Friday, February 8, 2019

A Lot of Misc. Plus Photographing a Birth and Empanadas.

Today in under ten minutes (I know this — because it all occurred between my having set a ten-minute timer on something baking in the oven and that timer having gone off):

*Summer flipped off the kitchen counter. (Literally flipped. I am still trying to understand how it was possible! One minute she was perched up there, and the next? Grabbing nearby Mette’s arm [in a desperate attempt to save herself] as her feet went OVER her head in a fall that was also . . . a feat of impossible acrobatics.)

*Mette spilled a full cup of milk in such a way that it poured into all nearby drawers and cupboards (not when her arm was being grabbed by Summer, as one might assume, just . . . independently, with no apparent explanation, a few minutes afterwards).

*Hans attempted to pull a toy free from a stack of wooden puzzles and magnetix . . . thereby spilling wooden puzzles and magnetix all over the floor of the pantry (doesn’t everyone keep toys in their pantry?).

*And, I accidentally shattered one of the Libbey silver leaf glasses that Mike recently gifted me (the ones that they quit making 40 years ago).

In other news: our baby’s kicks and movements are now VISIBLE! Visible I say! As in you can often see entire portions of my stomach leaping and jutting outward. I don’t know that any of my babies have ever kicked with such determination to be noticed! When I pointed this out during a rather shocking display the other evening, Daisy responded simply with, “That’s kind of creepy.”

“Nonsense,” I said. “It’s just your sibling." (Pause.) "Inside of me.”

Nothing creepy about that.

Moving right along. We are only a week or so into February, but so far it’s threatening to be a much colder month than January ever was, and snow is in the forecast as far as anyone has seen fit to predict. For decades I have faithfully trusted Punxsutawney Phil but this year? I find myself questioning the usually-dependable groundhog.

And here is something: I went to parent teacher conferences for the elementary school kids yesterday and quickly realized that having a baby near the end of the school year (at this phase in our family’s life) . . . was the worst possible time I could ever have chosen to have a baby! 

Beginning a few weeks before baby is due and extending two-plus months afterwards, there is a non-stop stream of activities — a 6th grade graduation and the big 50s-themed 6th grade dance, a million end-of-year field trips requiring early arrival times and planning, choir performances, the 4th grade Utah History program, 6th grade “maturation” for crying out loud!, track meets, and Goldie’s Wizard of Oz play, a graduating senior (!!!), and a million other celebratory end-of-year events. 

Have you all read about babymooning? It’s a beautiful idea all attached to the concept of bonding with your newborn and basking in, well, their fleeting newness -- of spending at least six weeks somewhat shut off from the world and life’s usual frantic pace and continuous demands; of freeing yourself from obligations and major household duties and letting yourself and your newborn simply cuddle and sleep and eat with no pressures or expectations while you both accustom yourselves to the world. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t very well take into account the possibility of that baby having nine siblings who need a mother and whose lives can’t necessarily go on hold for six weeks . . . or even one; and I haven’t even the slightest idea how on earth I’ll manage all this big end-of-year stuff with a newborn and multiple toddlers in tow; so, . . . I’m doing the only reasonable thing I possibly can do and . . . not thinking about it.

But! Since beginning this post, and the several interruptions that have occurred (meaning, technically, Summer flipped off the counter three days ago . . . and Mette has since fallen, inexplicably, from a bar stool, twice), two extra interesting things have occurred. And, while I don’t mean to suggest they match in significance, they did occur at precisely the same time. So here they both are:

1. My niece asked me to photograph the birth of her third child! It was all a very loose, low pressure arrangement. We both knew it simply might not work what with combining the unpredictable timing of labor and birth with my having enough small children around as to make leaving (without plenty of time to plan) impossible. And, in the end, even with my excellent husband coming home early from work (because he knew how excited [and scared] I was to do this), and even with her labor lasting for most of the day, things suddenly went fast enough that I arrived in her hospital room as baby was being born.

I’d been picturing this calm, leisurely space of time to get camera settings ready, capture moments of her labor and waiting, and to determine some perfect spot and angle for photographing the exact moment of birth. As it was, I was frantically and fumblingly pulling out my camera — trying to determine how to handle hospital lighting, trying not to get in the way of grandma, husband and medical staff, and trying to find anywhere to stand at all in what was a very small delivery room full of nurses (they were worried because baby’s heart rate had dropped significantly) as baby was being pushed right into this world. All of which meant I never created the magical image of birth that I had imagined at all!

But! It was still such an amazing thing to be a part of! I have never seen a birth . . . without being the one doing the birthing. And I love this niece of mine so much that being there for her baby’s delivery felt extra meaningful. Also, as our own baby's birth will be in six-ish weeks, it was a gender reveal — which made the moment of birth extra exciting (a boy!). Trying to adjust settings to bright light from the warmer (where they were immediately checking on baby) and back towards my niece, trying to photograph her while maintaining her privacy, and trying not to bump machines and annoy nurses was much more complicated (and rushed) than I’d expected! But it was also thrilling and exciting! It was a birth! An entire new human! And I got to be freezing his first few minutes of life in photos! 

Here is what I wrote about it on Instagram:

Today my niece let me do something I have always wanted to do — be at a birth (that was not for one of my own 😄) taking pictures. There was this tiny moment after, amidst all the celebrating and congratulating, when I looked over and realized my niece’s entire body was shaking. She dismissed it as nothing at all, and her own mother quickly and gently wrapped her in a warm blanket. But, afterwards, that moment kept coming to me and making me feel emotional. Somehow it seemed to symbolize the entirety of the physical, mental and then . . . lifelong sacrifice involved in accepting an entire new soul into your world. And I felt certain that I had only seen the tiniest sliver of the powerfully huge thing Tessa Burningham had just done in bringing this boy here. ❤️

(Looking at these pictures, I feel a little cheated that I can't somehow split myself in two during my upcoming labor and delivery! Obviously I'll be quite intimately involved with the most important part . . . birthing my child. But oh I wish I could follow him or her around with my camera simultaneously! It's not even just the pictures themselves. Mike will capture some. And I could even ask my sister to come. But the process of following baby and parents -- and seeing those fast rushing minutes as a series of individual, frozen moments was such a unique thing that I'd like to be able to experience it with my own!) 

2. You got caught up in that birth business and forgot there were two last things I told you I was going to mention, didn’t you?


As this birth business was occurring, something else was happening back home. 

Mike was making empanadas! 

They ate them all the time on his mission in Paraguay, but in his twenty-plus years since completing that mission, I don’t think Mike has ever made them. And, while we are at times bakers, seldom if ever in our family are we chefs. Mike doesn’t even typically like interesting food! But lo and behold, during my absence, he’d visited a specialty food market, fried up ground beef, cut up garlic, added cumin, set Goldie to cutting onions and boiling and then chopping up eggs, etc., and he’d fried all of this STUFF expertly in flour shells. I could hardly believe it. 

I was thinking the other day how, as in love as I was with Mike when I married him, I couldn't have known then how much stronger that love would become simply because there were a million things ahead to experience with him that would cause that love to grow. 

And I'm not above admitting that him making empanadas . . . might have been one of those things.

Monday, January 28, 2019

A Missed Opportunity to Knock on Wood. And a Snowy Bear Lake Weekend.

There’s that old phrase about knocking on wood. And I should have. I should have knocked on wood. Because when my OB asked how I was feeling just a few short weeks ago, I cheerily (and prematurely) replied something along the lines of, “So great! Not any back pain or anything! Just feeling super great!”

Ha! “Fool of a Took!” 

That very night my back went to pot. Too much baby up front it seems. And then so much dizziness set in (with an accompanying feeling of overall not right. . .ness). Shortly thereafter my doctor called to tell me that, while my gestational diabetes test came back showing no signs of diabetes (hurrah), I had managed to become anemic (ah-hah!). And off I was sent to fetch iron pills. And now? Several hours of nausea and stomach cramping accost me most days. I assumed it was some type of unlucky third trimester morning sickness (trying to teach me a lesson for being so la-dee-da about first trimester nausea). And perhaps it is. But also perhaps, in a sorrowful case of the cure being worse than the disease, it is the iron pills! Also every time I roll over in bed, I wake fully — as it seems to require a massive exertion to heave my belly from one side to the other (and in doing so, I regularly get some Charlie-horse/round ligament spasm that freezes me, mid roll, in pain for a solid ten minutes). 

Anyway, there. I’ve done it. 1000 billion words of sheer whiney complaining. Where is the dignity and grace in all of that I wonder? Nowhere, that’s where. But, what can I say? (Well, besides all that I just said.) This being an old woman and seven months pregnant with a tenth baby is not, it turns out, for the faint of heart. And also, perhaps, some part of me felt eager to earn my pregnancy stripes. After all, my pregnancies have been primarily easy — and all around me, friends and family have suffered in unthinkable misery to get their babies here. I suppose I just wanted to finally give a weak little, “I hear ya’, sisters. I’m with you. Pregnancy is rough. Amen.”

But mostly I’m actually fine. As in most hours of most days. (It felt dearly comical when I showed up to help clean our church building on Saturday and the brother in charge felt so clearly appalled to suggest I exert myself in doing anything so rigorous as empty a garbage can or mop a bathroom floor with a light weight mop.) So. Keep your sympathies. Or empathies. Or whatever they might be. I see now how exaggeratedly I was trying to claim them! A few short weeks out of however many hundreds of weeks (egads!) I’ve spent pregnant in my life and suddenly I think everyone should be patting me on the back, exclaiming “poor dear”, and feeding me bon-bons. Nonsense. (Except for maybe the bon-bons part. I’ve never had those. They might be nice.)

Anyway, who cares about backaches and stomach pain when there is this:

And this!

And Goldie cheering Mette by telling “snecrets” during a weekend getaway to the cabin:

And this funny moment:
(Mike asked the boys if they wanted him to read to them. They said they did. So Mike began reading. After awhile he began making up words. No one noticed. Then he set the book down altogether and joined me in the kitchen. Again, no notice by the boys. “I had no receiver,” he told me. And I hugged him and we laughed.)

And a just-waking Daisy (with her hair somehow gorgeous even in a slept-on half-braid) entertaining Hans.

And Jesse going skiing with the older kids for the first time:
(We can’t park at our cabin in the winter as the snow is one million feet deep, so we have to load and unload our things and each other, tramp a trail across that million-foot-deep snow, and park our vehicles in a snow-plowed parking lot down below us. When I followed the skiers out to take a picture of all my little skiing folks before their departure, they were aghast that I would take a shot without Abe, but I could see what they couldn’t: Abe in the background arriving with the truck that Mike had sent him to retrieve.)

And a Sunday walk (when everyone seemed to be feeling a little cabin-fevery – despite our earlier excursion to the Garden City ward for church -- and we determined they needed to get out again) that included sledding every time the snowy roads turned steep (and a lot of work for Abe who was often left to pull the big, black sled . . . and whatever children decided to pile in it):

Blessedly I am not pictured in any of these photos. I was still wearing a mid-calf length maternity church dress, but had added large boots and some ill-fitting snow pants to my ensemble – along with a puffy, brown coat (zipped up tight and riding about half way up my pregnant belly), a big beanie I had borrowed from Mike, and some large black gloves. Mike may have said something about my looking like a bag lady, but he leaned in to kiss me as he did so, and . . . perhaps that's true love. Or possibly pity. I accepted it all the same. 

Speaking of Mike, there was this. I wanted the moment stuck fast in my mind forever:
When the wind had made Hansie’s cheeks twice as red as they were here, and he’d thrown his gloves off of his freezing and chapped little hands for the tenth time, and was sobbing wildly because we still had a long way to walk, and he was cold (and didn’t understand how gloves helped anything), and too little to pull a sled by himself, and disillusioned by the whole snowy business, Mike held him snug in his left arm, cupped Hans’s tiny hands securely and completely in his big right fist, and puffed warm air on them ‘til we got back to our cabin. It soothed and fascinated Hans completely. And I wish he’d forever have that memory of little, cold him and his rugged, strapping dad warming his hands while trudging tirelessly through the snow.

And that is all for now.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Saturday, 7:00 p.m. Things Kids Say. Waiting.

I’m sitting at our kitchen table using the “big” laptop (the one that periodically requires you to push extra hard if you want the g or the h key to work). Abe is here as well – on the little white Chromebook that we got for Christmas (to enable less jockeying for turns when homework needs doing).

Abe, I shall tell you, is nothing if not self-motivated. Part of me imagines that he has spent the entire past two full years of his life sitting at this kitchen table studying, writing essays, and solving math problems. (I’m quite sure part of him thinks he has too.) We shall not attempt to explain how Daisy, who follows his class schedule fairly closely – only a year behind, seems to never have homework. And I suppose it can’t be totally true – his always sitting here. He has a job after all. And does after-school sports. And plays basketball with his friends. And is somehow always at some church meeting or another. And a host of other things.

BUT, I still have a hard time imagining that, in not very much more time, this spot at our kitchen table will not have him in it! It’s a thought as strange as any big thing he might not be around for.

But, he’s here now. And while most of his hours of homeworking have been accomplished with siblings squabbling all about, piano being practiced nearby, Goldie turning on music while she works on something or other, me making dinner, and a g and h key that don’t readily respond, . . . tonight it is quiet. We had an early dinner, I bathed little kids for church (while shouting at medium-sized kids to shower) and, by 6:00 pm, had them all in the basement (with Chips Ahoy and popcorn) for a movie night. So. A few glorious hours of quiet up here for Abe homeworking and for me editing pictures and writing a bit.


Summer attempted to put Mette for a nap again recently. After a relatively short spell, she returned and announced, “Mom! Mette went to bed so good that time! (Pause.) She might still scream one time . . . or . . . a thousand times. (Pause.) But that’s OK. I can handle that!”

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Also, I’m not positive why it is that kids mispronouncing certain words is so blastedly charming. Nevertheless: snecret (sneecret). If Mette is keeping something on the down low, she doesn’t have a secret. She has a snecret.

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My heart wallops into the back of my ribcage and does a double summersault before returning to its proper position every time she says it. “Snecret”: and the exhaustion and ceaseless demands cast upon me by that wee child are forgotten. “Snecret”: and I am overcome by the full weight of my smittenness.

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And her younger brother? (The one who, just two years ago, inspired all kinds of sentimental posts and journal entries on things like “never feeling a baby kick inside of me again”. Ha!) He continues to be, primarily, a delight to raise. And he holds his own in the “saying small things that make one willing to lay their entire life at another’s feet” category. After all, he calls popcorn “gompcorn”, and, when he really wants something, he pulls this pleading petition from his limited vocabulary: Could I? Could I, mom?”

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Yes son. Whatever it is. Yes! Yes of course you could!


In other news. It’s January. (Which I suppose you all knew.) January gets a bad rap. It’s cold. It’s dark. And the holidays have ended. But, I actually kind of enjoy getting back into normal, old, boring routine. And, with no major holidays ‘til Valentine’s, it’s easy for me to feel like . . . next up is spring! It certainly isn’t the hopeful of spying your first robin of the year or of seeing tiny buds on trees. No, it’s a long way from that. (And, in truth, the early-setting darkness does seem to weigh quite heavily on me this year.) But somehow, still, I have this bright, little whisper in me: “But next! Next! Next comes spring!”

Of course if I can believe that January means . . . almost spring, then surely I should be able to allow: almost our baby arriving. (Why, baby’s due date even lands right next to the first official day of spring.)

I know logically that baby’s coming is soon. But somehow it’s tucked so significantly into a different category in my mind that I have a hard time thinking about it in the “soon” category. It’s placed, like so many things in life right now, squarely in the “waiting” category.

I think often about how much of this mortal journey involves waiting. Not knowing what something is to be. Not knowing how something will play out. Not knowing the why of something. Not knowing when or if some struggle will end. (I once read a talk where the speaker said how you don’t often hear prophets of scripture saying “why me?” in their struggles, but you do hear them saying “how long, O Lord, how long?”!)

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Those paragraphs maybe give the wrong idea about the particular type of waiting going on here. It’s not some trial. And it’s not that my pregnancy has seemed long or unending (it’s actually going by incredibly quickly). But the inspiration to have this child was such a complex thing! It filled me with so many questions! There was so much I desperately wanted to understand about the why of it all and what it all meant. I felt a fierce need for answers to questions that I couldn’t even give words to. I remember writing in my journal something like, “But how? How could He even answer me and explain anything?”

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But that was a silly question because somehow, miraculously, He did answer a lot of those questions that I couldn’t even properly express! I suppose I shouldn’t marvel that such a thing was possible. After all, through no mortally explainable means, he’d already managed to give me the information that there was another child for me. Why should I have thought it impossible He could tell me more? In any case, He has told me more. He’s given me answers that, like Mary, I ponder continuously in my heart; and answers that have opened my understanding to things that, like Moses, “I never had supposed”.

But with the increase in enlightenment concerning why God offered me this tenth child, and a little of their purpose, there has also come an awareness of what that means I must wait to find out.

I know that we will not just be blessed in some generic fashion, rather, I am certain there are very specific – and in many cases seemingly disconnected – blessings that will be opened up to our family through this. But I am waiting to uncover and understand what they are.

I know there are challenges that I must wait to experience before receiving the intended growth.

I know a very small bit of this child’s plans, but must wait to see exactly how that is to be accomplished.

And . . . there is the usual waiting! I don’t even know this child’s gender for crying out loud! I’m waiting  simply to find out who this person is, how they will mold into the framework of our family, and what their path will be!

I don’t know why Heavenly Father designed mortality to be so full of waiting. If it is simply to expand our faith and our patience or if there is something far more significant that occurs in the process. But, I am most definitely – with anxiousness, excitement, fear, and most of all hope – waiting.

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