Tuesday, November 29, 2011


not our actual furnace guy, though this guy looks like a cross between a  presidential candidate and Burt Bacharach. He also looks like he needs to find a toilet soon.
We all expect Thanksgiving to be relaxing, don't we? I mean, the vacation itself. 

We plan on just "hanging out", but then we put too many expectations on ourselves and it turns into a free-for-all of guilt and "I should get this done, do that, go there." 

Life is a lot more freeing when you take your hands off of the handlebars and just let things happen. 

We're all along for the ride. Bet you didn't know that.

We were just starting to build up our "emergency fund" again after paying off Scott's student loans (Yay, debt-free!). 

The furnace didn't get the memo and decided to break. There went our fund. When I say, "We don't have any money!" I really mean it!

That takes us off the hook for buying lots of Christmas presents for everyone this year. Personalized calendars all around!

This morning I got a call from a guy who called back and wanted to give us a bid for his services. We had already decided on the first guy. The second guy said, "Well, I would have loved to give you a bid." I apologized and said I hadn't heard back from him, and he said, "So be it." and hung up in my ear.

I got off the phone and started crying. ??!! When will I stop being a people-pleaser? Dude, GET A GRIP. He sounded like a jerk anyway. I called my mom and asked her why, at 32 years of age, I am still a people-pleaser. She said, "because you have a soft heart."


I'm working on becoming comfortable with being less, doing less, expecting less out of others and myself. Instead of worrying whether or not someone likes me, or if my house was clean enough or if so-and-so thinks this or that, I'm working more on just not giving a flying flapper-doodle. You don't like me? Great. Take a number!

What are you working on right now?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

sorting it all out

For some reason I'm feeling alot more anxiety around Thanksgiving.

The "holidays" have always had me seeing quite a bit of anxiety, but this year it's especially so.

I am feeling sort of at a loss for how to describe what I'm feeling.

I feel like it's just all hitting me, REALLY hitting me, what happened four months ago. Were it not for medical intervention, I would be dead.

Yesterday I took Asher to the CVS Minute Clinic to have his sinuses checked. It turns out I'm the one with the raging sinus infection. The Nurse Practitioner said that it looks like raw meat in there. Vunderbar! She gave me a prescription and I went to Costco and got it and two pumpkin pies. (Plus $90 worth of other stuff.)

I think what freaks me out about having had a hysterectomy is that I can't ever "replace" any of my children if something happened to one of them. It's a gigantic fear of loss and panic that I am not in control. It's a manifestation of inner turmoil. (Thank you, Oprah.)

One of my friends called this morning and she was in the neighborhood so I invited her over. I told her my thoughts and she said, "Rach, that is so incredibly messed up."

It is! And isn't the very first part of healing being able to: 1. voice whatever crazy thought you're having out loud and 2. admit that that thought is extremely flawed?

How could I ever replace ANY of my children? And why is it so hard to go from that "getting pregnant/miscarrying/getting pregnant/miscarrying" cycle to just normal life that doesn't revolve around my uterus?

How could I have ever thought that having another or another would have taken away who I lost before?

I really do think that's the big lie foisted upon the human soul:

"I will be happy once this occurs..."

I really have alot of "heart work" to do. Let's face it, guys, "heart work" is HARD work.

It aint easy.

So I eat cookies and blog instead.

Or maybe, in the blogging, the work's already begun.

One can surely hope.

Monday, November 21, 2011


From 1943 - 1946, Al served in the Marines at Okinawa.

I get ahead of myself. The very first thing Al was to me was this: in my way in the detergent aisle at Target.

There he was, a bit stooped but every bit a gentleman.

There I was, a bit haggard but every bit needing some Cascade for my dishwasher.

I noticed his Marines jacket and cap firstly, which led me to, "Thank you so much for your service!"

"Ah, it was nothing." he told me, getting out of my way so I could grab some Cascade.

"No, really. Your serving means alot to me. Where did you serve?"

Al served in Okinawa, and he lost many buddies there. When I asked if he ever went back, he gave me a slight chuckle and a strange look. Why would he want to go back?

To me, war is a novelty.

To Al and his buddies who didn't make it back, war is a very dark reality.

His wife, Christian name Elizabeth, passed away 13 years ago. He carries her picture in his wallet. He calls her "Little Jewel" and he thinks about her every day. "There wasn't a woman better," he says:

Later, well after Al and I had parted ways forever, a Target employee comes running over, telling me an elderly gentleman wants to show me the photo book his oldest daughter had made for him for his 86th birthday. (He was a Halloween baby.) We met up in front of the ice machine, where he whipped out his iPhone and quipped, "I'm not so sure what I'm doing with this thing, you know." 

Al has been written up in the local paper.

 The main points, bulleted here for your convenience:

  • Al is awesome.
  • Al has a zest for life.
  • Al likes the ladies.
A local restaurant celebrates "Alloween" every year, in honor of Awesome Al.

Al's last words to me as we parted ways: "That baby sure is beautiful."
"Hey, check out this picture of me dancing. That's Sally. She likes to be dipped, so I dip her:
Keep on dippin' the ladies, Al, and thanks for making my day.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

that's my God

This girl. You guys, I can't get enough of her. I really just can't. I must thank Scott about 45 times a week for having the courage/stupidity to knock me up again, "just one more time".

The other night I was holding her and she got so sleepy. She fell asleep into my bosom of life (I should trademark that term). I was breathing her in and I heard a voice say, "Rachie, this is your hug from ME. Soak it in."

OK, maybe I didn't hear a voice, but man, she's sweet. And I figured it out the other day - she feels like a big  hug from God. My God.

We were looking together, Pheebs and I this morning, out at the place where one of our trees had been cut down two years ago when I was recovering from my near-death ectopic experience. The guy arrived the day after I lost my tube and my baby, and I hobbled out there to tell him what we wanted him to do with the stump.

It was October, and I hated that stump. I hated the dreary weather. I hated being awake.

Today, I looked out at that exact place. I looked where Phoebe was looking, at the glowing leaves on the trees, and then her attention shifted to that old stump spot.

There isn't a stump there any more.

There's grass, and it's greener than anything around it.

That's my God.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

people pleaser, table for one

The trauma of the last four months has really brought my people-pleasing ways clearly into focus.

When I think back, I have:

  • apologized to the anesthesiologist who was putting me under for the emergency surgery/hysterectomy for being "too much trouble"
  • apologized to the doctor for slapping her hand away when she was trying to find the bleeder on my ute (stats were 30/60 and heartrate of 212 - and there I was, apologizing away like a 15th century monk - all I really needed were the self-flagel*lation tools)
  • thought the whole thing must have been my fault, and apologized to Scott over and over for losing my woman parts
  • still find myself rationalizing to other people who notice that our nine month old foster son is gone the "whys" of giving him up ( I mean, what kind of person am I? Had him since two days old and gave him up?)
  • always asked 10 million people their opinions before making a decision (trying to reach some sort of impossible universal concensus, I suppose)
  • apologize to people at Target when I am standing in front of an item and they walk in front of me
  • constantly ask my children if they are having 'fun', to the point where they don't want to clean their rooms because "it isn't fun"
  • always had trouble believing my friends and those I am close to are really wanting to give me things (food, time, attention, gifts) without expecting something back  - and don't get me wrong, there are many who don't give without strings attached
  • always had trouble expressing my opinion to others or letting them know how I feel for fear that they would shut me out or not like what I had to say
  • apologizing profusely for even *having* an opinion (I'm much less opinionated in real life than I seem on my blog - I don't have to look you in the eye and face your scorn if you don't like what I have to say here)
getting a stranger's blood - i'm sorry, stranger, for taking your blood...

I googled "emergency hysterectomy" today and found the blog of a woman my age who had a molar pregnancy which turned into cancer and caused her to need an emergency hysterectomy less than a month ago. On top of the recovery, she is fighting cancer.

I am so thankful for how it all turned out. Don't get me wrong. (There I go, rationalizing again.) I got to keep my life, I got a beautiful baby girl, and I don't have to make any further decisions about my reproductive parts.

I am also angry that it happened the way it did. I'm going to admit that. Ashley (the new friend I "met" online today) has the balls to admit it, and I will, too. The question, "Are you going to have any more?" is a loaded one for me. "No, we're not having any more!" I say, too much sunshine in my voice. I also have to add that I had my tubes tied that morning, so that makes it all "ok".

I want to tell her what I wish I would have had the grace to tell myself three months ago. "Yes, you will feel better. No, you're not a failure. Yes, you need help from everyone you can think of to give it to you. No, at this time in your life, you can't feel guilty for taking. Yes, your other children will be fine. Yes, you need to measure your progress in centimeters, not even inches." and on, and on, and on.

It still stinks. I *know* it's a blessing in disguise that it all happened the way it did, but I also know that there have been many emotions and there's been a lot of "head work" that I've had to do as part of the fallout. I spent *so* long thinking of my own worth in terms of my producing a healthy baby that, now that that's gone, it gives me pause and has me re-ordering my priorities and also the way I think about things. 

I think that's why I googled "emergency hysterectomy" today. That's exactly why.

It's lonely and isolating having had this experience at age 32. It's easy to say, "Oh, that's great" when you still have your reproductive organs, or at least you still have the *choice*. When I read that Michelle Duggar was having her 20th, I will admit it. I was jealous. I won't ever have a baby again.

It is what it is what it is.

I read this other woman's blog, remembering sobbing in Scott's big easy chair (the one I wanted to get rid of so desperately because it was UGLY only weeks before) and asking my mother, "Am I *ever* going to feel better?" I had a panic attack over the amount of pain I was feeling in that chair. I thought I was having another blood clot. 

After the surgery, my doctor thought I had a pulmonary embolism but didn't mention it to me because there was no use freaking me out. After I was all-clear for the blood clot and it turned out to be good old-fashioned panic that was making my stats all jumpy, she told me about the suspicions she had had.

Anyway, yes. Panicking about the blood clot and the amount of pain I was having:

I hadn't want to admit the amount of pain I was in because my pain medicine prescription had run out and I didn't want to "bother" the doctor with a request for more pain meds.

I should be stronger than all of that. 

When I talked to the doctor, she told me there was no reason I shouldn't have more pain meds, and that it was silly to try to combat the pain without them.

That panic attack caused Scott to leave home early. He came home and I apologized for "making" him take off work early.

He said he was just glad I wasn't dying again.

I've had alot of time to think about some relationships in my life that I'd thought were really good. I'd thought they were good until I actually had the guts to tell the other party how I was feeling. I read "Jesus Calling", an awesome devotional my mom gave me, every day. I think there are still tear marks on the pages. It's all scripturally based, about how we need to rest and relax in the overwhelming goodness of Jesus' love...Jesus, the healer of all wounds.

I told friends I was sorry I couldn't get together more, wasn't a better host, wasn't getting up to show them out the door when they left.

It really took a full three months before I even *began* to feel like myself. I still have achey days where I have to load up on the Ibuprofen. 

I still cry.

I don't blog about it so much or talk about it so much because I don't want people to get "tired" of what I am saying or think I'm whining.

I have lived under others' expectations that I should be fully healed, happy I survived, and "over" it. I've been striving and striving and striving to *be* everything to everybody, and still it's not enough. I need to be more reciprocal in my relationships, I'm told.

Then, I realize: things don't need to be this hard. They shouldn't be. I don't have to apologize for things I have no business apologizing for. I don't need to apologize for feeling a certain way, having an opinion, or taking a parking spot I've been waiting for.

It's too tiring, and I can't do it any more.

and you know what?

That realization feels pretty damn great.


originally posted on 9/7/11

7 years ago today I was sobbing in an ultrasound room.

I was wiping my husband's tears with my hand.

Watching a grown man cry is its own particular kind of sorrow.

We had learned that one of our twins was gone, and little did we know that in just three weeks, our world would shatter again. The remaining baby would be diagnosed "incompatible with life".

I remember so clearly walking out of that doctor's office, numb.

I remember hearing the receptionist tell my husband, "Oh! Twins! Next time, it's the big ultrasound! We book an hour for twins."

My sobs escaped me, harder, and he ran over to the elevator to push the "down" button. As the doors closed I heard him tell her, "One of them just died. It'll be a shorter time slot we'll need."

Two more sets of twins were conceived within the next five years, none of those babies survived.


I open up the twin stroller in the garage as I watch dust mites float through the afternoon shafts of sun light, down into my son's dusty blond hair. He's beautiful at this age; all skin and bones and lightness and Lego t-shirts. I still sometimes can't believe he came out of me, perfect, breathing,


He's not wearing shoes, only Lego socks, so I go inside the house to grab his shoes. That's when it hits me that this was the day seven years ago, when my world fell apart.

7 weeks ago she was born, perfect, breathing.

7 weeks ago I nearly died, and my uterus was thrown into the trash - God's official message to me that my uterus is no longer needed...He'll do fine without it. (And thank you, God, for that tender mercy.)

7 months ago a baby boy was born in our city. Not so perfect, squalling, tiny, needing a home.

7 months ago we welcomed him here.

As I place each baby in his or her side of the stroller, it hits me...



and the levity

is not lost on me.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


This weekend we were going to be out of town but plans changed.

Asher had preschool photos taken. I asked my sister in law what they looked like when I picked him up from her house. She didn't say much:

I think they may be even cuter simply because they're colossally awkward. I *have* to order some now, right?

A few days ago I had a conference with Lucy's teacher. She said she is the most organized student in all the class, and it made me laugh. When I asked her why her organization doesn't extend to home she said, and I am directly quoting, "I've got some secrets I keep at school, Mom." And then she walked upstairs.

Tomorrow Asher, Phoebe and I have a secret shop. We're cool like that.

I am getting the girls these matching dresses for their annual Christmas picture (not sure what Asher is wearing yet) and our lighting of the advent candle at church later this month:

I am really looking forward to a cozy get-together of moms of Lucy's classmates at another mom's house. We're discussing the book Maisie Dobbs and eating lots of yummy food!

Saturday there's a craft fair from 9 - 3 at Lucy's school, and we're taking care of Baby Man and his new foster sister in the afternoon. In the evening we're having a friend and her family over for dinner. I decided I never like to have people over because I'm always afraid they won't like what I cook, but I need to get over that!

Sunday night I am going on a secret shop with a friend. We get to dress up and spend $150! We'll be livin' high on the hog.

What are you doing this weekend?


Sunday, November 6, 2011


Today I drove around town, windows down, music soothing me.

I watched leaves drift down from trees who wanted to keep them, and I knew how they felt.

The past three years at this time I had just said goodbye to somebody. I don't even know who those some bodys were, because they left too quickly.

The air was beautiful, the atmosphere golden. Dust mites played in my vision as I tried to figure out where to go from here.

When you've been living in the land of loss for a really long time, and now you're out of that particular kind of loss, your friendships are bound to change. They have to morph into something recognizable or else they die.

I know that.

I know that.

It doesn't make it any easier when they do.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I don't want to forget.

The day we buried my grandfather we all stood in a little room at the Nazarene church my grandma had attended. The pastor said a prayer and told us we were all welcome to go and say our final goodbyes to the man who'd lived his 97 years so well.

I walked out to his casket in front of  forty people.When you are a North Dakota farmer who dies at the age of 97, most of your friends have already spent quite a bit of time pushing up daisies, so they're politely unable to attend your funeral.

I put some chocolate in the little box within his casket that was made for little treasures. It seemed so silly that a casket would have a treasure box because we're all just fooling ourselves that it's not going to turn into tree root, anyway. I put my hand on his forehead, automatically expecting it to be warm. It was cold and waxy and as I held his hand and whispered through tears, "Sloppy kisses for you, Gramps," I was comforted by the very obvious absence of his soul.

I couldn't bring myself to watch his coffin being lowered into the ground. I made the excuse that the weather was too cold for two-month-old Asher and that he was hungry even though he'd just eaten. No one tried to convince me to come.

I watched my grandmother, stooped as she was, say goodbye to the love of her life. She cried, but I knew there was happiness in the salt of her tears. How can you *not* be happy after having had a marriage like the one they had?

Today in our society it's all about *me*. "Me" time, what I want, how I feel, what I believe, yadda, yadda, and more yadda. When it comes down to it, friends, no one cares about YOU and how you feel about yourself. You are just not that important.

My grandparents understood this concept. My grandfather took excellent care of my grandmother. He farmed for a whole lot of years, wearing his body out. He teased her mercilessly. He called her "hon". It was only after the funeral that we all began reading the love letters that my grandmother had lovingly tucked away underneath her bed. She quietly asked us to put them away because they just made her too "lonesome".

The later ones were signed this way:

your sweetheArt

My grandfather was Scandinavian, stubborn, and gruff, and I don't ever remember him saying "I love you".

When I was 12 years old I was obsessed with a book called Caddie Woodlawn. Caddie raises baby chicks, and I told my mom I wanted to do it, too. We bought an incubator and hatched two baby chickens in our basement in the middle of the city. When the birds got too big and messy to be in the middle of the city, our family drove 14 hours with two chickens in our minivan (yes, my parents are awesome) to my grandparents' North Dakota farm.

Those chickens never had a better home.

At the dinner after the burial a woman came up to me and said, "You must be the granddaughter your grandpa talked about so much. Did you hatch some chickens in your basement? One of those chickens ended up at my farm. Your grandpa came to me one day and said, "I just can't slaughter this bird. My little granddaughter would be heartbroken, so you have to take him."

I knew he loved me.

Reading his love letters, there weren't swirly hearts and there wasn't oozing poetry and there wasn't any mention of his needing my grandmother until the end of time. There was an undercurrent, though, of longing...of his deep admiration for her...of his abiding love.

I think of the relationship my grandparents had and I think of how much they gave their children and their grandchildren. They taught us how to love, and they taught us how to live.

For some reason I think today of my grandmother, stooped, ready to see her husband again, 99 years old and in a nursing home not two miles from where my grandfather's body lies, cold and hard in the ground.

I think of all she has taught me, and I think of how well she did it; how well he did it. How well they lived live together.

And I think that I never want to forget.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I promise I'm not a troll, but good grief, you sure drink a lot for being a nursing mama!
November 2, 2011 10:56 AM

Actually, you left a negative, anonymous comment. By definition, you are a troll. Also, if you are someone I know and just didn't have the guts to say it directly to me, shame on you. (I love me some Sitemeter. You're not as anonymous as you think!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

want to be

I made my BFF cry on the phone tonight when I told her, "You know, I don't feel this hugely pressing need to blog any more. I feel like my blog has been so full of sorrow and pain. I guess I just don't *feel" it any more like I used to."

It's true - that valley sucked. It was so hard to see pregnancy pictures and hear announcements and wonder if I would ever get to have a healthy, lovely little baby.

She's three months old now, and to me, she's so. much. more. than the completion of our little family. She is the face I imagined each time that sonogram technician said, "I'm so sorry, honey. This baby isn't viable."

She is the little one my brother couldn't get enough of. It was enough to make me cry. He called her "Sweet Pea" all weekend. There is something so special about your older brother loving on your baby.

She is the sweet little one I cuddle, and dress, and marvel at.

She is the dream I dreamt the night after the induced miscarriage of baby #4.

She is my water in a desert...my drink at the bar...my starfish on the seashore...my Burt Bacharach record when I thought it was lost...

Like all gifts, I know they can tend to be transient. Our children are not ours. Oh, yes, we like to think they are, and we set things up in our minds in such a way that makes it impossible for them to ever NOT be ours. Truth is, they are God's.

I had a wonderful five days with my brother and his girlfriend in Indianapolis. He took us out to a fancy pants restaurant and spent an exhorbitant amount of money on us (I was in love with the $10 flirtini), and I just felt so loved, and warm, and happy.

I looked over at the man I would marry again, ten times again, and wondered how I ever got so lucky to have such an encourager and friend in him when so many others have so much strife in their marriages.

I looked at my little trick-or-treating kids and wondered how I got to be their mom.

I looked at my brother holding Phoebe every chance he got, and I wondered how I got to be so lucky to be his  little sister.

I am just full of gratefulness after this trip, and a renewed sense of who I want to be versus who I am.

The new "want to be's":
  • streamlined, simple house. I don't *need* this or that item because someone else has it. I want our home to be a place of quiet, organized serenity...our haven from this crazy world.
  • attentive to my own needs. I like cute jeans and nice perfume. I bought myself both this weekend.
  • a patient, understanding mother with a killer sense of humor.
  • an encouragement and someone my husband can't wait to see on his drive home from work (good in the sack, too)
  • a light in a world so shattered by darkness. I can only be that light if I take care of myself - less time on the computer, less time running around town chasing deals and making appointments, and more time lounging with candles and Kahlua after the kids are in bed
  • a foster parent again. Someone is going to need us. Frankly, I am *so* excited to see who it will be.
  • a delight to my God. I *so* long to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" at the end of my life.
What are your "want to be's?" Do you give yourself enough grace if you don't 'perfectly' achieve them?