Friday, March 26, 2010

Nice People Rule/Dear Iceberg

Dear Iceberg Drive Inn,

It is refreshing to meet somebody who does customer service right. I am stuck at home 95% of the time on pregnancy bed rest, bored and frustrated. Last night, the frustration became unbearable and I decided I'd succumb to a little sugar therapy. I sent my husband out to buy me a large Iceberg shake (cookies & cream, of course) while he was running errands.

You can imagine how I waited anxiously to hear him return with the silky, sugary goodness. You can also imagine how sad I was when he came home and said, "Apparently the car before me in line was the last one before they closed for the night." He got there right at 10:00 p.m. and was one car-length too late. He offered to go find me something else, but it was 10:30 p.m. and time to give up... reluctantly.

I awoke this morning feeling chipper and optimistic... but still craving that shake. The only problem? I'm stuck at home on bed rest. Alone. I had a medical appointment at 9:00 a.m. and when I left at 10:00 a.m., I thought I'd check out the hours on your drive-thru--just in case you opened early. My hopes were not high and I felt frustrated when I couldn't find any hours posted on your front door.

Feeling embarrassed, I swung into the drive-thru anyway to see if anybody was there. Nope. Not a sound. But as I swung around the corner, I spotted a cheerful employee leaning out of the drive-thru window to talk to me. He told me they opened in 10 minutes and I was welcome to wait a little while.

"I'm not sure if I should wait," I explained. "I'm on bed rest and really need to get home as soon as I can. I'm just on my way home from an appointment..." Then I told him about my husband coming by at 10 o'clock the night before and he cheerfully and sympathetically offered to get me my food early, even though things weren't all set up yet. I placed my order and he filled it quickly.

As I drove home with the sweet taste of ice cream in my mouth, the universe turned itself right-side-up and I relaxed. Sugar therapy is dangerous, but sometimes it's worth the extra calories.

And it tastes even better when it's served up with a kind smile and thoughtful gesture from an accommodating employee.

Thank you.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I remember my first pregnancy. The insomnia really took me by surprise. After baby was born, somebody said, "I think the insomnia in pregnancy is God's way of preparing us for the shock of not sleeping after baby comes."

It made sense on some level and I realized that pregnancy on a whole is nature's--if not God's--or is there any difference?--way of preparing us for parenthood. The sleepless nights, the bad health, the emotional ups and downs--they're just one big reminder that your life is no longer your own. You've made the decision to lay down your life for your child and hope to some day come out of the chrysalis of parenthood as a stronger, more beautiful person. Some day.

Strangely, I didn't have insomnia while pregnant with the twins. You'd think I'd need all the preparation I could get for the transition of going from one child to three children. In retrospect, my biggest problems the year the twins were born had nothing to do with the twins. They had easy temperaments and were very forgiving, even if the logistics of feeding and diapering two newborns was overwhelming.

So what is up with the insomnia this time around? It makes my first-pregnancy insomnia seem insignificant. It was an annoyance, but this is just unbearable. I worry that this is a sign. A sign that this baby will not be mellow like the twins were. That my life is about to get its' biggest shakeup yet. That the challenges of raising three children are insignificant compared to life with four.

I can't help it. I am telling myself that God is not trying to send me a warning. Right? I mean, that would just be cruel, right? Unless... unless... unless I really need to be prepared for the maelstrom that is about to touch ground in Juliana-land. Like... a baby with Down Syndrome? A baby with severe physical limitations like, I don't know, no mouth? A baby whose personality brings new meaning to the term "a child only a mother could love"?

I think about how I already love this little child and cannot wait to gently touch my finger to her soft, newborn cheek and hold her tiny, fragile body next to my shoulder. I think about all the promises of the future--seeing her mature and become a beautiful girl, a young woman, a bride, a mother of my grandchildren. And I think I would do anything for her, whatever her limitations are. But what if those limitations immediately send those dreams crashing to earth?

I don't dwell on this often. It's just a passing thought and gives me little anxiety. But it reminds me to be grateful for everything around me now--not just the solid blessings of health and prosperity and three beautiful children that make me laugh out loud every day, but for the hopes and promises that make the future worth facing.

The skies are blue and it's going to be a beautiful day.

Monday, March 08, 2010

One Perfect Day

Have you noticed that today is a perfect, beautiful day?

I noticed when I drove AWAY from my house for my doctor's appointment. I noticed it when I saw the blue skies and the silky, white clouds and smelled the clean air. I noticed it when the air around me was just the right temperature--not hot, not cold.

I noticed when I laughed with the nurses and told them how grateful I was to be out of the house. I noticed when the doctor waited patiently for my questions and gave me all the answers I wanted. I noticed when he said I won't go past 38 weeks (hooray!) and I realized that's less than two months away!

I noticed how today is perfect when I asked my OB if I could go to Sunday dinner at my Mom's house this week and he said YES! (He hesitated only slightly before answering.) I noticed again when I asked if he'll let me go for a car ride once a week and he said YES! I noticed when I told him my frustrations of how random things seem to make my blood pressure go up and he said reassuringly "that's just the nature of the disease" and to just keep doing my best.

I noticed when I had an ultrasound done right after my appointment with the obstetrician and I was startled to see a little, blurry face peeking at me from inside the womb. A face! Eyes, nose, beautiful little lips... and little fists curled up next to that beautiful face. I noticed when I felt her suddenly kicking me and then saw the little legs moving on the screen. Perfection!

I noticed when they measured her and all the measurements were exactly on track for my due date.

I noticed how beautiful today is as I walked the few feet into the hospital for my non-stress test and saw that beautiful blue sky again. I noticed my legs moving and working and I thought, "Hey, some day I'll be able to exercise again and I won't feel like a cripple my whole life." Optimism made the day beautiful.

I noticed how beautiful life is when I laid down in labor and delivery and my baby's heart rate was great and my blood pressure went way down as I laid in the hospital bed--no cares, no responsibility and in the exact place I want to be if anything is going wrong.

I noticed my beautiful nurse's smile and happiness and then an image flitted through my head and I could see her face with red, swollen eyes. I remembered that dreadful night before the twins were born and I somehow had to say to her, "You know, being here reminds me of the night before my twins were born. The woman before me died."

The recognition was instant and she said she remembered me now. "I was your nurse that night," she said. She told me that she had gone to my doctor and asked him--pled with him?--to delay my c-section until the next morning. It had all been too, too much for them already that day.

"Usually our job here is so wonderful," she said. "So much happiness. But then sometimes..."

I apologized for bringing up a bad memory and she said sincerely it was fine. She had been thinking about that night recently and wondering if it had been four years ago? Or five? My twins are five now. Enough said. I noticed how beautiful life is when she and I realized we're neighbors! She lives only a few houses away from my first house, which is just a quarter mile from where I live now. We chatted about common acquaintances and felt connected.

I noticed how beautiful life was when I considered how fragile life is--and how lucky I am to be alive and have a new life growing inside me. A beautiful little life about to begin.

I noticed when I took the long route to my car, walking around the doctor's office instead of through the building. I noticed the green, waxy tops of tulips that will grow, bloom and wilt while I am on bed rest. Once every week, I can leave my house for my weekly appointment and see the change. How beautiful.

I noticed when I sat in the driver's seat of my car and felt that gentle vrooom of acceleration that reminded me of how alive I really am. I smiled and remembered how much I love acceleration and speed, even though my life now is all about taking a break and slowing down. Next Monday, I'll feel that thrill of acceleration again as I make my way back to the office. How divine.

Life is beautiful. And today is a perfect day. Do you feel it yet?

Sunday, March 07, 2010


I dreamt that I was in the car with my Mom and somebody else who I can't remember--it was an ex-husband of somebody I know and I just remember feeling like he was creepy. We were on our way to Salt Lake and hadn't made it to the freeway when I remembered I'm on bed rest and shouldn't be going anywhere. I expressed this concern to my Mom, who disregarded it and told me she had to run some other errands while we were there.

I realized this would require considerable walking and demanded in a fit of passion that she stop the vehicle and let me out of the car. She refused, so I waited until a red light and hopped out the door. Realizing that walking up the long hill we were at was equally bad for my blood pressure, I proceeded to go up the street anyway until I came to a hospital.

I went in and found a phone outside labor and delivery. I called my in-laws and regretfully told them the story, feeling guilty about putting my Mom in such a negative light. They agreed to come pick me up. A nurse then came out and asked what was going on, so I told her my story. She walked away and then came back a few minutes later with a dressing gown, telling me they were going to admit me. I argued with her and she explained all the reasons why I ought to be seen.

That somehow fizzled out, however, and I found myself wandering down the hall, which was filled with children. There was some activity going on, because women were in all the rooms doing fun activities and handing out cookies to people who walked past. I thankfully ate a cookie, watching all the children around me. Eventually, my mother-in-law found me and I realized I had forgotten that she was coming at all.

The dream changed and I as entered her car, my Mother was driving again. She shush'd me and took me to her house, where they had planned a surprise baby shower. Only about five people had shown up and I felt guilty that they had planned a baby shower for my baby girl that nobody wanted to attend. It was awkward, especially realizing that my Mom's earlier shenanigans had been some prelude to trying to surprise me with this party. The dream ended. Thankfully.

I wonder why I remember some dreams. This one was so strange, but realistic, that I felt there is something I haven't figured out here. Something to do with my fears and anxieties. My insecurities. I wondered what Freud would make of it. Then I wondered what my brother-in-law, the psychologist, would make of it.

A few hours later, I was sitting here at my spot on the couch watching "Music and the Spoken Word." I was thinking about how cluttered my house was and had one of those thoughts of, "How would I feel if the Savior walked in and saw me like this?" I thought about Mary and Martha and realized I would just listen. My house is what it is right now through nobody's fault.

Then, in my imagination, I was asking Him what I need to be doing. Asking for direction. Guide me.

He told me I already know what my sins and weaknesses are and I should work on those.

This was all my imagination--nothing more at all--but I was surprised at how quickly that list of sins and weaknesses came to mind. I realized that I don't need visitations or dreams or anything else to remind me of the direction my life needs to be heading. It's all right here, ready to be understood, as soon as I open my mind and close my pride.