Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ready As I'll Never Be

I have hit the 38 week mark today.



Recently I woke up thinking I was in labor 2 days in a row. Turned out to be just gas pains and I had to go to the bathroom. Lovely, but it got me thinking just how close we are to meeting this little baby and it scares the living daylights out of me.


I am torn. In a way I am ready for the next chapter, to finally get to meet him, and to not be pregnant anymore. I am puffy, my hip hurts and getting out of bed 300 times a night to pee involves grunting and rolling.


But I know what giving birth means this time around. He will pass on. I will have no snuggly newborn to bring home, no cute pictures to take or funny I have been crapped on 3 times today stories to share. What I will have is a giant ass grief hole I get to try not to sink into every day.


My bag is packed, not with diapers and baby stuff, but with things to make memories in minutes with. And I have spent a small fortune on all sorts of holistic stress and grief remedies since I am not a huge fan of prescription drugs.


So we wait, and I try to fill my days with good things and good memories; finding the joy, decorating for Christmas, playing with Lenora, sewing and eating way to many bowls of ice cream.

 


It’s hard to believe we have made it this far, but I know in my heart I have given this little babe a chance at life, however long that may be.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Soap Love

I am still sewing. I promise. It's just everything I make recently is a Christmas gift and I can't share my projects until I share the gift.


So I will share this with you instead.


(Lavender soap with dried lavender buds) 

A couple of years ago I took a class with Tracy Adams at the John Campbell Folk School on soap making. If you ever get a chance to go to the Folk School take it. It is a truly wonderful place to learn all sorts of traditional skills.


(Citrus soap with bergamot, sweet orange oil and calendula flowers) 

Since then, a couple of times a year I get to work making soap. It is pretty much the only soap my family uses and I give a bunch of it out at the holidays. I skip all the dyes, colorants and fragrance oils which can irritate your skin and use only essential oils and natural ingredients. 

This year a couple of my gal friends and I got to work mixing up some amazing bars of soap.


(Creamy mousse soap with patchouli and balsam peru essential oils) 

It really isn't that hard once you learn the basic process and it's tons of fun dreaming up new flavors.


There are great resources online, just google, and wonderful books like the one below to get you started. 


Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful

These are the moments I am thankful for.



At the advice of the wonderful ladies at the Chesapeake Hospice Life Center we purchased a couple of mini recorders at the Build a Bear store. We had the baby's heartbeat recorded at our last sonogram and placed them into two bears, one for Lenora and one for me. Lenora has been carrying the bears around non stop since we brought them home and every time she presses the button to hear the heartbeat she breaks into a huge smile and hugs them close. 



Thanksgiving day she fell asleep with one in each arm. How precious a sight this was. I have two babies and moments like this to be thankful for. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

In the Kitchen

When life stresses me out I tend to go into hibernation mode. I want to stay in, putter around my house, cook, eat and then fall asleep. Usually in that order.  I have been doing much of all of these things lately. I takes a constant effort not to turn into a total recluse. The closer I get to my due date the more inward I turn. I know some of that is to be expected but I am not sure complete isolation is the answer either. Oh, the struggle to find balance.

 
 
I have been cooking up a storm these days.

 
I made these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls by Smitten Kitchen. They were delicious but I would have to say I wish they were gooeyer (is that a word). I like my cinnamon rolls all soggy and squishy in the middle. 


 
Then I made this Salted Caramel Apple Pie by Ashley English. Hands down the best apple pie I have ever tasted. We devoured every last slice. I will be making it again this year for Thanksgiving and every year after. It is that good. I did learn this is not a pie you can just throw together in an hour. There are steps, it takes some time, so set aside a day when you can slowly work your way through the recipe. Put on some music and get into it. You will not be disappointed. 




And here I am doing the 2 things I love to do the most, lay in bed and eat home cooking. Can you see the joy?  




Oh yea. Shovel it in. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Squam by the Sea 2012


Where do I start? 


I could write pages and pages about the magic that is Squam by the Sea but I don’t think I would ever be able to truly capture it in words.



I was scared to go, afraid of the unknown, who/what I might encounter and their reactions to my story and journey with this little kidney-less babe of mine.  



To say I was blown right out of my socks with all the Squam love good juju vibes would be an understatement.

I just want to cry happy tears writing this, thinking about how wonderful my time at the beach was. It was truly part of my healing journey. There was no sadness, no self pity, no dark cloud following me around. It was as if it lifted for those 4 days and I was wrapped in light. I cannot describe it.

I painted with the amazing Sarah Ahern and Alena Hennesey. I ate the most wonderful food and slept and sat on the beach and connected with so many incredible souls. I came away recharged and ready for what is to come.  


Now are you ready for some goose bumps? I truly believe there are times we are placed exactly where we need to be whether or not we understand it. I shared my story with a circle of women and one in particular burst into tears. She in turn shared that she would be donating a kidney to her father very soon. Coincidence, I think not. There was some divine universal power that placed the 2 of us in the same place that same day. 



I will leave you with this. My finished painting from Alena's class. Can you feel all the healing power wrapped up in this piece? I know I can. 


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Bomb


Robert and I have affectionately coined telling people about our situation “dropping the bomb”.


That is how it felt when the specialist first gave us the diagnosis. It left us reeling, we went to bed, I puked and I am certain the aftermath is going to last, well, forever. Not so unlike atomic fallout. We will spend the rest of our lives recovering from this.


(completely unrelated, but too cute not to share)


You never realize just how many people you know, be it co-workers, friends, family and casual acquaintances when you have to share such horrible news. It’s not something we can keep a secret either, because one day I will not have this huge ole belly and I will not have a snuggly newborn to show off either.


So when we run into folks who don’t know yet and innocently inquire about the baby, we just turn to each other, suck in a breath and “drop the bomb”. It doesn’t feel good, because we know we just pretty much ruined their day. And no one wants to be the messenger of death. It’s a loose, loose situation for all parties involved.  I feel like Debbie Downer all the time. I get tired of my own story, the broken record of having to share it, over and over and over. Some days it’s easier to hole up in the house, rather than leave and chance having to talk about it.


Then what do you do about all the people you don’t know who just love to love on a pregnant woman? The little old ladies in the grocery store, the other mothers in the coffee shop, the checkout gal at the Target. When you have a giant baby bump everyone wants to talk to you, share in the (what under normal circumstances would be) excitement and tell you about their own children.


We call that selective bomb dropping. Sometimes we just don’t even want to go there. It’s too hard. When asked about the due date or the sex we just cough up the generic answers, December 26th, pretty sure it’s a boy, yes we are excited. All the while shaking our head and thinking…if they only knew.


(It was all his idea and for the record no dogs were harmed in these events)


Sometimes there are people you just get the itch to share your story with. For some reason there is a little spark, a feeling they might understand, just might say the right thing at the right time that you so desperately need to hear. I told someone at the grocery store a few weeks ago. She hugged me and made me write down the baby’s name. She was taking it to church the next day to pray for us. In that instance it felt good to share.


I am leaving on Wednesday to channel my inner artist at Squam by the Sea in North Carolina with 80 other people whom I have never met. I planned this trip a year ago before this all happened. I am excited but TERRIFIED. What if they don’t like me? What if no one wants to paint with Debbie Downer? I will spend 4 nights under the same roof with a bunch of strangers. How will I drop this bomb? Certainly I can’t keep it all to myself, I just might explode. I guess if I can put my business out there for all of the world to read, 80 people is nothing, right?


They also have a blog and today’s post about the upcoming retreat is titled “this healing place”. Maybe its a sign? I can only hope the next few days will be just that. A time to get away, recharge, get lost in paint, awaken the muse, and just be. 


Wish me luck. I’m jumping in. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blessingway


After I had Lenora I struggled to find mom friends to connect with. Most everyone I knew didn’t have children and once you have one everything is different. I didn’t fit into their world and they could not relate to mine. So I reached out and joined a local moms group and the La Leche League. I went to the first couple of meetings terrified they wouldn’t like me, I would never make new friends and I would be a new mom alone covered in crap and drool. 


I could not have been more wrong. I was blessed to meet the most wonderful group of gals and their children. I have not known them long, a little over a year, but they just gave me the best gift ever.

A few weeks ago they threw me a Blessingway. It’s an alternative version of a baby shower based on Native American traditions of blessing an expectant mother.


There are lots of different activities you can do to send the mother good birth and baby juju.


We ate tons of yummy food. What else could a pregnant woman ask for?



They did reflexology and rubbed my feet. You know you have good friends if they are willing to get down and dirty on your footsies. They also rubbed Lenora’s feet which she fell in love with. Now at every bath time she grabs the soap, lifts her feet up and points to them. Little bugger is expecting a foot massage. I give in every time. They also painted my foot with henna in a pretty design.



Each of the women brought beads they thought symbolized me and this pregnancy. They went around the room saying why they picked the beads they did, then strung them into an amazing birth necklace. It’s like a magical talisman. I want to wear it and dance naked in the woods. Seriously, it makes me feel that good every time I look at it.



They braided my hair and put lots of fresh flowers in it. I felt like a goddess and looked like one too. I should have gone dancing that night. I would have looked fantastic in my mug shot photo for being arrested for naked dancing in the woods. 



They also left me with a handmade book filled with letters of support and encouragement. I was scared to read them. I thought I would cry like a baby but the words they wrote were inspiring and lifted me right through the roof.


It was an amazing day and the perfect balm for my wounded soul. They believed in me and they believed in this baby and acknowledged him (a post on that coming soon).

The juju was overwhelming.

Most people will never get to meet this baby and hold him and experience his life. The past few months there have been people that barely acknowledge the fact that I am carrying a child. I guess to them since he will not live long it doesn’t count. It’s a horrible feeling to know that some people think that way. This day was completely the opposite. It was a celebration of birth and mothers and life. 



It was perfect. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thou Shall Not Compare

It has been really hard for me to relate to other mothers/parents/people lately. Heck, it’s hard for me to relate to anyone these days. I find myself comparing the events in their lives to my kidney-less baby.

When I hear someone talk about how terrible it is that their kids have hand foot and mouth disease or their dog crapped on their bed again or their husband is being an asshat (man I love that word), I want to scream “YOU THINK YOUR LIFE SUCKS, MY BABY IS GOING TO DIE. PUT THAT IN YOUR PITY PIPE AND SMOKE IT”. I would gladly take on all that you think is crappy in exchange for a working kidney. Just one, we only need one. Bring it on sister.


But I know that is not the answer and it would be a particularly nasty and insensitive thing for me to say.


Being in a situation like this really slaps you in the face with a dose of perspective. What I used to think was bad is nothing compared to this. Not even close.


Nevertheless, life isn’t about comparing. Comparing will make you bat shit crazy, be it my soon to be dead baby to your live one, or your parenting choices or even the way you comb your hair. Nothing will ever seem equal or fair. And it’s not supposed to. My path is not the same as your path, nor would I ever want it to be. 



Which brings me to the point of this post.


This is one of my mother’s favorite nuggets of wisdom.


“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” Longfellow


If you saw Robert, Lenora and I walking down the street you might think what a nice, all American, 1.5 children family we are. You would have no idea the personal hell we are living. The same can be said about each and every one of you. Your bought of hand foot and mouth disease or asshat husband only scratches the surface. Who knows what secret sorrows lie just below, or what crap cards life has dealt you.
 

So I have to keep reminding myself every time I want to compare and scream and throw one holy mother of a temper tantrum that is not necessary. This is my path and my (not so) secret sorrow. And each of you has your own.

 

Trying to compare will only drive me crazy, bat shit crazy. 


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Presto Pesto Take 2

You are looking at the great basil harvest of 2012. Pathetic I tell you. Last year I had so much basil I was making pesto every week to freeze and had enough to last me until now. 




This year I had enough for one measly batch. Gardening like life is full of lessons. I have learned never to plant your basil next to mint, for the mint will choke the life out of anything it is near. Next year the mint gets its own pot, and the basil too for that matter. 


I guess I will save this one jar for something really good in the dead of winter, when I need just a taste summer. Goat cheese and crackers and pesto. Yummm. Or pesto pizza with mozzarella and grapes. Double Yummm. Or I could eat it straight out of the jar in my jammies, hiding in the bathroom so I don't have to share. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Funeral Homes and French Fries

It's strange how life is different after receiving a death sentence. It's also strange how much of it stays the same. Like when it rains only on one half of the street, or Bell's Palsy, or standing on the border of a state line. You are one foot in normal and one foot in a whole new crazy, jacked up world.


Something is profoundly different yet life just keeps going on around you. It makes me dizzy.

Last Monday we went to the funeral home to sign some paperwork and make the cremation arrangements ahead of time. I called Robert to let him know I was on my way. He was at the McDonalds getting a burger so I told him to get me some extra fries. We sat in his truck in the parking lot eating fries and chatting, just like any other ordinary couple. It was a beautiful day. It was normal.


The we walked through the doors into another realm. Signing cremation papers for your unborn child and talking about the different flavors of death certificates for babies is not normal. Not normal at all. Not normal like eating fries in a pick-up truck.

Surprisingly it wasnt as bad as I thought. That is after I cried the whole drive there. I might have freaked out the funeral director when I walked in and burst into giggles at the sight of the wall of urns. Is giggling like a 15 year old girl in a funeral home normal? Not sure about that one.  It was just so surreal. Its like walking into a store to pick out shoes. They come in small, medium and large sizes. You want wood or marble or a little sculpture, they have it. And what is with all the Asian inspired urns? If there are any funeral home peeps reading this here blog of mine you need to step it up a notch in the urn department. Just saying. Something cheerful would be nice.


(me at 26 weeks)

This is how we live our lives these days, straddling the abys. One foot in normal and one foot in a whole new crazy, jacked up world.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Strength

People keep telling me how strong I am.

I am going to be really honest here. I don't feel very strong. I feel like a total weenie most days, a blubbering fool or Gumby, ready to fall over at the drop of a dime.

I didn't make the decision to carry on with this pregnancy based on my unrelenting strength, die hard religious conviction or anti abortion sentiment. It was becuase I coundn't make any choice. I just could not decide how long this baby got to live or when it got to die. It wasn't my choice to make. I figured I would let the baby or nature decide for me.

That doesn't feel very strong. Sometimes it feels like a sissy way out.

There are days I beg nature to decide already and put me out of my misery. Days where I think I cannot do this one second longer and it would be better if this child passed away. Days I think that might be the answer to ease this pain. 

Then I feel like a total asshat for even thinking thoughts like this. 


I know the only time I am going to get with this child is while it is still in my belly and the very short moments after birth, if we even make it that far. I try to make the best of it. To relish in every kick, every movement, every bout of killer heartburn. I try to be positive, to be brave and not complain. But damn it is hard. 

Some days I wish I had a better reason for my decision, other than it wasn't my choice to make. Would it be easier if I could shout at the top of my lungs "Jesus loves the little children" and believe without a shadow of a doubt this is part of Gods master plan. Perhaps. Would it be easier if I had spent years picketing abortion clinics and this was a true test of my beliefs. Maybe. Is there anything that could possibly make something like this easier and give me strength. I really don't think so.


So I am going to hike up my big girl panties and soldier on and stand by my choice to not make a choice.

Maybe someday I will let out a fierce roar and feel the strength, but for now I am just going to try not to fall down.

You know what's really strong; spider webs, cats that run into burning buildings to save their kittens, vegans who never eat bacon, Marines and Kevlar.

But not me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kill A Kitten

The day we found out our little nugget had no kidneys I walked out of the doctors office broken and angry. I turned to Robert and said "I am so mad I just want to......." then racked my brain for the most horrible thing I could think of to release this anger I had boiling inside me. Then it came to me "I am so mad I just want to.....run over a kitten". Terrible I know, but please don't judge. If someone just told you your baby was going to die I bet you could think of worse things you would like to do. And running over a kitten is something I would never, ever, act on. I love kittens, all animals and defend the little slugs that live on my porch every time Robert threatens to off them. I even say prayers for the little squished animals on the side of the road, that they didn't die in pain and they are in a better place. 


Imaging my surprise the other day as I am driving down the road listening to my ipod on random and this song comes on, Kill a Kitten by Stephen Lynch. I didn't even know I had it loaded and it was the first time ever it came up durning the random shuffle. 


I laughed so hard I almost pissed my pants, which really isnt all that hard to do when you are 5 months pregnant. It just goes to show you sometime laughter is the best medicine. It certainly beats the socks off of white hot boiling anger. 



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Centerpiece

Last night I was looking for the pictures of the strawberry jam I swore I took to share with you. I made the jam but apparently forgot to take the pictures. 


So tonight I am going to share these centerpieces instead. We made them for a good friends surprise 30th birthday and they turned out great. 

We bought the bandannas at a local chain craft store. They are cotton and come plain or with a traditional bandanna print. To tie dye I use Jacquard Procion MX Dye. If you have never used it before you will not be dissapointed. It puts Rit dye to shame. Im just saying. 


I will warn you, wear gloves or your hands will be multicolored for days. And don't forget to protect whatever you are working on. My laundry room floor is also rainbow colored from the dye.  


There are tons of colors to choose from and they all turn out so vibrant and saturated. 



A few flowers in a mason jar and a tie dyed bandanna and you have a beautiful centerpiece. Plus the bandanna and the flowers make a great take home gift for your guests. Or you could just hoard them all for yourself and use them for funky table napkins. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You Are a Child of the Universe

This photo was taken a week before our world came crashing down. 


We were on our first family vacation in Nags Head, NC and waiting the arrival of our 2nd baby due the day after Christmas 2012.  Life was grand, Robert was home from work travel and we had 2 healthy kids...so we thought. 

When we got back from vacation we went for our 20 week ultrasound on August 6th to find out the sex of the baby and put to rest the great circumcision debate Robert and I were having. The tech found something wrong, called in the doctor at the sonogram office who mentioned I had low fluid and called my midwife. At this point we didn't think much of it and waited for what to do next. The midwife sent me straight to a specialist in Annapolis to get a better look. It was at the specialists office they dropped the bomb. 


Bilateral Renal Agenesis, also known as Potters Syndrome. Our baby had no kidneys, nothing, not even a speck of a kidney. That is what was causing the low fluid. They told us it was "not compatible with life" and there was zero chance our baby would live. I could feel the baby move, it was most certainly alive. What happens with Potters Syndrome is that the placenta keeps the baby alive until birth. Once born, due to the lack of kidneys and no amniotic fluid the baby's lungs are underdeveloped and the baby will die. There is also greater chance the baby will die in the womb or during birth, but if born alive will live only a few hours. 


We were given two options, carry on or decide on an early induction and end the pregnancy. This has got to be the biggest mind fuck ever in the history of all mankind. My baby was alive, its heart and brain were all there and working perfectly, I was keeping it alive but when it is born it would die, and they were giving me the option to make it happen sooner. We went home and I cried myself sick and spent the next few days trying to figure out what to do. Ultimately we decided to let the baby decide how long he/she was going to live. It was not our place to decide to take this child's life. So now we wait and while we plan for a birth we are also planning for a death. We love this baby and we wanted this baby and we are going to give it all the love we can until it grows wings and flys away. 


Never in a million years could I have predicted this and I would not wish this kind of pain on anyone but I keep telling myself there is a reason, there has to be to all this, this baby will change our lives forever and perhaps the lives of others and for that it will all be worth it. 


I keep coming back to one of my favorite poems, Desiderata, and a line in it gives me great comfort:


"You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Swirl Me Around

I found this dress junking in Nebraska with the grandmas. I originally thought it to be a wrap apron and bought it for that purpose but when I got home and did a little research on the tag I found out it was a Swirl wrap dress. I think it is from the late 50's. There were some issues with it. One of the ties was torn clean off and there was a rip in the side. You can see the mess in the photo below. 

I ended up buying some new pink fabric to replace the ties and mending the hole with the super awesome darning stitch on my sewing machine. Excuse my pasty white arms.  

Here she is, all finished and brought back to life. I love the huge front pockets.  

So who wants to take me out on a date so I can wear this lovely frock?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fruity

All I can think about these days is food. Good, fresh, yummy goodness. Being pregnant and all, and past the sickie days I just want to stuff my face all day long. I guess nursing a babe and growing a babe makes you insanely hungry. 


I was blessed to find this amazing you-pick blueberry place 20 minutes from my house. Fresh, not messed with, not sprayed, local berries. What more can a girl ask for. I went 2 times before they were gone and picked 10 pounds total. 


This is five pounds. I ate a bunch fresh and froze the rest for eating later. Hopefully they will last until winter, when blueberries are hard to come by and cost a bloody fortune. I have been trying to be better at buying what is in season and storing for the rest of the year. It's hard to judge just how much you need but you have to start somewhere. If 10 pounds doesn't do it I guess I will just have to pick 20 next year. 



My little Lilly is a ham. Always in the middle of my photos.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Sad Day

It's a sad day when you break a piece of vintage Pyrex. Especially one you never got to use. As a general rule I don't spend so much on my Pyrex or, anything for that matter that I would be devastated if it broke. Most pieces are $5 or less and purchased at Goodwill. I buy things we use and are not afraid of using.



But the sting is still there. So long my friend.  


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Chocolate and Bacon


This is one big bowl of deliciousness.




I wanted to learn to make popcorn the good ole fashioned way, in a big pot with some oil. I just learned how many nasty things are in those microwaveable bags of popcorn and figured this had to be better for you, cheaper and just as easy. 


I had a hankering for something salty and sweet and what better for salty than bacon and chocolate for something sweet. So I made the popcorn with a little coconut oil in a big pot. Its not too hard once you get the hang of it. I did burn the first batch to a crisp. Then I threw in some really crispy fried bacon and shaved dark chocolate over the top. Delish. You know you want some. 




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Can you see it?

A friend asked me to mend her favorite pair of jeans. How could I say no. It's a matter of life and death when your favorite jeans are on the fritz. 

There was an L shaped tear that started to fray. At first I thought I would slap one of those iron on patches on the inside and sew around the tear leaving the frayed bits, but then I started tinkering with the darning stitch on my machine. Holy smokes, I am in love with this stitch. I cannot believe I have not used it before. It fixed the hole and you can barely even notice.  



Just like Where's Waldo, can you find the mended hole? 


I have big plans for this stitch in the future, very big plans.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Baby Maggie

My cousin is having a little girl in May and her baby shower was this past weekend. I had finished my gifts a while back but didn't want to share for fear of ruining the surprise. I love making things for babies. They are so sweet and adorable. 


I made her a set of Liberty bibs from the free Purl Bee pattern. The butterfly fabric is a vintage sheet I picked up at the thrift store. The skull is an Alexander Henry print and the tiny deer are a Jay McCarroll print. Did you know Jay critiqued my fashion design final? We went to the same design school in Philadelphia. The backs of the bibs are a cotton terry I picked up at Joann's. I had every intention of cutting into my vintage towels for the bib backs but when it came right down to it I couldn't do it. I know, I am a sissy. 


















I also made her a set of Maya buckets for little baby things. We have a bunch of these around my house and they are the perfect size for blocks or finger puppets or other little kid do dads. 


I really need to be sewing these days is a bag my friend requested for his glassblowing tools. The pattern has been altered, the muslin cut and halfway sewn. Now I just need to get on the ball and put in the frame so he can approve or change the style of the bag. All I really feel like doing is playing with my fabric or sleeping. I need to get my sewing mojo back.