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In which I grieve and mourn…

What makes a life? I know the arguments run in circles. Does it start at conception? Does it begin with that first, gasping breath after hours of labor? Maybe that’s the wrong question. I’m still trying to figure out the right question to ask.

One week ago, I was thrilled to announce that a long-awaited event was taking place. After months of trying, I got a positive sign. (Actually, it was four positives and one digital negative…I had to be sure) I probably didn’t need one, because I just KNEW it. My body was starting to feel different and I knew it was true. In my head, I was already planning out the next few months, hoping my morning sickness wouldn’t get too extreme, and praying that just this once, I’d be able to enjoy my pregnancy in full. I estimated I was 6-8 weeks. My midwife calculated a little more efficiently given my irregular cycles and said I was WAY earlier. I hoped I was later, but figured she probably knew a thing or two about this…

So I was anywhere from 4-7 weeks, but it didn’t matter really. I felt amazing, if a little tired and gaggy, and I was determined to enjoy the next nine months, come what may. Was I apprehensive? A bit. This was the first pregnancy where I was at a VERY healthy weight, eating healthy, and exercising regularly. Everything felt different, but I figured I could still safely tell others my news. I mean, I had three uncomplicated pregnancies prior to this one, right? No big deal.

Maybe the question I should be asking is, is that tiny little life real because I believe it to be, or do I believe it to be real because it is?

Friday morning I woke up. Had my coffee, spent time doing school with the kids, pondered a conversation I’d had with my mom the night before about my fears regarding pregnancy and loss. Worked out pretty hard and felt great afterward, if a little winded. I’d been experiencing a bit of an achy stretch on my right side from the beginning of the pregnancy, but thought nothing of it. It wasn’t pain and I figured my uterus hadn’t been in use for over three years, so it was natural to feel some stretching. No big deal.

That was until I got out of the shower and started to bleed.

Beyond the fact that I had NEVER experienced abnormal bleeding with any of my other pregnancies, I knew right away something was wrong. There was no pain (at least not that first day) but I knew that for whatever reason, this brief period of time where I once again was given the privilege of nurturing a new life, was now over. Call it a gut feeling, a matter of the heart, or just the facts. I knew. And I lost it.

My darling husband came home to find me curled up on the bathroom floor bawling my eyes out. He held me, prayed with me, and we discussed the next steps. There was no drama (other than my tears) that day, but we both wanted to find out for sure. So I called the midwife, got in to an emergency ultrasound that afternoon, and took a blood test to find out my HCG levels.

Even if my levels were higher, and they weren’t, I would have known when I looked at the emptiness on that ultrasound. I could see all the preparations for sustaining a life in the womb, but no life. Not even a blip on the screen. I’d FELT empty before the ultrasound. Now I had proof that I was empty.

I’ve fought PCOS since puberty hit. I was told that I would struggle with infertility and irregular cycles and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. None of this was new to me. Thankfully, I’ve been managing my symptoms well enough that even the midwife noticed the lack of evidence for PCOS where there should have been. I’m not cured, but perhaps I’ve been given a reprieve.

And the three children I bore prior to this pregnancy proves that infertility isn’t that much of an issue really. I mean, we tried three times, and three times we made a baby. That simple.

Actually, we tried four times, and four times we made a baby. It’s just that now I get to tell people that one of our babies isn’t going to be present here on earth. That hurts just writing it. I’m a mother four times over and I won’t get to meet Pelokid #4 until I get to heaven. Something tells me, it’s a girl. Sweet and precocious and bubbling over with life.

There are a million explanations for why this pregnancy did not end with a live child 40 weeks after conception. Some explanations even range into the, it wasn’t really a baby idea. I’m going to block that one right now, because one, it doesn’t offer me any comfort whatsoever. And two, it brings me back to the question I asked earlier. I believe I was carrying a precious life for at least 5 weeks and that life is no longer present in my womb. I will grieve and mourn that life and then I will take joy in being chosen to be the vessel for that life for a few brief, but absolutely precious moments. All life is a vapor, some lives disappearing sooner than others.

The day after I miscarried, we watched a video on science and faith in regenerative medicine. There was a picture of a basic human cell. A basic picture from a typical biology textbook that any high school or college kid could read. As the scientist/researcher explained the components, I picked out names I hadn’t heard in years. Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum. I like Golgi apparatus best. The name is just cool.

Each part of these microscopic cells works in harmony to create a miniscule organic computer in basic scientific terms, but it’s SO much more than that. Put billions of these working, tiny cells together and you create things like skin, organs, muscles, eyes, ENTIRE Human Beings. If just ONE part of ONE cell is out of order, it can cause the entire structure to collapse. To decay and degenerate. The research in regenerative medicine takes these cells, breaks them down into their multiple components, tries to figure out how all the individual components work, and then attempts to recreate a cell using that knowledge. And it goes wrong, so many times. But when it works, ligaments are healed, cartilage and bone are renewed, and skin is grafted. But the original cell is what amazes me most. Because as much as a scientist or doctor can do their best to work with lab-created clones of the real thing, they will NEVER be able to perfect it to the level that our Creator God did on the original model.

Right in the middle of that talk on regenerative medicine, when I was feeling the physical pain of losing a child, struggling with the emotions and mental strain of the ordeal, I felt God wrap me up in His arms and whisper His reassurance in my ear. I looked at the three children He’d blessed Jake and I with and marveled on the fact that, of all the billions of ways it could have gone wrong, HE knit them together in my womb and breathed life into their tiny developing bodies. HE started their hearts beating and formed the neural pathways in their developing brains. HE fit every joint and bone and ligament together like a perfect puzzle and told each cell what its job would be.

I got to carry them and do the work HE created my body to do for nine months of their life. I was the vessel, but HE.

He is ALWAYS the Creator and Sustainer of life. And that little life He recently allowed me to carry for a few brief weeks was His too. He granted me the privilege of being mommy to not one, not two, not three, but four fearfully and wonderfully made children. His image stamped on each and every one of them. Three, He gave more time for me and Jake to love and cherish and raise. The fourth one, He called home. I have NO idea why He gave me the privilege of being a mommy four times and I pray that I will get that privilege again. I have no idea why I was given the privilege of keeping three of His babies, but I’m looking forward to watching them grow and showing them their Heavenly father’s love. I have no idea why the fourth one won’t be in my arms for a VERY long time, but I am so very glad I got to carry her under my heart. And I cannot wait to meet the child who is more alive now than she ever could be here on earth.

Posted in Abundance, BeachBody, Carpe Diem, Entrepreneur, Home Based Business, laziness, life lessons, Marriage and Family, Memory, Obstacles, Passion, soul surgery, Transparency, Uncategorized, Why, Winning, Writing

In which I quit with the quitting…

I have about 20 manuscripts of all shapes and sizes. Out of that 20, only three are considered completed first drafts.The rest of them are in various states of unfinished.

I have five cross stitch projects. Of the five, only one is complete, and it wasn’t even framed. It’s a tiny little beaded ornament on foam backing, with no frame. The rest are in various states of unfinished. The first one I started was before my youngest brother was born. He’s now fifteen.

I have a basket with some beautiful fabric, all cut out and ready to be sewn into a medieval style dress and over dress. It was for a project I was supposed to complete my junior year of high school. I had gotten a sewing machine and in a fit of inspiration, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to sew an entire costume to accompany my oral report.

The costume is a heap of fabric that’s beginning to fray on the edges. The oral report never got presented.

My history of starting a project and not finishing is legendary. My mom would tell you I have quitting mastered. And she would be correct.

I quit 3 different home businesses, 7 jobs (to be fair, some of them were because I was moving), and various friendships throughout my lifetime.

Looking back on this rather incomplete list, I shamefully wonder how on earth I’m still managing to keep a blog going after 4+ years. Although even that has been done sporadically and not with the determined dedication of a motivated blogger.

I could make excuses. My manuscripts are a work in progress, I didn’t know how to sew anyway, and at least one of my jobs was dangerous to my health, my license, and my patients. I’ve got enough excuses to write my own book on reasons for quitting.

It’s not a book I desire to write.

I’ve tried to analyze my penchant for quitting over the years and failed. I’ve blamed it on others, blamed it on circumstances, blamed it on a lack of passion.

The one place where the blame SHOULD rest is on me, but I find myself reluctant even now, to go there.

Sure, people in my life HAVE influenced my character development and therefore, I can legitimately claim their part in my failures. It makes me a coward and a jerk though. I’ve still seen and experienced people in my life who never give up and live by the motto, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” So this excuse is cheap, unflattering, and too easy.

My circumstances HAVE contributed to my quitting. Some of my jobs really were dangerous enough that I refused to put myself and my patients at risk anymore and I walked. I couldn’t change the policies and procedures that led to this situation, so it’s a legitimate reason to quit. At least one of the companies I quit is now involved in lawsuits and I cannot really regret leaving when I did. It still doesn’t explain MOST of my quits. Again, weak and flawed. A coward’s way out.

I have jumped into something, thinking, “Oh, this is cool. I really want to do this. It’s fun, it’s an adventure, I can make some money on the side.” Hobbies are expensive and I cannot justify some of them as businesses when I choose not to put the time and effort into making money instead of losing it. Again, I could justify this excuse.

Then again, I really need to quit justifying my quits.

Because it’s not the quitting that bothers me the most. It’s the mentality that I’ve held for 30+ years. It’s the concept that when the going gets tough, this quitter quits. And that, quite frankly, scares me.

I’m not advocating for staying in a job you despise or going back and finishing a high school project you didn’t know how to finish anyway. I’m not advocating for restarting those failed businesses or NEVER giving up on something. Sometimes, giving up one thing allows you to experience something else far better.

What I AM saying, is that my quitters mentality is far more dangerous and insidious than just walking away from a really bad job or not finishing a manuscript. It’s my mindset that I need to change. I can be wise about WHAT I quit, but that means having a stronger reason than, “It’s just too hard, so I’m giving up.”

I need to change my way of thinking so that quitting is an exception to the rule and not the normal MO. For some things, I shouldn’t even offer myself an out. The cost of quitting has more to do with the damage I do to my thought process and the results that I live out for those who are watching me. I’m thinking of my children right now, but I also want to count my coaches and customers in that sphere of influence.

SO. List of things I haven’t quit and CHOOSE to stay the course:

  1. My marriage. Divorce is not an option. It’s not even in our vocabulary and I’m thankful to have a husband who chooses to fight FOR us, not against us, every day.
  2. My parenting. I get exhausted and my kids are all still young. One thing I CHOOSE to never do, is quit being a parent. Some days are easy. MOST days are NOT a walk in the park. If I want my kids to grow up principled, morally upright, valuable contributors to society, I can’t use my exhaustion as an excuse to stop parenting.
  3. My Beachbody coaching. I AM a coach. I have a long way to go to make this successful, thriving, and big enough to prove myself, but this last, lazy week has proven to me more than ever that I WANT this. I have a HUGE why and I’m not going to give up the opportunity to change lives, change families, and change the world. The cost of quitting is greater than the cost of continuing.
  4. My Writing. This blog and all my other works in progress. I’m not finished yet. I DO have something to say and I am a writer. It’s non-negotiable. I will continue writing.
  5. My faith. It’s last on the least, but that is NOT because it’s the least important. Technically, it should be at the beginning of this list, but I am not always writing chronologically. However, as the culture grows increasingly hostile toward Christ followers, I CHOOSE to walk the walk. No matter what. No apologies. No regrets. The cost of walking away is FAR too high for me to even contemplate.

It’s a mindset change. In keeping with my recent lifestyle changes, I’m finding the inspiration to press on, worth the cost.

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Posted in benefits of exercise, child, discipline, dreams, exercise, faith, Family, goals, Home, Hope, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, Memory, Neighbors, Random, Writing

In Which a Walk Down Memory Lane Begins with a Phone Call

“Look dad! A big rock. I’ve never seen a big rock before.” My three year old son excitedly chattered about his amazing find on our family walk this evening. He’s dressed in daddy’s shirt and big boy undies and wearing socks with his sandals. It’s an interesting get-up, but it fits him somehow.

In the grand tradition of three year olds everywhere, he’d already forgotten about the pile of “big” rocks he’d found the day before. Those treasures are now sitting in a basket on my dryer while I wait for him to forget about them so I can replenish our gravel street. Thus repeating the cycle of a rock collecting little boy who probably picked up one from two expeditions ago.

My husband and I smile at the antics of our children. The five year old has found her own collection and is attempting to pawn them off on us so she can run on ahead without the extra burden in her hands. She’s also grinning like a mad woman when we decide we’re going to have a swinging session.

Jake and I each grab one hand and on the count of three, we send them soaring right up to the clouds. Or so they say. Then it’s a race to see who gets to steal who’s turn and we set a limit. Three turns each and then switch. We manage it for two rounds before both of us are sweating and laughing too much to continue.

The littlest little is content in his sling on my chest. He chatters and coos once in a while, but mostly vacillates between sucking his thumb while his eyes grow heavy and darting quick glances all around at the dusky landscape.

We hear the crickets chirping and a lawnmower in the distance. The breeze blows through our hair, cooling the summer evening to just the right temperature.

At some point, middle little has discovered a new treasure. “BIG dicks, mom! Look dad. I found some dicks.” For those of you wondering, that’s kidspeak for “sticks”. Get your heads out of the gutter people… 🙂

 

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My mom and I chatted on the phone earlier today. We were discussing many things, but among the topics was the benefits of exercise and how much harder it is to keep in shape nowadays. I mused on the idea of our lost village mentality. When I was growing up, we had neighbors.

No, I don’t mean the people who live on our street and we see in passing on a family walk or when the neighborhood garage sales start.

I mean neighbors who knew us backwards and forwards and we knew them the same. Neighbors who had cookouts, Sunday morning brunches, and evening walks with our family. We kids would leave the house in the morning after our chores were done and we didn’t reappear until lunchtime. Mom handed us all sandwiches and water bottles and we at on the trampoline for an impromptu picnic. Snack time took place over at the neighbor’s house and somewhere in between, we managed to traverse MOST of the backyards on the entire street. There WAS that one neighbor who had a fence because they didn’t like kids.

We managed to get around it anyway.

I heard recently that we aren’t necessarily living in more dangerous times. We’ve just become more paranoid and thus, less a village and more an island unto ourselves. Each family unit, taking walks on their own, collecting rocks, and having no clue who our neighbors are. It’s sad really.

I love our neighborhood. It’s quiet, out in the country, yet close enough to town for convenience sake.

I don’t love our neighbors. Not because they are horrible people or anything, but because I don’t know them enough to love them. I miss the village.

I think this Christmas, we’re going to bake cookies for the neighbors. We may not get the village back, but I’m determined to at least love our neighbors the best that we can.