Tuesday, December 10

Remember The Deeds of the Lord (or "What A Year Can Do")

A year ago I wrote this post: Advent

And I prayed and wrote in that post, "Jesus I am waiting. Waiting for you to heal this mess, this disaster area that is my spiritual life. Come, Lord Jesus. Come Quickly. Heal me and clean it up."

I was pregnant when I wrote those words. I had no idea that the Lord had come quickly, had allowed such a miracle, and I wouldn't know for another 16 days. I was still desperate.

It's amazing to me as I think back on that juxtaposition: of already having what I had prayed for, but being unaware of it.

These days, I feel peace with the Lord and with my circumstances. Is it terrible that I feel peace when I get what I want (as opposed to feeling peace when I'm in the midst of the storm)? Perhaps... Perhaps.

But I am grateful. And I think the Lord is calling me to remember that he can and does work when I have deep doubt that he will. And that he does love me, even when the contrary seems true, based upon my circumstances. That his love is perfectly timed according to his timing, and not mine.

It's what I pray for those who are still waiting for their babies to be conceived and arrive; or for their health to be healed; or their marriage to be trusting and whole; or for the brokenness and sin in their life to be eradicated. I pray that the Lord's timing will amaze them and their awe and love will turn to shouts of joy.

I pray also that the Lord will be near to me when hard times come again. Because I know that suffering is part and parcel to the Christian life. And I suspect I'll often doubt the Lord's goodness as I suffer. So I pray for his nearness and that I will remember the sweetness of this time, even as I go through future difficult times.

My sister sent this scripture to me today:

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

Psalm 77:10-12

Friday, November 22

A post about ....well, not much.

I'm sitting here waiting for Charis to wake up - she's been asleep for about an hour, which in the morning is a very long nap for her.  Because she woke up at 8 and I couldn't fall back asleep, I jumped in the shower. So I'm sitting here, pounding out a post (I have no idea where this post is going to go), towel wrapped around my head, waiting for her to interrupt both the needed hair drying and the blog posting.

Things have been getting better. It has been a tough ride, y'all! Breastfeeding definitely has had its ups and downs (mostly downs) but this week has been good. About two weeks ago I went into the doctor's office with a lump and found out I have a galactocele. ("what's that?" you ask.) Well, it's rare, but it's a a permanent plug (or rather, a cyst) full of milk that is blocked by dried milk protein. Thus the lump. They drained it and it returned within 7 hours, so I know it's full of milk. The Lactation Consultant I've been calling told me that it should resolve itself when I've weaned Charis, but most people's experience (ala Google) seems to be that it will need to be drained again. A nice $600! We'll cross that that bridge when we get to it.

Adam and I decided that  it would be good for me to stay at home with Charis, so I am a Stay At Home Mom! I'm so glad, too, because I really enjoy being able to take care of Charis and also keep things up around the house.  It's a huge financial sacrifice, and I don't think we know the full impact of it, but for now, I am very happy!

I updated the Santiago blog yesterday with a bunch of info about Charis, so if you're interested in that, head on over there.

Otherwise, most of life has been s-l-o-w-l-y getting into somewhat of a routine. I don't feel as though I've been able to keep up with people well, so I hope to have life become somewhat structured so I can connect with others a little more.

Well, I'm off to dry my hair. I hope to post something a little more erudite soon! 

Monday, October 7

My Identity is not measured in Milliliters

 Oh, Friends. If you only knew how quickly I began to measure my worth in milliliters. ("Milliliters?" you ask)

10 days ago, I found the edge of my sanity. My child would not stop screaming and crying, and having watched the "Dunstan Baby Language" she repeatedly said, "Neh!" which means, "Hungry!"

This could not be, I thought, because I was nursing her nearly nonstop. To the point that my poor....well, anyway. Pain was ensuing. (We'll keep this PG.)  She must be colicky, I thought. I began to poll my mom friends about gas drops, different prescriptions for infants with acid reflux, etc.

And then Saturday happened. I was in the most pain ever while nursing. I broke out into a sweat Sunday night because it was so painful. But Dr. Google assured me that regardless of what was wrong, I should continue nursing. Because whatever WAS wrong, would be helped by draining the milk.

Monday I called my doctor and her pediatrician first thing in the morning. The pediatrician saw us right away and did a weight check. It wasn't so much that she had acid reflux. It was that she wasn't gaining weight.

She wasn't getting food. 

My milk supply had tanked sometime between leaving the hospital and this doctors visit.

I felt terrible. Here I was frustrated with my baby when she really was telling me all along that she was hungry. I began pumping.

In addition, my doctor saw me and said, "you have a terrible case of mastitis! Did you not have a fever?"
"No!" I said, "I checked and I wasn't feverish, so I thought I was being neurotic."
"Well, you weren't," he said. "Go get these antibiotics."

And that  is where the milliliters come in. To remedy both feeding her and the mastitis, I pump after each time I nurse (which is followed by a bottle of formula).

Most women pump out ounces of milk. An ounce is 30 milliliters. 

I pump out 15 milliliters. 20 ML on a good pump session.

I began pumping last Monday, and throughout the week the milliliters have stayed frustratingly the same. Because I'm nursing and pumping, my milk supply should be increasing. But if it is, it's maddeningly slow.

And that was when I began measuring my worth in milliliters.  
How can I be a good mother if I'm not able to feed my child mother's milk? 
I've always thought I would breastfeed exclusively. Now I'm supplementing? I don't want to supplement!
We can't afford formula for 9-12 months. 
I am a terrible mother.
I am a terrible wife.

When I was counseling, I always highlighted the "I Am" statement the client was making. It's a statement of identity. And my identity was clear: not producing enough mother's milk means I'm a terrible mother, and a terrible wife.

Of course, I repented (kind of...it's still a struggle). I know who (and whose) I am, or maybe I do on a good day. But it is so easy to measure my worth according to what I do, or what I produce, or how successful I am at any given task. Failing at the thing I so desperately want to do, well, it completely undermines my false identity and points me back to the cross. I need Jesus to once again tell me who I am.

I am co-heir with Christ. I am saved from my sin and from eternal death. I am victorious in the Christian life.

But I may not be producing ounces and ounces of milk. And my child may never only breastfeed. She may always need formula (I'm taking pretty determined measures to hopefully eradicate our need for formula, but it. is. slow. going).

But I cannot measure my ability at motherhood and my identity as a person in my production of milliliters of milk.

Well, I should not. But that itself is the battle.

Thursday, September 26

Wow, what a month

Well, I can't believe I'm typing out a post. The last three weeks have been full of ups and downs and lots of crying - for both baby and me!

(The entire birth story and pictures are here: www.santiagochronicle.blogspot.com . I won't repeat the entire story, and Adam does a better job of writing, anyway. But for those of you who are curious, that is where we're doing the great majority of posting about Charis.)

After the events of Sept 6-11, we came home and settled into a two week routine that included help from my amazing mother. (I need to write a post on my mom's decision to raise me as a single mom, and how I now understand just how much work it was for her to keep me. But that will be for another day.) Our routine included my mom, Adam and me holding Charis nearly all the time, and me doing lots of sitting and feeding her, and sitting and eating, and sitting and drinking lots of water.

Then mom went home, and I'd like to say that I'm exaggerating (and maybe I am), but all hell broke loose. My child cried and pacified and cried some more and wouldn't sleep and cried, and it just felt overwhelming. Somehow I think I believed the subtle lie that all moms believe that if I do "x" I'm going to be ruining my child down the road. For me, "x" was not having scheduled feeding times.

You see, as a pregnant lady, you hear all of these stories about magical children that sleep 4 or 5 hours during the night right off the bat. And somehow I got it into my head that a schedule would help with sleeping through the night. So, when my normal child wakes up every hour and half or less and demands to be fed, both my husband and I feel like there must be something wrong - wrong with me, my milk or something. 

Last night was the worst night. Adam had to finally get up at 3 am when I had been sushing, rocking, singing, feeding her for two hours and he finally got her to sleep. Meaning he got about 4 hours of sleep last night.

So, today I decided: screw it. I'm not going to feed her on a schedule - if she wants to be fed every 30 minutes, then so be it.

And today has gone much, much better. She has fed more often, but she's also slept longer periods. And I've gotten to sleep during those times too.

She's still a bit fussy and finicky. She does much better sleeping tummy down while being held, but since everyone talks about SIDS like "DO ONE THING WRONG AND YOUR BABY WILL DIE," we're still having her sleep on her back. Swaddling helps, but I bet that the minute she's able to sleep on her tummy she'll be sleeping like a champ.

So, that's the update. No big epiphanies for this post. Just a new mama learning the ropes with her new (20 day old) baby.

Ok, I couldn't resist a couple of pictures....! Who doesn't love a sleeping baby?

Charis adores her Mr. Owl

Thursday, August 29


T minus 3 days.

Well, that is what my phone app says, and what my due date is. But who is to know? Only God.

I feel very ambivalent about this upcoming transition.

On one hand, I look forward to a person who is an addition of me plus my husband and our traits, our features, etc. But someone who is also wholly new, complex and unique. A person that I will know immediately, yet also get to discover over the next many years.

I'm looking forward to not feeling like a bowling ball is pushing on my bladder, hips, thighs, etc. Before I go much further, I do want clarify that pregnancy has been absolutely worth the discomfort and that I am NOT complaining about this wondrous experience and person we have wanted for so long. I'll just be a little relieved when the 7 pounder inside me is outside me.

On the other hand, I have really enjoyed being pregnant. I've liked - and even loved - certain aspects of it. There's a tenderness that is impossible to suppress when running your hand over the pushing and rolling of a little one inside your body. The wonder of how much is created so quickly, how internal organs and bones and eyes and heart are all developed so soon in the pregnancy process. I've really loved the entire time (well, excluding my impatience to get to the end and know the little one!)

Yet, the next season is scary. It's the unknown. And Adam and I have enjoyed more than 9 months of some of the sweetest times in our marriage. Lovely, peaceful and supportive. I LOVE our marriage right now. And I don't want to give this up.

Most everyone who has a baby or toddler tells us how hard having the baby was on their marriage. We've been warned. And I believe it. I mean, you have these hormones screaming through your body, you're both focused on someone else, instead of on each other, and then on top of it: Sleep deprivation. Am I ready for this? I fear I'm not.

Each morning I wake up immediately disappointed that contractions haven't begun. But lately, I've been snuggling (as close as reasonably possible with this beach ball belly in between us) next to Adam, knowing that for the next few months, when I wake up, it will be to the alarm clock of a hungry baby, not because I woke up and got to doze for 20 more minutes next to my husband. I think to myself that the countdown to joy and a sweet little addition is also the countdown to fewer quiet moments with my husband.

I cherish these last few days with only him, but also look forward to our little family of three.

Monday, August 12


On July 23rd, Adam came down to help me bring groceries into the apartment.

"How was your day?" he asked.
"Great!" I said. "I got so much done, and the day just flew by. I know it's nice hear when days go well, and today went really well."
"Wonderful!" he said.
"How was yours?"
"Just ok?"
He or I changed the subject, and I trusted he would tell me eventually what made the day just ok. It came as we put the groceries away in the privacy of our home.
"I don't want you to become concerned, but David has been missing for 40 hours."
"Our David?"

David was an RA last year on Adam's staff and was slated to return to RA staff for his second year. He was a quiet guy, with a deep resonant voice. A popular soccer player and an excellent student, He had struggled to make his hall his own, but was succeeding bit by bit last year and really was excited to return to the hall.

Adam explained he had been hiking in the Swiss Alps, on a little vacation from working with MTW in Spain as an intern. I pushed away fear and anxiety and became a little irritated that he would have kept hiking while the other two people hiking with him turned back.

I thought of so many times in high school when prayer requests would come through our group of friends for some high schooler or another getting lost in the mountains. They always returned. I knew, having lived in Montana for most of my life, when it gets dark on a mountain, you hunker down, try to stay dry. When daylight comes,  you find some kind of water and follow it back down to a town or where it crosses a hiking path. I presumed David would know to do so. I presumed he was ok.

News would come 30 minutes later, as we were driving down Lookout to get some dinner. My dear friend texted me "Do you know about David?"
I sent a cryptic text back, not sure if I was spreading gossip or getting information.
She responded, "They found him...He's in heaven."
I called her and asked 3 times if she was sure. "Yes," she said, "I'm close friends with his sister." She had just gotten off the phone with David's sister and brother-in-law.

Adam stayed up until 3 am that night calling RAs and close friends of David's, including two RAs that were in Africa and Peru. We were in a daze the next day.

His family had the funeral July 29th. Adam estimates that about 1,000 people were there. I couldn't go, and won't be able to go to some of the memorial times that Covenant College is planning. It's strange to mourn someone who I still feel is supposed to return to us this Thursday.  Strange to mourn someone who left 3 months ago, and is supposed to be somewhere else. But who is supposed to come back. To know that he won't be back, but not believe it.

I'm sending the following poem to his mom and dad. It has been a comfort me since Addie found it in a devotional and wrote it in a bible for me years and years ago.

Even for the dead I will not bind my soul to grief;
Death cannot long divide.
For is it not as though the rose that climbed my garden wall
Has blossomed on the other side?
Death does hide
But not divide;
You are but on Christ's other side!
You are with Christ, and Christ is with me;
In Christ united still are we.

Saturday, July 13

Moving Right Along

Life has been moving right along. Sometimes it feels incredibly slow, waiting for that time when you know that life will change. We have 7 more weeks before little baby is due to make an appearance. Sometimes 7 weeks sounds like "right around the corner" and other times I think it sounds "FOREVER AWAY."

But in the meantime, little aspects of life have happened. We've been moving through the days of the summer.

  • We are one day away from the end of Summer camps up on the mountain. Covenant rents out its facilities for various camps and the noise level is directly correlated with the a) age of the campers (Jr. Highers are Terrible. They literally run everywhere they go. With big, stomping  Jr. High feet) and b) the maturity of the campers. One week we had high schoolers that were surprisingly loud, though they went to bed at a reasonable hour. A few weeks later, another group of high schoolers came in - this time a group focused on student leadership. They were in bed before we were, I think! I saw them up at 7:15 in group prayer. (Oh, that all camps were like that!)
  • I'm still working - it's getting harder to concentrate each day. Not because I'm thinking about the future, but just because your mind absolutely goes to mush when you are pregnant. So, I'm sure I've made a number of mistakes my office will catch on say, oh, September 12th! 
  • Adam and I are wrestling through the options of me staying at home, me going back part time or me going back full time. It's hard to know, because there are legitimate reasons for all of them. I'm having a hard time really knowing what to do, though I have received a lot of advice from all around :)
  • PRAISE! Two co-workers (one of Adam's and one of mine) have become pregnant after struggling with infertility and going through infertility treatments. We are delighted. We continue to pray for those are on the infertility path. Another co-worker shared with Adam this week that they are starting to look into fertility options.
  •  Adam and I are reading a lot of books on parenting, baby sleep schedules/habits, birthing options - the whole gamut. It has been a fun time for us to ponder the different options and find out what each of us thinks. Amazingly enough, we have different perspectives on things. Who would have thought? < end sarcasm >
  • I miss a lot of the students that have gone. I'm always grateful for the previously mentioned camps during the summer because they help me understand how much better we have it with the college students. At least college students regularly get to bed around 11:30 or so...if only because they can't possibly make enough coffee to get through the night!
  • Most of all, I'm looking forward to the RA staff returning. I'm praying this crew is as great as our last year's group. Of course, I won't be able to know them quite as well, since I'll have other things on my mind and plate, but still hopeful for a tight-knit group.
That's about the long and short of it. Hopefully more to come as my addle-minded brain thinks of things! 

Tuesday, June 11

Grief is All Around Us

It's strange (and wonderfully nice), being in a place with less grief. Well,  suppose I mean to say, less potent grief. There is much about my life now that is good and happy and joyful.

And yet grief is still all around.

In the last few weeks, a former co-worker emailed to say her 10 month old nephew has leukemia, a lifelong friend underwent the surgeon's knife to undo a tumor in/around her spine, and a co-worker's 12 year old autistic son went in to have a routine tooth extraction and never woke up from the anesthesia.

I saw my coworker as he return to work this week and and spoke with him. He teaches both at the school I work at as well as Covenant.  (He's a very, very kind man who once responded when introduced to Adam, "Oh, you're Hannah's husband! Good to meet you!" Since we live at the college where Adam works and graduated from, I'm usually introducing myself the other way around. He was so thoughtful about affirming my identity outside of "The Covenant Circle.")

He was gentle and gracious and the pain of losing his only son was there on his face, welling up in his eyes. We talked about the pain of grief - death, stroke, cancer, infertility.

We agreed that there is a place for healing - we get there sometimes on this side, but there's a wounding that will never heal this side of heaven.  We long for Heaven.

He said that it's called The Argument from Desire.

We parted. He turned and thanked me for the note of scripture I had written in a card. I thought about that scripture.  It was given to me as a gift, from a friend, left for me on a sticky note in my desk, shortly after my father's stroke. It has always stayed with me.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with singing.
 (Zeph 3:17)

And so I had given it to him - the one thing we can give to one another when words fail- the gift of the Holy Spirit speaking love and compassion through his Word. 

Saturday, May 18

Still Infertile

I realize I'm pregnant. The little thumper kicking away right now reminds me of the fact as she pummels the inside of my body with her little knees, elbows, feet, and fists!

But as mother's day came and went, and as we have heard more news of friends who continue on the road of IVF, infertility and/or adoption, I find an unusual response occurring in me.

I still feel infertile.

I think this makes sense personally:

First, I'm still somewhat in the same emotional place I was 5 or 6 months ago. After all, when you get to the point in the road that we were coming to (acceptance of our situation, acceptance of not having biological kids, years of the same answer, "no"), 5 months of knowing we're no longer on that road is not a particularly long time to change your emotional perspective.

And secondly, the Fear of revisiting the same infertility experiences is real. We have no guarentee that we'll get pregnant again after this one. Statistics are good, but as John Piper writes in his essay, Don't Waste Your Cancer,  "You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God." I thought a lot about this principle as we were going through treatments. After all, Dr. Scotchie gave us about a 5-10% chance of getting pregnant on our own. Odds? Terrible. Christ? Powerful.

And while God is powerful to do as he wills when he wills, he is never manipulated by my desires or my recitation of odds and statistics his direction.

And I think there are two main origins to the feeling.

First is compassion and empathy for my infertile friends: All of this  - the realization that I still feel infertile, still categorize myself as such - came as a friend wrote a letter to me a few months ago. They are beginning the process of infertility testing. She knew I was pregnant and I wanted with all my heart to express to her, "But I'm still with you! I'm still there, in Infertile Land with all it's pain and confusion, even if I have a baby growing in me. It doesn't change it!"

(Of course, it does change it.)

The second origin is a bit more, well, controlling.  I found an author had written a post titled "Pregnancy doesn't cure Infertility."  I deeply appreciate her overall expression of the experience and her final point is the essential one:

I really want control: My shameful secret is that what I most want isn’t another baby, it’s control.   I want to imagine a world where I could pick how many kids I’m going to have and then I could make it happen. I wouldn’t have to wait through times of “trying” or lengthy adoption processes. I could be in charge. Of course, it’s such a false sense of control to imagine that being fertile means you make your children happen. Every conception is an act of God, but I admit I’m envious of those who seem to be able to make it happen (or not happen) at will.
(See more at: A Musing Maralee)

And while I do want more babies, she writes what my heart cries: To have control. To know what the future holds. To be Omniscient and Omnipotent. 

And as I am not God, I am still infertile - infertile to do as I will.

But he calls me to trust. As I was called to trust while going through infertility treatments, as I was called to trust as I wrestled with the fear of losing this pregnancy, as I am called to still trust that through all that life has to hold,  Whate’er my God ordains Is Right.

Sunday, May 5

An Exceptionally Good Year

Today is the last day we will see our RA 2012-2013 staff. They will be wandering in for breakfast, after a full Turkey Dinner last night and a full night of cleaning a dorm building that used to be a hotel - 150 rooms!

 And cleaning this building is quite a feat, considering I heard from 3 separate college students during cleaning day last week, "Why do we have to clean? Isn't there a cleaning service?" (Adam and I could write a book on examples of entitlement from this generation....) That aside,

It has been an exceptionally good year.

A year full of depression, struggle and learning. A year full of laughter, mentoring and connection. These RAs, more than any other group, walked with us through our fertility struggles: They were 3 months into their job when we told them what the past years had held for us personally and shared with them that we were likely never to have kids.

When we came back from Christmas, they were the first people we told that we were pregnant. I thought I knew which ones would cry with happiness - I wasn't ready for all of them to tear up and shout with joy!  (Which may explain this video a little!)

We've been with them as two of them became engaged, another start dating seriously and others struggle with longing and disappointment. Adam has counseled each as they've gone through the difficulties of leading college students - sometimes being in the place on confidant and "older brother or sister," sometimes being rejected or the object of anger by those same students weeks later.

They have been a good team. I will miss them!

Friday, April 12

Big News

If you're curious, there's an announcement here!

I'll write more about the visit later on, right now it's a crazy time for both of us, so I haven't had a lot of time to sit and write it all out yet....

Saturday, March 30

A Holy Saturday Post

On Dec 1, before I was pregnant, I wrote this: Lamenting in the Barren Land. I was not looking forward to Christmas - for the first time ever. Having gone through a year of failed infertility treatments and struggling with my sister's spontaneous pregnancy, presuming I would hear all kinds of "So why aren't you starting a family" kind of comments from friends and extended family.  Believing I would walk through all of it raw and vulnerable. It made me want to hide.

As I wrote "Lamenting", I assumed that the road ahead would lead toward healing, but in the form of contentedness years in the making. 

At the time, I believed I would write a bookend to "Lamenting." I didn't know when, but I thought it would go something like this:  "God didn't abandon me, and this is how I know, etc, etc." I also thought it would be something along the lines of "look at all he has done, though he never gave us children."

Which brings me to this Post: We are not Forsaken. I think it is a better bookend to "Lamenting" than something I could write. 

What I didn't think about during my own post was the effect on God as he watched his only son suffer and die.  Which is why the post is so fantastic. I, myself, couldn't wrap my brain around any other perspective but mine (and Jesus from the cross).

I forgot that parents suffer as their beloved child suffers.

My mom and sister (who has now had her baby) have both made comments recently about how painful it is to love someone as much as a parent loves their child. I cognitively believe it, but I don't understand it - yet. I know I will when our own little peanut comes I'll know experientially.

Saturday, March 23


I like to steal ideas from my blogging friends. So, today, I present the theft of an topic my friend Deanna Davis regularly blogs about: Healthy Marriage Practices.

(You'll hear a - shorter - version of this post at my brother's rehearsal dinner in two weeks, if you are attending. For all of you others, these are the thoughts that have been rolling around in my mind during the past few months.)

Our marriage began as every marriage does: with about 3-5 months of bliss (with some little blips) and then BAM: The Argument. The fight. If you are married, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's the one where at the end of it you feel both bewilderment that this got out of hand so fast, mixed with a significant amount of "I DO NOT want to be married to you anymore. This is NOT what I thought it would be. Screw this."

Simultaneously, I was finishing my graduate degree in Counseling, and was required by my Internship Supervisor (and Professor) to read a number of different books, and write response papers applying them to a) me or b) my practice.

I clearly remember what my professor wrote on one response paper ( I don't remember what I wrote, but it had to do with words of affirmation in a marriage).  He wrote, "John Gottman states that the Magic Ratio for a healthy relationship is 5 positive comments for every 1 negative comment." 

This blew my mind.

I remember thinking about our short marriage (about 8 months old at that point) and saying to myself,  "How can I ever POSSIBLY remember to say 5 positive things to my husband before I bring up something difficult or critical?"

So, I got into a habit.  I realized that when my husband does chores (the items of life that he said he'd take care of - laundry, the dishes, etc), he is doing a favor for me. If he were not here, I would have to do those things. By myself.

So I began to thank him.

For everything. For The smallest things.

Now, he also would thank me for doing certain things in our marriage, so it was a fairly easy habit for me to get into. But now, nearly 5 years into our marriage, we show gratitude for one another all the time. For miniscule things. The last time I thanked him, it was for filling up the gas tank. I hate doing that. It's so nice when he does it, so I texted him at 9 am when I got to work: Thanks for filling up the gas. I was so appreciative of it this morning! 

I'm sure other couples may find it almost too saccharine to bear, but the consistent, little moments of gratitude make the marriage connection much more stable when the difficult conversations are addressed. You have something to draw upon.

Does everyone have to implement this particular habit into their relationship? No, of course not. I see many relationships that are healthy and thriving and they don't do exactly this.

But in one manner or another, they specifically encourage their spouse with positive, affirming actions and words. Because it is the lifeblood of a marriage together.

Thursday, March 7

Stubborn or Mysterious. You choose.

Well, my friends, I'm sorry to say that there is no news on whether we have a Santiago or a Santiaga (as our RA Grace calls her...since she's sure baby is a "her.")

The ultrasound was from the top of the head down...sometimes we got a shot of the body, but it was not the traditional perfect "laying on a chaise lounge sofa" profile shot other babies are keen to give.

Adam said baby was Stubborn. My sister said both our babies were frustratingly mysterious.

Dr. Harnsberger pointed out baby's two kidneys, stomach and the heart was beating strong at 140 bpm. We could also see the baby's hands very clearly, and it likes to have its hands next to its face (twice in the last two months  - hands near face). We were also able to see a partial profile (mouth, eyes, nose), but baby moved right as he was taking the picture. So the photo's not that clear.

I learned something new, too: Apparently the sound of a sonogram is audible to the baby, which is why he/she moves around so much during the sonogram. It's not super pleasant, being the loudness of a subway train, with the tonality of the highest keys on a piano. 

Listen, baby. Show us the goods, and we'll stop bothering you with that subway train sound! ;)

Monday, March 4

All over the place

I have been trying to think up something very interesting to write about, and I really haven't come up with a whole lot that is coherent. So, in scattershot fashion:

  • Things apparently are going well with the pregnancy. The doctor is fine with me coming in every month, as opposed to the every two weeks I was accustomed to, so there's not a lot to share. I could update about how "big" the little one is, but I don't want to simply regurgitate app information on my blog without additional info.
  • I'm 14 weeks. I look pregnant after I eat, I don't look preggo when I wear my normal clothes and sit up straight. So I have no idea. Maybe in a few weeks we'll go: "THAT'S a baby bump."
  • I pray every day for my friends who have yet to conceive.
  • We aren't updating Facebook with updates, because we don't know how painful it might be for those around us, those who might not have shared with us their struggles. Our child will rarely get posts on FB when he/she does arrive. I'll probably keep updates here or at Santiago Chronicle.
  • We (hopefully!) will find out the gender this Thursday. I may or may not post it immediately, since the RA staff is on Spring Break, and we want to tell them all together when they return. (I have no idea how many of them know about my blog). 
  • I think we're keeping the baby name a secret, but we've secretly flown it by some people to see their reaction (nestled in among 5 other names so they couldn't figure out which one we're really interested in.) Adam's set on one particular name and I'm fine with it as long as it's paired with a family name from my side.
  • My brother is engaged! The wedding is in 4 weeks, Adam is going to be a groomsmen. They were thoughtful enough to consider when I wouldn't be able to fly and significantly moved up their wedding plans. 
  • My sister is due in 3 weeks - I'm praying baby comes early so she'll have weeks to recover,  but also for the  baby to be full term, making it easier for her to be able to attend my brother's wedding (she lives in the same town, as opposed to us, who live 1700 miles away).
  • I'm pretty moody lately - I was irritable all day for little reason. Came home kinda pissy, and am still trying to snap myself out of it. I'll just blame it on the pregnancy and eat one of the 5 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies I bought.
  • Yes, I used the excuse "I'm pregnant" when I bought the 5 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

Saturday, February 16

Onto something completely different - Movie Reviews!

I rarely see enough Oscar-nominated films prior to the Acadamy Awards to have a decent opinion regarding who ought to win. Strangely enough, many of the movies that are nominated are also popular this year, so I actually have now seen 3 of the Best Actor Nominated performances.


 I'm sure that Daniel Day Lewis will win - as he has won everything else. I ended up being pretty bored by the end of the movie, but perhaps it is because everyone around me said, "Oh, My Gosh, you have to see Lincoln!" and "Lincoln is Amazing!" and I unintentionally I got my expectations up. The travesty is that Sally Field wasn't nominated, because she actually turns in a more accurate and nuanced portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln. (updated to say - she is nominated for supporting actress....and should win it.)

Unfortunately, Adam and I left the theater saying, "That was a 3 hour version of an non-witty episode of "The West Wing." What would have been Fantastic is to have bombastic Toby Ziegler stomp his way into Lincoln's office and tell him what for. Why can't I find a mash-up of That?


 Les Mis has some fantastic turns at acting. The singing was about how bad I thought it would be (Thank the Lord Almighty for Hugh Jackman's training on Broadway prior to this movie). Anne Hathaway was great, made me cry, all the same as everyone else. Marius and Cosette,who cares about? As usual, I love Helena Bonhome Carter will all her Real-Life Wierdness coming out on screen. That woman can act! And not a bad voice, either!

The thing I will say that I loved was the change at the end. How fitting to have the Bishop and Fantine guide Valjean at the end? So fitting.

Otherwise, Les Mis was more entertaining than Lincoln, but the acting was far more spotty overall.


The movie I will recommend with a huge caveat - is Flight. What a dark and depressing movie! What a wonderful morality play about alcoholism, the utter inability for people around an alcoholic to save him, and the need for something - or someone, hint hint - more than human to save a man so determined to be an arrogant, self-righteous, narcissistic ass.

Denzel should win the Oscar, but he won't. But he should. His performance is nigh unto perfect for the character.

Here's the huge caveat, that you must know (Hi Mom!) : There is full frontal - and somewhat unnecessary  - female nudity for about 3 minutes at the beginning of the movie. It sets up the question "Do I even like this guy?" but yeah. I hate nudity in movies, so there you go.

This is not a movie to watch with the eyes of entertainment. It's a movie that you have to slog through, watching for God to pluck a man out of his own filth - and not all of the Christians in the movie are portrayed in a "normal" way - the wife of the co-pilot says "PRAISE JESUS" in a way that turns me off to Christianity. But I guess that's how an Alcoholic Narcissist would see her.

The end of the movie is moving and appropriate for a man saved from his own lying, sinful, arrogant ways.

Saturday, February 2

It should be easy, now, right?

So. I got what I wanted.

God did as he pleased, when he pleased. He surprised us with a wonderful surprise, and I sometimes imagine the delight he must have felt when Adam an I found out, prayed in awe and amazement to him, and then commenced telling friends and family who had prayed for so long for us to become pregnant. Loved ones who had prayed for so long that when they were told they wept, danced or exclaimed with delight!

When my sister became pregnant (before me, when I was thoroughly convinced we'd never have our own child), Addie reminded me of the anxieties and fears that come along with pregnancy. And, truthfully, I took her seriously. But in a way that was unable to "experience-know" what she was talking about. I cognitively agreed. "Yes. That makes sense," I thought to myself.

I had no idea.

Would you all agree that if there was something that engendered me to full and utter Trust of The Lord and his ways, it would be this pregnancy? Look at what he has done!  I "should" simply believe that God is good and that whatever comes we will look on with satisfaction in his doings. (Because I believe that for the 5 other friends who are pregnant and will give birth within a month of me.)

Oh, my friends, Trust is so fleeting. I have wondered to to the Lord, "God, when will I just simply TRUST you?" Will it be when I finally feel the little bean? If we get tests and find out all is developmentally ok? When I give birth to a healthy little baby? When will I, with full abandon, simply trust you?"

I'm currently going through a counseling class on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and we talked a lot about mindfulness - paying close attention to things happening in the moment (Examples of Mindfulness exercises). But what was emphasized over and over is that mindfulness is a practice - it takes time, effort and discipline to be mindful.

As I re-read my notes from yesterday, this thought occurred to me:  Perhaps Trusting God is less about feeling the emotions of trust and peace, and more about practice - the time, effort and discipline  - of paying attention to the smallest details of what God does and his goodness. In all things.

Thursday, January 31

That's what they said

(Taking a page from my friend, Addie)

RAs During Super Mario Brothers

"Wait, is that a horse?"
"No, the turtle is bad!"
"The turtle is not a horse?"

"Someone pop me! popmepopmepopme!

"Go play with those guys"
"I just did, and they ate me!"

"How can I turn into ice?"


"You are bubbling like a champ!"

"Ooh! are those horses?"
"No, Turtles are not horses."
"Remember, I'll tell you when they're horses"

"Ok, Purple lava: no fun."

"That was terrifying!
"Oh, Gosh! Oh Gosh, Oh Gosh!!"

"oh. we lost our powers."

"I think he ate me, and then I was frozen inside of him"

"Ok, someone jump on the bomb..."

"Are the mushrooms our friends?"
"No, the mushrooms are not friends!"
"The guys with the blue spots?"
"Oh. Yeah. that's your friend"

"Ahhh! Ooohkay! That was my face."

Thursday, January 24

Well, and then THAT happened....

So,  I was supposed to get my period on a Thursday - the Thursday before Christmas. Nothing happened. I was pretty happy, actually, to simply not get my period on that day, because it was a crazy busy day in the office, and I had vacation starting the next day and then we would be flying out on Sunday. So my plan was to hope it would come on Friday, and then I'd be done with it by Christmas.

Friday, Saturday come and go, and I'm packing for Christmas. I think to myself: "Well, I'm pretty regular, but I have had longer cycles and of course, I can't really get pregnant." So I throw in all of the tampons I have on hand, all the ovulation sticks I have (because if I do get my period, then I need them) and just for good measure I threw in a couple of pregnancy tests.

Sunday, Monday. Monday is Christmas Eve. We go to church. I dreaded it. (I love you, church friends! You are not why I dreaded it!) Church has been a hard thing for me for two years, and rarely do I feel at ease when listening to a sermon. Most sermons don't deal with depression and grief that lasts years, so I'm usually left trying to get myself into a different spiritual and emotional place so I can appreciate what the pastor is saying and how it might apply.

I figured I'd be crying for most of the service. I did ok, being as I only lost it at "O Holy Night" at the lyric "He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger." I felt angry and sad and reassured all at the same time. (Hello, Ambivalence!) Angry because, "Do you God? DO YOU know this weakness? Cause it doesn't seem like it" and Sad because "Of course, he knows it, Hannah, baby Jesus eventually dies on a Cross. You can't look at the manger and not see the cross" and reassured because, if there's anything I hope and pray with all my might, it's that Jesus knows my weakness and forgives me even so.

Christmas Eve and Christmas day. At this point, I am all, "What the....?" I won't go into detail, but lets just say I went to the bathroom A LOT trying to figure this thing out. Where are you, little pink streak? I emailed a couple of friends, telling them about my flummoxedness (it's a word, really), trying to induce Murphy's law. Usually whan I say things like, "I'm late," my period comes the next day.

I decide on Christmas Eve that Christmas day and after I'm late enough to warrant a pregnancy test.  I decided to wait until after Christmas day because I think, "what a horrible way to start Christmas, hoping that being late means a baby and finding out, no, you're not. Because THAT is what ALWAYS happens. And then thinking, "Oh, s*** I have cancer." (How did I get to cancer? I googled 'reasons you don't get period not pregnant.' Cancer came up. Good times!) The entire time, though you can't suppress the hope that a late period means a baby, reason and experience tell you, "Gurl, how stupid you be? You knows how this ends."

So Wednesday, the 26th, I take a pregnancy test. 6:15 in the morning. Hating every minute, because hope is buried way down there, but fear is ruling the moment. But I know it won't be....


Crazy news, people - we're pregnant!

(I took two just to be sure! in case you're wondering, the dark line is the indication of pregnancy, the light line is the control. GoodNess! )

Sunday, January 6


(I started this post in October and finished it in January, if it feels a little disjointed to some of you. But the thoughts have been ruminating for the last few months, and I think they are worth writing.)

Since pondering the prospect of life without kids, I find myself keenly aware of how I fear to be alone.

I don't think that it's previously been a motivation of "hey lets have kids so we're not alone when we die." Certainly I don't think anyone thinks that when they first begin to try to have kids. We all think of newborns cooing with unadulterated love, little toddlers toppling over while taking first steps, the first bike ride, the panic of helping pay (or completely paying!) for college. The hope of more generations.

Having kids may help you stay in this moment, instead of looking down toward the future.

Not having kids? your life - and the end of it - comes rushing toward you, because it seems that all you have and all you will have is the same today as it will be tomorrow and ever shall be.

At one point, as I was thinking about being alone and how I frequently seek out others (as both a function of my extroversion, and as a function of fear) I wondered if my husband or friends were afraid of being alone at the end of life. I thought, "Well, that is MY fear, but perhaps those who are not as avoidant of being alone fear other aspects of death that I don't? 
As the Christmas season descended upon us, I began to meditate on Christ as Emmanuel, God with us. Obviously, I have always thought of Emmanuel in a historical sense - God came down to be with humanity for 33 years. But in the emotional sense of "God is with us" when struggling through the pain and difficulty of life. "God with us" when pondering the things that cause us anxiety. "God with us" in joy and in sorrow.

Because of all the disorienting things about infertility, the worst is the feeling of being abandoned by God. Yet, God promises to be with us. Emmanuel.

As the Christmas Eve service choir sang "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" in variation, the understanding came upon me. It was something that came when I was a little girl, feeling rejected by others, as a teen when I tried and failed to fit in, and now, as an adult, fearful of being alone: God is with me. Emmanuel. He will be with me when I die, and he is with me when it doesn't feel like he is near. He is with me when I am anxious, and when I am angry, and when I am grieving. He will be with me when I am joyful.

His very name is the remedy for my fear. 
With octaves of a mystic depth and height