Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Glass That Halted Christmas

My mom always asks me in November or early December what I want for Christmas. This year I was at a total loss. After some thought, I came up with the idea of red wine glasses. I grew up on red wine, and after a white phase that lasted a few years, I'm back onto my reds. My favourites are Trius Merlot and the Merlot by Yellow Tail. My "frugal favourite" (ie. the one that I almost always drink) is Cono Sur, a Chilean Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Let me know if you have any other favourites. I'm always open to suggestions!

Anyhow, as one of our many wedding gifts, over 11 years ago, we received a set of wine glasses. Nice glasses, yes, but a little skimpy on size, particularly for reds. I had seen some nice big glasses over the past year, and decided it was my turn to get me some.

A sample of our first, rather modestly-sized wine glasses...

When I opened up a very large box on Christmas Eve at my parents' house, I was not thinking wine glasses. The box was simply too large. Especially for only six glasses. But as I opened the box, I saw that they were indeed wine glasses. Six red wine glasses. Six gargantuantly-sized red wine glasses. Shock and awe were felt all around the living room.

Witness the shock and awe:
Go ahead. Click on the picture. I know you want to.

And more shock and awe being interrupted by uproarious laughter:
(Dagmar and I should be on TV, don't you think? We're so dramatic. ;) )

On second glace, I just noticed that the glass is the size of Dagmar's head!

Anyways... the glasses literally stopped the show. The gift-giving, if but for a minute, came to a crashing halt. I believe my first comment was: "I didn't mean that I wanted to be able to pour a whole BOTTLE into one of them!!!"

Now, you may be thinking: Oh poor, uneducated Kathy. Don't you know that red wine glasses are supposed to be large for _________________ (insert reasons here. I haven't got a clue. I just like how they looked, and the fact that if one night I wanted to, I could get totally smashed off of only one glass.)

In response to your wine snobbery, I will simply appeal to my lowly standard of comparison. Remember the "modestly-sized" wine glass above? Well, check it out in comparison to the new bigger brother:


Ya, it'll take me a while to get used to these new babies. But I think I'm up to the challenge! :)

Happy New Year's everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

I love Christmas so much! And even more now that Kaiya is at the age to recognize it and get super-excited about it! We had such a fabulous day today. We always celebrate Christmas Eve at my parents' house. We managed to get there before noon today and had a wonderful day full of food, family, and lots and lots of gifts! I think Kaiya was overwhelmed by how much she was spoiled. I certainly was. Her first gift (a cash register) was enough to keep her busy the entire night. But the gifts just kept right on coming. There seemed to be no end. And she did so well today. What a trooper. I thought there was absolutely no chance she would nap, but sometime around 2 she said to me, "Nap time." I took her cue and led her to my parents' room for a nap. I don't think she slept much (she loves to play with all her stuffed toys at nap time) but at least she had a good hour and a bit of quiet time. She fell asleep on the car ride home, and Jeff carried her up to bed. The start of many good Christmas memories for her, I'm sure.

It's been a tough 2009, with many ups and downs. I'm glad to say I'm finally starting to feel rested and hopeful. Jeff and I have had some good, deep talks, and I sense a vision for our future as a family, and my hope is being slowly restored that perhaps there may come to be more than three of us. One day at a time. The holidays have been an emotional time for me, but also a really good time. Praise God for his goodness to us! He will restore us and renew our hope.

Thank you all for your friendship, encouragement and love. It is the support of our community of friends and family that keeps us looking forward and getting back up when we fall. I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas. I hope that God renews your faith and hope in him during this wonderful time, as he has for me.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Life Through Pictures

Some time at the end of November, in the midst of the mind-numbing exhaustion that was colouring every aspect of life, I looked through our photo albums on Picasa. Our endless, disorganized photo albums, where hundreds and hundreds of pictures have been stored since Kaiya was born. I saw photo after photo of sweetness and bliss, happy smiles, close cuddles, cherished moments. And I realized that I was half-baked in many of those photos, longing for a nap or just a few moments of peace. And I thought, "Man, we parents need to keep taking lots and lots and lots of pictures." It just hit me that this thing we call LIFE is what happens in the midst of everything else: the stress of balancing work and life, of dealing with yet another childhood sickness, of not knowing what the job situation is going to look like in just a few months time, of wishing for just one more hour -please!- of sleep in the morning. And with a little one at home, that wonderful thing called LIFE can become such a blur. What day is it? Time is it? When do I have to be where? And for goodness sake, would you just let me change your stinky diaper already??!!!

When I look at the pictures, I see what everyone else sees: the sweet moments; a happy family. And I quickly forget the mind-numbing tiredness I was feeling that day. And I think: yes, we have got to keep taking these pictures. Because it all goes by so quickly. How can it be that Kaiya is going to be two this January? Where did these little sentences popping out of her mouth come from? And when did her hair become long enough to hold a ponytail for an entire day?

The moments slip by, so quickly, undetected. Thank God the pictures will always be there, chronicling the beauty and wonder that is our journey with Kaiya.

(The photos in this post are the ones that particularly made these thoughts spring to mind, as I remember how zonkified I was on the day they were taken. But I don't look tired, do I? I just look like a really happy mom. And I am.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Bittersweet Return

I know that I'm finally ready to start writing again. I've had many moments lately where I've thought, "Oh, I have to blog about that." It's a good feeling, having these thoughts. It's been a long, dry series of months. It's always a good sign when the inspiration starts flowing again.

But before I feel I can move on, there is one post that needs to be written. A post that has been on my mind for well over a month. It's a difficult post to write, but I don't feel the freedom to move on until I write it. I'm not sure how it will go. The emotions may get in the way of the flow of the writing. But it doesn't matter. This post isn't being written to impress. It's simply being written to try to bring some small sense of closure to some of the pain that has underscored this fall.

Look at this beautiful picture. It's Jeff's artistic rendition of a small plant that we own, that holds its roost on a small shelf above our kitchen sink. If you look carefully, you will see that the plant has three distinct stems: a tall one, a medium one, and a little baby one. Perhaps you see the analogy I'm making. Jeff was given this plant by one of his students when he was teaching Adult Ed. at Westlane in Niagara Falls as a congratulations on our first pregnancy. As you all know, sweet Kaiya bear was the wonderful result of that pregnancy.

I have often looked at that plant since Kaiya's birth and wondered at the thoughtfulness of such a gift. So simple, yet so meaningful. A plant to celebrate the promise of a child. I've watched the plant grow, the "baby" getting bigger, and it's brought an extra bit of happiness to my life. This may seem strange, but it wasn't until this fall that I realized what type of plant it was: a Jade plant. And then I realized what a crazy coincidence this was. Kaiya's middle name is Jade. I'm not kidding. When I thought of the name "Jade" and considered it for Kaiya, I liked it for its connection to the gemstone so valued in Asian cultures. I never even thought of the little plant sitting on our window sill. I'm amazed at the connections that appear in our lives.

Life took a turn for the worse this October. On October 14th, I lost the baby I had been carrying for 12 weeks.

I feel like I could stop this post right now. What else is there to say? How do I possibly explain the experience, or what I feel now?

I awoke with a start around 3 in the morning to the sensation of my water breaking. I literally sat up in bed, deeply inhaling the panic. I knew immediately what was happening. But I had no idea how bad it would get. At the time, I naively thought that I could simply put a pad on and go back to bed. I even thought I might be able to make it to my 12:30 class the next day! I was very wrong. As time went on, the clotting intensified. I would lie down for a while, then feel the pressure, get up to go to the toilet, and pass more clots. After some time, we realized this might not be so simple. Jeff got up to make lesson plans and call in sick. While he was downstairs, and this is very difficult to write, I am very sure the baby passed. It was the largest "clot" I felt the entire time, and as it passed, my body let out a cry that I could not control. I was too terrified to look. I simply flushed. I'm still conflicted about that moment.

Around 7 in the morning, I thought the worst was finished. The bleeding seemed to have slowed down, and I rested, calling different people to let them know what happened. My midwives scheduled an ultrasound for me that day, around 1 or 2, and shortly before then, I had a shower. The bleeding started again. Very heavily. I managed to get dressed, and my sister arrived to go with me to the ultrasound and then a midwife appointment.

I should have gone to the hospital. I should have just cancelled all of my appointments and gone. I kept hoping and praying the bleeding would stop. I was so terrified to go to the hospital. I didn't want to have a D & C. I just wanted the bleeding to stop, and I wanted to go home. By the time Dagmar dropped me off, I knew I was screwed. I knew that I was going to go into shock soon. It was around 5, and I was surprised to be home alone, as Jeff was taking a little longer than expected to pick up Kaiya from daycare. I started to lose it. I started to completely panic. I had never seen so much blood in my life before. It just wouldn't stop. I called Nathan and Rose to ask them to come and watch Kaiya so that Jeff could take me to the hospital, and I completely lost it on Nathan. (I later read that going hysterical is one symptom of shock.) Jeff came home, Nathan and Rose came over, and my parents stopped by. I hugged both of them. I was sobbing and shaking. I was so scared.

We made it to the hospital, but I passed out as soon as we stepped inside. I later had Jeff recount the events, and it seems I was out for quite a few minutes. When I came to, I was in a wheelchair, groggily giving a nurse some information. I was soon put on a bed. Jeff was beside me the whole time. All I remember is being ridiculously terrified... of the IV, of the waiting, of what I knew was happening and going to happen. When I get scared or nervous, I get really cold and shake. My whole body was shaking. Jeff kept finding ways to make me laugh and relax me. And he held my hand. That was the most important thing that I remember about my hospital stay: the sweet pressure of his hand on mine. I can't imagine having gone through the experience without him.

In the end, the dreaded occurred. I had a D & C. And it wasn't that bad. Strangely, I felt no pain...NO pain(!) throughout the entire miscarriage and after the procedure. I thank God for that small blessing.

I ended up having to stay overnight in the hospital because my hemoglobin count was so low. And then I had to endure a full day of blood transfusions. I had lost 2 liters of blood. The following week was rough. I was back to work on Monday, but I was exhausted and had splitting headaches. This continued until I started taking iron pills the following Saturday.

I'm sorry if you found the explanation graphic. I feel it's important for me to write this down. Miscarriages are still a very taboo topic, and as such, they are not well-understood. I hope to add to the understanding.

So how am I now? How have I handled the emotional aspect of losing a baby? It depends on the day. For a long time, I had no choice. I had to just put my head down and work. It was a busy semester, with me juggling three jobs. There was no time, no room for personal reflection, for serious grieving. Many nights, I lit a candle before going to sleep, and I apologized to the baby and told him how much I missed him. But once the candle burned away, I stopped. Then I found myself so tired. I can't tell you how tired I was all of November and into early December. Each day I woke up tired, dreading all that I had to do, and then dragging my weary butt through the day. I put on the face for most people, but as soon as I got home, I collapsed. Napping didn't even make a dent in the exhaustion. All I could see was my gazillion obligations, the busy, chopped-up segments of my day, and all I wanted was to be left the hell alone.

And then, work slowed down, and the past two weeks have been a gradual awakening of feeling. I've been crying more and grieving more, and that's okay. I've been remembering a lot of the details I wrote above, and that's hard, but it's okay too. And I've been hugging Kaiya more (even when she pushes me away), and feeling grateful for the family that I do have.

Every woman expresses it differently. I have a friend who has a hard time seeing pregnant women, or women with newborns at the mall. I find I'm okay with that. I may stare a little longer, or sigh a little deeper, but it doesn't hurt too much. For me, the hard part is when I look at Kaiya and desperately, desperately long for a sibling for her. She is such a little mother in how she plays with her toys, and she would make such a good big sister. We always wanted to have our kids close together.

Along with this pain is the growing fear that it will never work again. We will never have another child. This fear is new, but it's strong. I look at that Jade plant differently now. I look, and now instead of seeing the wonderful family of three, all I see is that there are only three. And I think, "Is that all there is to be, God?" And I hope that I am wrong. But I have a different understanding of pregnancy now. I have realized the true miracle of pregnancy and birth, and I have heard countless stories of the millions of things that can go wrong. And it's hard not to be scared. I've never been quick to get pregnant, and I fear that time is not on my side.

And for now, that is how this story ends. Sadness and fear, and at this point, not a lot of hope. It has been a difficult fall, and all I want now is a peaceful Christmas with time to grieve and maybe, just maybe, a renewing of hope.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

If Anyone Is Still Out There...

I just want to let you know that the blog hasn't died. I promise. I'll be writing again soon... I feel it in my bones. ;)