Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I Pick Up My Guitar Again

The fingers of my left hand have their nails clipped down, and are puffy, sore and throbbing.

It feels f-ing great.

I picked up my guitar for the first time since December. After All Of This began, I had neither the time nor inclination to strum.

But, right now, ignorance is bliss. Hopefully, of course, knowledge will be even more bliss. Little Warrior had a ct scan last Thursday and we still don't know the results. So, enjoy the ignorance; you can't hurry them up anyway.

Anyway, I got my reservation certificate for "summer camp" in the mail, along with all my friends receiving theirs. Come July, we might all be hanging out together.

This led me to the aforementioned guitar and the song for all guitar-playing-going-to-camp-loving-sing-alongs-flag-flying-freaks, Rise Up Singing.

Wow. Amazing the depth of meaning to so many songs, once one has gone through another Life Experience. And Little Warrior was singing along with me. And mouthing on the new tuner I received for Christmas and just figured out how to use.

And I played my favorite song in the world. I loved this before All Of This, but now ... well, you know I had tears pouring as I played.

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth's lamentation.
I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What through the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
What through the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

On 'I Love Lucy,' Hair and Maternity Fashion

One of those cheesy things that people say about having kids is that it's so much fun being able to share things with them; see things through new eyes.

Cheesy, but utterly true.

The Boy and I watched the 'I Love Lucy' where she has the baby. "Woodoo!" He was completely cracking up. This past weekend, I introduced him to "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" which he has now identified as his favorite movie of all time. Cult-cha, cult-cha, cult-cha ...

In watching 'Lucy,' I realized something. When I began having babies (1995), we all complained about the "Lucy look" and big smocky-maternity tops with bows at the neck. By the time I had my fourth (2005), that look was out and skin-tight spandex maternity tops were in.

Guess which looks better?

I don't care if you have are one of the 5% of pregnant women who actually only gains weight in your tummy ... the popped-out belly button showing through your shirt is just not attractive. And to the other 95% of us, those tops also show the rolls of back fat that come along with pregnancy. And the pint of Ben & Jerrys every night.

Vive La Lucy!

Has PeaceBang's Beauty Tips for Ministers hit on maternity wear? Hmm, maybe if one is a pregnant minister, one could get away with just wearing a robe for 9 months. Tee-hee.

Seriously ... a little modesty during pregnancy is not a bad thing. Look at the photos of Gwen Stefani on the above mentioned website. Sexy and pretty, but loose and blousy, too.

And hair ... I have to echo PeaceBang's comment about seeing all the lank hair. It's not just me! All of a sudden, it seems like the big trend is "growing it out" hair. Whatever happened to hairdo's? I mean, I'm not talking the Southern woman's "mold it into a football helmet" hair, but you know, hairdos. Even "The Jennifer" was a hairdo.

Now, I will admit to being very fashion-challenged right now. My clothing must be a) nursing accessible, b) nursing-discreetly-able and c) No high heels, because I'm carrying Little Warrior in a sling. I am pleased to say that I have found some nursing clothes that are actually nice, and not in-your-face-I'm-a-Mom. . Generally, avoid "Motherhood" (the store, not the institution) for nursing apparel.

Not that you have to have nursing apparel. A nice top, raised up from the bottom, will work just fine.

Lastly ... if you're able to be pregnant, or have hair (whether it's lank or not) ... say a little 'thank you' to the universe tonight. Just another day in paradise.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Happiness Can Be Found in a Cup of Cheerios

20 minutes of pure joy, courtesy of a bowl of dry cereal.

Last night, Little Warrior held a cup of dry cheerios and alternately ate one, fed one to Daddy, fed one to Mama. Between each step, she laughed uproariously. Dad ... ate ... a cheerio!!! Is that the funniest thing in the world, or what??? Mom ate a cheerio! Ohmigod, these people are hilarious!!!

Then, we started with the "mmm's" ... she'd eat a cheerio and say, "Mmmm." We, of course, would repeat it back to her, "Mmmm." Bwahahahah! Look what I can make Mom and Dad do!

Then, of course, The Boy, The Princess and Bo Peep had to come see what all the laughing was about. And they had to be fed cheerios. Even hilarious-er!

Thank you for that moment, Universe.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Funny Movies

Bravo just finished doing a series on the top 100 Funniest Movies. I, of course, disagreed with many of their choices and was amazed at the shows they left out.

So, my top 10, realizing I'm probably forgetting some great ones:

1. Better Off Dead
2. Amazon Women on the Moon
3. A Christmas Story
4. A Fish Called Wanda
5. A Mighty Wind
6. Harold and Maude
7. Parenthood
8. Monty Python's Holy Grail
9. Home for the Holidays
10. Heathers

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Happy Tortilla Soup

Not really in the mood to blog ... Little Warrior got her double-strength, double-scoop of chemo on Thursday, but she is doing great, so I'm just enjoying it. Watching the kids playing outside in the sprinkler and so glad that they can still get so much enjoyment out of something so simple.

Great "recipe" to share, especially if you want to get more veggies in your diet (or your children), but aren't that big a fan of a bowl of steamed vegetables.

Take a lot of vegetables -- last time, I used onions, celery, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli, garlic, and carrots. Whatever combo you like, but be sure to have some kind of squash in it. That helps the texture.

Roast them in the oven til they're releasing their aromas and getting kind of soft.

Toss them in a big pot with chicken or vegetable broth, a couple-or-three corn tortillas, a can or two of tomatoes (fire-roasted, if you can find them), a generous amount of cumin and oregano, and some fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and membranes removed.

Cook til everything is soft enough to be pureed. Cool for a while.

Puree in the blender.

That is not as simple as it seems.

Notes on the pureeing: I love my immersion blender, but it's just not going to give you the silky texture that makes this so amazing. So, about a half a blender at a time, puree the soup. Put a towel on the lid. It's going to spatter, just accept it. Pour the pureed soup back in the pan, and either cook it a bit if you want it thicker, or add water if you want it thinner.

To serve: Garnish with some chopped grilled chicken -- or not. Swizzle a little Mexican crema on it, or sour cream diluted with milk. Crumble some Queso Fresca and tortilla chips on top.

Damn, that's good. And I don't even like broccoli.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Happy Birthday, Little Warrior

Last year, a few days after LW was born, I wrote up her birth story so I wouldn't forget any of the details. (They do tend to run together, after four.) I offer it here, unedited except for changing the names.
It’s been five days since LW was born. A beautiful day, with a full moon.

My labor was induced, under the advice of my doctor, who worried about the gestational diabetes causing problems. Since LW’s older sister Bo Peep was 9 lbs 5 oz, I concurred. And, I’d been expecting that I would be induced much earlier. With my other three, I developed intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy – ICP – and one of the risks is sudden stillbirth. I had a new doctor, and she wanted to go in and get the baby as soon as we knew she would be reasonably ready. But, surprise, surprise – I never developed the ICP, or never even enough to get my prescription for Actigall filled. Being a fourth child myself, I was prepared for the fourth bringing many surprises, but this was definitely unexpected and pleasant.

Before LW was even conceived, The Husband and I talked about inviting a very special lady to be in the delivery room with us. Our children call her “Lala” and she is the children’s third grandmother. No quotation marks around grandmother, if you please. She loves them and spoils us all like crazy. Last semester, when I went to theological school, she was here every Monday to be the “gap care” between when I left and when The Husband came home. She swears it is we who give the favor to her.

So, after clearing it with the other two grandmas, we invited Lala to be there. She never had children of her own, and I wanted her to be able to somewhat experience the magic.

So, the morning of May 24 arrived. The Husband’s mother was already here, so she was home with the other kids to get them off to school, watch Bo Peep, etc. We had to be at the hospital by 5:30 am.

Went in and got hooked up to a little nip of pitocin to start things going. About an hour or two later, my doctor came in and broke my water, which really got things going. I waited a little long to get the epidural, but I got it, and things felt much better. Lala was here by this point, and the three of us were able to talk and gossip and what-have-you. The Husband put on a good high energy cd I had mixed.

About 11:15, my nurse checked me. I was at 6 cm. 10 minutes later, after looking at the rate and strength of the contractions on the readout, she did another check. “She is THERE!” she told the other nurse. They went to get my doctor. She was across the hall, with another patient who was in the process of pushing.

“Okay, we need you to pant like a puppy when you have those contractions so we can wait for your doctor.”

Easier said than done. Pant, pant, pant. Pant, pant … intake breath, try to remember how to pant … Music is playing, “My life goes on in endless song, above earth’s lamentations …” The nurses comment on how great the music is. “Jeremiah was a bullfrog! He was a good friend of mine!” One nurse commented that this baby was going to be born singing. The baby was about to be born, plain and simple. “She’s not yet crowning,” said the other nurse, but it was obvious she was coming. They had moved a mirror to where I could see this one born (I never have before). “See, that’s her hair,” they pointed out. “I don’t think I can keep from pushing for much longer,” I told them, a bit desperately. “It’s okay,” I was reassured. “Do what you have to do.” They praised me, saying it was obvious this was my 4th, as a less-experienced Mom would have already had the baby.

“Go tell the other mother to hurry things up, cut to the chase,” I joked weakly to The Husband.

At some point during this, I had said to Lala, who was standing in the corner behind me, “Are you sure you don’t want to sit down?” “I can’t sit down!” she said excitedly, showing me her trembling hands.

Just in the nick, my doctor came across the hall. Two pushes, and LW was born, and she was, as the nurses said, born singing. Lusty cries came out of her mouth before she was completely out of my body. And for the first time, I got to see it all. She was beautiful, just like a baby doll. Still covered in vernix and connected to her placenta, they placed her on my chest. Instinctively, I pulled up my shirt and put her to my breast. The Husband cut the cord, and before she could do more than mouth at my nipple, they took her over to the bin to do all the Apgars and immediate tests. I looked at her longingly, wanting them to hurry the F up so I could hold my beautiful baby. I think Lala said something about how beautiful she was, but not much more. My beloved friend, normally as verbose as I, was silent, just looking at her newest grandchild. Overwhelmed.

After a bit, they finally handed me my beautiful baby and cleared out to give us an hour or so with her before they took her to the nursery for the rest of the testing and such. I put her to my right breast and she immediately began nursing. Her eyes were closed, and she looked blissful. I imagine I looked blissed out myself. Lala left rather rapidly, a curious thing that I commented on later to The Husband. “Didn’t you see the tears in her eyes?” he asked, smiling. Later, she confirmed that she drove straight home and then cried and cried. She described it as the most incredible experience of her life. Since this is a woman who has a pilot’s license, has been a race car driver and has traveled the world extensively, a high compliment.

I am amazed at how love in theory becomes such profound love immediately upon sight of this new creature. She is beautiful, already trying to pull up her head, and of course, brilliant beyond belief. She has my heart completely. I would do anything for her. She is my daughter.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

No longer seething ...

... merely annoyed.

And, realizing that my feelings were probably a bit overblown due to other circumstances.

Little Warrior gets her CT scan on Thursday.

It's the first CT she's had since surgery.

Things were so low, low, low, there for a while. I felt helpless and almost hopeless. The pinnacle ... not pinnacle. Opposite of pinnacle, as in "lowest part of the valley." If there's not a word for that, we need one. The opposite-of-pinnacle was when I handed Little Warrior off to the anesthesiologist for her surgery. I was nothing but a giant mound of pain.

And fear. Did I ever know fear before All of This? Did I ever truly know what being scared was?

A few hours after the surgery began, we got some good news. Then, a few hours later, we got more good news.

Since then, it's been good, good, good and great. Little Warrior is crawling, pulling herself up, eating real food, babbling, gaining weight. Acting like a regular baby.

We just sent in our forms to go to a UU family "summer camp." We're making plans for fun.

This CT ... the results of it can change everything.

I don't want to go to that dark place again.

I don't want to have to treasure every single moment, for God's sake. I want to take some things for granted. I want to let her fuss a little when I'm trying to do something and I want to get irritated at her when she's being a pill.

I don't want to be scared.

A bit of seething ... I have been plagiarized ...


I was doing a bit of web-surfing when I found, to my surprise, that another church has copied the work I did on my own church's website.

Now, if it were just stealing a bit of code, it wouldn't bother me. We all do that. That's part of the joy and being able to hit "view source."

But this ... they actually copied my words. My pages. The way I laid out our site, even our menu bar.

My words.

That's really the part that bothers me. All the rest, I'd just shrug. Imitation and flattery and all that.

But several years ago, I set out to not only set up a kick-ass site, but to write pages that let people know that they were welcome at our church. Not only welcome, but we wanted them. We wanted all the things about them that made them who they are. I worked hard on that. I wanted eloquence and warmth.

I guess I achieved that, since my words were simply cut and pasted into another church's site.

Not only is it a church within my own denomination ... it is also within my own town.

It also happens to be about 3 times the size of our church. So, if you were looking at the websites of the churches in your town, and you found identical stuff on two sites, who would you think cribbed from the other? Of course, the smaller, less funded one, right?


I feel powerless. I feel there's no way I can say anything and not look petty. On top of that, because I'm a ministerial student, at a church without a minister, I'm going to need to make some relationships with the ministers at the other area churches. "Hey, your church ripped off mine" is not conducive to good relationship.

Not feeling flattered.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Tivo and Tidbits

FYIs ...

Right now, they're running the Murphy Brown cancer shows on Nick at Night. At some ungodly time, like 3 am. I love Tivo. There's one coming up -- maybe tonight -- where Jim buys pot for Murphy. It's actually a *really* sweet episode.

The Husband and I have joked a bit about pot. I've never smoked any -- just wasn't my thing -- and liked the fact that I could tell our kids, hey, I never smoked pot. (And not be a hypocrite or a liar.) But during all this with Little Warrior, I've asked (tongue in cheek), shouldn't I smoke pot then nurse her to help her gain weight?

I haven't actually shared that joke with the doctors. You can never tell what they're going to take seriously.

And hey, I'm dieting anyway. Don't need anything to give me the munchies.

Well, Little Warrior's chemo (100% of Dactinomycin and Vincristine) got moved to tomorrow -- the day before her birthday -- rather than Thursday, the day after her birthday. Bummer. Oh well, that's one of the good things about her being a baby. She doesn't care.

I just discovered the wonderful world of yogurt cheese. With some Jezebel sauce (not diet food, but fat-free at least), can't tell the diff between it and cream cheese. And mixed with some unsweetened chocolate and a bit of sugar, spread on a graham cracker, it takes care of the "I've got to cheat" urge.

Another show I've been tivo'ing is "Pop Show" on VH1C. Ahhh, old friends. Well, that whole thing I reported about losing my cry-baby gene ... fuggedaboutit. Complete meltdown at watching REM's "Everybody Hurts."

When that song came out, my sister was planning her escape from her mentally-abusive husband. She was so depressed, almost suicidal. I put that song on a mix tape and she says she would play it over and over.

Best line in the song: "Take comfort in your friends."

Of which I have many. Dang, who sang the song ... someone, maybe Jimmy Buffett or John Denver, had a song in which he referenced going to see some friends, some of whom he'd never met.

Okay, that's going to drive me crazy.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Grass is Always Browner ...

One thing that's kind of amazing about cancer is how often those fighting it, either themselves or their caregivers, will point to someone else fighting it and say, "Oh, but you have it so much harder." It is sweet, and it shows a lot about the empathy in folks.

I've had friends such as Boobless Brigade Master who are fighting cancer themselves, say something about how they think *I'm* so brave. How amazing is that?

I can understand the sentiment. Those of us who have kids, like BBM, would give anything for our child to never go through anything life-threatening. Once you have a child, it's your big fear.

And, on one hand, I have wished a thousand times that it could be me fighting the cancer, not Little Warrior.

But on the other hand ... since I have sworn to be brutally honest in this blog ... there have also been those times when I've felt a little grateful to not be going through cancer myself.


First, of course, was realizing that I am not the one with cancer. That might sound pretty obvious, but it's not. And apparently that's normal. It's a natural instinct for a mother to "take on" her child's cancer.

Having a baby who was, at the time of diagnosis, 100% breastfed, just magnified that. For those who haven't had that experience, it's a bit peculiar in that you don't always know where the baby ends and you begin. You eat cabbage, Baby gets gas. Baby gets thrush, your breasts break out in a rash. Some research even indicates that your breasts somehow "know" when your baby is sick and your milk changes. (Now, I don't know what my breasts are making of this whole chemo thing. Ha.)

So, occasionally, at the start of this, I had to tell myself, Hey. You're not the one with cancer. Little Warrior is.

And occasionally, I was shocked to find that that was a bit reassuring.

On one hand (I'm running out of hands, here), it's just simple logistics. If I were the one with cancer, we'd have to figure out how to get the baby to take a bottle, since I couldn't nurse her, someone else would have to step in to help with the other three kids, etc.

But on the other hand ... haven't we all had the feeling before? Looking at someone going through a horrible situation and thought, "I'm glad it's not me"?

At the very worst of what we've experienced, there were, God help me, moments when I thought, well, if the worst happens, I will still be here. My other three children will still have their mother.

Of course, the fact that I would still be here ... would have to keep on living ... was also a terrible feeling.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Boobless Brigade Master and Her Heartful Poetry

The Trip.


"What Cancer Means to Me"

"How has cancer affected you or your loved ones?"

How much time do you have?

There's a lot of cancer in my family. My dad has had "cancer of the chest wall" and more recently, malignant melanoma. But he's been lucky -- it's always been completely treatable with surgery. He's never had chemo nor radiation. All of us have had the "easy" type of skin cancer, necessitating only removal. I had a pre-cancerous tumor removed along with 2/3 of my thyroid. But one grandmother and one grandfather died of cancer. To a certain extent, I always felt I had a bit of a time-bomb inside.

Thanks to all those "made for TV dramas" or "very special episodes" of sitcoms, I had worried about having a child with cancer, the way I think most parents have.

Never, though, had I ever thought of having a baby with cancer. I mean, that's ridiculous, right?

Just 7 months old, Little Warrior had a bit of a bulge in her abdomen. We went to playgroup and I mentioned the appointment we had later that day. "I washed my hair, just in case we have to go to the hospital," I joked about being overdramatic.

Ha-ha on you, Mom. It would be 2 1/2 weeks before we returned home.

But you do what you have to do. "First you cry," as the book says. And you learn about cancer. And you learn about integrating cancer with normal life. You try to make sure your other three children aren't too traumatized. Cancer becomes normal.

The other day, my 10 year old was chatting with me and with a young friend of his, whose mother just had a baby. "Well, The Boy can tell you all about having a baby in the house, he's well-experienced," I said. The Boy got a thoughtful look. "You know, I've kinda forgotten what it's like to have the excitement of a baby. When I think about Little Warrior now, I just think about her cancer."


I could write for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the next 20 years and probably not be able to cover how cancer has affected me and my loved ones.

If I were the one going through cancer, assuming I survived, I most certainly would be the kind of person who refers to her cancer as a "gift." Something that makes your priorities more clear, your days sweeter. That's just the kind of person I am.

But this is my child ... my baby. There have been gifts along the way, and I think we should glean whatever wisdom we can from the experience. But I will never, ever, call her cancer a gift. I will never believe that it happened for a reason.

But she is a gift. As are all my children, as is my husband.

A week from today, she will be one year old.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wed, May 17, LIVESTRONG and BLOG!

Tomorrow is LiveStrong day, sponsored by the Lance Armstrong foundation. I'd like to encourage all of my fellow bloggers to devote a little space in their blog to writing about how cancer has affected them -- if it has. From the site:

"What should you write?

We want to know what LIVESTRONG Day means to you! You can write about how cancer has affected you or your loved ones and what could have improved the experience or made it less traumatic. You can also add your view about health policy issues facing cancer survivors. Ask your friends and families to share their stories too. Each blog will help put a name and face to the more than 10 million cancer survivors in the United States."

I'm interested in reading these. That's been one of the things I've found out on this "journey" -- seems like everyone has a cancer story. Them, their parents, their child, their spouse, their best friend, their mentor ... oh, the list goes on and on. Heck, even Meredith's (Grey's Anatomy) dog had cancer.

Anyone who came of age in the 80's out there?

The Husband and I were discussing The Big Theme we were taught in high school in the 80's. For both of us, it was "Soviet Union, Bad. They do horrible things like track phone calls and spy on their citizens. United States, Good. We don't do that. Apple pie, red/white/blue = good, Big Brother = bad."

And remember all the talk-radio paranoia in the 90's about Big Government and black helicopters and the UN taking over the world?

That's why we are a bit mystified as to the apparent apathy towards reports that our government ... OUR government ... is, in fact, spying on its own citizens. First, the libraries. Then, the call records. Now, the reporters:

"Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling

May 15, 2006 10:33 AM

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation."

I wish Qwest offered local phone service where I live. I'd sign up with them in a second.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Heart+Kidneys+Body = Person

One of the many thousands of things I've learned through All Of This:

Departmental politics is the same, whether you're a marketing manager, an IT guy, or a doctor.

I know, "duh." But it's one of those things you don't really stop and think about until you're in the big middle of Something Big and trusting everything The Big Doctor tells you, and getting mighty confused because what the Big Oncologist and the Big Surgeon and the Big Cardiologist say ... disagree.

Tomorrow we have the appointment with the Big Cardiologist. Back before her surgery, the oncologist considered putting her on a third type of chemo, doxorubicin, which can be weeeely bad for the heart. So, off for an echo to make sure her heart was up for it.

In that meeting, with the cardiologist, we learned that not only was her heart not up for it, but that she had a Serious Heart Condition, which he claimed had nothing to do with the kidney cancer. Because, you know, we didn't have enough to deal with.

All that may be true, except ... while in the hospital, no cardiologists came around til we threw a fit and demanded them. (The surgery team had notified them of her surgery and asked for their input.) Then, she wasn't scheduled for a post-surgery echocardiogram to see if maybe having a grapefruit and an orange on her kidneys had affected her heart. THEN, I got a call a couple of weeks ago saying that her scheduled appointment in June wouldn't work, so howsabout July?

Does Not Compute.

Well, I managed to get an appointment for May (tomorrow) with the cardiologist, rather than July. She's also getting an echo tomorrow. And our big question will be: okay, does she really have a Serious Heart Condition, or were you overplaying that to make sure the Big Oncologist didn't give her doxorubicin?

Big lesson in all of this ... oncologist only sees cancer. Cardiologist only sees heart. Surgeon only sees stuff to cut out. Apparently some hospitals are now looking to have "Principle Doctors" who will take the role of conductor. Sounds good to me.

Tune in tomorrow for As the Heart Turns ...

Not ennui ... and cheap Frappuccino

Ennui is such a good word, but it's not what I'm feeling. But we need a good word, like ennui, for this feeling ... mildly depressed, but you know you don't have a reason for it, so a little guilt mixed in, and you just kind of feel like a bored, bratty kid who goes and picks on their younger sister just for the heck of it. Nyah, nyah, nyah. I'm gonna eat worms.

We need a word for it. It's not depressed, and it's not ennui, and it's not sad, or bored, or lazy, or bratty, though those are all in it, too.

Moving along ...

I love "bizarre" recipes, if they're actually good. Like the Velveeta fudge. Or the tofu pie. Blow me down, they're actually quite good. As opposed to the recipe my Atkins-doing-friends have shared with me for mashed potatoes made with cauliflower.

Now, I happen to actually like cauliflower. I'm roasting some right now for soup. However, mashed cauliflower isn't mashed taters anymore than raw potato is a ripe juicy apple.

But here's a good recipe. It's not exactly like a Frappuccino, but it's pretty darn good, easy, cheap, and less calories than the original. And BIZARRE -- you have to put in a 5 second spray of Pam! But it works, it really does. You have to trust me on this. Go the recipe, and substitute cold coffee (even better, cold double-strength coffee) for the ice water:

Oh, just TRY it.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Abortion, science, philosophy and luck

"A WOMAN is pregnant with Britain's first designer baby selected to prevent an inherited cancer, a newspaper in Britain has reported."


The reason why I keep this blog anonymous has less to do with anyone I know finding it and more to do with the fact that it is really important to me that I can be scrupulously honest here. If I knew that anyone who knows me was reading this, I just know myself -- it would affect what I admit to feeling, what I write.

So, let's dive in to being scrupulously honest.

I am pro-choice, at least in the abstract, which is what being "pro-choice" is about. It isn't about being pro-abortion. It's about being willing to say, hey, I don't know everything, so I don't feel that I should be allowed to affect the choice here of other women. It's up to them. Pro-choice.

I am blessed that I have never had to make that choice.

We were prepared to, and had a couple of scares during pregnancies, waiting for tests to come back.

My godmother had a daughter who lived to be 55. She was severely retarded, blind, physically disabled. She lived in a hospital most of her life. My godmother loved her dearly but admitted that had she known ahead of time, knowing what she knows know, she would have terminated the pregnancy. Because of that, The Husband and I had said that if we had to make that choice, we would terminate. We didn't want to bring a soul into the world trapped in such an existence.

Thankfully, we never had that choice.

So, here's the deal ...

Knowing what I know now, if I had known that Little Warrior would be diagnosed with cancer by 7 months, would I have terminated the pregnancy?

Absolutely not. Every day I get with her is a gift. Not to mention, this will hopefully be curable.

But here's the rub:

If I did NOT know what I know now, and I was told that the fetus I was carrying would be diagnosed with cancer at only 7 months, would I have ended the pregnancy?

I just can't answer that. I just don't know. It would have seemed so overwhelming. I just don't know.

Except to say, in this case ... I'm glad I didn't know. Zealots on either side of this debate want us to believe that it's a simple thing. It's murder, it's a clinical procedure, it's a sin, it's a necessary choice.

Truth is, there's nothing simple about it. Nothing simple about the above article, either.

The Best Mother's Day Ever

Sometime in February, right after Little Warrior was diagnosed, something was said about Mother's Day. I can't even remember the context. The thought of the day instantly made me choke up then. Mother's Day seemed a million months away. Would I have three children celebrating with me, or four? Would I be celebrating, or mourning? I distinctly remember asking The Husband, "What will life be like by Mother's Day?"

Today is Saturday -- Mother's Day hasn't even begun -- and I can already tell you that life on this Mother's Day is incredible.

Friday, May 12, 2006

"It is what it is."

There you have it. What "yada, yada, yada" was for the 90's, "It is what it is" IS for the 00's.

Remember the Seinfeld episode about "yada, yada, yada"? Wherein in came out that the phrase was the ultimate cop-out phrase, as it could be used to obscure the truth?

That's what "It is what it is" ... is. Total cop-out phrase. At it's most innocent, it means "I can't change anything about it." Quite often, it's used to mean "I don't have enough information to make a decision, so I'm just going to put my head in the sand for now." Or, "I've done as much as I am willing to do." Or "Yeah, I totally screwed up, but rather than take responsibility, I'm going to act like it happened in a vacuum."

Hate the phrase. I've used it myself. Hate that.

Hey -- it is what it is.

Blue Jay Bullies

Walked the kids to school, pushing Bo Peep and Little Warrior in the jogging stroller. Not that I ever jog.

Beautiful, cool, not-too-humid morning. After dropping the older two off for their day, the younger two and I went on a long walk, looking at people's yards (The Husband wants me to give him a list of plants I want him to plant for my Mother's Day present). Songbirds just making a beautiful racket. Robins and mockingbirds, mostly.

And the bluejays. Ho-ho. Got back home and there was a squirrel up on one of the pine trees in our front yard. A blue jay began chasing him, furiously. Now, if you've never seen a blue jay chase a squirrel, you have missed a sight. That ole blue jay thinks he's the size of an ostrich, and with all his wing-beating and screeching, the squirrel thinks so, too. Around and around the tree, over and under limbs ... finally, the squirrel ran down the tree, across the yard and hopped another tree.

Probably, the squirrel got close to ole Blue Jay's nest. But you never know. Blue Jays are mean ass birds that love to bully other birds, animals, heck, even small children.

Bo Peep was out of the stroller and got to watch the whole show. She laughed like it was the funniest thing she'd ever seen.

And in our family, that's saying something.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wide-eyed blinking in disbelief

Chris is gone???

Even if you never watch American Idol, you too can participate in the hot water-cooler talk tomorrow. Just repeat the above question.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Omphaloskepsis, Third


Anyone who's read this blog from the "Before All of This" days, or B.C. (Before Cancer) is probably aware that the one thing I feared most about being a minister was crying. I was a crier. You know how movie stars get botox in their armpits to keep from sweating? I thought it patently unfair that they couldn't botox my tear ducts. Laughing, sad, I cried. Frustrated, I cried. Hallmark commercials, I cried. It was a family joke (in the way that it's not really funny to the person concerned) about what a crybaby I was.

Last Fall, I had two big challenges. I had to give a sermon the Sunday after Hurricane Katrina -- well, the song I had picked out, two months earlier, was Bridge Over Troubled Water. Boo-hoo.

Then, a coupla months later, an older friend of mine died. And I had to do the memorial service.

Tonight, I watched House. In it, a baby died. After being suffocated by his mother, who was insane at the moment. The Husband could barely stand it. Audible sniffs.

For me, no tears. Total detachment.


More Omphaloskepsis

Before All of This, I was planning on going back to seminary this next semester.

Now, no way. At best, Little Warrior will be 2 months off treatment. I need a couple of "everything's okay" CT scans to go by.

When All of This began, I had this immediate thought of, "Okay, so I'm never going to go back to seminary. This is going to make me not want to be a minister. " The old "rage against God," thing.

Except that never happened.

I never did rage against God. Instead, this just kind of cemented what I already had percolating in my head ... that God is a concept we can't get our heads around, and God is not responsible for everything that happens. Kind of the Deist thought ... the world was created, and then we were off on our own.

It's not that clear-cut for me. I see so many things that are just too coincidental. Too many things connecting. I see everything as being part of a giant Spider web, one thing connected to the other.

But how do I reconcile that with my firm belief that Little Warrior's cancer did not "happen for a reason"? I cannot believe that anything would be dependent on her suffering and facing death. I do not believe, as a nurse cheerfully told me in the hospital, that this happened to LW "to teach all of us lessons." Perhaps the Christian God was willing to sacrifice his son for mankind; I am not a God, and I am not willing for my child to in any way be a sacrificial lamb. And certainly not so that other people can "learn lessons."

My brain is a Cuisinart right now. No clarity.

But I'm planning on going back to seminary next January. Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.


This is kind of bizarre.

I've gotten quite comfortable with Major Stress ... life and death stress.

But, inversely, the least little bit of day-to-day stress ... sending emails, contacting a doctor's office for an appointment ... makes my stomach hurt.

I used to eat stress for lunch. Now it's eating me.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Crawling is Over-Rated

Little Warrior can't crawl -- I think that she tried crawling before her surgery and found she couldn't lift her tumor-filled belly off the ground, so she's like a puppy who continues limping on three legs after the fourth has heeled.

She does, however, get wherever she wants to go through a combination of log-rolling and slithering.

I left her quietly playing with toys and stepped into the next room. I soon heard a machine's roar -- LW had slithered over and turned on the Roomba. She was not hurt, but since she had to get on top of the Roomba in order to push the buttons, she was, to say the least, a bit startled.

Later on in the day, after making sure she was far away from the Roomba, I again went into the kitchen. The time, she rolled over to the coffee table and got her head and shoulders wedged in it. Again, she wasn't hurt, but she was highly indignant about the entire situation.

Tomorrow, I'm pulling out her play pen.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Like Riding a Bike

My son, "The Boy," rode a bicycle for the first time today.

He is a bit late in this -- 10 years old -- but it's never been something he was particularly interested in. He received a new, bigger bike for his birthday this week, and at some urging, took it onto our street.

Within 5 minutes, he was riding. No training wheels. No Dad running along behind.

He explained it to me:

"See, before, I was thinking about how I was worried and afraid I'd fall. But I just told myself not to think of that, but to think about how much fun it would be if I could learn to ride it."

It's such a cliche ... but cliches become cliches for a reason.

I learn so much from my children.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cancer on TV vs. Cancer on reality

Or, reality on cancer.

Watched "Guiding Light" today as I held Little Warrior while she slept off some chemo. Soap operas are not so bad if you have tivo and can watch the entire show in 5 minutes. So, the Queen of the Tear, Reva, is diagnosed with breast cancer. And the results of her biopsy come back within a couple of hours. Yessir, this is tv.

Cancer diagnosis on tv: character is shocked. Character decides to do nothing and hide the cancer from everyone. Eventually, a nurse slips up, the family finds out, and the character is forced into treatment.

Cancer diagnosis on reality: person is shocked. Person calls all the family necessary and explains what's going on. Person seeks opinions on the best doctors and treatment available. Person begins treatment.

My experience and that of my friends, anyway. I'm sure it was different 20 years ago, but c'mon ...

Falling in Love Again

I've fallen in love with my parents.

I always thought they were pretty amazing people, but, like most, we had a few issues over the years. Before All of This, they weren't shy with their opinions that I need to lose weight, my children needed more discipline, I was apparently a horrible child and a worse teenager, etc. I harbored opinions that they thought Karen Carpenter would have been such a pretty girl if she could have just lost another 10 pounds, fear was a good tradeoff for empathetic parenting and why the heck couldn't they see that I was their only child to not do drugs, have sex in high school and sneak out of the house?

I'm sorry, what was I talking about?

The time that they spent here, while we were thrust into the Amazing World of Childhood Cancer, had its effect. My mother and I were always daily callers to each other, but now, even Dad is in the party. "Hey, be sure and watch CMT tonight - it's going to be Bruce Springsteen doing 'The Seeger Sessions.'" "Hey, did you read 'Pearls Before Swine' today? We've both had 'friends' like Rat, haven't we?"

It's not like anything in our relationship has changed that much. I always knew that I was loved, and they always knew I loved them.

I guess, now, it's that I know I'm cherished. And they know they're appreciated. Hmm. Maybe that's the whole secret to this parent/child thing. The child wants to feel cherished and the parent wants to feel appreciated.

Okay, now to make my monkeys feel cherished ...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

10 years ago tonight ...

I was in the emergency room. The baby in my womb had stopped moving. We were close to my due date and he was my first pregnancy. I had called my ob/gyn who instructed us to come to the hospital and get checked out. My parents were at my house because we had planned on having a family dinner. My husband and me, my brother and his wife, my sister and her boyfriend, and my parents. They stayed behind as we left.

In triage, they had me drink some apple juice while they readied the doppler. Babump, babump, babump. Heartbeat. And it sounded fine. They had me stay a little while longer, then released me.

At home, with that news, everyone relaxed. And had dinner. And drank a little bit more than usual. This was the first grandchild in the family. As they left, very late, they called out, "Don't go into labor tonight, we're too tired and drunk!"

Yeah. You can guess.

3:00 am, I woke to feel some strange cramping. And dampness. I got up. No big gush, but definitely water coming out. I woke up The Husband, excited. "My water broke. But I'm going to take a shower. You can go back to sleep if you want." And he did!

He argues that this was because he was sick. He was, but this is a guy who can sleep through the sinking of the Titanic, so I'm not sure it was a causal factor.

I had my shower, called the hospital, he got up and got dressed. We had planned on paging my parents, but the RV park where they'd parked their trailer was on the way to the hospital. They were awakened at 5:00 am by me banging on their window. My dad, bleary-eyed, came to the window and peered out. "We're going to the hospital to have a baby!" I announced.

He and my mom came out. He held me at arms length to look in my face. "This is the happiest I've ever seen you," he said.

A few hours later, when they got to the hospital, I didn't look so happy. A few hours past that, I threw away the whole "natural birth" thing and experienced the wonder and joy that is called "epidural."

When it was time to push, I felt a kinship with all the mothers in the world. At my request, The Husband went out into the hall and asked the two grandmothers if they wanted to see their grandson born. Music was playing, the grandmothers had to keep reminding each other to breathe, the rest of my family was out in the hallway. At 5:06 pm, The Boy was born. He was so beautiful. I had myself prepared for a lizard -- that's what everyone said newborns looked like. But not this one. He looked like a doll baby.

Tomorrow, he turns 10. I can't believe that in the same amount of time it took for him to get from there to here, he'll be 20. It goes so fast.

Tomorrow, his sisters, father and I will creep into his room with his "morning" birthday cake. We will wake him up singing "Happy Birthday." His father and I will tell him how glad we are that he's ours.

He'll go to school. And Little Warrior and I will go to get her first 100% double-dip of chemo. Obladi-oblada. Life goes on.

Deaf Does Not Equal Stupid

I'm 2 days late and 2 dollars short, but I just read Happy Feminist's post about disability issues, led by Diary of a Goldfish's urge to blog about disability.

The Husband is 75% deaf, which means with hearing aids, he can function somewhat normally, and without hearing aids, I want to pinch him. (Lizard Eater is not a very patient person. And the only time The Husband doesn't have his hearing aids in is in the middle of the night. When babies cry. The Husband does respond quite quickly to being kicked, however.)

This should not be taken as a wholesale endorsement of kicking the deaf.

My .02 about deafness: do not assume, if someone is hard of hearing, that they are mentally impaired. How does that connection get made, I wonder. I mean, he doesn't exactly have hidden hearing aids. And they're in both ears. And when he can't hear you (for instance, when you are the employee at McDonalds saying, hullo kin I take yer order), he leans in, tilting his good ear toward you.

For some reason, rather than this indicating to the person that he is, indeed, hard of hearing and would like for the person to speak more clearly and/or louder, this indicates to the person, "I am a freakin' idiot. Please treat me as such."


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Here's your laugh for today ...

A bittersweet laugh.

Reading RevChristine's post about losing a family pet made me think of losing one of our cats a couple of years ago. She had to be put to sleep. I tried to explain it to The Princess, who was 5 at the time -- not the euthanasia, just that she had died at the veterinarian and Daddy would be bringing Sally's body home for us to bury. "What made her alive -- her soul -- is gone, so she can't meow or walk around or feel anything anymore. Daddy is just bringing home her body."

The Princess looked up at me sorrowfully, trying to comprehend.

"But not her head?"

Blogging About Cancer

Fuggedabout about Kubler-Ross's levels of grief. Nowadays, if you get cancer (or someone you love does), there are the 7 Cancer Levels of Internet:

1) You google like crazy all the terms you hear the doctors say, in an effort to know what's going on. Of course, the main thing you're searching for is what you have, and whether you'll survive it.

2) Because of all that googling, along with the medical sites, you land on some blogs of folks/parents dealing with cancer and read them furiously, going backwards to see how it was diagnosed and fast forwarding to see if the person is still alive.

3) You get on discussion lists with other people who have the kind of cancer you have.

4) If you're a parent, you start a "caringbridge" site or one like it, so that rather than answer the phone all day, you can post the patient's updates there.

5) You start your own personal blog.

6) You begin checking the blogs of a handful of other cancer patients/parents daily. As they do well, you rejoice. When they have a downturn, it is devastating to you.

7) You write about the fact that you read these blogs in your blog.

And here I am.

I just read on another site that May 17 is "Livestrong" day, and part of it involves a request for people to blog about cancer topics most important to them on that day.

For many of us 'doing the battle' right now, every day is Live Strong day. But I like the idea of lots of people picking that day to post about how cancer has affected them. Everyone has a story -- their own cancer scare, a favorite aunt, the neighbor down the street.

Or a really cute baby.

Monday, May 01, 2006

What a Difference in a Year

Last year, at this time, I was pregnant. Getting checked every week to see if the inhepatic cholestasis of pregnancy had begun, which I had with my other three. (Ironically, with Little Warrior, it never appeared.) Living in an excruciatingly clean house that was on the market, and in the process of purchasing this house.

I had pictures of the "new house," which is an old house, but new to us. I would look at these pictures, look at photos of the back yard with the 4 story pine trees, and daydream about the day we'd live here.

So here we are. A year later.

This morning, I walked the kids to school and on the way home, fell in love again. With my iPod. Materialism, very bad. But damn, I love that white rectangle. Listened to Pink, Willie Nelson, Black-Eyed Peas, Ray Charles and I dunno who else.

Took a long walk after dropping them off, listening to my tunes, pushing the double stroller with Little Warrior and Bo Peep, enjoying the somewhat cool morning.

Came home and sat out in the backyard, pushing Little Warrior in her swing, keeping up with 'Peep's babbling conversation, listening to a mockingbird, looking up up up at the pine trees.

Here I am.

What a year. Baby has been born, house bought, house sold, new school, new neighbors, vasectomy for The Husband, lots of family around for holidays in the new house, baby diagnosed with cancer, lots of family around for cancer, surgery for the cancer, chemo, The Husband changing job positions ...

The trees are as wonderful as I knew they'd be.