were so free. Kate had her arms up and was dancing with abandon, which is something that I've always wished I could do, but it's a rare moment when I bring myself to do it (publicly, that is). It's wonderful for me to see how free, joyful and unselfconscious Kate is; I hope she holds onto those things for a long time.

It turned out there were two opening acts and Jack Johnson didn't come to the stage until Kate's bedtime (around 8:30 p.m.), but we knew it would be a later than usual night for her, so we stayed to hear some of his music. Kate enjoyed sitting on her daddy's shoulders for a while, being held by me and swaying to the music together, and even doing a little more dancing on her own, but after four or five songs she started to get tired. I asked her if she wanted to lie down on the blanket we had spread out over the ground, and she said yes. So I made a little pillow out of her sweater and she lay down. I snuggled up beside her and we talked for a couple of minutes, nose-to-nose, until Jack started playing a song from the Curious George soundtrack, at which point Kate sat up and looked around at all of the adults around her who were singing and clapping and dancing to the music. She was too tired to get up, but it seemed like she was enjoying it.

Sean and I decided to pack up and leave before the concert was over, as times have changed and we had to get our little one home to bed. We also wanted to beat what was sure to be some seriously heavy traffic if we waited until the last song was over. So, off we went. We changed Kate into her pajamas when we got to our car (we actually had the forethought to bring Kate's p.j.'s with us), fighting off mosquitoes the whole time, and then we were on our way, feeling good about our experience. Our little love's first concert, and our first concert with her. I'm glad that it was Jack.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Edelweiss

A couple of nights ago, I was going through my usual bedtime routine with Kate, which includes reading, talking about the day and singing a few songs, when an unexpected and lovely thing happened: I experienced a fleeting flashback to a time when I was about 13 years old, and a quick return to the sweet present moment, and suddenly I became filled with emotion because of what was occurring. I brought a song that I knew and loved in the past into my present life as a mother, and my sweet, beautiful, and precocious not-quite-two-year-old daughter started singing it with me.

I usually sing one or two songs from The Sound Of Music to Kate at night, because it is a movie that I really liked as a young girl, whose songs have stuck with me into adulthood. Those songs are now regularly being reinforced since I introduced portions (age appropriate, of course) of the movie to Kate. Edelweiss is one of the songs I regularly sing to her. I like it simply because it sounds pretty and it's a nice length for a lullaby. So I began to sing it (for the umpteenth time in the last six months), and Kate, who was not very sleepy, chimed in. She sang the entire song with me. (Did I mention that she's not even two years old?)

While the two of us were singing inharmoniously (but at the same time, perfectly) together, I remembered back to being a nervous 13-year-old girl singing Edelweiss for a summer music camp audition. I found it incredible to think about that 13-year-old girl singing a song she loved, not knowing that in twenty- plus years she'd be singing it as a lullaby to her amazing daughter. I was looking down at my little miracle and was overcome with joy and love as I listened to, and watched her sing that song with me. She is my little edelweiss - so clean and bright. May she bloom and grow forever.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Windy City

I'm not entirely sure where this last month and a half has gone, but I know that writing new posts on my fledgling blog was NOT at the forefront of my mind. Sean was travelling for a month straight (gone for 5 days, home for 2), so I was doing both Mom and Dad duty, and I was exhausted by the end of each day.

Kate and I did manage to join Sean on one of his trips, though, which was really great. We tagged along on a trip to Chicago for a couple of reasons: 1)to spend some time with Sean and 2)because I had never been to Chicago and I've been wanting to see it for a while now. What a great city! The old buildings downtown were stunning, and the attractions Kate and I managed to get to were well worth the admission fees. We were able to see (some of) the Art Institute of Chicago, the Children's Museum at Navy Pier, and Shedd Aquarium (Sean joined us for that outing).

At the Art Institute, Kate and I saw some Degas ballerinas, Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte , a Jackson Pollock painting (because there is one in the children's book Olivia), and an Edward Hopper exhibit where I saw his famous painting entitled Nighthawks. We saw some other art as well, of course, but really only as we flew by with me in pursuit of a wired toddler on the run. I'm no art aficionado, but I can definitely appreciate some fine art, so I really enjoyed our visit to the Art Institute, and I think Kate did, too. (I think the highlights for her were the two large lion statues that flank the Michigan Avenue entrance.)

I thought the Children's Museum, while good, paled in comparison to the fantastic St Paul Children's Museum, although, in fairness, I have to say that Kate enjoyed herself. Shedd Aquarium was huge and impressive, and was enjoyed by all; Kate still talks about the large green eel we saw, and I was very much enamored with the penguins.

So, it appears as though this post has turned into a little synopsis of our trip to Chicago, which was not the intention, but is fine with me nonetheless. I'm hoping I'll find some time (and some inspiration) to post a little more regularly in the future, but I'm wary of making any promises...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Wear sunscreen!!

Hmmm, where to begin? These last few weeks have been a little draining and have kept me away from writing any new posts. Several times, I thought that I should sit down and write about what was going on, but I honestly just didn't feel up for it. In a nutshell, I had to have a surgery done on my face to remove two basal cell carcinomas (very fair skin and stupidly tried to tan when I was younger), which left two relatively large holes in my face that subsequently needed to be repaired in a second surgery.


The second surgery was an outpatient surgery that was performed by a plastic surgeon two days after the initial procedure took place. I was sedated and a local anaesthetic was used. I don't remember anything really except that at one point I tried to make small talk with my surgeon. I'm not sure why I am able to remember that part, but I do remember asking him what Rhode Island is like! (I had read some biographical information about him prior to letting him cut my face open and lift up the skin on my cheek.) Anyway, I don't recall him answering my question. After the surgery I looked fairly hideous, and I'm pretty certain that I was ushered out a back exit so that I wouldn't scare the people who were sitting in the waiting area. Or maybe they were worried I was going to dissuade an incoming patient from having a surgery done. Or maybe they were actually thinking of me and knew I wouldn't want to face the world at that moment.


I had big black sutures sticking out of my face (left side, just above my lip and under my nose), the fattest lip (on only one side of my upper lip, which made it more frightening) you've ever seen, blood between the sutures, and later, one half of my face was swollen. Sean and Kate barely blinked when they first saw me --that's unconditional love. Sean had warned Kate that I was going to have a boo-boo and stitches, and that seemed to work because she really took it in stride. I took some pain medication for the first couple of days, but I didn't really need it after that. After the physical pain went away, I spent a good deal of time fretting about how my face was going to look once the swelling subsided. I'm not as worried now as I can see that things are slowly improving, and I'm hopeful that after some more time passes (possibly as much as a year) I'll look almost the same as before. Actually, when I cover the scars with make-up, I already do look pretty close to the same.


Kate and I spent a lot of time in the house while I still had the sutures in, and for a short time after they were removed as well. Sean took her to her weekly music class and to the zoo when he was home for the weekend so that she didn't go completely stir crazy. I started going out to do things with her within a little more than a week after the surgery, and that helped to normalize things for Kate and me. I got a few second looks (and not the good kind, I assure you) on the first few outings, but people don't really seem to notice now. It really is amazing how quickly the human body heals. I hope that what I've written doesn't sound superficial to anyone who may (at some point in the future) read my blog. I know there are far bigger things to worry about than one's appearance, but it is disconcerting when your face is messed with.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Where Have All the Tumbleweeds Gone?

Domestic Goddess? Not so much. But I have to tell you that I am in love with my new 15.6 Volt Cyclonic DustBuster. I just purchased it at The Home Depot on the weekend (where I went to find blinds and a light, not a DustBuster) and it has made me happier than I'd like to admit! The corners and stairs in my house have never been so cat hair free! Using it is sooo much easier than lugging around a vacuum cleaner. (Not that I have a lot of experience with that!) I think Kate's probably wondering where her content-to-live-amidst-cat-hair-tumbleweeds mother is. I wonder how long the novelty of having this great gadget will last, and by extension, how long my house will be this clean? If only there was an inexpensive, convenient gadget that would fold and put away laundry - it would completely transform my home!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What should I be when I grow up?

Well, I'm starting this blog because I've become increasingly interested in blogging since becoming acquainted with it through a new friend. I find myself spending a lot of my free time reading other people's blogs (my friend's in particular), so I started thinking that perhaps I should start my own.

Not only have I become interested in blogging, but I've also just started to realize that I'm quite interested in the idea of expressing myself through writing. Blogging also has the potential to keep me a little more connected to friends and family back home in Canada, which would be great because keeping in touch has never been my forte, and I'm sure that my family would love to have more frequent updates, stories, and pictures of the granddaughter that my husband and I so cruelly took away from them when she was only a few months old!

So, I'm not really sure what this blog will morph into, or if I'll even keep it up (I was never very good at keeping a regular journal - every so often I'd start one and I'd be really sure each time that that was the time I was going stick with it, and ultimately, "Dear Diary" would end up collecting dust on my bookshelf), but I'm going to give it a whirl and see what happens.

Oh, and as far as the tagline of the blog goes, I just happen to really like that quote because it gives me hope that one day I'll find my true calling, and find joy and satisfaction in my work instead of feeling like I'm just doing the daily grind for a lousy paycheck (which is what I was doing before my daughter was born). But then again, maybe I've already found my true calling in motherhood, which is entirely possible, but what happens when my daughter starts school, or when she goes off to college? What will I do then? I think I need to be something other than mother and wife even though there is a heck of a lot of joy and satisfaction in both of those roles.