Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hope, the O.R., & Buckeye Balls

December 1 - One Word.

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

Hope. There has been hope in new life for the first time in forever. After five long years of waiting, we welcomed our little Christopher in June! We had hoped to get out of Miami and return home to Texas, and that hope was realized in August. Now, we simply have hope to settle into this new reality and focus on love and life. I have hope we can become the kind of family we have always dreamed of being!

December 2 - Writing.

What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

I waste time. Often I wander around my Google Reader or email without really accomplishing anything when I could easily write a quick post (or sometimes even a longer one). I think I need to set goals for each time I sit down at the computer. Once or twice a day, respond to email. Once or twice a day, go through my reader. Once a day, work on the blog. I am certain this will involve a timer each time, but I have resisted that restriction no matter how many times I hear it helps another writer.
December 3 – Moment.

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

WARNING: A little graphic... the O.R. during my c-section.

I know it is crazy to choose this, but my experience was so drastically different from my first c-section that it was very vivid in a great way. The room was, of course, freezing cold, full of silver metal stuff, and brighter than anything ever could be! The only smell I remember was when they were making the incision, as my first one was not done with a cauterizing scalpel (is that even what they call it?). Yes, it smells like something is burning. Anyway, the voices were all positive and comforting.

My OB was very serious but loving, especially after while she was closing me when she told me I needed to do crunches daily after recovery due to my muscle atrophy! I was silent. She thought she offended me at first, but I was just trying to figure out how to respond. No, I have not been doing the crunches daily. The anesthesiologist, who probably thought someone already gave me some happy drugs, had a kind, almost playful voice and laughed at my silly jokes. My husband did not say much; he just held my hand, and I do remember that.

You do not see much during a c-section except the drape in front of you, which kept falling into my face. It was blue with dark spots on the opposite side (blood spatter). I remember my arms were cold, because they were stretched out with the IVs and other cords. Moving them to push the drape out of my face warmed them more than the warm blankets the anesthesiologist kept draping over them.

I was overjoyed when I saw my precious boy. He didn't look very good (a little blue from the cord being wrapped and quite bloody) but screamed loudly, proclaiming he was just fine. More than seeing him, though, was the moment they put him in my arms. I do not remember looking at him then. I know I looked at a camera, because we have a picture. But, I think, I closed my eyes. I just felt so very alive holding that newborn, screaming his head off, and full of such joy that God would bless me with this precious baby. My healthy body had carried yet another life to full term when before and during my pregnancies, there were so many doubts.

That moment was me. alive.
And, I stayed alive even after Daddy took the little man to the nursery. They sewed me up, and I laughed with the doctors and nurses. I declined the happy drugs to help me relax (read: put me to sleep), because I wanted to treasure every moment and keep feeling alive. Waiting to see my baby again was agonizing, but I simply was too full of joy to complain. During suturing, the assistant cut the knot, so my OB had to start over. She apologized. I giggled. It just seemed funny that such a simple mistake was made with such a serious surgery.

The tech who put the tape on my bandage was brutal. I remember thinking she was putting duck tape on to hold me together, but I smiled and tried to talk with her. Even the doctor who took off my bandage (with me squirming/climbing the bed in pain) remarked how much tape was used (and the pain was not from the incision but from the tape pulling at my skin). I was scraping off adhesive for weeks (literally) afterwards.

I was on cloud nine a few hours later when big brother and big sister came by to meet brother. What amazing joy! But, my moment was lying on the table, holding my newborn son for the first time. Both of us were so alive!

December 4 – Wonder.

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Since Christopher has been born, I have been simply gazing at my children more often. All three of them. Just looking at their faces, their smiles, into their eyes. I listen to what they say with genuine interest and am in awe of each one of them. Christopher is just the smiley-est baby I have ever met (I often am tempted to tell strangers not to feel special, since he smiles at everyone!), and his innocent smiles from day one have just captivated my heart and begged me to pay attention. This has been such a gift from God to remind me to pay attention to Therese and John Bosco, as well. I see God's miraculous creations and am in awe.

December 5 – Let Go.

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I could go two ways with this, but I think it is somehow all one anyway. In the spring, there was a huge division within our Catholic homeschooling support group. Several families contemplated leaving the group due to some misunderstandings and differences of opinion with the leadership. In the midst of the conflict, before anything was resolved, my husband and I made the choice to leave the group. At the time, we did not know we were moving to Texas, but it seemed that there were too many in the group whose lives, beliefs, and goals were vastly different from our own. We cut off ties completely with the group, and merely kept in contact with our close friends, a handful of families. Of course, a few months later, to our dismay, we learned we would be leaving those friends, too.

I have no regrets with how this all played out for me. I made the apologies that needed to be made and prayed for those who never offered their own. Separating from the conflict completely allowed my family to focus on the joyful birth of our son and not get caught in further emotional distress. And, as a result, we became even closer to our true friends, making our move more difficult, but also preserving some beautiful memories in those few short months, allowing me to look back fondly on all of my time there.

December 6 – Make.

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Do Christmas candies count? I made buckeye balls for my children's co-op teachers on Wednesday, using my grandmother's recipe. My mother makes these every Christmas, and I have carried on the tradition. They are made to look like the buckeye nut, which grows in Ohio where she was born and raised. These decadent treats are peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla formed into balls and dipped in melted chocolate. I used my ancient cheap hand mixer and did not break it (I have broken two making buckeyes in years past; the dough can get thick). I do need to make a few more batches and some St. Nicholas chocolates, but I am waiting until the stomach bug passes our family before making treats to give away! My father in law, in particular, cannot wait for these goodies each year. I am told they disappear within a day or two, even when hidden in the freezer under the meat!

December 7 – Community.

Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

Most obviously, I have found community here in our new home. We have joined three Catholic homeschooling groups since moving here, and each one has welcomed us and created community for us in different ways. I have chosen to join a women's study at one of our co-ops in order to more deeply connect with those women on a spiritual level. I also hope to continue my monthly mom's breakfasts in order to share the more practical connection we have as Catholic homeschooling mothers.

more to come...

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