Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I see danger everywhere.

The last few weeks have been bad in terms of anxiety.

As the weather gets warmer, my anxiety has gone up. I don't know why, but it's what's happened.

I feel danger everywhere - I always's one of the basic tenets of OCD - fear of the unknown, fear of harm coming to loved ones, fear of...well, fear. The fight or flight reflex part of the brain in someone with OCD is majorly overactive...add in some traumatic events, and everything goes haywire.

There are only so many days in a row I can blog about anxiety, so I am being proactive and called a therapist who specializes in that eye desensitization thing. She helps people who have gone through traumatic experiences.

Pregnancy announcements are triggers, as are pregnant women. Try avoiding THOSE! I have nil desire to actually make a pregnancy announcement or be pregnant, but it's just a reminder of how awful it all went. I can't explain why and I don't think I have to.

Sometimes when I'm nursing Phoebe I just stare at her and can't believe she's actually here.

The "trying to just go about my daily tasks and ignore it" isn't working, nor is the "just write about it". I have dreams where they are telling me "it's not good" and then I don't wake up. I wake up in real life, and my heart is going 90 miles a minute.

It helps keeping busy with my little brood. They certainly don't have much patience for my overthinking things, for which I am grateful.

I definitely feel the love of the comments left here. Hello, readers I didn't know who read! I hope something in what I write resonates with you and you feel less alone.

I'll tell you how the appointment goes. I wasn't wanting to go because I didn't want to spend the money, but

guess what.

I deserve it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

another foster call

We just got a call for a newborn.

They were wanting someone to come to the hospital to learn how to care for her.

I never thought I'd see the day when I was turning down babies.

Have you thought about becoming a foster parent?

If yes, what is holding you back?

These babies need somebody...

Someone is 2 today!

Monday, May 21, 2012

an accordion made of paper, and other stories

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I don't get it. What exactly is it that you are grieving for? The fact that you have several healthy children? That you had a scary near-miss with your own health but ultimately are fine? I just don't get it how you want to wallow in your misfortunes. I honestly don't get it.
May 18, 2012 8:29 PM

I really, really hate anonymous comments.

Here are the reasons:

1. If you really feel so strongly about what you are saying, why not have the guts to put your name behind it?

2. Anonymous comments are usually made by people doing drive-bys. They're not usually made by people who have been reading your blog for months and months and are leaving a thoughtful post. I'm doubtful Anonymous will even see this, but if you should happen to, Anonymous, I'm giving you bullets AND numbers today, because I'm feeling especially magnanimous:
  •  1. I'm doubting you've ever had a very traumatic life-and-death experience. 
  •  2. For that you should be grateful. 
  •  3. Being human, however, it's more than likely bound to happen to you sooner or later, should you live to a ripe old age. 
  • 4. If you do not live to a ripe old age, chances are your death or illness leading to your death will be traumatic and require some therapy. 
  • 5. If you must know, I'm grieving never having a "normal" birth. I'm grieving the fact that each one of them was scary and hard. I'm grieving the fact that I'll never know a normal birth. I'm angry about it. I'm angry about all of the loss of my baby-having years. I'm grieving the fact that my body made life hard for my oldest child. I have trouble forgiving myself, though, logically, I know it had nothing to do with me. If you'd bothered to read 3 posts instead of writing what you'd wrote, you'd have figured that out.
  • 6. A new number was required. I'm learning to live in a world full of healthy-baby-having-fertiles who never had, and most likely never will, have to deal with any of these issues. 
  • 7. I'll be feeling fine and then have a rough patch of days. 
  • 8. This has nothing to do with my enjoyment of my present children. 
  • 9. In fact, I probably enjoy them MORE after all of this has occured. 
  • 10. I desperately WANT to be over it, but my WANT has nothing to do with the way things are. The only way OUT of grief is THROUGH, but maybe you're from a family that stuffed it all down and then your teenaged sister acted out her anger and grief by becoming the town bicycle. Maybe you've never learned how to deal with your own grief. 
  • 11. People who tell other people how to grieve are usually dealing with their own issues. 
  • 12. That makes me sad for you. 
  • 13. Now if you'll excuse me, my son has made an accordion out of paper, and he is going to play it for me. I would not miss this concert for the world:

The end.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

grief is sticky

Grief is so weird. You think you're through the worst of it and then something comes out of the rafters and BAM, blindsides you, and you're down for the count and sobbing and wondering where the Xanax went.

I had one of those moments this week, and it really discouraged me.

Being healed and healthy and happy means, or meant, that I would never feel sad. I would never have moments where I wondered what it would be like to have had things go a different way, to pop out living babies like so many sardines or to have the anesthesiologist say on July 19, "OK, her blood pressure is stabilizing. Phew!" and then he would pass out cigarettes and do the Macarena for us while the nurses drew straws to figure out who would be the lucky one to get to change my diaper.

I'm realizing, not in theory but in reality, that grief doesn't look how I thought it would look. Grief is a many-splendored beast and I know that I am probably still bound for more "ups" and "downs". I just have to take them as they come and not be so anxious about when they'll come or what will trigger them.

The anxiety that comes over the thinking about a negative feeling I may or may not have when a "triggering" event may or may not occur has been, in fact, more distressing to me than the actual feeling occuring.

I have fear of fear, if that makes sense.

I have a huge fear of the "other shoe dropping". I don't even know what that means, but in my "sitting quietly and letting myself feel whatever my mind needs to feel", I've identified this as a huge fear.

I have no idea how I'll feel on the anniversary of the day that my youngest daughter was born and the day I almost died.

I hope that I'll feel happy that I'm still alive...

alive to touch, to feel, to hold

this messy life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Motherhood is

***written on my birthday, March 30. Not posted until today because...I'm not sure why.***

Motherhood is watching my slip of a baby daughter, 9 hours old. She is in her plastic bassinett at the foot of my bed. The doctors have inverted my bed so that the remaining blood my rebellious body has managed to hold onto can find its way to my vital organs. I want to count her toes, kiss her fingers, check for the body parts her older sister was missing. A perfectly formed and breathing child,motherhood had already taught me, is the crown of God's design.

I think of her face as her body was lifted from my womb. She watched as the doctor's hands cut that ribboned cord. She cried like a kitten, looking so much like her older brother, upturned lashes squeezing out those 150P25 surgical overhead lights. 

Inside this present moment there are 17 medical professionals in my hospital room. I know this because I have heard them say that my heart is beating 212 beats per minute. Panic threatens and I must count something other than the heartbeat in my ears. Seventeen people in this room, fighting time. 

Motherhood has taught me to love seven babies before her. Five gone before I got to know them, two I carried on my hip until the motherhood in me declared that it was time to let them walk, and run, and eat macaroni and cheese with their fingers.

The motherhood I feel right now is different, though. It's wrong:

In this extraordinary and terrible moment, I may be doing the only motherhood I get to do. Thismotherhood is no action, just observation. I watch. I watch her legs kick. I hear. I hear her test out her crying voice. I see. I see someone pick her up, swaddled and dewy-headed, and carry her away.

I can't bear this motherhood.

The nurses are ramming my bed into the wall. Some lazy architect miscalculated and I'll pay for his mistake. We've gotten through the door and I hear someone swear. "Go!" They're sprinting now and I hear them say, "She's coding!" Everything fades.

I hear a beep somewhere far away. I open my eyes and look for God's arms. What I see instead is a male nurse who looks exactly like that red-haired guy from ER. He is filling out a chart.

I am alive.

Today is my 33rd birthday. That dewy-headed baby from room 217 is now chewing on the gas bill. She is eight months old and she is divine. Her older brother, the one with the same lashes, is whining to go outside. Freshly bathed, he still smells like little boy. Their older sister, the one the doctor told us could never live outside my womb, is learning to read. She is reading at a fourth grade level.

Motherhood is putting my baby down, watching her toddle forward. Motherhood is clapping and cheering, feeling my heart fold in on itself as I realize I will never do this again.

Motherhood is joy.

It's also, 


a letting go.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The power of words

Today at target I was ready to go postal when teapot would not stop screaming her ear splitting scream.

This woman kept glaring at me as we were waiting in line for teapots prescription.


and I just wanted some chocolate candy.

As we were eating a gourmet pizza hut lunch in the food court, I heard an "excuse me!" behind me.

That same lady was there and said, "I just wanted to tell you what a fabulous job you're doing with those kids. She kept screaming, but you just stayed patient. Your son seems very aware of his personal space and when I was overhearing how he was talking to her I can tell you've taught him that. Keep up the good work! These kids are very lucky!"

Jaw drop.

That lady will never know just how much her words were appreciated on a day when I was wondering just who I thought I was, having four kids.

I want to be someone whose words are sweet to others.

What kind of person are you?

She put some sweetness in our day.

Monday, May 7, 2012


I have two friends who are newly pregnant.

When they told me, and one told me she was having twins, I had the *most* amazing reaction. It wasn't amazing to anyone else, but it sure was cool for me.

My first reaction was, "I'm so glad I'm done with all of that!"

...and I really felt it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you've read my blog for any period of time, you know that this is HUGE.

I just am still processing it, I think.

Oh, and during my date with My Guy while I was waiting to pick up Teapot? There were two ladies in the Chick-fil-A playground talking about how one of them wanted 5 children.

I realized later that, instead of being jealous of their baby-having abilities, I was looking at how ugly one of the ladies' shoes were. They were this really weird jade-green color and looked like they were given to her by an elf. Kind of like these:

Kind of like these, but green and uglier. I wanted to point it out but I figured that wouldn't be appreciated.

I also laughed to myself, inwardly of course, at this woman saying how hard having a 6 month old was, saying she wanted five kids.

I used to babysit these awesome kids...there were 5 of them and they were all 2 years apart. I SWORE up and down I wanted five children.

After I had a couple of babies, I realized that with the Kennedys, I babysat them for 4 hours at a time. NOT ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT.

This blog post is going nowhere...and for that, I am truly sorry.

Anyway. Asher and I had a wonderful time at Chick-fil-A. They had all kinds of activities for us and he was knighted, and then given a red rose to give to me. He had a shield he could color, and they had questions for us about what kinds of things he could do to be a chivalrous knight.

I wonder if they'll talk about being womanly at the Daddy/Daughter event? Probably not, for fear of offending Emma Goldman and her daughter, come to Chick-fil-A for some sweet tea fresh off of baby's first pro-abortion rally.

I was given a Mother's Day gift card, and we both got a free dessert.

Check out your local Chick-fil-A for such events! There's a father/daughter event coming up soon, and it's free!

This post was supposed to be all about the moment I knew we couldn't adopt Baby Man, but I suppose I'll have to leave you with a cute picture instead:


In other news, I very obviously forgot it was picture day, and Lucy ended up looking like she came straight out of a mid 1990s movie starring Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke.

Way to go, Supermom! Way to go!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Teapot is with her grandparents today.

Phoebe is sleeping.

Scott is sleeping.

Lucy is picking a flower for me.

Asher is getting dressed up.

We're going to a Mother-Son Date Knight (pun intended) that Chick-fil-A is putting on.

The invitation has been printed on an old piece of scrap paper, and off we go!

I'm wondering if he'll pull out my chair.

Male bonding

video...and they say there isn't a difference between genders...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

an open letter to parents of "only" one child

My aunt is awesome.

Back in 2004, Scottie too Hottie and I were only married for 17 months and had just been told that our child probably wouldn't survive birth. We came home, googled things like "omphalocele", "two vessel cord", and "trisomy 18". Scott was crying at the keyboard (my husband cries about as often as my kids hate McDonalds) and reading this story. Later that day, we went to the Olive Garden with all of our parents.

As an aside: Who, exactly, gets devastating news from the doctor, goes home, researches horrible outcomes, and then says, "Hey! I know what would make me feel better! Family and 127 grams of carbs!"


I ended up sobbing my guts out in the bathroom, my mom rubbing my back and saying things like, "Jesus is the great Physician. Jesus is the great Physician! We don't know the outcome yet, Rachie!"

To that poor little old lady who heard me say, in no uncertain terms, "I'd rather shoot myself than abort my baby!" I'm sorry you had to have such a traumatic Italian dining experience.

We have sinced moved to within four blocks of "the bad Olive Garden", which I find moderately, if not uproariously, funny.

Later that night, after members of his family had told us in the Olive Garden bar, that there was no hope, I emailed both of our families, asking them to pray hard. My aunt responded with extra amounts of prayers, and by the time the whole ordeal was over, she and I were battle-bruised and scarred. Our relationship has since blossomed.

I've always admired my aunt. She and my mom's brother, my Uncle Dick, tried for many years to have a baby. They suffered a number of miscarriages and finally "gave up", only to become pregnant with my cousin Sam. Sam is now 20, and it wasn't for lack of desire that my aunt and uncle had "only" one child.

I was talking to some friends the other day, both of whom "only" had one child. Both were talking about how most people say things like, "So you just have the one?" and getting lots of questions like, "Don't you think little Brayden/Ayden/Jayden would like a little brother or sister?"

I used to ask those kinds of questions until I was gaining and losing babies faster than Oprah does weight, and then I decided to shut up.

To those women out there who struggle with answering the, "So you just have the one?" question, this essay is for you:

To only-child moms:

At the end of our spring break in Florida, I told our 20-year-old “only child” I was glad he still liked to hang out with us in Florida for a week every spring. He said, “Yep, I do. We’re a pretty tight trio.”

His remark highlights the prime result of “only childhood.” They are kids who are usually incredibly close to their parents. We have a unique and special bond with our son that others seem to notice. We know each other so well, we can finish each other’s sentences, read body language, and discern feelings behind words.

My best friend has 3 sons, all in their early 20’s. She adores her boys, and has a deep connection with each of them. Yet if you asked her, she would tell you that as close as she is to her sons, she has always known that the bond we have with Sam is somehow deeper. She has said this for years.

It is a no-brainer. That connection is developed because you simply do not share that parent-child love with any other children. All the eggs are in one basket.

Let me clarify here that we wanted more children. Sam was a miracle baby after 2 miscarriages and almost 7 years of infertility treatment, and we were never able to conceive again after him. He was not intentionally an only child.

Our biggest concerns bought into the old stereotypes that only children are self-indulgent, spoiled, socially inept, bright nerds. Our second concern was that he would never have siblings to journey through life with and would somehow miss the opportunity to learn to share/argue/makeup. Our concerns were needless worry. We realized early on that we had the power to mold this life and avoid those issues.

Our child was never spoiled. We made sure of that. He will attest to feeling he was the last teen in town to have a cell phone, and never did, unlike all his classmates, have a car until he left for college (and he paid for half of it). His Christmas and birthday gifts were few and far from indulgent.

We also made sure that our only child was connected to playmates, early children education gatherings and cousins (to whom he is very close). He never lacked for social skills. If anything, he was more mature than his peers because he was around two adults most of the time and had an elaborate vocabulary at a young age. He has always made friends easily and his life today is richly filled with friends and family.

Only children almost always are intellectually advanced and it is no secret why.Parents of only children have more time to focus on the general aspects of child development and learning and can give their child so much more one-on-one time and attention, which makes such a difference.

Sam was read to, sung to and talked to extensively as a baby and toddler, all important factors in brain development. If I had a nickel for every book I read to my child in his early lifetime, I would be a rich woman. We could easily spend an hour at a time reading, at least twice or three times each day. Again, with younger siblings, Sam would not have received that much word stimulation.

Case in point: Sam was interested in numbers from an early age, so I taught him addition and subtraction around age 4. He continued to want to learn, and I had that one-on-one opportunity to teach him. By age 6, he was doing double-digit multiplication and by the end of kindergarten, he had learned basic algebraic equations. In his scrapbook is a page of “doodling” I found one day that he had left on the table. He was writing and solving math problems that looked like this:
                                       X - 35000= 16,000   =51,000  
                                       X + 500 = 1400   = 900.

Being an only child did not give our son his math talent. I suspect he was born with some of that. I only highlight this as saying that I had no other kiddos needing me so I had the luxury, again, of spending long chunks of uninterrupted time feeding him the math information he was very ready and hungry for.

With one child, it is probably the gift of undivided time that creates kids who are brighter than average. This is absolutely not to say that multi-child parents do not spend time stimulating/teaching all of their children. Only-child parents just have more time to spend at it. Sam started kindergarten at a high level, and I predict that only children do that often.

Based on all the research on only children, they are generally more resilient, independent, opinionated, confident, and intellectual than multi-sibling children. All of those qualities are positive!

When you live with adults, you emulate adults. You hear adult-speak. You listen to adult wisdom and advice. It “sinks in” for only children in ways is doesn’t for kids who hang out with siblings all day. We made an effort to insure that our only child was well-adjusted and “normal” in a culture where there are not a lot of single-child families.

I know there can be downsides for some only children. They may be over-protected because parents have not had the chance to let down their guard, as they seem to do with second children. Some parents may be too involved in their kid’s life. Only children never have the opportunity to be mentored by an older sibling, or mentor a younger one. I suppose some only children may say they are lonely.

I asked our son yesterday what he felt the advantages have been of being an only child. This was the list he emailed me:

          Incredibly deep relationship with parents

          Better ability for communicating with adults at a young age

          More mature

          More intelligent because of more attention given during development

          Parents can invest themselves more easily in child's activities; means a lot to child

          Knowing you are deeply loved because you are truly THE most important thing to the parents    

Yes, we wanted more children very much. But I would not trade what we have had with our son for anything, even another child. I consider it a privilege and blessing to have invested my life in one child. I could have had 2 or 3 and been an adequate mom to all, but I may not have been the mom I was able to be with just Sam. Being a mom of one was the only life I knew, and I hope I did right by my child. I know it has been all positive for my husband and me. 

To Rachel's friends, do not think that having just one child is "second best." It isn't. There are pros and cons to having one, and having more than one. If you embrace the gift of only childhood that it is, I predict you will someday look back, as we can, and say that it was "first best!!"

I believe we raised one child well. He is bright and talented, generous and grounded, sensitive and loving. What greater gift can one leave the world?

Read Mary's blog here. I've got another post coming about her fight with stage 4 lung cancer. Cancer does not define who she is, though, so that's for a different post.

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Just go here, sign up for a new account, make your card, and enter "FREETREAT" in the promo code box. 


Weight Watchers

So, yes.

I am very proud of myself for the current weight loss. It floored me I had lost that much in one week! Some could be attributed to heavier clothes and some could be attributed to water weight, but all in all it was a great week!

I am 5'11" and my start weight was 183.6. My last weight yesterday was 176.4. My goal weight is 163. I was 168 at our wedding and now, looking back, I think I could have stood to lose 5 pounds then.

Of course, my boobs will look like tube socks with golf balls at the end of this and I will apparently become Asian, but that's neither here nor there:

Things I have changed:

  • no eating after 7 pm
  • chasing after 4 kids instead of 3 (Teapot is 2 years old and wears 4T clothes - lifting her is a WORKOUT)
  • LOTS of water
  • less Diet Soda
  • tons of protein in the form of peanut butter and meat
  • LOTS and lots of fresh vegetables and fruit (most of those are NO points on Weight Watchers)

Can't wait to see the amount lost this week!

What are things that have helped you lose weight?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

she isn't very good at compliments

I informed Lucy that, after completing my first week of Weight Watchers, I've lost 7.2 pounds.

Her response:

"Well, doesn't really look like it."

one point for honesty.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

24 seconds

videoYou will never get this 0:24 of your life back. Please proceed with caution.

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