Saturday, October 31, 2009

I should not blog when I am pregnant . . .

I frequently have insomnia when I am pregnant. And the problem with insomnia is that after I go through all of the things I could possibly worry about, after I attempt to pray for as many of the things I can think of to pray about, my mind eventually strays to the things that make me angry. And because I have spent my entire life in the church, because I have a great deal of care for the church and many heartfelt beliefs about the church . . . I become angry at the church.

I love the church. I love our new church, and former church. I have gigantic amounts of affection and respect for many people in many churches. Honestly, there are very few individuals that I feel anger towards. Mostly, I am angry at this church and this church, and people who act like this is a church. And what these kinds of churches represent.

I didn't sleep last night and I suppose it is not wise to say too much on too little sleep. Maybe I will continue this another night. Or maybe I will sleep . . . these sum up a lot of things better than I could anyway.

Here is an excerpt from this:

"I need to spend more time working on my relationship with God."
I responded, "Why would you want to do that?"
Startled she says, "What do you mean?"
"Well, why would you want to spend any time at all on working on your relationship with God?"
"Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?"
"Let me answer by asking you a question. Can you think of anyone, right now, to whom you need to apologize? Anyone you've wronged?"
She thinks and answers, "Yes."
"Well, why don't you give them a call today and ask for their forgiveness. That might be a better use of your time than working on your relationship with God."

My friend
Ryan posted this:

"Within the Christian churches, how else can we explain the obvious avoidance of so many of Jesus’ major teachings? Jesus’ direct and clear teachings on issues such as nonviolence, a simple lifestyle, love of the poor, forgiveness, love of enemies, inclusivity, mercy, and not seeking status, power, perks, and possessions: throughout history, all have been overwhelmingly ignored by mainline Christian churches, even those who call themselves orthodox or biblical. This avoidance defies explanation until we understand how dualistic thinking protects and pads the ego and its fear of change. Notice that the things we ignored above require actual change of our lifestyle, our security systems, or our dualistic thought patterns. The things we emphasized instead were usually intellectual beliefs or moral superiority stances that asked little of us: the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, the atonement theory, and beliefs about reproduction and sex. After a while, you start to recognize the underlying bias. The ego diverts your attention from anything that would ask you to change, to righteous causes that invariably ask others to change."

-Richard Rohr

Friday, October 30, 2009

Loving Material Things Too Much, Or Not Enough?

I'm cheating just a bit and posting for today a revised portion of a weekly column I write for our local newspaper:

One issue my husband and I have always been in agreement on is our desire to live a simple lifestyle. We even like to believe that we do live rather simply, but our recent move proves otherwise. (Insert: mountains of boxes, groaning, complaining, cursing, arguing, me throwing myself over boxes to save them from the dumpster . . . ).
This move, combined with our two girls' birthdays happening a week apart, has me surveying the reality of just how far we are from that goal. I miserably consider the mess in the basement and wonder what to do with it all, while at the same time making my list of all the things we "need" for our new house from Target. I try to tackle the kids' toys and figure out a system for storing it all, and still think that we should buy them new toys for their birthdays.
We try not to buy a lot of toys for our girls, but what does "a lot" mean, really? Obviously, it's a purely relative term because compared to the majority of children in the world our kids live like princesses. We moved bags and bags of their outgrown clothes, boxes of toys and playthings and bulky plastic outdoor equipment. Things they have already forgotten they have.
I am realizing that the problem isn't only that we have too much, but that we value what we do have too little. After four years of birthdays and Christmases, adoring grandparents and gifts from friends, our daughter Sami likely has ten baby dolls. However, she doesn't seem interested in playing with any of these babies. This may simply be her personality, but I wonder if it is because she has not developed an attachment to any particular doll, was not able to become so familiar with her dolls so that an affection for one could grow. Perhaps I would have been wiser to limit her dolls, mend their worn-out parts, and allow her to develop a "bond" with one doll rather than being overwhelmed with many.
As parents and grandparents, it gives us great pleasure to demonstrate our love through giving our children gifts. Perhaps we do not need to change our habit of gift-giving, but rather give fewer, and more meaningful or handmade things as gifts.
In her book, "Simple Ways to Pray for Healing," Sheila Fabricant Linn describes the way that created things can give affirming love, and the emptiness of objects stripped of an affirming presence;
"We often hear that the illness of modern life are materialism and consumerism. The idea is that we care too much for material things and have more of them than we need. I believe our problem is exactly the opposite. I believe we care too little for material things and have less of them- less of their essence- than we need. Most of the things that surround us were made without affirming love. They do not nourish us, nor do they evoke our love or wonder. For example, today the average five-year-old child has owned 260 toys, few if any of lasting value. Fifty years ago, the average five-year old child had five toys, likely made with care from natural materials. Perhaps we want more things because we are starved for matter that can nourish us, just as people who consistently overeat junk food may actually be starving for nutrients."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ramblings from Quiet Time

Today I declared an hour of SILENCE! and glory, it's actually working. Although it took about twenty minutes to get them to nap/quiet time, and I've had to get up once to put the little one back to bed and once to find the crayons and once to look at a boo-boo and once to say do-not-ask-me-to-get-something-for-you-again . . . so now that hour is already about up. Ah, well, I'll take what I can get!

A switch flipped sometime about two days before we moved, and thank Heavens, it is like an elephant finally got off my body. It took me about another week of stumbling around but by now, so long as I don't do something crazy, like walk fast, or drink a glass of water, I am feeling pretty close to normal and could almost forget the last twenty weeks and imagine doing this pregnancy thing another time or two . . . or maybe not.

We love our new house! And we especially love the neighborhood and our new little town. I will have to post some pics and describe life in Amish-ville in another post . . . a different neighbor has stopped in to bring us cookies or a meal or put out a fire (another post) just about every day, and they are all so friendly and always act like they don't even notice the messy house/electricity/store-bought bread on the counter. We are a short, pretty walk to town, but I can see horses on the hill from my window. And we are super close to my favorite Amish market and bulk food store . . . although we are also quite a distance from things like Wal-Mart or Red Box or reasonable gasoline or what some may call civilization. We do, however, have a buggy lane in our McDonald's drive-thru.

Well, there is more to come but Quiet Time apparently is over . . . more from the land of Milk and Honey, and Peanut Butter Pie . . . coming soon!

(I'm having a current case of writer's block/ just-can't-think-straight. And, I would really like to become more disciplined about writing daily. So just to prove to myself that I can still blog, and to avoid clearing boxes out of the basement, I am going to set a goal of blogging every day for a week. I know! I can't believe it either! Well anyway, I don't know why you would want to but stop back soon)!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just to clarify . . .

Today is a day of clarity, the headaches are reduced, the nausea isn't so fierce, I can think straight for once and there is something on my mind that I feel like I should explain.  


I LOVE them!  I am intoxicated by them!  I could hold their sweet bodies and just breathe them for days and days.  I cannot wait to nurse a baby again.  With each of my children, I was so completely rejuvenated by their entrance into my life, that those first few months with them contained overwhelming energy and JOY and ridiculous love for them and for the whole world.  (For anyone who experienced Post-partum Depression, I do not say this in any way to condemn you.  I totally believe that it is so real, and I am grateful that for whatever reason, post-birth is the one time my hormones worked in my favor.  I pray that it will be the same this time.)  I love babies as they grow up.  I love being a mom.  If pregnancy weren't such a nightmare, I would have ten babies.  Maybe I still will.

But sometimes I forget, in my ranting and complaining about hyperemesis, that not everyone really gets what that is, and I could come across as sounding completely ungrateful and whiny and, as one commenter recently put it . . . pathetic.  

If I have any spiritual gifts, the only one I am sure of is the gift of mercy.  Mercy is usually my first reaction to everything.  I generally can enter in quite quickly to someone's pain and find a reason to feel mercy for them.  I only say this, to contrast with my reaction to the first person I ever knew who had hyperemesis; all I could think was, Get Over It.  A lot of women have morning sickness.

Unless you have experienced it, it is impossible to understand what women with hyperemesis go through.  I am fortunate to have a handful of friends who've been through it, and honestly, they are the ones I should be voicing my complaints to.  Not my blog.  Not facebook.  I can't expect other people to understand, because it is a HUGE blessing to have a baby.  The best reason ever to be sick.  My heart breaks for friends who have been unable to conceive.  I pray for them, I know they would trade places with me in a second.  I feel horrible for friends experiencing potentially life-threatening diseases.  I know that my misery cannot last more than nine months, max, and will in the end produce the great joy of a child.  They have no idea when theirs will end.  I am very sorry if my complaining has not reflected my true gratitude to the Good God who has given me a life so richly blessed.  

God is gracious to speak in our darkness.  A commenter gave me this link to a blog of a fellow HG-er, and it so perfectly spoke to the exact place of spiritual desolation that I have experienced in the sickest weeks of all of my pregnancies:
Pray when you are healthy, so that when you are sick you can just be sick. If you are never healthy again, then rest in knowing that prayer--at least as you have known it--is not necessary. Only emptiness and a glance is necessary.
Indeed, I prayed those very words-- God I seem incapable of prayer, I only can look to you, I only can hold this up to you . . . .  Our God hears the cries of brokenness and emptiness.  He invites our questions and complaints.  He is there.  He hears.  He answers even our weakest prayers.  

I am also not going to pretend that things are wonderful when they aren't.  Even if my life were always perfect, problems remain . . . suffering and injustice, prayers that aren't answered the way we think they should, Christians who are cruel and judgmental; ignoring these things is not reality, and doesn't do anybody any good.

sidenote:  this anonymous commenter seems to have a lot to say to me.  I know that I am not perfect.  If I have hurt you, or offended you somehow in the past I wish that you would email me so that we can try to work it out.  Until then, I will monitor the comments on this blog.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some Random Updates

I am nearly seventeen weeks, and my Hyperemesis seems to be taking it's sweet time getting lost.  Typically, I am given one good day in which I declare myself hyperemesis-free . . . I take a shower, wear make-up, pretend to be normal . . . all while my husband is shaking his head saying, "it's not over," . . . and then I spend the next day, and the next, and the day after that, utterly destroyed and making up for the energy and optimism I exerted on Day One.

I went to the Doctor and have gained nine pounds, which is a good thing because last time by this week I had lost fifteen.  I've been taking zofran, which is causing me no shortage of guilt and anxiety even though my doctor and everything I have read says that the benefits outweigh the risk, and there is a greater risk to the baby by not treating it . . . it does help control the vomiting, though I still throw-up about once a day, but it leaves the headaches and nausea so I still feel pretty darn awful most of the time.  

My mother-in law is here today and I cannot begin to express how thankful I am.  In fact, she has been coming up every week for about three days at a time, to take care of the girls.  It is so wonderful when she is here- the girls are happy and entertained all day, I can rest and not worry about anything, all of our meals are taken care of . . . whew!  What a gift she has for taking care of people!  I don't know what we'd have done without all of the help from both of our families.

The girls have been wonderful through this.  If I had been planning this pregnancy, knowing I would be so sick I'd have thought we needed to wait until they are older.  But they are handling it amazingly well.  They hadn't really learned to play together before, but now they play together for hours.  It is so sweet to see them working together, Sam giving instructions and Annie calmly (sometimes) obeying them.   I LOVE the ages they are at (almost 4 and 2), and I hate feeling like I'm missing out on these precious days.

I feel guilty all of the time for all that I'm not able to do for them right now.  Especially Annie, I think of all of the books I could be reading to her and things I should be teaching her . . . when she sees a picture of a sheep she says, "meow," and I cringe and feel guilty.  She is such an easy-going girl, however.  Lately she's been waking up and wanting to sleep with us, and I am so glad to have that time with her.  We spent so much time cuddling Sami, and still have to lay down with her at night, but because Annie was such an easy baby and didn't demand a lot, I feel like we missed some of those sweet times with her.

We are moving!  Apparently, very soon, though you would never know it from looking at our apartment.  I've not packed a thing.  There's a stack of egg boxes in the middle of our living room that we all keep tripping over.  I keep believing that "tomorrow" I will feel well enough to get to it . . . the thing is, I actually like to pack things.  I love to organize and I love, love, to move!  But currently, with my mushy pregnancy brain, nausea, and fatigue, I have no idea how we are going to pull this off.     

Melissa, a friend from college, has been very much on my heart and mind the past few months.  When I wake up in the night, I think of her; when my body hurts and I feel completely exasperated with being sick, I think of her . . . Melissa is fighting a courageous battle with lymphoma, and her faith has not wavered.  Follow her blog to be encouraged, and please pray for Melissa and her family.