Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas Update

My heads been all over the place lately.  I'm still deep in thought and feeling about the shooting that happened last week.  I find myself, in quiet moments, going over it in my head.  What it must have been like for the teachers, for the children, for the parents.  I had a dream last night that I was on a plane that was crashing.  It took off, and then almost immediately started hurling itself back toward the earth.  I have a pretty big fear of flying to begin with, but I think it was more just about life and death and fear in general.  In the dream I actually thought to myself that I was going to die.  That this is what it feels like when you know you're going to die.  Then I woke up and didn't sleep much after that.  Every time I get on a plane I feel that worry.  That I'm putting myself at risk.  But to go to school to teach, to learn, and have that moment.  I'm still struggling, wondering how we live in a world where that can happen.  

Needless to say the holiday season has been a bit different then I imagined, but I'm trying to just focus on Bean and making this really special for her.  She is blissfully unaware of the bigger world out there. Her biggest sadness lately has been that the hundred acre wood doesn't actually exist and that she can't live there.  I wish I could keep that as her biggest sadness forever.  For the moment though I can and this is her last big hurrah before she has to share life with a sibling.  So we've been very busy making this a special time of year and reminding her that Christmas means love and showing your love to the people you care about.  I hope she feels that love from us.

I'm in complete disbelief that in less then 6 weeks, we'll have another baby to love.  Physically I'm feeling it.  I'm having a really hard time getting done what needs to get done and I can tell I'm pushing myself too far.  So I've tried to slow down.  I realized that I've been having Brax.ton H.icks contractions for awhile and just didn't realize what they were.  So I've backed off a lot of the things that I used to feel like needed to get done.  Now I mainly just try to focus on getting through the days with Bean and doing the best I can.

We had our last ultrasound on Friday and the baby looks great.  Over 5 pounds, a few days ahead of my due date growth wise, head down facing the way it should.  All looks good.  After talking to all my OB's, hubby, and reading every possible thing I can, I'm going to try for a VBAC unless something changes and makes it look like there's a bigger risk in doing so.  If I don't go into labor on my own, I'll have a c-section.  I feel okay about all of it.  Either way I know there are risks.  I have no idea what the real choice is to minimize risk.  So I'm going with my gut and right now that says VBAC.  That might change as more information comes to light, we'll just have to see.  I just want to be healthy and have a healthy baby.  I wish it weren't so complicated.

So there's a lot going on around here, but I feel really blessed.  A few years ago, I had no idea if we'd have kids at all.  Now we get to spend every day with Bean and soon, we'll get to do it all over again.  For a few days I'm going to try to block out the rest of it.  I'm going to bake cookies, open presents, play with new toys, and just love every minute of it.  I hope you can do the same.  Happy Holidays from this ordinary girl, to you.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Action vs. Reaction

I started thinking last night about the different issues that I put my time and energy into.  Education, because I was a teacher and saw first hand what was working and what wasn't.  I have passionate feelings about education and if you get me started talking about it, well, you've been warned.  I often dream of somehow working in educational reform.  Maybe in a future career.  Infertility obviously.  I talk about it as much as possible, support the organizations that tackle the topic, and try to be an active member of the community.  I write to my senators and representatives and want to do more to make sure my voice is heard on this.  Breast cancer and Parkinson's Disease awareness.  My aunt and grandfather were both affected by these diseases.  I'll throw my support behind either cause wholeheartedly.

I also have strong opinions about other topics and yet I haven't done much, beyond voting a certain way in elections, to support them.  I believe that the amount of guns in our country is scary and unnecessary.  There needs to be a change there and more control.  We had friends who bought a handgun to keep in their home and immediately they went off my list of houses Bean could visit without us being present.  I don't like guns, and I really want nothing to do with them.  I believe that every person, regardless of their financial position, should have equal access to medical benefits, including mental health benefits.  If someone wants to be physically or mentally healthy, I believe they shouldn't be restricted based on their pocketbooks.  I believe in love and that people of any gender should be allowed to be married and form a family and should have all the same legal rights as my husband and I.  I could go on and on here, but that's not the point.

The point is that I do all these things, but I do nothing to actively change or support the causes related to them.  And I realize now it's because there hasn't been a catalyst for me to do so.  So often when you think of people who are devoting their time, money, or lives to a mission or cause, they're doing it for someone.  They're doing it because they, a friend, or family member have dealt firsthand with the issue and/or the consequences.  I feel like it's so much more likely to react to events in your life or the lives around you, then it is to just take action on things you believe in.  And when I thought about that last night, because I can't stop thinking about those 20 little ones who died yesterday, I was kind of ashamed of myself for it.  Why aren't I stepping up and speaking my mind on these very important issues, just because I personally haven't dealt with the ramifications?

Maya Angelou said yesterday: Our country is grieving. Each child who has been slaughtered belongs to each of us and each slain adult is a member of our family. It is impossible to explain the horror to ourselves and to our survivors. We need to hold each other’s hands and look into each other’s eyes and say, “I am sorry.”  And I really felt those words.  This is a huge opportunity to change the way that we all look at our world.  To stop just reacting to events that happen to us and to start taking action to prevent them.  I want a better world for Bean and for this new baby who's coming into it so very soon.  I don't know how to make that happen completely, but I'm so ready to try.  I don't want to wait until something horrible happens to one of my babies before I do everything in my power to make them safe.  And I cannot describe the grief I feel for these parents who are in that very place themselves right now.  May we hold each of their children as our own.  Somehow it feels like we failed them so completely.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ever changed

Today's been kind of a raw feeling day.  We've been home all week as Bean's been sick.  The days all kind of run together and by today, I'm starting to reach the end of my bag of tricks.  It might be a day where I would get frustrated with the fact that I'm playing the same games for the fourth day in a row in a desperate attempt to entertain a toddler.  Today though I was happy to do it, although only half of me was present.

Before I moved to where we live currently, and started fighting infertility and then staying home with Bean full time, I taught elementary school in an inner city school.  The inner city was a world totally different then the one I grew up in, which was very much middle to upper class suburbia.  I felt like a fish out of water and I didn't understand a lot of things when I started.  There were times when I worried about my safety.  I had kids who lashed out at me occasionally and I always wondered if there could be a parent who did the same.  I worried about that less as time went by.  One thing I never worried about though was one of those parents coming in and hurting my kids.  If they had an issue with me, that was one thing, but nothing ever made me feel like any issue they had with me would spread to my classroom or my school.  I worried more about the older kids in the school letting loose one day then an adult.

I remember the day that a student in the classroom next to mine put his fist through the glass on his classroom door.  I had no idea what was happening, I just heard screaming and breaking glass.  I grabbed the kids in the hall outside my room and locked us all inside.  We moved away from the door and read books until I found out that everything was fine.  We did multiple drills over the years to prepare us for intruders in the school, chemical warfare, natural disaster, you name it.  And I always felt like whatever happened, I would and could protect my kids.  I would do whatever I had to because they were my kids.

Then I heard the news from Connecticut today and I was half with Bean and half in my head all day.  Thinking about the events from the position of a parent and a teacher.  As a teacher, all the sudden I realized how little I could actually do to protect my kids.  I was the only adult in that room most of the day.  Me and 30 kids.  If someone came in and shot me, there would have been 30 kids.  Completely defenseless.  I can't tell you how horrifying that realization was to me.  Or how it will forever change me.  Then when I think about my Bean and my baby on the way and I think about taking them to school and leaving them with relative strangers.  Strangers that I trust have the same love and dedication as I always had as a teacher.  Those strangers who are also relatively defenseless and unable to do more then slow down horrendous things that might happen to my babies.  How am I ever going to be able to take them to school?  We've left Bean with a babysitter a handful of times.  I have such a hard time leaving her.  How do I possibly have faith that the world will hold her as dear as I do, when there are so many growing examples to the contrary?

As a teacher, as a parent, as a human being, I am so sick for the families in Connecticut.  I can only imagine how much their world must be shattered because mine shattered and I have no physical connection to anyone there.  I realize again and again that it doesn't matter where you are, in suburbia, in the inner city, anywhere.  Bad, scary, horrifying things happen.  Things that we have no control over.  And yet somehow it feels like we should be able to control this.  We should at least be trying!  Kids should have the right to be safe at school, the mall, or the movies.  We all should.  I don't know how to wrap my brain around any of it.  Instead I just keep thinking about those teachers, families, and kids who are ever changed tonight.  And I hope I'm not the only one, because these things can't keep happening.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


We've been busy.  Tackling the to-do list of things that we're hoping to get done before the baby is born.  Choosing the pieces for our bathroom remodel which hopefully will get squeezed into the beginning of January.  Buying Christmas presents, writing cards, seeing all the people that we feel we should see.  It's a whirlwind and easy to get caught up in.

Our weekends have been packed.  Errands, lunches, commitments, etc.  Until this last weekend when we had the weekend of Christmas fun.  We've never taken Bean to meet Santa before.  She didn't really understand the idea of him until this year and she gets uneasy around people she doesn't know.  I didn't want one of those pictures of her at the mall screaming in his lap.  I didn't want to do it just to do it.  I wanted it to be special for her, if she even wanted to do it.  This year though she has much more interest in Santa and all things Christmas.  And I heard that our library was doing a morning story hour and visit with Santa this last weekend.  So I asked Bean if she wanted to go and she emphatically said yes.

Hubby, Bean and I headed out early to get to the library before it got too crazy.  We had a chance to talk to the children's librarian and read some books.  Bean was happy, especially since her daddy was there.  He doesn't usually get to go to the library with us because we go during the week, so this was a special treat.  We settled in for story hour with the other kids and when the librarian got to the end of the last story, sleigh bells started ringing and Santa appeared from somewhere with his usual ho ho ho's. The look on Bean's face, it made me heart catch.  She was beyond excited.  Her cheeks were flushed.  She was completely caught up in the magic of it all, and in that moment, we all believed that the man coming in was Santa and that he could bring happiness and treasures to the world.  I almost cried, which took me completely by surprise.

Bean was a little nervous to see him, but ended up giving Santa her letter that we wrote together and we got a picture of her and hubby with him.  I know that Bean probably won't remember any of this.  But I will remember that moment for the rest of my life.  All of the craziness of life right now, it all melted away.  The only thing that I could think about was the magical moment that we were able to make happen for Bean.  I love this time of year, the magic of it all and the love that surrounds it, if you don't get caught up in the commercialism of it all.  My grandpa instilled a true magic and love of this season in me as a child, and somehow managed to keep it going into my teenage years.  I hope that I can do that for Bean because it's something I cherish.

We spent the rest of the weekend riding tractors in the rain to cut down our Christmas tree and decorate it.  Bean took her own (plastic) saw to help her Daddy cut it down and he was able to make it seem like she made the final cut that brought the tree down.  She lovingly held and asked about each ornament for the tree, and every time she sees it with the lights on, it's like she's seeing it for the first time.  Her eyes are just so full of joy.

Hubby and I are still trying to figure out where we stand religiously.  I grew up going to church every Sunday and he grew up without any experience with religion.  We're figuring it all out, and someday I know Bean will hear that part of Christmas.  Right now though I just want her to know that Christmas is about love.  And that it's important to let the people in our lives know how important they are and how much we love them.

It's been easy to get caught up in everything else this year, but Bean has forced me to remember that myself.  The to-do list is still there and I still hope to get some things done on it before the baby arrives. The bathroom remodel is still looming over our heads.  I still have some shopping to do and some of it feels more like an obligation then I would like.  But I'm not as concerned about any of it.  My grandpa was able to create a magical feeling surrounding Christmas in my life until he died about ten years ago. I tried to carry that with me and in my heart since then, but last weekend it really came alive again.  Bean is the magic in my life everyday, and she continues to show me in all the moments I least expect it.  And I just hope that for the holidays, and everyday, she feels how much love we have for her.  And when life starts to get too crazy, I hope I can call that moment to mind when she saw Santa for the first time and believed that magic is real.