Marceline

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Making herself at home in Mom’s brand new space a few weeks ago.

Right now Thor is laying across my legs, and I need it.
Almost 5 years ago Mom and I took the kids to the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Celina, and there was an animal shelter booth, with dogs. Elanor said, I don’t want to ride any rides, I just want a dog. I had a baby, my dad was getting sicker and sicker, and yet, we came home with a dog.
Marceline left us in the middle of the night last night.
She was a really weird, but cool dog. I mean she really was. It took her a bit to settle in (she was afraid of men for the first couple of months). She was sweet, which is why we fell for her, but the longer we had her, the sweeter she was. A whippet mix, a runner, a climber. Her running was a bit curbed early on with us when she tore her ACL. We weren’t sure how she did it, but one theory was that she had climbed on the roof of the old shed, or on the railing at the very top of the fort (because these are things she did), and had fallen. Still, once she had recovered a bit, she was still happy and athletic.
She loved summer time and being outside in the heat and she drank very little water, and ate food like a cat, here and there. Except when there was wet cat food, which she ate greedily. She didn’t necessarily need a lot of playtime, but she really wanted company, and to be outside, so she would come in and beg Bear (as he got older) to come out. I would watch them from my bedroom. Marci laying in the grass or walking casually and contentedly around the yard, and Bear digging in the dirt or talking and playing pretend.
Chris took care of her the most, and she would lay on his side of the bed many nights with him scrunched up to accommodate her. She spent several vacations with her cousins, Ash and Lola, and uncle and aunt, Michael and Sarah, where they pampered her with ice cream and love.
This did all happen suddenly. She had a collapsed disc in her spine, which showed symptoms on Thursday; we took her to the vet yesterday, and by the end of last night, we’re pretty sure she was paralyzed. The vet says there’s no telling whether it was from an injury (like falling, or something falling on her), or if it was an ongoing long-term issue that just hadn’t become acute yet.
Chris buried her at 2am. Her favorite spot in the yard. We’ll plant happy plants at some point soon.
We’re hurting without her. Bear has had a year of being introduced to loss. Gran. Poppy. Marceline. This morning when we told the boys, Bear ran away and hid and cried, and Chris found him and held him, but that all only lasted a few minutes. After that he wanted to draw pictures of her. He and Chris drew a card together for her.
Then pretty quickly, and all day after that, Bear planned her funeral and “party.” He wanted to recreate Poppy’s funeral and wake. Jared and Karen were first on his list, and he would talk, and he would talk for Marci, and Jared and Karen would also talk. It just grew from there. Michael and Sarah also needed to talk.
Elanor, Chris, Mom, and I didn’t get much sleep last night. And we’re still reeling a little. I need to say something very clearly. Elanor is courage itself. Facing deep pain head on and helping those around her. I don’t know anyone else who can do what she did last night. And I love her.
She had a cool, weird, sweet dog.
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Foundations

[I wrote this as part of the last post earlier this week, and realized it was really a whole other thing. I’m wordy enough without meshing stuff together like that. So I broke it up.

For fun, here are more pictures of the fence. Chris designed everything: metal everywhere except for street side, where he has the wood running horizontal. Becky made this cool gate today! And I had completely forgotten that my brother-in-law, Jeff, worked on it too when they were in town a month ago.]

A lot of things are changing in big ways right now. There are still a lot of projects going on around our house, and lots more on the list. Mom will be moved in soon. I don’t think we’ll really be able to step back and look at it all for a little while longer. We’re building something, we have been for a long time.

Chris and I had marriage counseling a few years ago as part of the process of me becoming Catholic. We did some compatibility and personality testing, and the priest told us that what he saw on paper was a lot of hard work already put in. We’d been to counseling before 😉 and all that work, through the years, is worth it. It’s worth it to put more in now and in the future.

My mom and my brother and I (and really Chris and my sister-in-law Sarah, too) have created patterns together of support and kindness and really taking care of each other. We work through things. We like each other still. And really I could go all the way back to my mom focusing on working through our interpersonal issues with us growing up, and my parents putting hard work in on their marriage through the years. Or let’s go back to Dad and his brothers, and also their cousins, and the vows they made to not let things come before people. The intense love they still have for each other. We’re building on a pretty strong foundation that a lot of work, and a few miracles have gone into.

On Saturday I got really sad, like a heavy sadness —it felt like a weighted blanket of sadness. I started thinking about my dad, which now pulls me back to old memories, and just that feeling of being with him and who he was. I know he would approve of the decisions we’re making, I know he’d be proud of how we love each other.

I thought again of this last year carrying so much grace and so much pain in it. And I know beyond any doubt, that if my dad could have known what was happening and asked for one thing, he would have wanted the chance to repair the damage caused by the diseases, to set as many things right as possible.

And every single time he was in his right mind for that whole year, he was focused on making sure that I knew I was loved, and seen, and that he was proud of me, he was focused on making sure Mom knew these things, and also that she knew he wanted to take care of her even if he couldn’t, he was focused on connecting with Michael however he could, and doing projects, and showing love, and being his dad. There was an urgency inside of him at times, as he knew he’d be pulled away from us again. He told me to remember things as he said them to me, he told me to save certain text messages.

It may sound dramatic, but this was our truth, and I heard it a lot from him, “Whatever happens, I love you, I love you so much, remember.” It was so painful at the time, because he’d disappear. Only now am I beginning to let those moments really roll over me.

Within all this on Saturday, I realized that I’m not scared of being like my dad anymore. I’m not. I’m sobbing now, because writing this is breaking something inside of me. It’s not lost on me that I could end up in a similar situation to him. It was good in the past to realize that I’m not him no matter how similar things end up. But here now, I see that if I could guarantee one thing through whatever comes, it’s that my family would KNOW how much I love them, and appreciate them, and am proud of them, how beautiful they are to me. That this would be a tangible thing for them to hold on to. Because I’m holding onto my dad’s love for me. A saving help in trouble, and chaos. And a foundation under my feet to build on.

All The Changes

Two days before Dad died, I got a preliminary diagnosis. I have EDS with the secondary condition of POTS. There may be other secondary conditions. I’m not ruling out a little autoimmune mischief, but let’s keep it simple if we can. There’s more precise DNA testing coming, but I’ve learned not to get too wound up —it might not show a lot.

What I do know is that I’ve been managing an actual real condition my entire life, and that I’m pretty good at it, actually. I was climbing a mountain in my 30s with a 40lb kid on my back just a year ago (yeah, I’m going to keep holding on to that). I can see how strong I am now, and how I’ve loved my body and kept it moving. So, that’s a happy spin. I’m working on various ways to get back some stamina. And you’d be surprised what I can still do (just not so much when I’m on my feet).

Now that that’s out of the way, Mom’s moving in! There were 3 main reasons. Her monthly expenses with Dad in the nursing home were not budget sustainable. My bad health days at home were frequent enough and debilitating to our family life, and she wanted to take up some slack for us. #1 reason: she didn’t want to be a homeowner or live alone anymore. And that’s what it really all came down to when we made this decision in February and March.

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It’s hard to leave your things, and your space. We talked through various things she really didn’t care about letting go of. The only thing she was sad about losing were her grandmother’s dishes. I explained how we DON’T get rid of dishes, and they would be coming, and they’d have a home here. I thought she’d then have other things she really wanted to bring with her. But no, just the dishes. I love my mom.

She sold her house, and our contractor started to convert the garage into a bedroom for her. And then Dad went into the hospital and we found out he wasn’t going to bounce back. We had already sold her house, and now she didn’t have to. But if you look back at the #1 reason, she was just as happy to move.

The skilled workers have been busy. It definitely doesn’t look like a garage anymore, and we have a new huge driveway. They just finished her floor yesterday!

Chris (and his dad, and his mom, and my brother, and Jack a little) is rebuilding the fence. Mom’s room is coming along beautifully now. They just finished the floor yesterday! There will be roofers here either the end of this week, or early next week. Oh, and Solatubes are coming…

Last week Jack had Keeper Camp at the Heard Museum (he LOVED it!).

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His swim lessons started this week. Next week he and Bear have a local little enrichment camp (Dinosaurs, woodworking, pottery, theater, more stuff I can’t remember). And the children are all three in a musical production called A Midsummer Night’s Rock at Read Play Love in Dallas this weekend. In fact, Mom and I were up late finishing costumes last night.

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We may have overloaded ourselves a little. But with all good things, right?

Last year my dear friend, Sarah M. gave me a coloring sheet. I ran across it right after Dad died. There are so many feelings right now: relief, guilt, grief. It’s normal. I decided it was time to color. I got a little bit in, and my hand started swelling, and my arm and shoulder couldn’t take anymore. I remembered why I don’t color, it’s an old problem, and turns out related to EDS. Jack came in and saw it, and exactly as I figured, he offered to finish it.

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He LOVES drawing and coloring. He had gotten a box of cards with Psalms on them from a friend. And several weeks ago, he colored this for Mom.

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Pain

I had a dream last night, which I mostly can’t remember. The hazy upshot: once again we had only thought things with dad were settled, and whatever had just happened in the dream (him coming back to life? more and new medical issues? a demanded change in his living situation? I can’t remember…) meant I was going to have to start brainstorming, troubleshooting, solving things again. And my reaction to this in the dream was simple: I was steeling myself for the fight.

The worst day of my life, so far, is the day I signed my dad into a nursing home. I’ve never before or since had the experience of not being able to physically get out of bed because of emotional distress, but the day after we got dad to the nursing home, I was supposed to go to work (I do occasional bookkeeping outside the home aside from my MIL’s business). It took me hours to get up; I was so late (luckily they were understanding). Moving slowly, tears just kind of falling randomly the whole day (they put up with that, too—kindness). In fact, that went on for a while, the crying. That was in December 2016, and I think it was March or April 2017 when I was talking to a friend, saying I was doing better, and Jack said, “Yeah Mom, you’re not sobbing all the time anymore.” Reality check—I honestly didn’t think that I had been that dramatic about it, but your kids know, and they don’t mind saying it.

Whatever I have gone through, multiply that by at least 100, and we might be able to grasp a little of what my mother has endured. Six, maybe eight years. When she finally really let Michael and I in, and allowed us to take over some of the responsibility, it was teetering on too late. I don’t think I’m ready to talk publicly about the gritty details. The situation had become dangerous in many ways.

We worked with a gradually downward-progressing situation the fall of 2016. From truly awful, to worse, to worse again. Until finally we thought he was dying, and Michael and I had persuaded Mom to stop the futile effort of trying to keep him home. It had become physically impossible. Let me just say, it was impossible before that. Mom would later describe it like this: their life was the frog in a pot of cold water, and slowly but surely, they were brought to a rolling boil.

There are things worse than dying.

Dad knew some of those things intimately.

I’m going to briefly touch on this here, because if you don’t know what happened when we put him in the nursing home, it’s really hard to explain what I feel now, being able to express myself here.

In the weeks leading up to the nursing home the dementia became too intense to describe, and with it came tiny moments of bizarre clarity. He came back. My dad. Sometimes I would be a child again to him, sometimes a teenager, or just married; he was very confused, but he was my dad again, and his eyes changed, his tone of voice changed during these brief times.

And then, he was just really gone, and physically could hardly move (his Parkinson’s maybe added in?). It took multiple hospital trips, and an act of God (also acts of courage by my brother, and absolute support and endurance from my mom, and also my uncle) to get him to the nursing home.

Within days of being there, he became better than he had been in years. Was it the environment? Consistency of medication? Over the next weeks and months we found that he would return to us, only even more intensely, and then dip away again. His memory was totally chaotic, with no memory of what had happened at home, spotty otherwise, but his eyes would be different, his face was different, he totally trusted us, and was grateful and understanding. These moments might last a few days, or only a few hours. I began to see it as torture for him in some ways. Sometimes it was healing. I had lost myself, and somehow his presence was restoring parts of my identity. Then he’d slip away, and I couldn’t ever seem to prepare myself for that part.

One of the first times I really dealt with his full-on return, I had gone up to the nursing home by myself, taking care of things, and spending a little time. And I remember thinking, “this is what it would feel like to have your loved one come back from the dead after six years.” It was like being ripped in two. The pain was so intense, it was physical. I wanted him back so bad, but I had not been allowed to feel that (that’s what dementia does). Looking in his eyes broke me. We had all been good about hiding emotions around him (and also not around him), but tears started rolling down my cheeks. I just hugged him. Hard. I left that day balling across the parking lot. Wondering “WHY?” on so many levels.

I am so sad, I’m crying little bits, here and there, even last night putting Bear to bed, and today a few times so far. Missing my daddy, missing him from 10 years ago, missing the bits of painful perfection we had with each other this last year and a half, missing him enjoying my kids, and vice versa. This hurts, and it will hurt more. But right now, I don’t need to steel myself for anything else. I need to start relaxing my gut. This pain is blessed to me. I needed it, I needed permission to feel it. To be able to even say anything about it. And this time, losing him, I know what to hang on to. I know how not to lose him. He is a part of me.

 

Coming to a Close

I tried to sleep a little just now. After getting IV fluids, I felt exhausted and better. Peaceful. In the in-between place, my brain flitted to the future, just a little forward, to where I won’t have a daddy anymore. To where my mom won’t have a husband. After a few thought progressions, I was completely unnerved. So I’m awake.

I didn’t know what to say, so I’ve said nothing. Dad went on hospice last week.

As much as I want an end to the pain for him. As much as I guiltily want an end to the nightmare for myself, and my mom, and our family. The idea of him leaving is actually frightening to some part of me.

I can’t make him stay here. I couldn’t make him leave before.

I have no control.

I am tired and sad. I think I’m still trying to make everything be right. 10 years of progressively more insistent wrong. And I’m still in this place.

Part of me is elated. We’ll be able to breath again. (I’ll go into the guilt later, not now.) And then there’s that little space somewhere in the back of my mind that is intently waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Lots of shoes drop, are dropping.

His journey is far from complete, really. Our family is in deep and expected crisis. He needs all the love and protection we can muster. But the end is actually coming.

He has had an incredibly painful rare neurological disease for over ten years now, a terminal lung disease, parkinsons, other various unpleasant conditions, and Lewy Body Dementia. He just turned 60.

My dad worked so hard last week, to stay with us, to pull himself away from the dementia over and over. So we could all know his true wishes. So we could all support him. (God’s grace. Miracles.)

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I said this in an email last week, “On the one hand it’s so sad what this disease has reduced him to. On the other, having walked through so many fires, here at the end, he is proved true and good and loving. All things that are so familiar.”

Two weeks ago, before any hint of all of this, I said other things. Things I won’t say here, at least not now. I said I could never come back from where this has taken me. I lamented. I can’t come back.

I believe there will be still waters, and beauty, and light, and joy.

But it won’t be what it would have been. What it should have been.

I know I’m not alone. I know there are others, some of them holding my hand, who have walked through. Gotten to the other side.

None of us can go back to who we were before.

I Don’t Know What’s Wrong

I’ve been thinking about doing this for months, and I don’t know why I put it off… Oh yeah, there’s that whole not wanting to get myself into a pity party. Ok, so I won’t.

This is for friends to be able to know what’s going on since I don’t get out much. It’s confusing for me, too, so don’t worry.

Let’s preface this. I’m married. I have 3 children—15, 10 & 5. I have a dog and two cats who all like to hang out and cuddle with me now that I’m not constantly on the go. We homeschool. I help care for my dad who is in a nursing home (used to do a lot more of that). I’m the office manager for my mother-in-law’s business (from home now).

I’m not dying, at least I’m pretty damn sure I’m not. Quick summary of the last year…

Last spring I had a few weeks of extreme fatigue, nausea (a weird different kind), pain in my abdomen, head pressure, and seemingly some heart issues. Chalked up to stress…? I had one-day bouts of the fatigue/nausea/head-stuff about once a month after that. October was all clear.

Then the weekend of Thanksgiving I began getting a head cold, but the fatigue came on with it, and other symptoms… I can’t even right now, let’s leave it at that. Is it strep? Is it mono? Is it a bird? IS IT A PLANE? It was nothing. And it lasted, with ups and way downs, basically forever.

When I saw the infectious disease doctor in January, they took all my blood, I mean for tests lol, and I was basically cleared of everything under the sun. She suspected autoimmune, of course.

To say this was a blow is an understatement. My dad has many diagnoses, several of which are autoimmune. (There is some speculation that everything he has is connected to autoimmune issues.) Highlights: pulmonary fibrosis, parkinsonism, early-onset Lewy Body Dementia (look it up). My mom used to think dying of cancer was the worst way to go (she lost her mother, brother and father to lung cancer), but now she firmly believes this is the worst. It doesn’t help that dad also has several extremely painful diseases on top of all that. So, I had maybe a day of freak out, with a couple of weeks of needing to be talked down.

(Keep in mind through this, that I still don’t KNOW anything about my own condition.)

Then my friends came through for me. Perspective is everything. A couple of truths I hold onto. I love my dad. I am not my dad.

Moving on. I’ve been seeing a cardiologist for about two months now, seems longer, maybe it is. He has said from the beginning that if I have the thing he suspects, it is secondary, and I’m looking at a genetic mutation or autoimmune (or both) as the primary. So many tests, and I’m still working on getting that secondary diagnosis—I keep landing in the grey area. (I did get some clear results from the tests. One fun thing, after a decade of avoiding antibiotics for the most part, I now have to take them ALL THE TIME—like I get my teeth cleaned, and I take them… there’s a valve in my heart that leaks, and horrible things can happen, I guess.)

In the meantime, I’ve been in process to get to a rheumatologist (and maybe a geneticist), and I finally have an appointment for mid-May. Neat. Doctors.

Almost 4 weeks ago I had a root canal re-treatment, and with it I had what’s called a “flare-up.” My tooth wasn’t really bothering me, but we’d been watching it for 4 or 5 years, and since last summer it would ache, just a little, once in a blue moon, but the x-rays weren’t changing, so I probably could have left it. BUT, I was trying to be responsible, you know, with my health. Whatever. The “flare-up” can last like 3 or 4 days. The worst of it (pain, crying, unable to sleep at night, etc) lasted 5 days for me, until I got a steroid. And didn’t I say 4 weeks up there? I still have inflammation, and it gets worse when I’m on my feet too much, coincidentally.

Some things I have learned, some of it from tests, some from experience. At my best, I’m functioning at 1/2 the capacity of a normal person my age. I take a super long time to heal from pretty much everything. Medications that I could take before, I cannot now. I am different.

Sometimes I have energy, but if it’s like spending money, I have way less income and an extremely tight budget. Sometimes I can push through things, but I’m likely to pay heavily for that.

What made me write this today? Well, I saw a field trip opportunity. On a boat on a lake. My favorite.

Yesterday I slipped downhill a little—some symptoms that had gotten better, suddenly were back. I don’t go to the store anymore, but I needed to get my dad a birthday card. Chris dropped me off at the front, I barely made it inside and to the cards. Shuffling my feet, stopping every so often—head, chest, throat—ick. I did it, though. Then I shuffled out while he paid. There was a man using a scooter (I should have), he put it away and walked out, obviously struggling a little with walking. He was going three times as fast as me at least. I got part way out and had to lean against a wall for a second. Got to a bench. Waited for Chris to bring the van to me.

This was not the life I envisioned, or the one I had a short time ago.

Last summer we went to NM, and I carried a 45-pound Bear on my back in a carrier up to a mountain lake. I’m bad at push ups, but really I was the only one strong enough to carry him without consequences. It was glorious. This year I made it to the zoo for Bear’s birthday and then to a museum in Arkansas—I made it, but in a wheelchair.

When I saw the field trip, I closed the tab, and started thinking, don’t be sad don’t be sad don’t be sad. The thing is, I’m mostly not sad. I love my family. Things are hard. But aren’t they for everyone? I have true friends, I mean, really true friends. I don’t feel abandoned. And actually even with all this including the unknown and uncertainty, I feel grateful.

I think that’s enough for today.

Nine months of Advent

After Chris turned off the camera, I had to go get the pee stick (Deborah told me I needed to keep it for some mysterious reason, which was probably this moment). She truly did not believe us until she saw it; two lines can be more convincing that one might think.

[written in May, 2012:]

January looms out in front of us far away. Time has slowed down these past few days. And the idea that there might be time to get everything done, plays at the edges, deceitfully. This is our third child and I’m still not sure how one “prepares” for a new person. Everything that must get done, will. But in my own heart, I know that the space needed for these new moments is not something I can create by doing. Room is created by waiting (and pain is probably involved somewhere).

I’m thinking these things while riding the bicycle back from my son’s school after dropping him for the last time before summer break. We will tell him this afternoon that his request has been answered – that there is a baby coming. Who knows, he’s four, and may not care at all. Or he may have to ease into it like his big sister. We’ve all had varying responses, but mostly happiness (coupled with bits of anxiety, nervousness & fear).

I had a beautiful afternoon and evening with my parents yesterday. I felt needed, and also, I felt keenly how I need both of them close to me. We haven’t spent a lot of time together, lately.

People have said to me several times that, “these things happen for a reason.” And while I still have trouble buying into that completely, I am starting to come around. There are reasons. It is the joy, delight, and agony of life, searching and sometimes discovering the ways our needs are met.

Through 8 months:

So many things have happened since the end of May as we tried to wrap our heads around the idea of this new person. In June I passed out on our concrete bedroom floor and busted my chin open; diagnosis: pregnant. I felt like I had the flu and was in labor with weird contractions most of the summer into October; diagnosis: pregnant – and could not handle the heat (yeah, yeah, I got out of the kitchen). Texas weather is just a delight. My husband during this time did everything, while I laid on my butt, and ate every five minutes. (People thought I passed out because I wasn’t eating enough, but they never could prove it.) I almost passed out two more times, but when the second trimester was about half over, I became a productive member of society again, mostly.

The kids had a good summer thanks to mostly my mother-in-law, Becky. They swam in her pool and ate her snacks (not to mention how she kept me sane on more than one occasion). Chris and Ella auditioned and got into a local children’s theater production of Sarah Plain & Tall. This meant Jack and I were on our own in the evenings for two months, which was harder on him than on me (he developed a serious fear of the dark and of thieves when his daddy was gone, which I think was because he didn’t see a sick adult as a real adult, and I can’t blame him).

Ella was wonderful, and found a passion for the whole process of theater, and she loved playing a boy crazy neighbor, and getting some of the biggest laughs. (The real surprise, though, was Chris playing basically himself, a highly sarcastic character who also took some big laughs, and he enjoyed it so much!) But the kids did not have friends over the way one would hope during the summer, and their social lives in general have taken a pretty big beating.

The fall brought good things to them, though. Jack went back to Montessori school, and Elanor started soccer, and then got into a musical at the children’s theater. I felt so guilty knowing the work Chris needed to be doing instead of taking care of me, the kids, the house, etc. So when his comprehensive exams hit in November, I was very very worried (because I figured it would basically be my fault if he didn’t pass). We waited over a week for the results, but of course, he passed. Most of our friends and family responded with, “what else would you expect?” But for Chris and I, we knew the hours he had not been able to put in the whole year, and the focus, even that week, that had been drawn away from his studies by “family responsibilities” (meaning my fail).

So that brings us to the beginning of Advent. This was a first for me in two ways: I’ve never been pregnant during Advent before, and I’ve never been without a church family and a LOT of musical, etc, responsibilities. I love Advent – it may be my favorite season. This deep waiting and anticipation welling up from a recognition of our darkness and the darkness around us and our need for a savior in concert with a hope in Emmanuel, in the promises passed down. It’s actually a relaxing atmosphere to settle into, because striving gains nothing.

I have never truly entered into this. I have been so busy behind the scenes, trying to prepare all the special things, I have been distracted. So this year I spent the first half of Advent feeling extremely out of place, strange, unfulfilled. And then I relaxed, and realized that I had spent more time with my family than I ever had before; we were home almost every night (unheard of ) to light the candles, and read the stories, and “wait” with each other, and it was beautiful.

We went to a local Episcopal church a few times, and one Sunday they sang “Lo How A Rose” and I whispered the lines into Jack’s ear, and it was magical: “she bore to us a Savior when half spent was the night.”

This year has been so very strange for our family in so many ways, but now, at the end (12/31/2012), I realize that God has been with us. He has come to us over and over.

My husband is more himself than he has ever been before. Less cynical, more compassionate, I didn’t even realize how badly he was shut down with the situations we were in. He said 10 months ago that those around us really had no idea who he was, and I don’t think I did either. Because we left our social setting (since high school), it opened us up to press in with his colleagues and other friends that we had neglected. It’s been amazing to feel so much support and common ground with other Christians from different aspects of our lives.

It was hard for our kids at first, leaving the spiritual body we had been a part of, but it was also good for them. I found out my 4 year old is a leader, once he was not the youngest of the kids we had been hanging out with, and I was glad his heart was protected just at the moment it should have been. Elanor has connected with new friends all year, and she is such a different and more confident person.

All in all, the connection I have with my family is priceless and worth all the doubtings and pain that brought us here. And that, I think, is a very Advent / Christmas themed statement. We find that despite ourselves and our striving, God has come to us in His own way, in His own time. And of course we got things wrong, and didn’t prepare as we ought. And though the location is a stable, and it’s cold, we rely on His ability, not our own, to bring Himself to us.

In 2013 we have decided to be a part of the body of Christ in a more committed way again, but I feel we have a reserve as a family, that we’ve never had before.

Which brings me back to this baby, who has been a priority in the background (which doesn’t make sense, but really happens…). Our new baby boy will be here soon, and I cannot guarantee the time or the place. I have to wait it out along with everyone else. I have been on bed rest now for 8 days trying to not be in labor (story of this pregnancy). There is nothing seriously wrong with me, and nothing wrong with him, I just have had contractions (a medley of irritable uterus and BH).

So Christmas day was different, and ice and snow caused it to be even more different, but it was perfect. Our families are wonderful, and not only love us, but love and appreciate each other, so everything flowed smoothly. Actually because of the support of our families, I am super excited anticipating the birth of Moses Beren (yep, we’re nerds). If I can make it till Friday (37 weeks), we will be able to have a home birth with our midwife and doula and family.

History: Ella was born on our couch in San Antonio (not on purpose) with only my mom and husband (thank God my mom has a clue, and knew what to do); Jack was born in a bathtub at a birth center in Dallas (not on purpose) with a very freaked out midwife running down the stairs to get to me (and by the way, my mom was again the first person to lay eyes on her grandchild). We were safe each time, with no complications, but this time I don’t want to be in a car or something stupid like that, and I want a medical professional with me all the time, who will be calm, and not freaked out, and I do NOT want to be in a hospital at all, as they make me incredibly uncomfortable, and also, would insist on interventions to help things along – if I’m in labor for 3 days, that’s ok, I don’t want to rush it.

I say all of this knowing I don’t have control over what happens, only desires. So I think Advent has lasted a little longer for me, and I’m ok. I still think that we’re not ready yet, to receive a new person into our midst, and I believe that this waiting and longing, and pain and doubts all pull open the space for our baby to be born and be a part of us. This laboring. And thank God I do not do it alone. We wait together. And our hope is sure, the baby will be born, just as the hope of all men is sure: Emmanuel.

The last of these 9 months:

Well, we’ve made it to the end, sort of. Bear (that’s what we’ve been calling Moses for months) is due tomorrow, but looks like he will be late, after everything. I can feel people around me getting more ready for this to be over. I can’t blame them. Do we have everything ready? A little more every day, but no, the answer is no. I wonder exactly what he and I are waiting on, but I don’t worry. There is still plenty to do, and he’s moving all the time (ok, that’s painful, but…), and appears happy.

Despite all of the inconveniences and drama along the way, I’ve enjoyed being pregnant with him. I like to feel him with me all the time, and as crazy as it is, I think I have a better body image when I’m pregnant. I’m relaxed. Do I maybe have to lose that state of mind to be ready to give birth? I kind of hope not.

It would actually be really good if this happened in the next few days, because Chris is in a play at the local community theater that opens next weekend: The Three Musketeers. He’s had a lot of fun thus far, which makes it ok that he’s gone almost every night for rehearsals. Sword fighting. It’s a thing. He likes it.

The kids are super excited about it as well. Jack has been back at school for a few weeks, and loving it. Elanor has been such a huge help, and she’s been doing more independent work with her home school, which is encouraging.

I intellectually know this is the end (and beginning), but it’s hard for me to believe. I’ve had this belly for so long, what will I do without it?! Probably wear normal pants…

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