Friday, November 27, 2009

It is Thanksgiving weekend

and it is hard.

I started celebrating Wednesday night at a church service at Saint Michael. I walked into the building, took a right, and saw a man in David's office who was not David. I saw empty bookshelves. I was ready for it - they named the new pastor last June, I just hadn't met him yet and wasn't ready to confront the old office - in which I spent so much of my youth - with a new inhabitant.

Then I sat through a Thanksgiving service and sang about gratitude and gifts and miracles and watched this new pastor give a sermon on finding God in the tough stuff - and finding the ability to be thankful even when times are hard.

And I lost it.

I do not need lessons like this. Or, rather, I do not need more of them. I found miracles around David's bedside in his last few days, I found awesomeness in Grandpa's final days last year, I found glory in my children this year. But in all honesty, the last thing I need right now is a sermon on it.

I know. Maybe some other parishioner did. Maybe someone needed to go to church Wednesday night and hear about finding light inside the darkness. I'm sure they did - some people have had great years and a burned turkey or an NU loss today will be devastating to them. And you know what? Good for them. I look forward to having a year in the future wherein I need the reminder to be grateful because even in the dark times there are things to be grateful for. Right now, I am thankful for the fact that one day I'll be able to reflect on the dark times and know that we made it through them.

We will make it through them. But we might be tempted to throw a punch when someone tells us to find things to be thankful for in them.

Today is the day after Thanksgiving and I am thankful for my health, my family, my buddy Julia's clear PET scan, and for the knowledge that there have been times and may be times where this list is much, much longer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


New stuff, but no photos yet.

Finished Nana's blanket. Wow, that took forever - I'd say about 30 hours of knitting total. Maybe more. It was an exhausting endeavor. And it's a very small lap blanket. Overall, I'm pleased with the pattern excepting one thing - the outside edge. Because it's in stockinette, the outside edge rolls. I'll do several rows of garter stitch on the next one I make just to ensure a quality edging.

But I can't manage to cast on for Grandma A's blanket yet because, well, wow, that was a big project. So I needed an escape in the meantime. I did Angel's (Chris's gf) fingerless mittens this week. Those knit up so quickly, I decided to make a pair for myself too. Hers took about one night a piece. Mine are taking longer because I'm making them a bit longer, but they still move pretty quickly. I got 75% of one mitt done last night - I'll finish it during the day today and cast on the 2nd tonight. We'll see how far I get. I hope to have them finished to use in Nebraska.

I'll upload pics as soon as I can. Maybe this afternoon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

So here we are.

And I'm guessing we're the perfect American family: Mom, Dad, 2.5 children (do three miscarriages in a year add up to half a child?), and a cat. No dog, so there we fall short. But all in all, we're the perfect middle-class family. A dream come true.

And I think now is an excellent time to talk about dreams. As I was growing up, one of the many important things my family did for me was allow me to dream, to dabble in my dreams, and to find new dreams. Throughout my life they've encouraged me to dream, to aim high, to set lofty goals and to achieve them. As I was looking at colleges, they never once said "That's too high." When I finished my BA and applied to Master's and PhD programs from Harvard to Berkeley, they never once said "Perhaps you should be more reasonable." They always encouraged me to dream and to chase those dreams as far as I possibly could. And the prevailing attitude from everyone we encountered was the same -- dream, child, and your dreams will come true.

In many ways they did come true - I got the graduate degree I desired and worked with some extraordinary scholars. I got accepted into every PhD program I applied for save one (with which I am still bitter, but, to quote Ally McBeal, "Bygones." Stupid, lousy, DU). Over time my dreams changed - my Master's gathered dust while I rubbed my belly and dreamed of my daughter. Soon after she was born I dreamed of another child - and a few years later he came along. Throughout those days many around me were confused at the change in my dreams, but continued to encourage me to go for it - whatever it was.

And now we are here. I have dreamed of having a third child much longer than my husband has - when my son was six months old I knew I wasn't done having kids. When he was a year I began to discuss the issue with my husband. Last February we still hadn't come to a conclusion, but two pink lines told us it probably was no longer an issue. Unfortunately that pregnancy didn't stick. Nor did the one in June. Nor did the one this month.

So now we dream of our third child in some future tense - while the people around us tell us to look at the blessings we have, to enjoy the kids we've got, and that maybe we should potentially consider not pursuing the idea of another child. This, I am coming to understand, is the primary curse of secondary infertility and it makes me wildly, irrationally angry.

Imagine for a moment someone coming to me fresh off the stage from accepting my Bachelor's degree and saying "You should be grateful for this. It's a big, wonderful thing. Enjoy it while you can and don't worry about that pesky Master's. You probably don't need it anyway. " Or looking at a report card and saying "Wow, a C. That's great work. You could probably do more or do better, but be thankful for what you've got." Or when I got my first job, who would have turned to me and said "Gee, $10 an hour is an excellent living wage. I don't see why you would pursue an advanced education or a different career path: be grateful for what you have."

Gratitude for what I have is not mutually exclusive with wanting more. Feeling blessed for the multitudinous gifts in my life does not necessarily mean I should suddenly stop dreaming - had my dreams turned from a 3rd child to, say, a full time tenured position at a local community college and had I gone through 3 interviews and not gotten the job, no doubt the response of family and friends would be far from "Well, you tried but be grateful that you're an adjunct" and would lie firmly in the "Keep it up. Look, there's an opening here. Call so and so from there and try them!" territory. But with children, suddenly, the game changes. It's not acceptable to want more when you already have some. It's not acceptable to aspire to fill your dinner table if your family and friends' schemas all include differently-sized tables. In a world where we all cheer for people to do the impossible, surmounting this seemingly impossible task means I am inherently ungrateful for the two living breathing children that I have.

I cannot begin to tell you how far that is from the truth. I had no idea the extensive, miraculous cellular beginnings of a person -- even after growing two -- until we realized the myriad of things that can and do go wrong. If anything, my understanding of the two miracles I have has only grown deeper through these experiences. And yes, I am asking for the universe to grant me another. I fully understand what it means to dream, to aim high, to ask for the world and I am doing it. But as we work for something more, to fulfill the dream of our family -- the platitudes from people who have not been through it and do not understand bloom in our own minds. Meanwhile, it's all I can do to ignore it and spend today thankful for my children - and my dreams.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me (yesterday)

I woke up on my birthday to a foot of snow and spent the day penned in with the family. The kids played, drank hot chocolate, ate too much candy, watched too much tv, and destroyed the house as even the best children are apt to do when trapped inside with their parents for too long. And I was fine, for most of it, occasionally reverting to sullen when people asked me how I was. It seems right now the best thing to do is to not ask me how I am - too much reflection seems to access a sadness I'm rarely willing to deal with right now. I think I am again firmly in Fake it 'till you make it land. And that's ok, for the record. It might not be acceptable to some people, but it's fine for me. The beautiful thing about life is that it goes on. It keeps moving forward no matter how much you want everything to stop. This was horrifically painful during our first miscarriage, but now carries a comfort with it. We will be okay. We will recover. We will move forward.

So, Happy Birthday to me. As we like to say on bad days around here, it's time to push the reset button.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An attitude

Unable to donate my Facebook status to a daily iteration of the things for which I am grateful, I thought I'd take a moment or two to write about them in my blog. Among my friends, children, coffee, and beer seem to top the list, but the people around me are grateful for a great many things while I, the Thanksgiving Grinch, seem to be feeling the pinch of a horrid year and am struggling with gratitude. Certainly, I'm delighted and blessed in a bevy of ways - and I am well aware of it. I could create an extensive list of the things I know I should be thankful for and I could recite rote the things I know I'm grateful for despite the fact that I am having a hard time feeling it.

That's easy. Listing the miracles in our lives is a pretty simple process. I'm challenging myself right now to look at the hard stuff -- and find the small miracles hidden within for which I should be extraordinarily thankful. Here's what I have so far:

Some days I experience phantom pains so stunning it is as if David was standing beside me and suddenly sucked away in some sort of science fiction portal. His death continues to be an intensely painful experience from these past few years and I miss him in ways I cannot even begin to describe. Yet his death, the days building to it and the wake it left behind some of the most amazing blessings I can describe. We lost David that day, yes, and at the same time our family grew by leaps and bounds. Our church family gathered around us and reminded us that we were not alone -- and we grew closer to the Duminy family and my new brother with bad taste in Basketball teams, Dan W. We're certainly a motley crew, but I love them deeply.

And then there's the music, the red, the church season in which David died - which, though painful, remains celebratory for me. I cannot sing "For All the Saints" without thinking of David, of my buddy who drove 3 hours to say "Hi" and sit in for the funeral, of the red, the banners, and my personal mantra of that time: "You can sing or you can cry. Pick one." Still, now, some days I sing and other days I cry. I realize now that both are fine. And for that I am grateful.

The experience drove me into the church - and into another group of people for which I am grateful. I've learned to have a new relationship with my pastors -- one which will probably never reflect the depth and late-night theological discussions I had with David, but will bloom into its own at some point now that it has been given the chance.

And then, last year. Grandpa. While it's difficult to find things to be grateful for during a seven-day period of watching Grandpa, sapped by a stroke, fade away, there were small miracles there too: a room packed with his wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren lifting their voices to Christmas hymns, my grandmother with a strength and faith I had only before seen in my mother, the beauty of a couple so in love after sixty years of marriage. As I watched my grandmother lean over Grandpa's face and whisper to him, I remember wishing only that I had the strength, commitment, and luck to live that long with my own husband.

And this year. It's hard to find things to be thankful for this year - between our miscarriages and Tim's business changes, but we are deeply blessed. I have more gratitude and patience with my own kids now than I ever have before. Having them seemed once so easy but now seems such an impossible miracle. A howling, back-talking, screeching, impossible miracle. And while they may frustrate me at times, at the end of the day, I know I'm blessed to have them.

I'm blessed to have a lot right now. The little things, the big things, and even the things that aren't that good. We've experienced so much beauty alongside tragedy over these past three years, I simply wanted to insure that everyone around us knew that we know it. We know how blessed we are. And while we, or I, in particular, may seem rather bitter right now, please remember that my gratitude runs deeper than it ever has before.

... and stiiiiiilllll working on that afghan.

Boring boring boring. I took a few days off to whip up a quick top down hat for a friend's 1 year old, but I think it might be too big (sadness). Oh well. She can grow into it.

The exciting news is that my husband snuck off yesterday and bought me a TON of bamboo needles. Just because. :) Swoon. What a sweetheart. The bad news is that I have to exchange a few - hard to send a non-knitter to do a knitter's job. But the best part is that I'll actually get to do it without remorse - buy awesome needles without feeling badly because I probably could use my aluminum needle set and I don't *need* them.

I'm going to get a small size round with a long cord so I can start doing magic loop. Once I figure it out, that is. I think after Christmas, it's time to do socks. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dude. A lap blanket

takes FOREVER to knit. I thought you all should know.

The second Big Secret

I was pregnant. Again. That's the third time this year. Interestingly, it was also the third time this year that my due date landed on the 19th of some month. First it was 10/19. Then 2/19. Then 7/19. Seems like a girl could get a hangup on that whole 19th thing. Or, frankly, at this point, on the pregnancy thing.

I got my positive test when I was back in Omaha snuggling little babies and it felt like an omen -- surely we were in for good things *this* time. We've had our round of bad luck and it's time for some good to come our way. The line was faint. The next day, it was a little darker, but still faint. And in my mind it wasn't good enough - I was concerned. But I came back to Denver and made the requisite phone calls to the Eager study and my OB to let them know of my seven (yes. Seven.) positive tests. Both wanted to see me yesterday.

And yesterday my tests were negative. All of them except, I'm guessing, the blood test - the results of which I'll discuss with my OB in a postmortem this morning. And this morning my tests are negative.

For anyone who is counting, that makes three losses in 9 months. I am in an emotional space that I do not wish to be in and I'm not sure how to get out. The people around me are, I'm sure, thinking You have two healthy kids. Quit while you're ahead. I'm certain that they wonder what would compel a person with two fantastic kiddos and a 1,000 sq foot home to actively try for another -- against mounting odds.

Meanwhile, Tim and I are left to pick up the pieces once again. No matter how much you say you won't get excited, those two little pink lines are thrilling -- the promise of a little one is unbelievable. And now, for the third time this year, we've lost it.

Nobody knows what to say. Honestly, I'm with them. What do you say?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The big secret. . .

For the past few weeks, I barely talked to my family. I dodged their calls, didn't pick up the phone to call them, and did everything I could to keep big-mouth-can't-tell-a-lie Monica away from them. Why? Because I was planning a stealthy ninja-like trip back to the Big O under the cover of darkness and I couldn't wait to show up on their doorsteps to say "Hi" in a casual manner.

And I did it. It was awesome. When Mom answered the door, she jumped a foot and said "Oh my God!". When I surprised KB at work with flowers, she just kept saying "What are you DOING here?" When I surprised Erika at home with some Starbucks, she said the same thing: "What are you DOING here?" Honestly: I was there to hold babies, and hold babies I did for three glorious days. It was awesome.

And the awesomeness didn't stop at my time with my family. Oh no, it basically started when I kissed my husband and kids goodbye and loaded up on the Amtrak to leave Denver. If, of course, by "Awesome" you mean "bizarre journal-worthy stories."

When I got on the train, I picked a seat at the top of the stairs. Considering the number of stops between Denver and Omaha (5) and the number of times people use those stairs (a billion, since the bathrooms are at the bottom), it was a mistake. And then I did something horrible. When the conductor said we had a full train and we should put our belongings to the side and allow people to sit with us, I did it.

Within moments, a young man in a nondescript black leather jacket and a classically-styled hat sat down next to me. He seemed nice enough. No warning bells went off in my head for a full thirty seconds. Then I heard the sound of a beer can cracking open. And then he started talking to me. First, I got his sob story. Headed back to Iowa, tail between his legs, he'd been unemployed in Denver for awhile and got kicked out of the band. I stared at my knitting and wondered how long I had until he passed out. I was seated next to THAT GUY you hear on the plane or train and always thank the lord that you aren't the poor schmuck sitting next to him.

And then he handed me his cell phone. Someone here wants to talk to you he said into the phone, before thrusting it in my direction. Apparently, it was his father, whose hobby it was to read star charts. He asked my birthdate, which, like some sort of idiot, I provided. He went on to tell me I was certainly in some sort of nurturing career like nursing, my parents were divorced, and I had a deeply conflicted relationship with my overbearing and cruel stepfather. His magic 8 ball failed him and I impatiently told him as much before tossing the phone back to my increasingly bizarre seat partner.

And then it started to get weird. As I suspected, all of his drinking caught up with him and my seatmate soon began to pass out. Where would he land? In my lap, of course. At which point any normal human being would blubber out apologies and maybe even get up and move, but no, not THAT GUY. That guy said "I'm just going to lay here, ok?" Um. No, not OK.

I put away my knitting and shut out the light, putting on my iPod, pulling my hoodie up, and covering up with a blanket to clearly indicate that I was trying to sleep. And for the next 6 hours, THAT GUY would randomly make loud phone calls (despite being told several times by the conductor not to), speak to me without looking at me, and then randomly elbow me when I wasn't answering. I felt like I was in some sort of cruel science experiment.

My favorite of THAT GUY's late night phone calls came at 3 a.m. when he decided to call Verizon to complain that he couldn't get ahold of Angela in Germany. Despite my non-affiliation with THAT GUY, I was deeply embarrassed to share a row with him in case anyone on the train would mistake me for THAT GUY'S GIRL or THAT GUY'S FRIEND or even THAT GUY'S TRAVELLING COMPATRIOT. I felt like wearing a sign that said "SAVE ME FROM THAT GUY."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Washcloths! And more washcloths!

The color is majorly screwed up on these cute starfish cloths I knit for the twins, but I think you can live with it. They're a sort of bright acqua. I plan on wrapping them up around some scrumptious baby soap.
And this is dear GRRR. I ADORE this cloth. I'm not sure I'll ever knit one again, the loops were a real pain, but it *IS* the cutest thing ever. :)
The starfish cloths and grrr were patterns I found for free on Ravelry (well, actually, the Zinnia was there for free as well, so, cool).
Starfish and Grrr were done with Sugar and Cream solids -- rough on the hands, but they knit up well and made cute final products. Wightman's cloth was so large, I switched down to size 6 needles and it made a big difference in the details on the starfish cloths. I really love them - they're the perfect size now.

The final cloth is for Marge as a face or body washcloth -- I'll knit a small bag to hold it and some soap and whammo, beautiful gift. I can't wait to give it to her. I used some leftover cotton I got when I didn't know much about yarn. It's fantastic stuff. Honestly, this picture does not do it justice. And it is *so* soft.

It's November!!

IMG_3234, originally uploaded by lilhipmama2002.

And here's what I'm up to. I know it's not a knit, but I made the cutest baby blocks for Erika's twins -- they have 4 different kinds of Husker fabric. :) Lucky boys.

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