One Year Ago Today: A Phone Call That Changed Things

One year ago today, The Bull got a phone call that changed our immediate and long term plans.  It was an Alaska State Trooper and he was wondering why Four Young Adults had my camera and The Bull’s prescription drugs.  There was no reason for them to have had them.  Turns out these Four Young Adults had been in our home, unauthorized, and helped themselves to some of our things.  Nothing of great value; mainly sentimental things.  A camera that The Bull’s dad had taken pics with when the kids were young; things our dads had given to us; trinkets given to us by people long since passed away.  Clif bars and polished stones.

The Four Young Adults were arrested 22 June. One young man appears to be a career criminal with a rap sheet as long as my arm.  Two others have a pretty good start on their life of crime: a young man and a young lady.  (To be honest, she has been a defendant in several of her cases.)  The fourth is a young lady who seemed to have a promising future; a Google search shows awards and honor roll listings and no prior offenses.  Both young ladies had young daughters.  The Bull attended their arraignment.  One of the young ladies was crying, wondering who would take care of her daughter.

Most posted bail and were out of jail within a week or two.  We were still not sure why they picked our house to rob and burglarize, or if they would return.  The stolen and recovered items would be returned to us; we hoped soon.  But the broken and missing things we only had hopes of getting money back.

Needless to say, this added to my already high anxiety level with being pregnant with unusual symptoms after miscarrying.  How do you tell the kids that no, someone wouldn’t be interested in stealing their toys when thieves broke in and carried off board games?!

You would think that this would be a quick ordeal as the persons were caught red handed.  Oh No Not At All.  The Grand Jury trial was within the month, but their court dates were pushed back again and again, month after month.

In October we spent substantial time trying to place values on our belongings.  How do you estimate the value of something purchased brand new for a small fortune in 1970, a family treasure, that now can only be purchased used for about a hundred bucks?  How do you value a hand made, one of a kind item made by someone now deceased?  Items that you weren’t even sure how many you had?  The restitution is only allowed to be actual purchase price as proven by receipts or actual replacement value.

All Four Young Adults finally made Plea Agreements in January/ February of this year.  You would think that this would end the ordeal.  Oh No Not At All.  We still had to wait to be allowed to claim our stolen property.  (We finally got our items back on 9 June 2011.)

Then there is the matter of restitution for the items that were damaged or disposed of (including The Bull’s father’s camera.)  Part of the Plea Agreements was that we would receive from these Four Young Adults money to replace these items.  If nothing else, we figured we would get our due in October 2011 when their Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends would be garnished.

The matter is concluded, right?  Oh No Not At All.  Last Friday we were informed that one of these Four Young Adults (Mr. Career Criminal) is contesting the restitution.  The Bull needs to rearrange his work schedule to take substantial time off to make a 3 hour drive, one way, to take to the court paperwork that they have already been given and testify.

Where is the justice?????  We have been wronged and yet the courts allow these criminals to continue to delay justice.  I am SO frustrated right now I want to scream!!

Sweet Thoughts on a Sunday

On Friday I was looking up the kids’ names in a baby name book.  (We named them after people who have been important in our lives, or people we like, not based on the name’s meaning.)    I looked up our little baby girl’s name, although I already knew what it meant.

What I didn’t know was that her name is a symbol for victory!  It struck me as being wonderfully significant–a victory of having, holding a baby after losing one in miscarriage.

That would have been enough, but there’s more. . .

Saturday morning the girls and I left to run a few errands.  There on the radio was one of my favorite songs, “Redeemer,” by Nicole C. Mullen.

A few lines popped out at me.  In an audio sense I mean. :)

“The very same God that spin things in orbit
runs to the weary, the worn, and the weak
and the same gentle hands that hold me when I’m broken
they conquered death to bring me victory!”

And I know that this song is talking about the LORD’S victory over death and sin that we celebrate every Easter. . . but on a personal level, it is a lovely realization that He conquered death in my life (miscarriage) and brought me Victory (Calf #5.)

It had been a long, rough pregnancy last year and the fear of miscarrying again was huge.  Add to that scary symptoms that I’d not experienced in other pregnancies and a boatload of family difficulties and changes.  I am so grateful for this little Victory Girl and for a sweet little realization.

This Is The End . . .

. . . of the year.  Goodbye 2010.  Hello 2011!  Please be good to us, I beg of you!!

Remember this commercial . . . .

Or this one?

We loved these, though I preferred the ballet one. :)

This week I have read two blog postings of hope and ideas and words for 2011 and I liked both of them.  So I’m going to do my own Miller Lite-type combining.  If that’s ok and not a copyright infringement, anyway.  ;)

From the first, I get these words of wisdom:

I desecrate now when I dismiss it in my push for the next. There are snowflakes sticking to the glass of the window.Right there at the table’s edge I can see them clustering together, piling, melding on the pane. I almost missed it.

I miss living this moment because my head’s already moved into the next moment — the one that isn’t even here yet — and when I am not in this moment but trying to shove into a moment that doesn’t even exist — I miss out on living at all. I may bodily be in this space but I am not even alive.

Could I be walking through the years but not even be alive?

She goes on to talk about the pushing ahead to fear, the worry of what is to come.  Staying grounded in the here helps one to enjoy the moment and not get too upset about the what is to come.  Or should I say, what may be to come?

It strikes me that our LORD calls Himself  “I AM,” not “I WILL BE.”

(Nor does He call Himself “I WAS,” but that is somewhere I am not yet willing to go. . . the regrets and pain of the past have been huge for me and I can’t yet deal  with many of these.)

And He knows how much I am filled with fear over what may happen.  I spend far too much time planning and fearing the future.  I find myself miserable and afraid over things that,  honestly, may never happen.

On another level, I spend much time trying to get to the future.  There are so many items on the “to do” list that the loved ones often get pushed aside.  Sadly, these little people with whom I’ve been blessed, the very ones for whom I am often doing the “to do” list, are the ones who suffer.

No I can’t play a game with you, I am washing the dishes and making dinner.

No I can’t read you a book, I have to get the laundry into the washer.

No I can’t help with your chores, I am busy with my own chores.

No I can’t make you cocoa or play Legos with you or hug you or take the time to listen to your stories. I am too busy.

Sad, so terribly sad.  Calf #5 may be the one to teach me what I already know and have preached for nearly a decade.  These children grow up so quickly that I don’t want to miss a moment of their young lives.  But I somehow find myself missing their milestones all the time.  All three of the older calves first turned from their tummy to their back at a few months of age–and each time I was in the kitchen when it happened!

I don’t want to wait until tomorrow to start this.  Today I helped #3 put the silverware away.  This was her chore for the day and really, how hard can it be to put 50 pieces of flatware into the drawer?  And yet, she’s only three and a half.  Until a few weeks ago she didn’t know what “silverware” was, so when I asked her to put the silverware away she started stacking up the children’s plastic cups.

It took maybe two or three minutes of my time to help her.  I had other things I needed to do–feed the baby, eat my own breakfast, take a shower.  But I made myself stop and work with her.  I like to think that it helped her more than just getting the spoons and forks and knives to their proper places, that working together with her mama and not feeling the loneliness and despair of having to do something beyond her abilities all by her small self was good.

Two minutes.

The second post offers a prayer, and one little line of it stood out to me.

You’ve gone to measurable lengths in the last year to show me how the enemy of my soul operates in one specific area: he can’t block You from blessing Your children so he tries to block Your children from enjoying it.

Gulp.

See why I tacked this one with the first?  I get so caught up in the what is next that the now disappears.  And I rarely enjoy the blessing of now because I’m stuck on the difficulties of life.

We have had many good, difficult, rough times these past few years.  Lots of change, lots of stress, lots of hard things.

I’m learning, much like others who have gone before me, that the joy and pain of life is linked.  Rarely do we have one without the other.

(I’ve not yet read that book, by the way; though I do intend to. . . someday. . .)

One way I’ve learned to cope with the hard times of life is to cling to the promises given over and over in the Bible:  Despite our difficulties, trials, fires, and hard times the LORD is with us.

It’s taken me some time to realize exactly why this helps.  It was only cemented in my mind this week after reading this blog post.  It’s not that His presence takes away the hard times.  It doesn’t necessarily make them easier for us to deal with.  But knowing that He is with us, with me, is proof that He has not abandoned me.  The bad things in life are not happening because He has gone, is unhappy with me, doesn’t love me.  This is life and sometimes it’s not very pretty.

(So I guess, technically, that’s three blog postings not just two.  :D  )

I never cared for new year’s resolutions, I thought it was a clever disguise for my mom to try to convince us to fight less and behave better.  Besides, they are too easily broken and then what do you do? give up till the next year?  But I want to keep this thought in my mind.  Maybe I’ll stick it on the mirror.

When hard times come,
. . . because they will come. . .
I want to remember that He is near me.
He has not abandoned me and He still loves me,
no matter what is happening and how I feel.
I want to remember to look past the hard times to see the joy in them.
I don’t want to miss it.
And I want to do this where I am today,
here and now.

Song for a Fifth Child

Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

 

SHE IS HERE!!!!!

OK, I’m a little slow.  She’s been here for two weeks now.  (and this picture is a week old!)

We are enjoying our newest little one.  I’ve spent much time cuddling, feeding, and loving on our newest little miss.

The kids LOVE her.  They always want to hug and kiss and touch her.  Calf #1 sings “Jesus loves you” to her when she is fussy.  Calf#2 makes her neat things out of paper for when she’s bigger.  Calf #3 wants to hold her all the time.

The Bull got to have some time off work and was able to spend lots of time with his newest daughter (and the rest of us, too!)

Her birth was not fun; somewhat traumatic, but I don’t feel like talking about that now.  (Maybe some day, maybe not.)  But she and I are healthy, and we are enjoying our new little one.  We are so glad she’s here!

Calf #2, I think, put all our thoughts best a week or so ago.  He came in to where #5 and I were resting in my bed and looked at her for a few minutes.  Then he said, quietly as she was sleeping, “God let us have a live baby!”

I could only sigh in agreement.  “Yes, buddy, you are right.  Wasn’t He gracious to us?”  :)

Twofer

So we (The Bull and I) were wandering through the grocery store, trying to walk and get labor started (. . . didn’t work, btw.)  As we were walking through the aisles to get some tea we ran into a lady we’ve known for years, but have not seen in a while.  I hoped in vain that we could pass by her unnoticed.  (ha ha ha ha ha!)  The conversation went a bit as follows:

(her) “Oh, Hi there! How are you doing?”

(me) “Oh, just hanging in there.” (hoping she didn’t notice my belly sticking out a mile.)

(her) “Oh I see you are expecting another one!  What number is this now?”

(me) (smile and walk on)

(The Bull) “This is our fourth.”

(me) (hoping in vain that this will end the conversation. . . )

(her) “And when are you due?”

(me) (suddenly very interested in reading all the boxes of tea)

(The Bull, proudly) “Last week!”

(chit chat about hope it works out ok, congratulations, etc.)

It’s these kinds of conversations that make me want to skip social situations entirely.  I hate being overdue and yet that seems to be my lot in life as I’ve gone past my due date with each of the calves . . . . . . . except for the one I miscarried.  :(

And that other question?  Please, just shoot me ok?

Holly mentioned this the other day.  It’s such a hard question and there is no right answer to it. . . I personally answer based on whether or not I’ll ever see the asker again, usually.  Some times I really want to say that this is my fifth child.  It’s kind of awkward when I say that to someone who sees our children, since the head count doesn’t add up.  (Although it was kinda fun watching her face trying to figure that one out.)

A couple of times I’ve been asked, and Calf #2 answers.  His response is something like this:

“We have 6 in our family, 3 boys and 1 girl but 1 boy died before he was born.  And now we’re gonna have another one, but we don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl yet.”

Fortunately this has been in business contexts (doctor’s office, that kind of thing) so the response to this revelation is usually something like “Oh I’m so sorry!  Let’s check out how you’re doing!”

Once again, I am sad about how this miscarriage has affected the children.  He’s also asked me if this baby will die.  “Well buddy. . . . everybody dies. . . . so yes, this baby will die.  I don’t know if the baby will get to stay with us for a while.”  I just don’t want to make a promise I can’t keep.

Waiting

It’s so hard to wait for something you really, really want.

like a baby.

Then again, I’m not yet to my due date. . . have gone past with three mooselets.  I expect to have a ways to go yet.

The birth tub has been set up and filled.  Even before birth, it is important. I soak every night and it eases back pain.  The supplies have been bought and tossed into Calf #3’s room, now turned into a birth room.

The heartburn has not been so bad this pregnancy. Not sure why that is, but I am very, very grateful.  The SPD pain has eased somewhat also (although I slipped on ice getting into the van on Monday and aggravated it. ouch.)  The numbness and tingling in my hands has gotten worse and worse and I am looking forward to it disappearing.  I know it will taking giving birth to do that.

The Bull’s mom is here, she will help with the children during labor along with another friend who is a doula.

All the children have said they want to be with me when the baby is born.  Calf #1 wanted to be there when his sister was born, but I did not know that until two years later.  (That was so disappointing.  I just figured that he, being a boy, would not want to be there.  Didn’t even consider it!)  Calf #2 has said that he wants to be in the tub with me and he wants to cut the umbilical cord.  Calf #3 has said she wants to be there too, but this may be a “me too” kind of response.

We have read a few books with them to prepare them.

Welcome with Love

I Watched My Brother Being Born

Baby on the Way

And we’ve watched a few youtube videos of home birth and water births.  Because it’s all very well and good to say that “mama will make noise,” but birth noise is something entirely different from what they are used to.

We’re also still dealing with the after effects of last year’s miscarriage.  Calf #2 has asked (SEVERAL times) if the baby will die.  I do not want to make promises I have no control over. . . but we do have a good track record of healthy babies.  “I don’t know, but I hope not!”

We are all waiting.

While I’ve been waiting, I’ve been busy.  There are the multitudes of things that ought to be done before a baby’s birth, house cleaning and clothes washing and keeping up with the chores.  There are a few things special to our situation; I was so sick this summer that I put off many, many things. Now I’m playing catch up.  (trying to catch up.)

And there’s this:

which really hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be.  I have a new ergonomic keyboard and type for a half hour then take a break. It works ok with the hands.  I thought about skipping this year: what if the baby comes early? what if I can’t finish the novel? what if I can’t type?

The Bull asked a good question, though: would I be more disappointed to try, and not make my goal?  Or to not try at all?

So I got started.  Doing pretty well too.  Maybe this is why I’m not desperate to have this baby, as I have been in previous pregnancies.  Maybe I’ve just finally understood that the baby will come when he/she is ready, and it is OK.

Maybe I’m just not looking forward to nursing round the clock and sleep deprivation and newborn days with busy older siblings.  :)

No matter.  I continue to wait, and it is OK.  Baby will be here soon!

Pregnancy Update

Yup, still here.  Still pregnant.  Given my propensity to birthing after my due date, I may have another month-ish to go.

I am very happy to say that the nausea has finally disappeared!!  Sometime between the end of September and beginning of October things got a lot easier in dealing with food.  Thank you LORD!

The other discomforts are still here, though.  Like the SPD pain.  Seeing my chiropractor weekly (cha-ching!) helps keep it to a dull roar.  The gagging (especially while taking vitamins) continues; I’m taking a break from my prenatal vitamin for a few days (it’s one I take 6 a day of!) to see if that will calm down this gag reflex.  A few days ago it started me some really fun braxton hicks contractions.  Good times.

But the braxton hicks hasn’t been as bad this pregnancy as it was with my third little one.  That time they were strong for months.  This time I barely feel them.  I like this better.  :)

Another “fun” part of the end of pregnancy for me is having my hands and fingers falling asleep.  I hear it is similar to a carpal tunnel type of injury.  I think it’s related to normal pregnancy swelling/ water retention, or my neck being out of whack, or something like that.   I use a hot rice pack on my shoulders (to improve blood circulation) and a cold pack on my right wrist, where the swelling is worse (to reduce the swelling) at night and it seems to help a little.  Typing is not fun.  It should go away after baby is born (although after my third calf was born it stuck around for a few months.)

I’ve had three visits with a cranio sacral therapist (cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching!) and I guess it’s helped a lot.  At least, going in for the third visit I felt better than I did going in the first time.  Something about human touch, and an understanding person to talk with maybe.

I have found an interesting thing happening.  I wasn’t planning for this, although it is a good thing. . . I was trying to be cautious and wait a bit. . . having been afraid all this pregnancy of losing this baby, I am surprised already to find myself falling in love with him or her!!  I knew it would happen.  I just didn’t expect it so soon.  It coincides with another interesting thing:  So much of the fear that has plagued me this pregnancy just. . . disappeared??  Maybe I just had to get closer to the end of the pregnancy, to see that things were probably going to be okay?  Getting past the day I miscarried?  I don’t know how or why but I am relieved.

And I am nesting.  I think it’s hitting a little earlier this time? I don’t know.  All I can say is I’m thrilled to be able to tackle the piles that have been accumulating all summer long. . . when I was exhausted and nauseous and couldn’t focus or think straight.  So far I’ve done two loads of baby laundry (receiving blankets, bibs, snowsuits) and I have a few more to go.  Maybe getting past the nausea helped with this, too.

As for the children, right now they are sledding down our lovely little hill in the two inches of snow we’ve gotten in the past week.  (If past years are any indication, this will be added to over the winter until it finally melts in April.)  Yesterday they built a snow man.

Baby-wise, they are also starting to get excited.  They are coloring pictures for the new baby and making projects, even (the middle kid) a puppet stage!  The oldest calf has this habit of coming up to me to say, “The baby needs a hug!” and then he hugs and kisses my belly.  I’m really liking this!  The little girl asked if the baby will sleep in her crib with her.  (Yes, she’s still in a crib.  Sometimes.)  I have this idea that when the baby and I are napping we’ll have a companion.  :)

And even still. . . when my younger son introduces our family, he says “We have six in our family but one isn’t here because he died before he was born but my mom is pregnant with one.”  It is a mouthful for the kid.  I feel bad for the people he’s told (a doctor and a guy who came to fix stuff in the house) but they have handled it fairly well.    And it is good for me to know that this is still on his mind.  It’s on my mind, too.

And along those lines, I have run into these two good articles that I thought I’d share.  (Thanks to Crystal, another mama who misses her children, for sharing these on her blog!)

This one is written by a woman who lost a baby and gives some very good advice to those who want to support someone in grief.  (And if you’re curious, it was months 2 through 11 that were hardest for me.)  (And as for these, we call them “Bible verse band-aids.”)

This one I wish I’d read a few months ago, as the anniversary of miscarrying with my son was horrible and I think it would have helped to read that yes, it is normal to want to do “something” and to find some practical things to do to remember him.

(More good advice to be found here.)

Well, that’s about all the wrists can tolerate right now.  I’d like to say that I will post when labor starts, but I have a history of fast labors so I may not.  (With my 3rd labor, she was born exactly one hour and fifteen minutes after my water broke.)  It’s entirely possible that my next post will be an introduction of some sort.  :)  At yesterday’s check, baby was posterior.  I’ve done that before and it was not much fun.  Would you pray, please, that baby will turn to anterior and stay that way for birth?  Thanks.

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