The Life of Liz

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Agony and the Ecstasy

People ask me how it feels to be a mom and I don't know what to say. Most of the time I wonder who accidentally left a baby in my room.

I sure love the little guy though. Kissing his round little cheeks is pretty much my favorite thing ever. I love his unexpected smiles and his tiny feet and the funny dinosaur face he makes when he's stretching.

But love is not a feeling. What I feel is pain. Every single day for the last five and a half weeks I have been in various degrees of agony. It's so, so, unbelievably hard. I was prepared for labor and delivery. I was prepared for a few weeks of soreness and recovery. In no way had I prepared myself mentally for infections, prolonged hospital stays, lacerations that refuse to close and heal or problems breastfeeding.

Random strangers in the grocery store tell me to treasure every single moment; they go by so fast. I smile and nod but really I'm thinking, sweet Jesus I hope so! Treasure every moment? What moments would those be? The moment where they're putting in my 5th IV in 2 days? How about the moment where I am completely incapable of taking care of my child because I can't even move? Or maybe I'm supposed to treasure the time I had to drive home without actually sitting on anything after receiving my third round of stitches? I'd rather edit those out of the ol' memory book, thanks.

I wish my body would just heal already so I could be more of a real mom. I have so little time for maternity leave where I can dedicate my whole day to playing and bonding with my little Troy; I wish it wasn't being wasted feeling terrible. I wish I could be the one to rock my son and fill up my mommy heart with sweet baby snuggles.

I feel like I'm missing all the moments I'm supposed to be treasuring.

Then again, maybe I just really need to climb out of my pool of pity and count my blessings. So I will do so now. First of all, my baby is super healthy (he takes after his daddy, obviously) and seriously the most beautiful thing in the world. Secondly, I am surrounded by so many people who help me do all the things I can't at the moment. Living with my parents has been incredible, especially when I need an extra pair of hands to change a diaper or run an errand. And a huge thank you to everyone who brought us a meal so we had one less thing to try to get organized.

Also, I am very thankful that Troy and I have figured out breastfeeding so I no longer dread mealtimes. I find it rather odd that something so important for sustaining life is not instinctual. No one had to teach me how to blink, or poop, or shiver - I just do them and continue living. Breastfeeding is more like fixing your transmission or finding a square root; it's a skill that must be learned from an outside source.Except that with those things, if you don't know how to do them (which I don't), nobody starves. This smacks strongly of design flaw as far as I'm concerned. Fortunately, the nice lactation consultant taught us the correct technique and I have quit wondering if my baby's mouth is secretly filled with razor blades!

I guess what I'm trying to say is: one painful day at a time, we're getting there. We are learning and (theoretically) healing slowly. And after all, it's been five and a half weeks and no matter how awful it's been for my body and my psyche, the tiny helpless human I'm in charge of is still alive.

So I'm going to go ahead and count it as a win. 

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Baby Story

Soooooo, I have a baby. A real live tiny human!

*whimper/wheeze/hyperventilate*

Here's how it happened.

July 23rd I went into labor. At exactly what time, I honestly have no idea. The thing about labor is, I had no idea what it would feel like. I expected something more alone the lines of a tight feeling like I had experienced at twenty weeks during my unfortunate bout with stomach flu. These contractions didn't feel anything like that. Mostly, I just felt crampy, which in my mind indicated nothing. All that to say: I worked a full 8 hour day.

Driving home I really felt pretty terrible so I called husband to see if he was on his way home yet. I couldn't reach him so I knew he was still working. I called his boss' cell and calmly requested that Eli be sent home. Meanwhile, I arrived home, bounced around on my labor ball for a bit and worked on the visa applications for Eli's youngest brother and sister. Because I am crazy. I had to keep pausing because of the pain and that's about when it occurred to me that I might be in freaking labor. Sometimes, I am not terribly bright.

In retrospect, I think I had read too many stories about wishful-thinking preggos who showed up at the hospital only to be told they had false labor and be sent home by a sniggering nurse. I was not going to be that idiot! Oh no!

By the time I actually bothered to time my contractions, they were five minutes apart.

Eli had time to take a shower and I ate a yogurt then we piled in the back seat of a Ford Taurus and Mom drove us to the hospital.

Sure enough, I was in active, progressing labor. So there you go, the way to avoid false labor is to ignorantly wait until the last conceivable second.

I impressed our nurse, Kristin, with my mental focus and super flexible adductor muscles. She was amazing. Not only was she skilled at nursing and super supportive but she stayed with us the whole night until her shift ended at 7am. I imagine it's pretty unusual to have such personal attention but I certainly appreciated it. I also appreciated that she just held the heart monitor in place for the intermittent monitoring since I couldn't stand having the bands around me.

Originally, I planned to have a completely natural birth experience. But if there's one thing I've learned in all my years of planning things it is this: don't hold too tight to the plan; things change. I made it to 8 cm and thought, "holy crap, I absolutely can't do this." Kristin checked my dilation again and it was up to 8.5. I whimpered something about drugs and she, Eli and my mom all soothingly assured me that I could do this. Ok fine. Cowboy up there Liz.

9 cm. Sweet holy lord, the contractions were coming seconds apart and my whole body was in spasm trying to push. It took all my concentration to NOT push that I had none left to try to relax. The next dilation check came in - 9 cm. Noooooooooo! I whined a little more about the total impossibility of me having this baby. The nice low moans they taught us to do in birth class were more and more becoming high pitched squeals of distress. One more dilation check: 9 mother fathering centimeters!!!

I abruptly stood up and in a very calm and measured tone stated flatly, "I want an epidural." The nurse offered a few non-drug alternatives but I had made a decision. It was either push and rupture my cervix or get the epidural. Fortunately, there is such a thing as a partial epidural where they only give you a half dose. When it came time to really get serious about pushing, I could tell when I had a contraction and knew when to push, it just didn't hurt.

The other nice thing about the epidural, besides all the pain-ending, was that it gave me a chance to get a little rest. Eli took a nice nap too, which he needed, poor thing, after working an 11 hour day and then staying up all night in an incredibly stressful situation. It was fun to have some time to just hang out with mom and husband, to chat and joke and calm things down.

The other, OTHER nice thing about the epidural delay is that my OB, unavailable on the 23rd, came on call at 4am the 24th. I definitely wanted her to be there for the delivery.

Finally, at 9:46am on July 24, 2013, my little Troy Abraham entered the world, face up, all 8 lbs of him! His poor head was all bruisy from his upside-down exit strategy but even so, he was the most beautiful baby in the history of earth.

At least he was in the eyes of this momma.

  

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Miracle of Life

On Great Expectations:


Obviously the big news ‘round here is that I’m 14 weeks pregnant. The first trimester wasn’t so bad. Besides being carsick and exhausted all the time, I at least had a good excuse for being an irrational grouch (not that this is unusual, I just don’t generally have such a handy reason).

I worried, what with the constant eating to stave off nausea and my utter cessation of gym attendance, that I would be a cow by the end of the first three months. But somehow I have only gained the recommended four pounds. Sure, my waist has disappeared and not one of my regular pants will close, but I’m still going to call it a win.



On Ultra Sounds:

Seeing your baby on an ultra sound is an interesting experience, particularly at 13-14 weeks. The problem is that you aren’t so much seeing your baby so much as seeing into your baby. If CSI and Bones have taught us anything, it’s that people look absolutely terrible without a healthy three layers of skin.

I was hoping for a nice fuzzy outline of something human shaped. What I actually saw was teeth and a spine and gaping eye sockets.

My first thought was nice and maternal (“aw, look at my widdle baby!”). My second thought was more along the lines of “sweet Jesus that nightmare thing is IN me!!!” There are some things you just can’t unsee.

Speaking of playing host to an alien life form, exactly what race am I at this current moment? I am usually whiter than wonder bread but the baby is half Hispanic. So am I bi-racial? Should I be putting that on my job application? It’s weird enough that my body has four arms and two heads right now.

The miracle of life: it’s a little creepy.



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Monday, December 3, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

Calvin Was Right About Bikes:

I am loving these soft fall days. The temperature has been in the upper 60's or low 70's with plenty of sunshine. GORGEOUS! It makes me want to move my exercise out of the gym and into the park. One glorious Sunday afternoon, Eli and I borrowed bicycles from our neighbor and headed off to the park just a few blocks away from the house.

Everything was smoothing sailing until a particularly steep downward angle make it all go to crap. I would like to say I didn't so much fall off my bike so much as it threw me off! Later I notice tire tracks on my leg. So not only did it throw me off, it ran over me for spite! I, quite dumbly, neglected to put on a helmet. Obviously falling down and hitting my head did nothing to help my intelligence levels... I felt pretty woozy and had to lay down for a while before we could ride home and put a great big bandaid over my now skinless elbow. I also found out the next day when I tried to brush my hair that I had a pretty significant road rash on my scalp as well.

The moral of this story is: good grief, I'm nearly THIRTY! I can't ride a bicycle without falling off?! Sheesh. I think Eli finally understood why I had no interest in learning to drive our motorcycle in Managua.


What a Nice Young Man:

My mom invited me to join her music club and sing with them for their Christmas program. After several rehearsals, it was finally time to perform. Our first venue was at a retirement home in Illinois. Eli came to cheer us on.

We set up in front of the dining area and started our singing as the residents were finishing up their dinner hour. Eli initially loitered off to the side, occasionally snapping photos. The next time I looked over, he was sitting at a table with four of the residents, having a grand ol' time chatting! I looked over again a few minutes later and there he was sipping coffee and eating cake! He is just cute as a button.

One of his new friends came up to the song leader afterwards and gushed that Eli is just the nicest young man. Yup, that's why I keep him around!


Relaxing Aggravation:

Do men do jigsaw puzzles? Off the top of my head I can't really think of any over the age of 13 that will sit down and put together a 1,000 piece-er. The only people that come to mind are women. Why is that?

Eli and I spend Thanksgiving with Marissa and her husband, Mike. We decided to start one of her new puzzles. The menfolk seemed very confused by our choice of past time. But, they seemed to say, don't you want to do something...fun?

Man reaction to puzzles: um, no thanks.
Woman reaction to puzzles: sweet! a puzzle! let me jump right in a start helping!

Seriously, why is this? How come all the men I know are completely missing out on the crazy addictiveness that is finally finding that one stupid piece you've been looking for (or at) for the past hour? Or maybe the question is not why men don't like them, but why all women seem to really enjoy this fussy nonsense.

Maybe it is because puzzles are the complete opposite of life. If you wait long enough and work hard on other things, every seemingly unfit-able piece will have a place. The jumbled pile of chaos will become an orderly, beautiful thing.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

44 Hours in Tegucigalpa

They called me four times but I didn't answer. I was sleeping tight in the grip of nyquil and little things like a ringing phone were totally irrelevant. So they called Eli and he called me later, when I 
was alive again. "There's a mission in Honduras," he said, "do you want to go?"
 "Uhhh I guess" I said foggily. In retrospect, what I should have said was "not without at least 70,000 more details!"

The next thing I knew Patricia was handing me a bus ticket. But but but ummmmm what? Where? Why??? "They'll tell you when you get there." This was the sum total of the information Kevin, a guy from church, and I received before heading up to Tegucigalpa. No, wait, they did tell us at the bus station that we would need to put together a presentation on Nicaragua for culture night. Oh, well thanks for the heads up there...

9.5 hours of bus time later, we got to the retreat center up in the mountains north of the capital. And when I say "retreat center" I hope you are picturing 6 tiny uncomfortable bunks squeezed together in a room smaller than the average college dorm and bathrooms with BYO toilet paper. At this point we found out that the "mission trip" not only had started two days earlier but was actually a conference on discipleship and evangelism for youth group leaders.

Ummmmm I think there's been some kind of mistake.

I don't work with youth, I am a leader of no things, and the kind of street evangelism they were talking about frankly gives me the creeps. I don't go up to random strangers and start talking about how much I love Jesus for the exact same reason I don't go up to random strangers and start talking about how much I love my husband - it's weird and I don't work for Greenpeace.

Oh and did I mention that this was a conference solely for Central and South America? By which I mean entirely in the fastest Spanish I've ever heard in non-rap form. I generally consider myself fluent in  Spanish - I can even make jokes in Spanish! But whenever anyone from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, or Bolivia said anything (even if it turned out to be "hi what's your name?" You know, Spanish 101 stuff) I needed a translator. Really. And these were the people leading all the workshops. So imagine the most boring class you've ever taken, now picture that happening in incomprehensible Spanish. It was that  kind of fun.

I suppose if I were a better person, I would have stayed and made the best of it. There's always a tiny nugget to be learned even in the longest snoozefest of a sermon, after all. And everyone seemed super nice. BUT an alarmingly large portion of my life for the past couple of years or so has been made up of patiently waiting out bad situations. I know it doesn't make me look very good but honestly, my soul is weary of doing it. So even though it meant explaining to people who are truly passionate about youth ministry that I couldn't care less, I bailed and went back to Nicaragua on Saturday.

My official life motto is: whatever MUST be endured CAN be endured. But recently I've adopted an auxiliary backup motto: if it's not something that really, truly must be endured, screw this crap. We can all pray that someday I will be a way better person...

The weekend wasn't a total bust though. During the week I spent in Costa Rica earlier this month (which was as awesome as this was ridiculous), I had made some friends who live in Teguz. No, that's not very exact. What I really mean is I met brothers I didn't previously know I had. Bryan and Manuel came at 5:30 am to take me out to breakfast and drop me by the bus station. This is what I mean by more than just new friends - who else but family will get up before dawn on a Saturday for you?

They took me to an authentic, traditional Honduran restaurant - Burger king. Was it as cool as the burger king we went to together in San Jose? Almost (Costa Rican BKs have free refills). Did they give us BBQ sauce to go on our pancakes? Why yes, yes they did! Special thanks to Manuel for averting disaster and getting us syrup.

By the way, you can totally get nachos instead of fries with your whopper combo. Honduras is my kind of place!

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A brand new mom trying to navigate the crazy world of mixed families, babies, and working full time. Phew! Just writing that makes me want to lie down.

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