Sunday, September 30, 2007

The kids party

My friend Leah was kind enough to host Matthew's birthday party at her house, so that I would not be so overwhelmed by the thought of making this party happen. I'm eternally grateful to her! Last night's night shift was busy, giving me only 2 hours sleep to run on. Everyone pitched in; grandma made the gorgeous cake, Leah hosted, Janet brought veggies and dip, and I brought decorations, party games, and The Bike. We had a blast, and I was SO relaxed it was easy to have fun. Thank you, thank you for wonderful, thoughtful friends. Sweet, delicious moments every day that you are three, birthday boy. You make my life sparkle!




















GC photography pix

This is the in house studio of our friends... www.gc-photography.blogspot.com










Saturday, September 29, 2007

Some more Sake stories

Yesterday Ayden was telling me stories about Sake like there was no tomorrow! Remember is son, Roro? Well, he tells me that Roro's name is from the song, "Roll, roll, down the hill" (written by Ayden) and that Roro can actually roll himself into a ball about the size of a soccer ball, and bounce everywhere. He will bounce from their pink house in the countryside of Sake, right into outer space! As high as a rocket ship!
Ayden sometimes calls outer space 'outside the erf' ...v. cute...
The other day, Roro bounced himself into outside the erf to say hi to Ayden, who was in outer space in his pink rocket ship. Then Roro bounced back down to their house and right down the chimney like Santa Clause. Ayden informed me that he purposefully does not ever light the fireplace in his house just in case Roro bounces down the chimney, because he doesn't want to get burned up like a marshmallow! Roro can unroll himself at will and walk around like a normal kid again. When I asked how old Roro is, Ayden answered "Well, last year he was two. Tomorrow is his birfday and he will be six!" I asked Ayden to wish Roro a happy birthday from me and he answered, "Mommy, Roro doesn't even know who you are." Awesome. Irrelevant even to his invisible friends ;)
Ayden is throwing Roro a birthday party as we speak.
I fell asleep after that, so I missed the rest of the story, which made him really mad at me. Sorry, peanut. I love your delicious stories! I just have trouble sleeping lately...

Fear and Trepidation

Today marks my last, double shift in Lions Bay. As I drove here this morning I was uplifted by the beautiful ocean, mountain, and rain forest eye candy that comes into view as you round the bend of Horseshoe Bay and head towards Lions Bay. I will miss this place! I will not miss the traffic nightmare of crossing two bridges in Greater Vancouver. I will also miss the camaraderie amongst all paramedics in Lions Bay, and the general anomaly of working with paramedics my own age (with one exception). This generation of paramedics is a new breed. It has been wonderful, but not financially, nor with regards to commuting, so off I go to Chilliwack. I would LOVE to work in my own community...not possible...
I am afraid. I've said that a few times this week and am not generally one to enjoy admitting to feeling this way, but I am. Chilliwack has a reputation for being mean to part timers, and there I will be outnumbered 12 to 2 (as opposed to Lions Bay, which employs 16 part timers and one full timer). Unless you work in BCAS you wouldn't necessarily appreciate the vast chasm between full and part timers, but let me assure you that it is vicious, and key, I think, to the current lack of benefits/rights/livable working conditions for most of the province's paramedics. Divide and conquer, as they say. Also, we are seriously decentralized. I digress. I'm sure you are all sick of hearing about our working conditions.
I feel afraid because I find meeting new people incredibly stressful, especially in large groups, and because in any vocational setting when you transfer to a new location, you must prove yourself capable. Yet again. 'The office' watches and murmurs about you for the first few weeks, until they can satisfactorily put you in safe categories: boxes marked 'competent' or 'not,' 'friendly' or 'abrasive,' 'quick' or 'slow.' Whatever. Stick me in a box, I don't care. But it is difficult to feel scrutinized on a large scale no matter how competent I feel.
Also, the adventure of single parenting is wearing thin. I've had enough, I'm done now, I would like to stop, please? I repeatedly am assured by family, friends, and coworkers that 7 weeks down is a sizeable chunk and that 'it is going by fast, and it will go by quickly from now on.' Piss on all of them. This is the longest 24 weeks of my life, and 7 compared to 17 is fractions of a penny when I need one of those brown one hundred dollar bills.
The weather changed. I think the rain has a lot to do with my current state of mind, but I'm also pretty tired and my house is grubbier than usual, which eats at me. Besides, knowing my mood is affected by the rain doesn't really help. I can't get at light, regardless, so I drag myself around in a funk and knowing the cause of the funk doesn't change that I can't expose my skin and eyes to any sunshine. Every fall when the weather changes, this is difficult for me. I find the boys squirrelier than normal and feel trapped in the house with no outlet for their energy; mudpants and a wet park are okay sometimes, but most of the time I don't have the heart for it! Our public pool coincidentally closes down for three weeks every September and I invariably come up with the brilliant idea to go burn off energy in the pool~only to arrive and find it is closed! That was last week's adventure. This week it is open again and we spent the better part of Thursday afternoon swimming in a nearly empty public pool. The boys slept well that night, especially Matthew who had skipped his nap.
Part of my deal is that I'm exhausted, but I can't sleep at night. Five or six hours is the going rate currently, and last night I got three and a half. I lay down to sleep and I can't. All my insomnia tricks don't work. If my velcro boys are in my bed I feel much, much better...but I don't want to start them off there, just welcome them if they wake up in the night and patter over.
Last night at 8 pm I went to WalMart and bought Matthew a two wheeler bike for his birthday (kids' party tomorrow). It is very fun. I had shopped around for consignment bikes but couldn't find anything so I ventured to WM, hoping to find something appropriate and not too expensive, and I found it! A yellow and purple TINY two wheeler with training wheels...there was an orange and black sriped 'tigger' bike the EXACT same that cost over $30 more...what is it with Disney? What is it with parents? Why should I pay $30 more for an item just so I (my kid) can be a walking advertisement for Disney? Good grief. The yellow and purple bike is going to be a HUGE hit!!! He's going to love it. I'll try and get a pic of his face when he first sees it and I'll share it with you.
Here's to bother-free days ahead......hoping.....

Friday, September 28, 2007

Pix

Yesterday Ayden was working so studiously on this puzzle that I had to take some pix:





Here is a pic of the 'calendar' I made~it is a countdown of the weeks we have left until daddy is finished RCMP depot (17.5 currently). Each photo represents a week, and they are all pix of daddy, or pix with daddy in them. Matthew's job is to remove a picture at the end of each week, and Ayden's job is to put the photo in an album to keep it safe. This hangs in their bedroom:



I also want to start a memory chain which has papers on it with 'things we would like to tell daddy about today when he gets home'...once it gets a little longer I'll take some pix of it too. These are some great ideas from some military moms.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wait, wait! I didn't complete my thought process...

My last post was misunderstood on two counts, so I want to rectify what I actually conveyed with what I intended to convey...
When I said midwifery and breastfeeding became lost arts, I meant 'became' in the past tense. In the seventies our moms changed a LOT of the previously hypermedicalized birthing practices. They started requesting that their husbands be present at their deliveries, and invloved in labour, prenatal, and postnatal care. A significant number of women in our mothers' generation reclaimed the lost art of breastfeeding, and passed this down to their daughters. I think the leftover residue of having 'lost' the art of breastfeeding for a generation in our grandmothers' era is that when we encounter problems with breastfeeding, our mothers are generally not well equipped to help us. Likely also, some of the stigma of breastfeeding in public has part of its root in the 'loss' of breastfeeding for a generation? Or perhaps not, for this could be a 'gift' from the Victorian era that has not entirely disappeared yet.
I, myself, never encountered negative looks, comments, or body language with regards to my breastfeeding (not from strangers anyways; just from family), but I know that some women do.
Also, the art of midwifery, while banned in Canada until the recent past, has made a significant, healthy comeback and most communities now offer this service to women who would like to have that choice. Midwives do 75% of their deliveries in hospital and work in conjunction with hospital staff to provide supportive and positive care for women delivering their babies, and good postpartum care.
Women DO NOT deliver on their backs with feet in stirrups, hands tied down anymore. I apologize that I was not clear about this~this was the practice in our grandmothers' generation but is no longer practiced anywhere that I'm aware of. I think I assumed most of my readers would know this and hence be inside my head enough to make the jump from "this used to happen" to "then things changed to the way they are now"...I think I got caught up in the responsive parenting vein of my post and forgot to finish my thoughts...
The pendulum tends to swing back and forth: in the past, birthing babies was solely a feminine domain, attended by midwives and supported by women in the community. Then the pendulum swung towards births that were attended by doctors and highly medicalized. Then it swung back towards non medicated, doctor assisted births, with much involvement by husbands and much more choice on the part of women. I think we are on the cusp of another potential swing back towards over intervention, over medicalization...of course, there is the potential that this will not happen and we will be able to continue on a more baby friendly, mother friendly vein.
I am a strong supporter of in hospital births and know that many beautiful moments happen on maternity wards every day! As a medical person I tend to err on the side of critcizing my own field, but I would like to defend my belief in the medical system and in the joys and miracles present every day in the field of obstetrics.
I think that we need to guard this area of medicine very carefully because birth is a natural process, and can be an empowering and joyful experience for women instead of a fearful or overwhelmingly negative one. Our society uses negative and fearful language to discuss the birthing process and I know a fair number of women, myself included, who did not have empowering experiences during the delivery process, which then affirms the belief that the birthing process is largely negative and disempowering.
Perhaps this is an issue of a lack of self education? I know that I educated myself on pregnancy, and a little bit on labour and delivery, but not nearly enough. And I pretty much knew nothing about taking care of a baby, beyond the fact that I wanted to breastfeed. If 'we' negative birth experiencers had been more proactive about educating ourselves on this area of our health, likely we would have had more empowering, positive experiences. I think the medical community could meet us halfway by focusing on ways to continue current obstetrical trends in baby friendly and mother friendly directions, creating the best possible environment for a positive birth experience to happen.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Good Motherhood

A good mommy. When a woman gets pregnant she starts to think seriously about what a good mom looks like. It is a heavy undertaking, becoming a parent~after all, a small person's entire physical, emotional, and spiritual health depends on you and your partner. If you fail, you have damaged an entire life.

I think God places in us an instinctual type of knowledge of what to do with and for our offspring. This instinctual sense is in large part learned from our parents, siblings, and others who have children, but some of it is a bodily knowledge. An instinct deep in the brain, blood, and body cells.
We knew this, once, when midwives assisted births and sisters taught each other what plants to eat to make your milk abundant and which ones to avoid, how to cure mastitis and calm a colicky baby. In the early to mid twentieth century the development of science and medicine and the tradition of patriarchy within them, paired with the very human tendency towards pride, started to erode this instinctual knowledge. Women's bodies know how to grow and birth babies, in a miraculous and beautiful co-creation with God that is empowering and humbling, much like a marathon or a mountaineering feat whose intense physical challenges produce a work of art. Art whose cries and gaze make you feel filled up, stuffed, every cell hypertrophied with joy.
Medicine decided it knew a better way. In many aspects this was true~basic handwashing, cleanliness, antibiotics, vaccinations, oxygen, blood transfusions, intravenous fluids, and cesarean sections drastically reduced both infant and maternal mortality in a matter of decades. However, medicine also decided that the best way to deliver a baby was to lie a woman on her back with her feet in stirrups, tie her hands down, and anesthetize her as much as possible.
After delivering the baby, medicine decided that separating mother and baby was best, to allow a new mom to rest after the difficulties of such a heavily medicated delivery. It is not common knowledge, but this IS how most of our grandmothers delivered their babies.
Then, and this one cuts me deepest, medicine told women that their milk was less nutritious than dehydrated, processed cow's milk with added vitamins, and women largely stopped breastfeeding.
Somewhere, we stopped listening to that instinct deep within us that tells us how to care for our babies, and listened instead to science. The thing about science, and medicine specifically, is that it is a powerful TOOL, but not something to be worshipped or placed above nature. If something is working well the way it is, why try to interfere? Chubby, milky, breastfed babies were healthy and thriving, yet medicine determined that it could improve upon this? Dried powder made from milk that God designed to make baby cows grow into muscular adult cows is better than what God put in a woman's brain, blood, and breasts to make baby humans grow into intelligent adult humans?
Breastfeeding became a lost art.
Midwifery became a lost art.

The thing about milk is, it makes a mom feel like a good mother when her body makes milk and stuffs her baby with it. The power to take a crying baby and make it happily drunk with milk from your body makes a woman feel like a good mother. This success is repeated, and it starts off a foundation of listening, responding to, and touching your infant, following that instinctual knowledge down the path towards bonding, attachment, and emotional health for your child.
It seems violent to me that this experience was taken away from so many women.
If a woman starts off parenting in this responsive and intuitive manner, she is more likely to embrace other positive ideas such as positive reenforcement, empathy, babywearing, bonding; tailoring parenting for the unique temperament and needs of their child, instead of what she thinks 'should' happen. For example my mother in law sent her oldest and youngest children to preschool, but not her middle child. Her intuitive knowledge told her that her middle child was not ready for school until kindergarten, and she responded to that.
This type of responsive, attachment based parenting style can totally develop without breastfeeding~I know MANY men who parent this way, and they obviously don't breastfeed~but breastfeeding starts a woman off in the direction of responsive feeding, and thus responsive parenting. It starts a style of listening to your baby which can continue as your child ages.

Some things I learned while breastfeeding that have continued include lots of affection and touch, a focus on listening and responding, lots of time spent together, and a focus on attachment. Because Ayden grew in my body and I breastfed him, this style came very naturally with him. Because Matthew was adopted as a toddler and, though i tried, I was unable to breastfeed him, this style took longer to establish with him.
This past six weeks I have been away from the boys so much, it feels unnatural and inconsistant with my style of parenting, and this makes me sad. I have spent a good deal of time thinking about this. I need to support us financially, and I need to work long hours to do that. I also need to spend time with my kids, so I can stay tuned in, and responsive...what is a good mother? Can I work long hours and be one? I've had to knead my parenting philosophy and work in more grace for myself. Ultimately my children are God's and not mine, and the path He asks them to walk is not something I can control. If we must walk this path of increased separation for a period of time, I will walk it to the best of my ability and fill all the time that we do have with love, affection, touch, and grace. My style.
A good mother has many shapes.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Diva princesses

Have you ever seen the Diva Princess phenomenon? It is also called the Barbie Doll phenomenon? (phrases coined by yours truly). This phenomenon drives me nuts. Baisically it is the rich, or apparently rich, female young adult with perfect, expensive clothing, jewelry, hair and dye job, high heeled boots, makeup, and handbag. They often order high maintenance, low fat drinks at Starbucks, and never any food. They smile a lot in a way that makes one slightly naseaus and very suspicious, if one is of the non-Diva type. But watch your back. Actual conversation between two Diva princesses behind me in line at Starbucks yesterday:
"Ohmygod, did you know that Jinny wears the same size jeans as me? She's WAY fatter than I am, I don't get that at ALL."
"Ohmygod, that's weird!"
Gag, gag, barf, barf.
90% of me feels the loss for humanity and the world that these girls have chosen to be so plastic and not contribute in more positive and meaningful ways, what a great waste of resources (as in, these girls are sure to have many God-given gifts and talents meant for positive and meaningful contributions and not as in, waste of air or space...I don't tend to think of anyone as a waste of space so don't get me wrong); 10% of me feels frumpy and dumpy and fat and inadequate. This type of Diva princess presentation/behaviour tends to make me feel suffocated and short of breath.
I'm so glad my parents raised me to be an individual thinker, a creative person, a trend avoider, an individual who looks beyond the surface shell or the way things appear. Props to my parents for showing me that the value of humans is embedded deeper than their hair, their mascara, or the size of their ass.
That said, I do think the size of my own ass could use some moderation. It is interesting to me that I accept and affirm my friends and acquaintances in all shapes and sizes, but hate my own size. I would cheerfully take a butcher knife and slice three inches off most of my abdomen if that wouldn't then make me ugly because my skin would be missing. And likely make me quite sick. I could slice the stretch marks off my hips and legs, too, and the saggy bottom half of each of my breasts. And the hairs that sprout from my chin. Let us not forget also the cottage cheese on the legs.
When I see other women I think, "Gee, how wonderful and beautiful and how outrageous that they think otherwise! Boo on society for training women to think themselves less than beautiful!" But when I see myself I think, "Fat. Jiggly. Lumpy." In fact, I should really be thanking my body for all the things it can do, like grow a baby! Nourish a baby! Nourish a toddler! Run 21.1 Kilometers in 2 hours, 38 minutes! Dance! Warm my kids' cold hands on my tummy! Give a million hugs a day! Walk! Drive! Save lives! Comfort sick people! Learn! Play! Swim! Paint! What amazing things my body can do. I should be thankful. If I added up all the minutes in a day I spend thinking about the inadequacies I perceive on my body, and spent that energy on something positive, I wonder what cool things I could do. But I want to be skinny. I want to be small. I want to have smooth skin without cellulite. I think I feel that if I could only get this body, I would walk around comfortable. But I remember that when I was a skinny dancer, I did not walk around comfortable. I wonder if, in my entire life, there will be a time that I don't walk around consciously sucking my tummy in. I did it when i was skinny and I do it now.
When I look at other women I see beauty! I see character! Variety! Vitality! Sparkle! I wonder why I don't extend that same grace and acceptance to myself.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Broken system, continued

Let me tell you a story. There was this paramedic who was turning 28 and wanted to celebrate. He worked part time out of Lions Bay, running approximately 100 hours a week with the odd day off here and there. Occasionally he would take a full 48 hours off and his girlfriend would say "Yippee! I get some time with my boyfriend!!" but most weeks he worked pretty much every day. In order to celebrate his birthday he took a few days off and went to the pub with his friends. A tussle ensued, the final result of which was a bouncer being fired on the spot, a police investigation, and, for the paramedic, a jaw broken in three places.
For 24 hours the paramedic walked around with a broken jaw and wiggled it for all and sundry, grossing everyone out, because the first hospital he went to asked him to come back in two days for surgery. His coworkers talked him into going to a different hospital, which had him in surgery within a few hours of him walking in the front door, installing metal plates and screws, and wiring his jaw shut.
His surgeon advised him to take 6 weeks off work to allow his jaw to heal, but he just laughed. Two days later he was back at work for a 48 hour shift. He couldn't take painkillers because he was on shift~obviously we have strict rules regarding what medications we can have on board while at work, since we take turns driving and since people's lives are in our hands. His first shift back after surgery he was in so much pain that he felt nauseous, and he walked around with ice packs tied to his face. He would take the ice off when required to go out in the ambulance.
See, the nature of the job for a part time paramedic in BC is such that if one needs time off work for anything besides having a baby, one is allowed the time off but without pay. If this specific paramedic took six weeks off to heal, he would not be able to pay his rent or buy food for a six week period.
Is this ethical? Is it anyone's fault? If this same paramedic worked in North Vancouver or Surrey (in other words, full time), he would get six weeks off with full pay if he had his surgeon sign a note confirming that this was the required healing time after this type of surgery.
There is something wrong here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Au Revoir

Ayden had his first french lesson today at preschool. He learned Au Revoir, and a few other words. As we were driving to the restaurant tonight I asked him which other words he learned, and he couldn't remember. So I asked, "Did you learn the french word for 'apple?' La pomme." He replied, "Yeah, A-P-P-L-E!" Woah! I didn't teach him that! Isn't he smart? Spelling already. :)

Matthew's birthday

Hooray for three year olds! We had a great day!! It took me several days of prep leading up to today, and all of today, to convince Matthew to accept that he is now three, and no longer two. At one point I pointed out that two year olds don't eat cake, but three year olds do~that lie changed his tune and he was suddenly more than happy to be three! Mwahahahaha! The highlights were: McDonald's playland time with mommy and Matthew, a bike ride this afternoon to a nearby school playground, and dinner with the grandparents at Red Robin's. I worked hard all day to make it a special day for him (kids party will be next Sunday, the 30th) and to be super patient. We had a great time all day. He's a bit sick with a runny nose and stuffed sinuses so I think he felt a bit off. In fact, we all do since I turned the furnace back on this week, funnily enough, but I think he managed to enjoy the day despite the snot! He LOVED his presents! At the end of the night he got a happy birthday phone call from his daddy, and they prayed together before Matthew went to sleep~a tradition Matthew has been missing since Brent left, so that was wonderful. Here are some photos!

I couldn't resist another birth time photo:




I didn't have any pix of the bike ride but here is our restaurant fun:







Gift opening madness:




The staff at Red Robin sang a rousing happy birthday to Matthew! Here he is enthralled with their singing:




Here they are:




Gifts from daddy:




And Gigi (maternal, maternal great grandmother):

Pix

We have a tradition in our family where we take a picture of the birthday boy on his birthday at the exact time he was born. Since today is Matthew's 3rd birthday, here is his birth time picture~in the car on our way to drop Ayden off at preschool!






The other day I came home from work and found that these had been delivered to my house from my sweetheart, to say thanks for all the stuff I'm doing:



I'd say Brent owes me a month or two at the spa when he gets back, wouldn't you? :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cruelty and Kindness

Ayden commented while I was making lunch today, "Mommy, you look like you have a big, fat tummy like there's a baby in there!" Which made me turn away and cry. Most days I could think, "ha, ha; I'll remember that and re-tell it to you when you're old enough to understand!" but today I just couldn't! Then, an hour later I was outside watching Ayden ride his bike when suddenly he hopped off and asked me, "Are you thirsty, mommy? I will go get you a drink of water. Do you want some food, too?" and ran inside to get me some water. When he came out with a flowered mug dripping full, he shouted, "I got you the flowered cup because I love you!!" So then I got weepy because that was so sweet.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Psalm 16

Keep me safe, O God, for I take refuge in Thee.
I said to the LORD, "Thou art my Lord;
I have no good besides Thee."
As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who have bartered for another
god will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their libations of blood,
Nor shall I take their names upon my lips.
The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
Thou dost support my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
I have set the LORD continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to hell;
Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.
Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fullness of joy;
In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.



This morning I wrote this paraphrase of Psalm 16:

Keep me safe--care for me, take care of me, protect my body, my heart, and my mind. Keep me safe from people who wish to harm me, accidents, tragedy, rejection, and brokenheartedness. Keep me safe from myself in the ways I speak to and care for my body, mind, and heart...I like to abuse myself...we all do, in our own painful and personal ways. Keep me safe, for You are wiser and mightier than I, and full of love. I am not full of love, but I want to be. Because I know these two facts: You are full of love, and I am not, I take refuge in You.
I have no good besides You. I choose You as my God.
I delight in your people--they are an example to me in their brightest moments, and empathetic in their darkest. You have surrounded me with your people and they teach me about your love over and over by loving imperfect me. I learn how to love over and over by loving imperfect them.
Your people give me hope for heaven.
I reject all that rejects You.
My full inheritance is Yahweh, my support, my provision, and pathmaker.
I follow Him and am overjoyed that my life path has led me to His beautiful presence. I love my inheritance and want no other. God's presence is joyful and beautiful and I am overwhelmingly grateful for all God is to me.
Every day I have chosen to set God before me, every moment; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
I am joyful because of You, and I rejoice. You care for my body, heart, mind, and soul and will never abandon me to evil, Godless darkness; nor will you allow me, your beloved, to be fully destroyed.
You will make known to me the path of life, which we walk together but existentially alone, small galaxies flinging light out into the universe, towards each other but each on its own path. Gravity may pull us closer to, or trajectory further from, each other but essentially we are on individual paths, alone with You. My path is delightful to me because You are there. Though my path winds over high mountain passes or deep into the dark earth, you travel before, behind, and within me. In your presence my joy is full. You reach out your right hand towards me and I am complete.



In addition to this paraphrase, I wrote a little regarding my thoughts on this Psalm:

Life's experiences and griefs are not burdens, but merely the landscape of our paths. Our path leads us where it will and we cannot change the bend of it, but we can walk one day at a time and try to learn what we may, set God before us every day, and seek His protection. He asks us to walk some treacherous paths. Sometimes we can choose them and sometimes we cannot, but I believe His purpose and wisdom to be wholly good and full of beauty, so I follow Him. His presence fills me with joy on even my darkest way. Sometimes the way seems so dark that the joy is not tangible. It is there.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Middle of the night adrenaline rush

So I'm at work. You can probably guess when I'm working and when I'm not due to the proliferation of blog posts...opposite to most of you, I have more time to blog while I'm at work than I do while I'm at home. And more time to sit around and think.
Last night we were busy from 6:50 (we start at 6:30 in the evenings) until 11:45, when we got back to the station and fell asleep for a bit. At 1:20 the pager went off and my partner yelled and I swore because it scared us out of a deep sleep. We scrambled around to get our boots on and find our purses and get our jackets and stethoscopes, and thundered down the four flights of stairs to the ambulance, still half asleep. Our dispatcher then radioed us the dreaded words: "Code 3 for the 10 month old baby in acute respiratory distress," and what we call 'the pucker factor' shifts into high gear. All of a sudden it's not the middle of the night for us, because we are as awake as one can be, and swearing out loud. The baby in distress calls are not ones we like, obviously! 'The pucker factor' is something I'm going to leave to your imagination, but is quite a funny description of paramedic fear involving certain sphincters.
So we're wide awake and my very conservative driver is revving up the hills wishing she had wings, and I'm trying to remember my name, let alone what I'm supposed to do with a baby in distress. Advanced Life Support was driving up from the North Shore and the Infant Transport Team was close behind them. This tells me that when dispatch took the call, they heard a VERY distressed infant over the phone and the pucker factor shot up a notch!
We found the house, climbed 40 or 50 stairs to the front door (this IS Lions Bay, built on a cliff) and encountered a very, very cute baby. When he was calm and happy, he was fine. When he got upset, he barked and wheezed and panicked and turned blue, waking up the whole house in his distress~classic croup. The sphincter returned to its normal position. Ah! I can deal with croup, no problem. This baby was so cute I wanted to eat him up with ice cream, I swear it. Most babies would find a middle of the night visit from a group of strangers incredibly scary and overwhelming but this guy thought we were having an impromptu party with six firefighters and two paramedics, mom, dad, and his grandparents! He was flirting up a storm! When Ayden was 18 months old I called an ambulance for his croup, so I did for this baby what that crew had done for mine, and gave him saline (water) in a nebulizer (mister) and got his mom to hold it close to his face, but not on it. Again, most kids would be like "GET that away from me," but this little guy was like, "Can I eat that?" chomp, chomp. Perfect.
ALS arrived as we were walking down the driveway, carseat in hand and mist blowing. They took him into their ambulance for an assessment and told me I did a great job, and that my saline nebulizer was a fantastic idea. I didn't tell them I stole it from someone else. :-) His wheezes had subsided and the barking breath sounds only re-presented themselves if he cried or laughed out loud. He was flirting with ALS and wanted to play with all their tools. He was mad when they put a monitor on his finger to check his oxygen levels (I had tried but our probe is built for an adult so I couldn't get a reading) because he just wanted to eat it. ALS took him to the hospital and we joked after they left that they took him not because he was sick enough for ALS but because he was so cute! This of course was only marginally true, as he was sick enough for them. They have drugs they can put in that nebulizer to help him breathe which we can't give.
That baby was juicy.
His mom was so apologetic because he seemed so much better once he was calm, but I told her that she did the right thing. Croup can be very dangerous if it gets out of hand, and he needed an ambulance.
Parents out there: if your baby gets croup, take it to the doctor. If it develops in the middle of the night, take it to the hospital. If they seem particularly distressed or they turn blue while crying, call an ambulance. It is always, always better to be on the safe side.
It took me a few hours to come down from the adrenaline rush of that call, I tell you. Luckily we had a few other calls before we got back to the station, otherwise I would have lain in bed wide awake for quite awhile...of course, this meant we went to bed at 5 am...yucky...

Empowerment

When I met Brent I had a pretty lucrative union job with BC Ferries, working in the cafeteria and doing first aid. It was busy in the summers and on holidays, and helped finance my education. It wasn't particularly stressful. I worked on call most of the year, so if I didn't particularly want to work I just wouldn't answer my phone for a few days, and helped myself to a few days off. The problem was, I HATED it. So, four weeks after we got married, I quit. BC ambulance was in the process of hiring me, I was going to start tutoring ESL students, and our living costs would be cut in half because we were living in one house, right? Ha ha. But that is what I thought.
If I could have stuck it out with BC Ferries for one more year, we would have been in a MUCH better position financially, but even five years removed from it I really don't know that it would have been wise emotionally because I was constantly angry or grouchy at work, and it spilled over into my not work time a fair amount. I had to forego all family holidays, summer holidays, and Christmas holidays because that is when people travel, and I was tired of being hated and villified by society as a "ferry worker." If I had stayed I would have made 5 times as much money in the next nine months because, whoops! I was pregnant with Ayden, and I would have recieved much better maternity benefits to the tune of 500-600 dollars every two weeks as opposed to $120. That would have made the first year of Ayden's life much easier for us financially, and it would certainly have been possible for me to juggle both BC Ferries and BC Ambulance for a few years. All this explanation is suffice it to say that it has been quite a few years since I have been able to financially contribute to our family in a significant way. We made it work: I tutored for three years, including the time period right after Ayden was born and I was still recovering from my c-section, we didn't spend much , and we pared down to one vehicle and bought a bus pass for Brent. Brent happily supported me in my career which took me away from home for days at a time and sometimes cost us more than I made, because my job makes me happy.
Now it is his turn. I'm happy to step up and earn a living so HE can find a job that makes him happy. At first I was finding the prospect of being the primary income earner in our family to be an empowering one, after so many years of contributing in non financial ways, but then it became incredibly stressful. I don't think primary income earners get enough props for this! I think traditionally the money = power theory offends [us] feminists and consequently this role is scaled down in importance, at least for me. Sure, it's great that you make the morgage honey, but my body made 32 ounces of milk today to feed our infant, and on top of that I cleaned the bathroom and washed your shirts. Now that it rests on my shoulders to pay for the house, food, gas, clothes, daycare, preschool, soap, shampoo, etc, I am realizing that this is actually quite an imperative role. Laugh if you like, but I just had not thought of it this way in awhile. If I succeed, we stay the way we are. If I fail, something big changes. Once I see myself really able to pay all these bills we have, maybe I'll feel empowered again, but yesterday driving to work I just cried at the stress of it all, and mostly at having to be away from the boys so much. I love my job, but I'm not feeling the love for this primary income earner role as such and would rather be the secondary income, the supplementer, the capper who ensures new clothes and the odd night out or a new CD are possible. Perhaps it would help the empowerment feeling if I had a predictable and reasonably reliable income, instead of a fluctuating one that relies on circumstances beyond my control? Hopefully working in Chilliwack will help. I know it sounds as if I was out of touch with reality when it came to our finances for awhile, but that was really not the case. I handled budgeting so I had a good grasp of how much came in and how much went out, and how important it is to balance the two: it is just that I mentally scaled down the value of that role in light of what was most important to us. Family, good friends, time together, outdoor activities, inexpensive travelling, enjoying life, art, and each other.
So, does money equal power, or does it just equal stress when it comes to family roles? At first I felt empowered, but now I'm not so sure.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bonus

Hang in to the end of this story, because it ends well.
This morning I was rushing around getting everyone ready to drop Ayden off at preschool, when Matthew threw up his entire breakfast on the table. And himself. And the floor. Porridge, raisins, applesauce, and vitamins sort of mashed together and mixed with orangy bile. So that ended MY breakfast experience, and Ayden refused to eat any more 'frow up' food so we just got dressed and ready to leave. When it gets that gross, give up on breakfast!
We dropped Ayden off at preschool and Matthew looked so lethargic and dopey in the backseat that I stopped at Shoppers on the way home to get him some pedialyte, carried him up to my bed at our house, and tucked him in. He was restless so I gathered up about ten books and read to him for 20 minutes or so. After the books were read, he laid his head on my chest and fell asleep. We laid together like that for TWO HOURS all cuddled up, him faintly snoring and me relishing all that touch. It was like the punctuation mark to complete my post from yesterday, and it was delicious. I'm not so thankful he felt sick, but I sure am thankful we had that two hours together.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

In addition

You're probably overloaded already with my bloggings, but I was lying in bed thinking of this phenomenon and I had to share it before it slipped my mind. It's so wonderful I just don't want to lose it, so I have to write it down.
Since Brent left I noticed that, sometimes, it is easier for me to do full days with the boys because I expect no reprive, no partner in crime to breeze in the door at five and rescue me, so I HAVE to be the 'on' parent for 13 hours. So I am. I also find it easier in some ways to function the three of us because there are only 2 relationships for me to focus on, and not 3. Does that make sense? Interesting. Obviously I miss my partner in crime, but I found this to be an interesting phenomenon. I think it goes along with my personality characteristic of being focused and only able to do one thing at a time. If I'm taking care of the kids, I TAKE CARE OF THEM and little else. Another relationship adds to my necessary multitasking and taxes my ability to cope.
Also, I have noticed improvements in my and Matthew's relationship. Since we adopted him Matthew has had a very easy time trusting and bonding with men, and is more reticent and less trusting with women. Definitely he and I had developed a good solid trusting relationship, but when Brent left I noticed a deepening of his trust of me. He has to rely on me, because I'm the only parent now. Also, I have to be reliable because I'm the only one now, and I've been stepping up 110%. Trying to cope well for the kids' sake, you know? Since I have to do it, and I've been able to focus on just parenting and not on wife-ing, I have been coping well, and able most of the time to give the kids what they need.
Disclaimer: I have bad days! I yell! I'm no saint. But God has been lifting me up in such a manner that grace overflows from him to me to my boys, and I'm grateful.
I have been intending, and seeking, time alone with Matthew for as long as he has been a part of our family. Easier said than done. In the late spring we separated the boys' bedtime routines for that purpose. Now that Ayden is in preschool, Matthew and I have 3 hours together, 3 times a week, and it is GOLD, or wind in trees, or oxygen saturation, or sunrise...it's beautiful. I love his personality immensely, but these hours I have with just him I have an opportunity to enjoy it. This positively reenforces our experience of each other, and we've bonded more than ever before. Magic.
Tonight I lifted Matthew out of the bath and wrapped him in a towel and sat there smelling his clean hair, and it struck me that this was what I set out to do with that tiny idea of adoption so many years in the growing...I wanted to take a little child whose future was full of loneliness and suffering, and replace that future with one of opportunity and love. Warm baths, clean hair, a towel with a hood attached made especially for him, opportunities to learn, a toothbrush, a brother, medicine, routine, a bedtime, a favourite stuffed doggy, literature, literacy, a clean floor, cuddles, kisses, a place to belong, and most of all, joy. I've done it. What a privilege it is to be Matthew's mommy, and God's avenue of grace to him. It's not, truly, that I've done it at all, but that God has done it and allowed me to come along for the ride, and I'm so, so grateful.
Joy for a little boy.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Best day EVER

Yesterday Ayden`s behaviour was a bit of a gong show. He was challenging everything and would have random fits of screaming or flopping or what I like to call `sensory deprivation boy` where he ignores everything, closes his eyes, hums, and flops on the floor, and this behaviour was stretching my foundational patience by 8 a.m. To be at the foundation, which happens to be the bottom of things, by 8 in the morning is not good. At the end of a very trying day yesterday I sat him down for a `conversation` --you know, like the dating DTR (define the relationship) talk, but for a parent-child relationship. We struck a deal whereby I would try very hard to be less crabby, and he would try very hard to obey me, and that way we would be achieving good teamwork and everyone would be happier.
Well, I ony had to remind him three times this whole day about our deal and each time he said ``Oh yeah, I forgot!`` and immediately complied with my request, and the rest of the day he was cooperative (and I cheerful). HOORAY!!
We started early. Rustling Ayden up and out the door before he`s naturally ready is quite a feat. He sleeps like Brent: while sleeping, he CAN be mistaken for dead. But we managed, and we all had breakfast, were all dressed, and remembered everything we were supposed to bring to preschool. Ayden shed a few tears as I dropped him off today; I guess the novelty of preschool has worn off and the separation part is sinking in before the comfortable routine aspect settles in. He needed quite a few hugs to fortify him for the three hours away from Matthew and me, but he was brave and in the end he shook his teacher`s hand and waved goodbye to me and off he went.
Matthew and I went to Starbucks for a mommy treat, and then we went to McDonald`s for a Matthew treat and to meet my close friend whose four year old son is ALSO in preschool in the mornings now, and Matthew played in one of those BLESSEDLY WONDERFUL McDonald`s playgrounds while we talked for 2.5 hours! Yay!
After preschool Ayden wanted to buy a piggybank to keep all his `found` money in (he`s always scoping the sidewalks for change) to save up for garage sales with his grandparents (gag, gag, choke, choke, but if it makes him happy...), so we went to the mall on a quest for two--you can`t just buy one boy something unless it is something boring like clothes!--piggybanks. No one sells piggybanks anymore!! How lame! There are a million gadgety finnicky battery operated plastic toys and no piggybanks in Toys R Us, Zellers, the Bay, and two novelty stores in the mall, until we passed Hallmark! OF COURSE Hallmark sells piggy banks and other random non finnicky dust collectors, so here we were in Hallmark with TOUCH EVERYTHING boy (Matthew) and JUMP ALL THE TIME boy (Ayden), trying to choose between six or seven styles of piggybank. Matthew quickly settled on a small blue elephant, and after about 2 minutes of jumping, Ayden settled for a very traditional looking pig. In pink. They had blue, but he wanted pink. So I`m giggling in my sleeve looking at him in his spiderman hat, BMX bike t-shirt, and blue camoflauge pants, carrying a delicate pink pig under his arm. SO CUTE!
You know me--I`d never be the one to redirect from what my child really wants just because of a social gender construction like pink is for girls. But it was so cute I just had to mention it. Both boys were overjoyed with their piggybanks and immediately put their spare change into them--Matthew had two pennies and Ayden had 65 cents collected from sidewalks around Langley.
Ayden and I had a fabulous lunch while Matthew slept and then we read some stories and rode bikes, all perfect quality time together. When Matthew woke up I prepared a picnic dinner, which was Ayden`s idea, and we went to the water park from 5 to 7 pm. The boys rode their bikes ALL the way there and ALL the way back, a 4.4 km round trip!!! I guess `rode` is a bit generous when it comes to Matthew, because he can`t reach the pedals on his trike and does the roadrunner shuffle wherever we go! They did fantastic! I pulled the wagon with our picnic in it and we had SO much fun. I took some pictures for you. The lighting was perfect for photos, and the temperature perfect for a long walk at dinnertime. The leaves are just starting to change so some parts of our walk were peppered with vibrant new colours. This was the second time I`ve attempted a park walk with bikes and it was incredibly successful and stress free; Ayden zooms ahead but waits at every intersection for us to catch up so we can cross together, and he stays on the crosswalk itself so I just have to watch and remind Matthew. We had a wonderful, wonderful ride. For the first hour at the water park there were 2 sets of twins, one black and the other Chinese-Canadian, two Chinese-Canadian toddlers, and Ayden and Matthew. You`re not supposed to notice these things but sometimes I think it is good for Matthew NOT to be the visible minority for once, and in this case Ayden was decidedly the minority. The black twins are between 2 and 3 years old, and I`ve seen them before. They are adopted as well. Such neat diversity at the park! I overheard Ayden exclaiming, `Hey Matthew! That little boy looks like you, and he is riding his bike IN THE WATER! LETS RIDE OUR BIKES IN THE WATER TOO!!`
I think I tired them out. Bedtime was a breeze. If only every day could be like today!! I wish I could bottle the formula and keep it for bad days!!! Enjoy the pictures!