Monthly Archives: April 2013

Alone and not alone.

Yesterday and for a few days before I was fine.

My anemia symptoms are gone now. Milk that came in was quickly dried up again with herbal tea consumed and cabbage strategically (albeit uncomfortably) placed. Physically, I feel normal again.

In spite of that, today has felt like more of a falling apart kind of day.

A friend of mine reached out this morning, the timing of it could seriously not have been more perfect. She said how this all feels in a way that was so well written:

I don’t understand the pain that you’re going through, or will go through. But I get what you mean. I was thinking about it all this morning, about you and about (name removed for privacy)… how terrible miscarriages can be. I came to the conclusion that it’s because, not only is it a loss that you’re dealing with (as many of us do)… but a miscarriage is directly and solely yours. A personal tragedy. Only you can know what has taken place, the horror that your body has gone through. And for that, I empathize with you.

One of the first questions I had for my midwife as this all unfolded was, “What do I even call this?” I seriously wondered if I even was allowed to call it a miscarriage since it was so early. The well meaning people surrounding me and asking me if I was sure that this was in fact a miscarriage did not help in the processing of this question. I must have had at least five or six conversations over-explaining myself and how I knew for a fact that I had been pregnant and that I was sure this was a miscarriage. The last post on this subject was just that: wordy me, over explaining. I guess I wrote it with the hopes that I wouldn’t need to have one of those awkward conversations again if I wrote it all out and knew my answer to that question.

Some of you may or may not remember or know this, but this happened to me once before. Since I figured it out so far after the fact though, it did not hit me like this has. I have had many new doctors over the last few years because of insurance and job changes and as any of you know when you get established with a new doctor a review of your health history is part of the process. On almost every form there is a part where there are separate entries for number of pregnancies and number of live births. I have always put 4 pregnancies and 3 live births on those forms, but upon discussion with every single doctor (the exception being my wonderful midwife in Ventura) they always say, “Well it was so early that we won’t note that in your chart,” or “That really doesn’t count as a miscarriage.” It’s not so shocking really, the point when I miscarried is the point when it is still OK in our society to have an abortion.

A few years ago a friend of mine that doesn’t blog anymore shared some of her fertility struggles back when we were all blogging and bloggy friends. I remember her words impacted me so much and helped me to finally somewhat process through the miscarriage “that didn’t count”. She said that in a world where the unborn are regarded as disposable nonentities at the early stages of pregnancy, there is little comfort for those of us that suffer a miscarriage during that part of a pregnancy. Miscarriage is so common (and I hate that word in this situation), but no one really knows how to deal with it or those of us that have been through it. Her specific words have stuck with me, “My unborn children were people with a soul. The loss of that unique person left an enormous void in my life.”

In early miscarriage we don’t have a funeral. We don’t know the sex of the child and cannot name the child, a suggested coping mechanism on several articles I’ve read on the subject. I did not ever feel my babies kick, hold their hand, gaze into their eyes. No aunties, uncles, cousins or grandparents got to know this person or hold them and thus feel the void of their absence.

Post-partum hair loss has started, but there’s no baby to show for it. It’s a deep ache that is hard to share with anyone else.

My husband’s cousin that knows this tragedy, sent a card that said, “There are no words for the pain.” She’s right. But in some small way those that have brought meals, sent texts or messages, brought flowers, sent cards, books, have prayed and offered their condolences have helped. It has not gone unnoticed even if I have not responded directly to everyone. They can’t share in my grief or understand it. They never knew and can never miss this person, but knowing that they care helps. It helps me to know I’m not alone in something that I am going through alone.

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Filed under Family, Parenting, Pregnancy and Birth, Ramblings

DIY toy censer that won’t give someone a concussion

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to the beach for the weekend.

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My boys picked up some seaweed and started “censing” things with it singing ding-dong-ding-dong as the seaweed didn’t have any bells like the priest’s censer.

For those of you totally unfamiliar, during several parts of the service, the Orthodox priest uses what is called a censer with incense in it. Orthodoxy is known for incorporating all the senses in worship. The sense of smell is not left out!

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Since that beach trip, my boys have pretty much been using any swing-able object they can get their hands on as a censer to go around the house and cense with.

I decided I wanted to make them a toy version of the priest’s censer. If my boys want to be priests when they grow up, I have no problem encouraging this now. I had heard of these “toys” among seminary student families and in a few Orthodox children in churches articles I had read.

I still wasn’t completely sure if this was an OK thing to do or if a toy censer was irreverent. So I did what I always do when I have a slightly silly question about something in Orthodoxy and asked my friend that is soon to be ordained. He said, “Censers are great play items for little boys! You can use a little block of wood, maybe with a little cross on it, and then a little rope, with a bell. Something like that works wonderful. Our friend’s child would literally ‘cense’ each icon in the house, and then he would turn to each person, and each person needed to bow when he ‘censed’ them. It was really cute! I think he even had it hanging by a little hook on the wall.”

Yay, on it being OK for role playing, but the wood block suggestion was so not happening around here. See, the current problem is, many of the objects they have picked to use in this endeavor they either wind up hurting themselves or someone else with.

So, I was thinking of something a little softer and maybe slightly more decorative like an actual censer (some are so beautifully detailed, Google image search it).

Now I have to admit, normally toilet paper roll crafts gross me out. I mean that thing is in your bathroom and people touch it when… yeah. So when I see TP roll crafts all over Pinterest I can never bring myself to do them.

I made an exception because I knew I’d be covering it in felt and I couldn’t think of another more perfectly sized or shaped object for this project.

Here goes:

First I cut a TP roll in half. I traced the end and then gave myself about 1/4″ extra around that to cut circles for each end. I embroidered a cross in silver embroidery thread on one of the circles.

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I punched holes at one end on opposite sides of the roll. I tied my bells inside using these holes and also tied the censer string through these holes. Normally the bells are all along the chain of the censer, but we aren’t worried about grown male priests sticking bells in their mouths. So I decided to be safe and stick mine inside.

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I hot glued the felt circles over each end of the TP roll.

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Then I cut a rectangle piece to fit around the exterior sides and embroidered it with more crosses and designs in the silver thread. I hot glued this around the outside of the TP roll covering the edges of the glued on circles. I made each one slightly different. I’m on an embroidery kick lately.

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So there you have it. Throw this up on the list of things I’d never thought I’d be doing. Ha!

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Filed under Craftopia, Faith, Family, Kiddos

#oversharenting

I’m glad that in Heaven we won’t have that “I need to document this on Instagram/Facebook/my blog” thought.

Sometimes I feel seriously guilty if I don’t update this place or one of those other ones mentioned with pictures and thoughts. I know my family in particular “follows” this (and those) and I often feel like I’m leaving them out of the loop when I go silent. Not to mention my friends. It’s like you can’t even have friends these days unless you are Facebook friends.

Because on top of all the other stuff and responsibilities, let’s add one more: family archivist and journalist. I really do love writing and taking pictures and it can be a great outlet for me, but sometimes I get so caught up in that, in capturing the perfect moment or even just life as it is right now in all the chaos and mess, that I miss out on other stuff or the bigger picture.

I almost kind of hate, actually, that I’m constantly thinking of the next picture or thing I need to say and share. We live in an insane age. I just keep thinking that over and over again lately.

Before all this constant sharing business, you might have some banter about certain subjects at a party or maybe even have some thoughts exchanged between pen pals or on the phone with a long distance friend. Things might get a little uncomfortable, but you’d probably agree to disagree and then move on. Those with connections and eloquence might publish their opinions in the opinion section of the newspaper and elicit more of a response and expect such a response in the letters to the editor section.

Now? Now, we are bombarded by our own opinions and everyone else’s nearly constantly. Everything turns into a controversy with even one wrongly taken remark devoid of the context of a human being sitting in front of us.

Too many controversies have been erupting in my life lately and I have to wonder if it is really everyone else or maybe it’s just me that is the problem (that sounds like a bad breakup line).

I was researching Internet Etiquette or “netiquette,” online community user agreements and similar topics earlier this week because a group I’m in is getting large and needing something of this sort.

Did this help me to be kinder and less snappish with people? Did I find myself any less on the defensive about various things? Did I remember that most of the people I interact with are friends and family, human beings? No, of course not. Please forgive me, a sinner, if I offended you this week.

The problem is me, but the problem also is that our opinions, our not well formed or edited opinions are put out there for the world to see constantly. They are out out there without context.

I remember hearing a sermon several years ago about how parts of Mother Theresa’s personal journals were being released to the public in which she often expressed despair and doubt in her salvation. I remember this was not treated kindly by the Protestant speaker, but all I could think of was a) Why is everyone reading her personal diary? b) What would she would think of this? c) When I do sit down to write it is usually a case of emotional vomit whether blog/journal/personal message/comment, but it doesn’t represent all of me and it’s probably the same for Mother Theresa d) I’m going to put in my will that my journals be burned and maybe I’ll just start destroying them now.

I have since found ways to get myself in trouble because of my writing over and over again without dying or anyone reading my journals. I have yet to learn my lesson. I saw one of those e card funnies today, “I never make the same mistake twice. I make it five or six times, just to be sure.”

Our former pastor once told me that he never resolves anything over e-mail. As much as I’ve been misinterpreted, I’m starting to think my policy ought to be, “I don’t explain myself or anything in writing, period.” And maybe I’ll stop over-documenting (the new hashtag for that I’m told is #oversharenting) my kids’ lives. I mean is anyone really going to care about my Instagram feed or my Facebook timeline in 100 years? In 50? 20? Probably not. So let’s just get on with living life and less with documenting every second of it and writing down all the thoughts to go with it. Which sounds very hypocritical now that it has taken me 13 paragraphs to get here. Ha!

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It happens to most women.

This is the space where I share in milestones and birth stories. This will be the space where I share my grief.

I know I said I was done after Henry. That I did not ever want more kids. What happened after his birth, not really ever feeling totally well afterwards (still don’t), the “ruler of the home” he turned out to be like his name means, etc. Stephen was so scared after what happened he didn’t want me to be pregnant again either. Too many ER trips for IVs and prescription anti-nausea medications and being unable to really function, let alone take care of kids from being sick and the side effects of the prescription medicines. I was justifiably done. I had done my part to continue the Wuertz name with two boys. We had three kids in a country where the average is probably somewhere around one or two.

I don’t know when or how I got to the point where I felt like after three I knew I’d survive those hard nine months and it was just so, so worth it, but I did. I guess I’m kind of glad we didn’t decide to be “surgically sure” after Henry. He’s taught us so much about ourselves, our selfishness. And the kid can work the charms on me. His new favorite thing is to come up on my lap and hug me tight and say, “My lap, my mama, my snuggles,” (we are heavy into the “my” phase).

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I don’t pretend to be able to explain myself well here. I know big families are kind of a freak show in our culture (with their own Reality TV shows like the other freaks in our nation). And I never wanted a big family or thought I would want one. I never thought I’d want kids, period.

So then there it was, a change in decision, and almost immediately I was pregnant because I’m Fertile Myrtle like that. Much like with the others, especially Jillian, I was already nauseous about a week after conception. My face erupted in major, painful breakouts. I needed a nap every day, but obviously could not take one with two older kids that don’t nap anymore, but are not old enough to be trusted in any way. I could not keep my eyes open past 8pm most nights and I slept like a brick. I had brain fog and trouble focusing. Smells were stronger and I had more aversions. These are things that only happen when I am pregnant. It was obvious to me. So obvious, that I decided a pregnancy test was unnecessary.

At first my symptoms just seemed to coincide with Lent, but it just kept getting more and more intense and I knew, I just knew it wasn’t a Lent thing. In fact, I finally had to get a fasting dispensation from our priest for pregnancy and even then I was having all these really intense typical pregnancy symptoms. My period was late as expected.

I guess what was unexpected was how excited we were. I pretty much put two and two together within a day of the symptoms starting and we were both so thrilled. We haven’t really ever been like that before, especially in the midst of nausea. It took warming up to the idea all the other times.

There’s something different between Stephen and I in our relationship and even just us as individuals this last year that I can’t quite put my finger on completely, but it’s there, this quiet strength and peace and knowing that even in hard times, which have seemed plenty the last year, we are going to make it through. Perhaps we’ll come out a little more battered, but overall we’re going to be OK and we’re going to make it through. I don’t quite know how to articulate it other than that, but it feels bigger than that.

So we knew a pregnancy would be hard. I knew lots of puking was ahead of me, but we knew we were going to be OK and make it through and there would be this sweet little person that would fit him or herself into this family of ours. Perhaps part of it is just having done it three times before.

After three homebirths and in spite of the after-scares with myself after giving birth to Henry, my plan was still homebirth and the midwife that “caught” two of my babies.

She had been at a midwifery conference this past week and got back earlier this week. I checked in with her and asked if I could come by to get lab orders and get my official test.

But then I started feeling too normal for a typical pregnancy for me. After three solid weeks of symptoms, suddenly I felt fine and did crazy adventurous things with my kids like hiking and a day at the farm strawberry picking.

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I got scared. I questioned my knowledge of my body and my symptoms. I bought pregnancy tests. I took one at night. It was negative. The best time to test is first thing in the morning, I reminded and consoled myself. The next morning was the same. But my period was late and the symptoms told me these tests had to be wrong. This was the day that I wanted to get my paperwork anyway. My midwife suggested ordering a hormone level check instead of a plain pregnancy blood test.

Surely things were fine. Surely this was just weird stuff. But deep down I knew it wasn’t fine and started to worry. The sudden lack of symptoms was my red flag. I asked a few people to pray. I prayed.

Before I could even get the test results back I was cramping, hard. Then bleeding. Then clots and tissue. I had my answer.

A day that was supposed to be filled with joy went terribly differently than I expected. And the grief hit me. And then I was fine. Then it hit me again. Then I was fine. I think I’m going to be OK and console myself that at least it was only a little ways along and physically this could be much worse and then I find myself slamming cupboard doors for no apparent reason or snapping at my kids for minor infractions. I had a meltdown over Henry trying to help with the laundry carrying his folded pile down the hallway dropping a piece every few steps. I try to keep busy and then fall apart in tears. I know these things happen, happen to most women at least once. I just thought it wouldn’t really be me.

I asked my midwife what to call this. It’s so early. Is it even considered a miscarriage if you are only a week late? By the time I took the test my hormone levels were so low it was “questionable if it was a pregnancy.” The passing tissue, the other symptoms sound and feel more like a miscarriage than just a late period. Hormone levels drop when you have a miscarriage, that’s what causes your body to lose the pregnancy. Stephen said he’s never seen me so ravenous to eat, so nauseous, so tired except when I’m pregnant. We’re calling it a miscarriage.

Depending on the priest, it seems, the same rule that applies to mothers that just have given birth to not return to church until 40 days after the birth, applies to women that have had a miscarriage. I am still waiting to see what this means for me, our upcoming reception into the church and all that.

When I first heard about this whole 40 day thing awhile back, I scoffed. I was back at church within a week or two with my other children, who did these Orthodox people think they were making a rule like that?

Well for one thing, even the midwives want you to take it easy for the first couple weeks. I was scolded for doing too much at first all three times. A friend of mine in the church with a new baby remarked when her 40 days were up that she was finally starting to feel better after giving birth and falling into a rhythm, feeling adjusted and that after experiencing it, the 40 days made sense.

I left the house twice to go three places today. The first time to meet with Stephen for lunch and then the craft store for supplies to keep me busy.

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Ethan dressed himself today in this guitar tee with clip-on tie and he dressed his baby doll in a mismatched outfit too. I just wasn’t up to a fight with him about clothes or taking toys out of the house.

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The second time we left to go have dinner with Stephen because I decided I wasn’t up to cooking after all.

Both times of leaving the house it seemed like a good idea at first. Sometimes when I am going through something tough I need to leave the house or I feel like I will suffocate from grief and stress pushing in on me from the walls of our house. Being outside feels more breathable.

I listened to this parenting interview today and the mother had lost her child five years ago in a car accident. Her 10 month old son makes it impossible for her to dwell or become useless on certain anniversaries anymore. Life goes on and the baby does not stop or give her a day off to spend looking through photographs.

My kids were up at 7am. They will be again tomorrow. They require attention and interaction all day long. They need us and especially me.

But once I was in public, I instantly realized I was still much too raw. Do you even leave the house after something like this? Is that allowed? Will it seem uncaring? What would we do or say if we ran into someone we knew?

Holding myself together was nearly impossible at times. Crying in Baja Fresh just seemed ridiculous though especially with all the peppy music blaring overhead and I kept it together.

So forty days is making huge sense to me right now. Forty days to hunker down. Get things together. Honor that which was lost. Process through the grief partially.

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Filed under Family, Parenting, Pregnancy and Birth, Ramblings, Uncategorized