Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lovely Object: Laptop

Q bought me a Toshiba laptop for my birthday. It's quite a gift! I haven't even begun to do all I can with it and I'm looking forward to transferring my writing, music and photography from my old desktop to the new laptop. I'm afraid I've spent a little too much time since Saturday playing on it, but it's been a wonderful distraction.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Isn't every day a day to be thankful?
Isn't gratitude something that should flow easily
from our lips
our open hands
our minds?
Do we not wake up every morning,
put our feet firmly on the floor
and move on towards the future?
This in itself is an act of gratitude.

All the things we surround ourselves with
and label as good
are not worth the effort of saying, "thank you."

We breathe in
we breathe out.
If we are aware,
we are thankful for the in between.

Awareness is gratitude.
To be aware is to be thankful
and no more is needed.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sobering News

Had my weekly ultrasound today and met with the doctor who did my surgery.
As usual, my stitches are holding strong which is always welcome news.

Unfortunately, the news from the doctor wasn't so great. We are now heading into more dangerous times when the risk of early labor is high, and I have to double down on my efforts to remain in bed. My only ray of hope is the doctor said that he understands how difficult this is and I can be driven to a local park and sit in the car and enjoy a change of scene.

The idea of going into labor this early frightens me, and no amount of statistics on survival rates makes me feel any better.
Going forward, I will meet with a doctor every week for at least the next several weeks.
I had naively hoped there might be an easing of restrictions. Why, I don't know, other than I'm going stir crazy. I'm feeling pretty discouraged right now, though.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lovely Objects: Peonies

Here we are heading into a world of floral slumber and I'm thinking about peonies. They have such an audacity about them that I admire; they defy the strength of their own stalk, their giant blooms bending over onto lawns and walkways every Spring.

There are many varieties of peonies, no one's sure of the exact number but it ranges from 25 to 40. The flower is named after Paeon, student of the Greek god Asclepius. When Asclepius became jealous of his student, Zeus transformed Paeon into a flower in order to save him. Given Zeus' track record, I'd say there are worst things to be turned into.

Peonies are also a common motif in Chinese art, and are a symbol of prosperity.

Here's a work by a Japanese artist.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 8: Milestones

We did it. Reached the first milestone; 24 weeks pregnant without going into labor. The next milestone is...well, I'm a bit confused and can't remember if it's 26 or 28 weeks. But if all goes as it should, by December I won't be having the weekly ultrasounds. By 36 weeks the progesterone shots will end. At 37 weeks the stitches will be removed.

The fear of early labor is always with me. But every week the ultrasound technician tells me the stitches are in fantastic shape, my cervical length has not only held but has actually lengthened a bit on its own since the surgery. And the doctor who did my surgery told me I am extremely lucky to be doing well enough to be at home on bed rest rather than still in the hospital.

A milestone reached is good but I feel I can't get too excited as we just don't know what will happen. Cautiously optimistic.

The baby is strong. She moves all the time and yesterday during the ultrasound we watched as she moved her hand and rested it under her chin. Three weeks ago we laughed as she stuck her tongue out three times. Amazing! She has a tongue and is sassy to boot!

Complications started for me within days of finding out I was pregnant and it's just amazing that through all of this, this embryo, fetus, baby has survived and grown.

This latest adventure had made me forget past experiences but yesterday I was remembering a truly strange and awful experience around 6 or 7 weeks where it seemed by all counts I had miscarried. You name the symptom I had it, including seeing what looked to all the world like an embryo.
The doctor was convinced I'd had a miscarriage and sent me bleeding and exhausted to the ultrasound technician only to hear her say, "There's the heart, beating away." Sure enough.

The past 24 weeks have defied the odds and put Q and I through things we'd never experienced before. It can be tiring to think, "All this and the baby isn't even born yet."

Hang in there, Bean. We'll make it yet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lovely Objects: Meditation

OK. I'm playing fast and loose with the concept of an object. But I had to include meditation as it is all about the good stuff in life. Those things that make you feel content and peaceful and that you want to share with others.
Vipassana (wee-pah-sahna) meditation can be a life changing practice. It takes time and practice yet benefits can be experienced the first time one sits, even if it's just for a few minutes.
I could write extensively about this particular practice and how it's changed my life, but I feel the web site I included a link to has a very good description, as well as other informative articles on Buddhism and Mindfulness practice.

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 7: Holidays

Oh, boy. Here they come.
Kids are still munching on the last of their hoarded Halloween treats and the Christmas advertising blitz has started. In between the two are Thanksgiving, both our
birthdays and the little holiday that could, Hanukkah.

Let me just say right off the bat, it can be really hard to let go of those childhood memories that seem to seal forever in a glitter filled capsule how the holidays should be. I've had to remind myself on more than one occasion that what happens now is not the same as what happened in childhood, or even ten years ago.
And there's nothing wrong in wanting to carry those memories with us through life, if we have them to begin with, but like everything else, holidays change and evolve as we age and like fingerprints, they are unique to every person.

So here we are, Q and I, facing our first holiday/birthday season as a married couple and I'm stuck in bed. As mentioned in an earlier post, our Thanksgiving trip to see his family in New England was canceled, something we are both disappointed about.

Q told me the other day that holidays aren't important to him. Hmmmm. He also really dislikes Christmas. Double hmmmm.
Q loves the Winter Solstice. His fondest memories are not of official holidays, but his family's yearly maple syrup making event on their property in New York which were in every sense a family holiday.
I get that. And I feel a lot of the holidays are revenue driven, corporate produced balls of fluff, or religious events I have no interest in taking part in.

But...I love Christmas and I want to show Q that it can be a holiday for anyone who wants it, not just Christians, and it can be how you want it to be.
The day is ingrained too deeply in my psyche, I suppose and goes with me wherever I go in life.
I mean, for Pete's sake, I even love fruitcake. And every year I have to restrain myself to not go into an egg nog induced coma.

I've also taken part in the Jewish traditions and holidays that are part of Q's life and I feel it's only fair that goes both ways. Last year we exchanged gifts and had a Christmas dinner but, well, you can bring a horse to the Christmas tree but you can't make him drink from the tree stand.

This year, I'm already sad at the thought of what will and won't be for the next couple of months.
But I can get help in putting out some Christmas decorations. Gifts can be ordered through the Internet. And Q and I will continue to work on creating our own traditions and our own life together. Nothing bad about that.
Today I did some Internet research on stores that sell pre-made Thanksgiving dinners. They can be expensive and I feel we're taking a risk as they may not taste very good, but I think it's worth a try.

I do hope that Q will one day see the pleasures in Christmas. It isn't easy for me to take part in holidays that are primarily done in Hebrew and are based on beliefs I don't agree with, but I still find things to like, and just sharing those times with Q makes me happy.
Funny how the things you think you are unyielding on give way when you love someone.

Next year we will have a baby with us and we will be able to share our memories and traditions with her as she grows up and then she will create her own traditions and memories to share with her loved ones. I want very much for her to be able to decorate a Christmas tree, take part in a Seder, and learn how to tap trees and make syrup, as well as learn the recipe for my world famous stuffing.
Pretty exciting, if you ask me, and one holiday season stuck in bed seems a small price to pay in order for all of that to happen.

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 6: Seeing Benefits in the Idea of a Schedule

There have been times in my life when creating a schedule for myself (much more satisfying than having one made one for me, by the way) has come in handy.
When I got my college diploma in 2003 and then couldn't find a full-time job for over a year, it was sticking to my daily schedule that got me through the worst times, and my dedication finally paid off in finding a stable job.

And now I believe it's time again to create some kind of schedule. Nothing too rigid, and no desire to beat myself up for not keeping to it. But it wouldn't hurt to set aside certain times of the day for certain tasks--my exercises, meditation, my crafts, etc. My hope is this will go a long way to make the days feel more purposeful, which in turn will help to alleviate the depression and stress that go along with this new twist in the road.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lovely Objects: Cruelty Free Bags

Just discovered these and am very excited to find them. Pansy Maiden Bags-- all handmade and vegan, too. Not only is the animal lover in me happy, but the design lover as well because these bags have lovely clean lines and a clutter free look.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 5: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I can't shop for baby items. Or for that matter, items for myself.
Sure, I can buy just about anything I need over the Internet but that's not nearly as enjoyable as picking out clothing and furniture for the baby in a store. And I can't even imagine how hard it will be to order a nursing bra without trying it on first.
I can't color my hair or get it cut until after the baby is born. Now there's a good look.

The work sponsored baby shower is out.
My goal of being in good physical shape for labor by practicing yoga and light gym workouts is long gone.
Holidays? I can't even stand to think of them. Q and I have December birthdays and I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out how I can give Q a special day without fully taking part in it. The Thanksgiving trip to New England we were looking forward to is out, of course. Don't even get me started on Christmas.
Q and I were married in a small ceremony out of state and so we were planning a party for all our local friends, but not anymore.

Food has become a big issue for me. I'm increasingly frustrated that I can't go to the grocery store and make healthy meals. I know I'm not getting enough protein. In fact, as I type this out I am trying to choke down an awful tasting protein drink to supplement my diet.
I'm rarely able to satisfy a pregnancy craving. And anyone who's had one of those knows how intense they can be.

I miss walking in the woods. Practicing yoga. Photography. On the other hand, I don't miss the dull routines of my job and the long bus commute. I don't miss walking from the bus stop to my office through what I call "the gauntlet" of heavy smokers, spitters and harassers that cover the sidewalks of the city where I work.
It's also interesting to learn of what I did before that I don't miss that much after all. Like volunteering for a local hospice, or cycling. Before I became pregnant I was working towards taking part in a bikeathon and had worked up from not riding at all to 30 miles at a time. Yet I look back on that time and think, "How miserable! All that pain and the difficulties with my allergies and breathing and constant bike breakdowns!"
I'm sure I will enjoy more leisurely rides with Q and the baby, but I have no interest in pursuing cycling heroics again.

Some days are really bad. I feel overwhelming depression and my nerves are raw. The fears of going into early labor and losing the baby can be overwhelming and I worry that a wrong move will tear out the stitches.

I get very bored. I get angry and frustrated. Things that normally wouldn't bother me at all, like a dead battery in a remote or a faulty Internet connection now feel huge to me.
Last night I asked my husband to rub my back because I find that all the hours I spend alone wear on me and I need to feel human touch to calm my nerves and ease the depression.
There are good days and bad, that's for sure. And some days it's hard to follow "the guidelines."

I thought the other day how it's counter productive to think of how I wish life could be, because in doing so I am not accepting how it is and therefore make myself more unhappy and am unable to exist in the present moment.
The days come unbidden then leave us, maybe full of our regrets. There's not much I can control other than how I mentally construct these days for myself.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lovely Objects: Polynesian Restaurant?

Well this one may take a bit of imagination on the part of the reader to be considered a lovely object, but for the writer, it's infused with enough nostalgia to be deemed "lovely."

I grew up eating at the Polynesian style Chinese restaurants in the Boston area, but South Pacific was my absolute favorite, and I will even go as far to say that as a little girl I thought it was magical--the seashells! The murals! And those exotic sounding rum drinks I couldn't have! (Still have no idea what a Fogcutter tastes like)
These restaurants were very common back then, probably still are to some extent.
And while they smack of a bygone era, my understanding in reading recent reviews is that the South Pacific is still serving good food.

South Pacific in Newton is a classic, a time capsule that from the looks of these photos taken in 2007 hasn't changed a bit since the late 70s and 80s. The only change I remember seeing was the cool outdoor neon sign was replaced after the original was damaged during 1985's Hurricane Gloria.

So, yes, I'm a vegetarian. Very anti-fast food, blah blah blah. But in the last two months or so of my pregnancy I've been literally drooling over the memories of Pu-Pu Platters with the little flaming kettle in the center of the bowl, the fried rice, the chicken chow mein, even the pineapple served at the end of the meal and the endless pots of tea served in heavy cups with no handles.
Don't hold it against me, but I would abandon all principles to be able to visit this place and eat all of that just one more time.

Thomas Wolfe may have written that one cannot go home again but I would bet a meal at the South Pacific in Newton, MA would get me at least half way there, and that's fine with me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lovely Objects: Origami

This was a gifted artist. I was inspired to take up origami a couple of weeks ago after I read about this artist. Unfortunately, what I read was Eric Joisel's obituary in the New York Times. He died much too early but left a wonderful bit of immortality.

As a coincidence, I was perusing my Netflix queue, which tends to be long, and found a documentary I'd forgotten I'd added, Between the Folds. Yes, it's about origami, and features Eric Joisel. I look forward to seeing it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Bed Rest Chronicles 4: Oh, the Trauma!

I remember learning years ago that women who were sexually abused as children can struggle with pregnancy and childbirth as the changes in their bodies cause stress and revive painful memories.

I can't say that's exactly my situation. However, this isn't to say I haven't had problems. Maybe if my pregnancy had no complications I wouldn't be having the struggles I have, but that's not the case. Instead, having issues since roughly my third week has meant being examined by what at times has felt like an assembly line of doctors and other personnel. And each time has been increasingly difficult rather than easier.

Now I think it's safe to say on behalf of all women that a sense of personal dignity goes out the window when one is pregnant. There is a loss of privacy as well as a sneaking suspicion that our bodies are no longer our own. Such is the nature of the process, especially in these days of what strikes me as a hyper awareness of pregnancy and a woman's role as the bearer of children.

But it is different for those who have been abused as a whole host of PTSD related issues can rear their ugly heads, usually at the worst possible time.
There is for me a feeling of vulnerability, fear even, whenever I have to be examined, and I can't seem to get over a slight feeling of violation.
Having my husband with me has helped me a great deal. I find on the rare occasion when Q is not present my level of fear increases dramatically. Unfortunately, my body's way of dealing with all of this is to tense up, which causes more problems. Here then, is where deep breathing exercises can help me a great deal but unfortunately, not always.

Upon entering the surgery room before my cerclage, in addition to my fears about having surgery, I suddenly became so frightened of being alone in a room full of strangers and facing a surgery that would render me completely vulnerable and my body completely exposed, that I had to be given something to relax me as my attempts at deep breathing and relaxation exercises failed miserably. For those of us who deal with PTSD, the "fight or flight" syndrome is a familiar experience, and when there is no way to engage in flight then fright can easily take over.

The night after I returned from the hospital after my surgery, Q had to rush me back to the maternity triage because we feared a miscarriage. I was taken into the exam room while Q was told to stay in the waiting room. Not a good idea. Already overwrought by the experiences of the past four days and the fears of losing the baby, I nearly went into hysterics when the nurse attempted to insert a catheter in me to get a clean urine sample. I made her stop, going so far as to sit up and push her hands away.
Fortunately, we do live in a more understanding age and the nurse immediately stopped, and was kind to me in the process. Yet I knew I still had to face the cervical exam!
It was this evening that for the first time I admitted out loud that I have abuse issues. Despite having already been to two hospitals and seeing a whole host of doctors, midwives, nurses and technicians, I had not ever allowed myself to say those words. I had certainly thought them, though.
Saying it out loud helped. Duly noted in my record, the young nurse was professional and kind, helping me feel that I did the right thing. I managed to "talk myself down off the edge" and got through the rest of the exam.

This was the same night that upon learning I had not miscarried, the "fetus" became the "baby." Up to this point I had done what I could to remain emotionally removed from the life growing in me in order to protect myself. I worried that being too attached and then losing the pregnancy would be too painful to overcome. But that night, when I heard the heart and saw the baby on the ultrasound, I sobbed in relief and knew I was in 100% no matter what would happen.

However, nothing is that simple for me. I do still feel a bit removed, at times as if it's all unreal. I understand it can be normal for any pregnant woman to feel like there's really not a baby growing inside of her, but I wonder how much of it stems from my abuse issues, as removal from self is the ultimate safety of the abused.
It bothers me to write this. I worry it makes me a bad person, a failed mother before even starting, but I also know that this is part of the impermanence of my feelings and nothing to be attached to. Just like those hormonal bursts that make me horrible to be around, or the cravings, or depression over being on bed rest, it is fleeting, like clouds passing a mountain, and it cannot touch the love I already feel for this jumping, bumping little girl growing inside of me.

In a sense, what I experience now is nothing compared to what I went through as a young woman. It's a long, painful road back to one's self after one has been abused, and it never leaves one entirely. I find it makes things a bit easier by accepting that it will always be with me in some way. This is not giving up or giving in, rather it's a letting go.
Of course, if it was up to me I'd have no more exams, but it's not about me. And I also believe there is a line between taking care of oneself and hemming oneself into a restricted life by making all kinds of rules and accommodations to the past. I've seen more than one woman ruined by doing this and I won't be one of them, at least not any more.

It can be discouraging after all this time to be in a situation that brings up so much pain, but unlike when I was younger, I know now I can deal with it. Even when I'm not at my best I am still "dealing with it." And the love I now have in my life, something I lacked for many years, is an unexpected gift that helps in profound ways.