Monday, April 30, 2012

to wellness

Nearly 6 months ago, I came out, as it were. I admitted to myself and - possibly more importantly - my family as well as to the internet that I was struggling. More than struggling: drowning, and needed real help.

It took five more months before I actually started getting help. Because... I don't know. Mainly I just really didn't want to go on prescription medication. I have no moral or philosophical objection to antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications - years ago I was on them a number of times - I just really didn't want to take them this time.

We tried to support me better as a family, tried to make concessions to my mental health, but ultimately, things continued more or less the same as they had been before that post I wrote back in November. And I clung for dear life to my sanity and tried - but largely failed, if I'm being very honest - to keep it from affecting our children. Our darling, beautiful children.


Finally, it was time to commit to healing. But my reticence to visit my family doctor and start prescription medication hadn't changed. Instead, I contacted a local naturopathic clinic - the Ottawa Integrative Health Centre. I filled out a fourteen page intake form which touched on literally every part of my life. I wept through half of my hour and a half long first appointment, describing to my new, lovely naturopathic doctor, who looked on with kind and understanding eyes, the myriad ways my mood turns in the course of a week. The ways it tortures me and my children. The feelings of desperation and utter loss of control and helplessness.

And she listened to me, for a very long time, and she read through my intake form. When she got to the section where I was to list the five "most significant, stressful events" of my life, she was caring and concerned and sympathetic - "You had a housefire?!" And then, when she'd heard and read everything, she said, "Well, I definitely see some things..."


I breathed a sigh of relief because if she sees some things of concern, there might be room to make me well. Truly well.

Food allergies, particularly gluten. So I'm gluten-free again as I mentioned the other day. Hypoglycemia, so I'm eating protein every few hours. More B6. Some breathing exercises.

It's helping. It's far from a magic wand, but it's definitely improved things. I've been mapping my moods along with my diet and the pattern is undeniable: when I go too long without food, I lose my grip on my sanity. My brain just ceases to function properly. So we're all about snacks around here these days. I discovered the loveliness that is Lara Bars, and then proceeded to start making my own. I made two batches of that gummy, delicious, datey goodness... and then I killed my food processor. Truly: there was smoke. Smoke. In my kitchen. I had to finish that batch by hand (ever hand processed upwards of four cups of dates with just a chef's knife? Big fun, let me tell ya). If you have recommendations for food processors that can handle several cups of dates, I'm all ears (or eyes, as it were).

It may still come down to medication. For now, though, this is what we're trying and I am happy and relieved to say that it's helping.

Today was a good day. And, at long last, I can say I am hopeful that tomorrow will be a good day, too.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

not ready

Four days.

There are four days left before Bubby's birthday. And I'm not ready.

I'm not ready in the sense that we haven't planned her party. I'm not ready in that we haven't chosen a gift for her. I'm not ready in that I haven't done a test-run on a gluten-free cake and icing (oh yeah, we're gluten-free again, and it's a whole thing but that's for another post).

But I'm also just fundamentally, inherently, not ready. I am just not ready.

I am not ready for my little baby to be a toddler. I am not ready for my Tiny Person to be not-so-tiny. I am not ready for our first year of firsts and wonderment and smiles and delight and milky breath to be in the past.


I am not ready.

On the Saturday before her birth last year, I was getting terribly high blood pressure readings and was terrified that I was slowly killing my baby. I wasn't worried about myself: I figured I'd be fine but worried that she was being harmed.

On the Sunday before she was born we skipped church, had a lay in, and then went to visit with my birth circle friends and have belly photos taken. And that was the last picture taken of me before she was born. And it's beautiful. It is so beautiful.

Is it the last photo I will ever have taken of a pregnant belly of mine? Is Bubby our last baby?

I do not know. We have always had the attitude that we will have the number of children we need to have. So maybe we're finished. Or maybe not. I have no idea and I'm not going to try to predict. I do know that we're not even thinking about for some time yet. But I also know that I have a 20-25% chance of the complications I had with Bubby recurring. And that weighs on my mind...

Maybe my body needs me to be done.

And I hate it. I hate thinking that we might need to make such an emotional decision based on something as cold as probabilities.

But so it is. And so I approach Bubby's birthday with reticence, unable to fully embrace a new year for my baby because in opening my arms to embrace that new year I must let go - a little - of the past year. I need to make room for what is new and to come but what has been is so incredibly precious I feel it tear at this mother's heart of mine.

I watch her take her halting, zombie-steps across the living room, grinning widely with her gap-toothed grin at her audacious new joy, and I feel my chest expand with such pride, such immense and immeasurable ecstasy at what she is able to do. I positively glow, watching her, because who could not? Such bliss is undeniable.

And I scoop her up and hug her tight to me, bringing her little legs toward her chest, making her small and a little ball once again and I press kisses into the soft perfection of her round, pink cheeks while she giggles at me and I try - I try - to keep her small. I try to steal a few more moments, a few more glorious moments, of her baby-ness. Now. While I can.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2 years

Well, it happened. April 24 came...and it went. And not once - not once - in the course of yesterday did I pick up my knitting needles.

Why is that in any way notable, you ask? Because yesterday marked the second - yes, the second - anniversary of casting on the Hepburn Cardigan from Lace Style.

Some of you may remember the days when I posted about my knitting. Heck, this started off purely as a knitting blog. And now? Now it takes me over two years to knit a size small cropped cardigan. Seriously.

Ah, well. It'll be lovely, whenever it gets finished. The pattern is beautiful and the yarn is a dream. Someday, little sweater...someday....


I've been thinking about it for awhile.


That a change might be nice. That I'd like to switch things up in a big, bad way.


Bad as in bad-ass.


About two months ago I tried, but I didn't go far enough.

Not deep enough. Nowhere near bright enough.

But a trip to the drugstore for some milk and eggs yesterday evening saw me wander down the aisle, "just to see..." and there were those little sale stickers.


And there she was, staring back at me from a box*.


The girls went to sleep, one by one. Jon played some PS2 football. It wasn't even 8pm yet.

I had time.


So I dove, headlong.




Into red. Glorious red.

*shade 660: great colour and it actually smells nice, but not perfumey.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

letter time

As I'm writing this, Bubby is "sorting" - aka throwing all over the place - the basket of diapers and Peanut is playing with bright blue masking tape. A little mess is worth a few moments with my hands free.

reading w daddy

We've been getting a little more intentional with learning this week. I haven't written a post about our plans for Peanut's education for the coming year (that post is coming soon). Obviously, though, she's home with me this year. I don't - in point of fact, I refuse to - call myself a homeschooler for my under-4 year old (I'll talk about my objection in that forthcoming post) but instead I try to work with her interests and follow her lead as best I can. Previously she has shown very little interest in literacy despite a life-long love affair with books and reading. Attempts at introducing her to the shapes and sounds of letters were met with glassy eyes and blank stares followed by near-immediate running off to find something - anything! - else to do. Recently, though, she's been expressing real interest in knowing what letters and numbers she sees in books and on signs. She'll look at the keyboard of the laptop and ask, "Where does my name come from?" ("What letter begins my name?") Time for letters, then.

We started with a trip to the dollar store for scrapbooking paper. We got some surprisingly cute paper - packages of 6 pages for $1.24/pckg - as well as a roll of blue masking tape and some alphabet stickers. This week we're learning the letters of Peanut's name. We could have begun at A and worked through the alphabet in order but that seemed a little arbitrary and uninteresting. Each day we learn two letters. We begin with Peanut choosing a sheet of scrapbooking paper and then cut out a large letter from the paper. We look at the shape, trace it with our finger and then tape it up on the wall. Then we do a neat trick I saw on Pinterest: we take the blue masking tape and make a large letter on the floor and "walk" the letter with our feet.

tape letters

Finally, we take a sheet of plain paper and practice writing the new letter. Some letters are easier than others. For the trickier letters we try tracing it with our fingers and connecting dots that I draw in advance for her. We always sit where we can look up at the letter on the wall and down at the letter on the floor to help remember what the letter should look like when we write it. We get our alphabet stickers, find the letter we're learning, and Peanut puts the sticker on the sheet with her written letters. Then it gets hung on the wall under the big letter.

wall letters

While we're tracing and writing and "walking" the letter we talk about the sound of the letter and what words  and names begin with that sound. She's loving her new adventures in literacy, reminds me that we need to do our letters in the morning, and is very excited to find the letters she has learned on tags and in books. And this morning she was able to write her nickname herself.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

i've got the joy

Every year, we sing O Sacred Head Sore Wounded as the final hymn on Good Friday. And every year, during the last verse, I cry. Last year, at the height of my maternity hormones while eight months pregnant, I was weeping by the second phrase of the first verse. The immensity of the sacrifice, of the sorrow and wrong just proves too intense and the tears well up and overflow. And I'm not alone: there are red eyes scattered throughout the sanctuary.

And then Saturday comes. Most years it feels like a lost day, a day adrift, locked in the void between sacrifice and death, and resurrection and life. A day where we exist, if you will pardon the pun, in limbo. A day of nothing. We lose our Lord on Friday and regain Him on Sunday: what to do with the time in between? Having not yet reached the celebration and Hallelujahs of Easter morning, it is a day which seems apart from joy.

But not for me, this year. Yesterday noon I stood in the choir loft and I sang out those same phrases of Bernard of Clairvaux, those same notes of Hassler and Bach, which every year before racked me with anguish and weeping, and sang joyfully. Not a single tear, not a single breath caught in my throat. And today, this Saturday of waiting, of vigil? I celebrate. I am filled with hope and joy.

Why? Because late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning I attended a birth. I attended a mother and father as they welcomed a second child. I witnessed such strength and courage and wisdom in that mother, perseverance and love as she worked her baby into this world of light and breath. I witnessed a baby fight her way from grey limpness to pink and fighting vibrancy encouraged by the skilled and loving hands of midwives and her parents, our voices calling out to her: "Come on, baby; come on!"

And she did. And she is beautiful and she is marvellous and she is a living testament to how wonderfully we are made.

And because after I returned home from worship I learned that my friend who has been waiting for new lungs and a renewed chance at a long, full life had gotten the call. That in the middle of the night, while my family lay sleeping, her family was kissing her outside an operating room in Toronto, holding vigil in prayer and supplication as she underwent the more than nine hours of surgery it would take to give her new lungs from a generous, loved, and never forgotten donor. Through that gift, her time in this world of light and breath and dancing now extended.

New life. New lives and resurrection. How, how could I possibly weep but for joy on these days? Because I see such evidence around me not only of the great and powerful and inestimable love of God for us, but also of that Love's working. The grace with which we are endowed by that loving Lord. And so I will sing out our Hallelujahs tomorrow morning filled not only with joy but with new and clearer vision of the purpose behind that Friday sacrifice. It is for joy. It is for hope. It is for love. It is for life, here and now and forever and ever.

This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
                                                                     Psalm 118:23


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