Sunday, December 25, 2005
Sunday, December 18, 2005
It’s hard to know if my inability to remember very much of my daughter’s first few months is because of sleep deprivation or other distractions. After all, I did start work here just two weeks after she was born. There were so many adjustments to be made and so much to learn, at work and at home. People always tell you that a new baby will change your life forever, but you kind of have to live through that to know what it means. I’m still finding out. Every day my daughter, Eleanor, shows me something new about herself and I get glimpses at the woman she will become.
But I have to say that, in many ways, I’m enjoying it more now than in those first few, sleep deprived weeks. While my wife and I were attempting to adjust to providing care for our new baby who seemed to demand constant attention, I also was introduced to the concept of being “On Call.” All of us at Pastoral Care, like many other departments, take turns being on call overnight. It can be exciting, as you never know when you’ll get called. And it can also be draining as you pull back into the driveway just getting home from a call, only to hear your pager go off once again.
I remember clearly one night, after having stayed up late surfing the web, I went into the bedroom to try to lie down and get some sleep. My wife and the baby had been in their beds for a while (at that time her bed was still in our room) when I crept under the covers. I recall laying there on the edge of the bed, looking over at the pager on my nightstand, just waiting for it to go off, afraid to really let go and go to sleep because I knew if I did it would buzz and wake me up. I then turned over and saw my wife experiencing the same thing, only she wasn’t looking at the pager, she was looking at the baby, just waiting for her to wake up, to cry, to need comfort. I had to laugh. We were both “on call.”
For many of us the demands of life feel like a pager ready to ring and interrupt our sleep, or a baby, ready to wake up and scream at a moment’s notice. Our responsibilities with work, family and friends seem to compound at this time of year as we rush to fit it all in before the end of the year. As family gathers, it can be hard to enjoy the holidays when we’re on edge, waiting for some new crisis or need to break loose and fall upon us.
But this time of year is also when we are reminded of God’s presence with us. Immanuel is coming. He will be born in a manger. This is the time of year when we remember that, though God may seem distant, He is coming, out of love, to dwell among us and to transform our lives, our relationships and our communities. This baby will be born, and He will change all of our lives forever. It is our joy to find out just how, as He reveals himself to us and as we seek to let him use us to reveal Him to others, bit by bit, day by day, in this holiday season and throughout eternity.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Eleanor is such a happy, thumb-sucking, fat baby. If you click on the photo, you can see more pictures.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
PS- Happy St. Nick's Day!
Saturday, December 03, 2005
We went on a picnic to the river front today. It was a beautiful day.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
The doctor said that it is time to start her on rice cereal. I’m a bit conflicted about starting so soon. From what I’ve read, starting “solids” later (closer to six months) reduces the likelihood of the child developing food allergies. Eleanor is at an increased risk of food allergies because Matt is allergic to peanuts. So, is she missing out on anything if we wait another month or two to introduce her to cereal?
This whole parenting thing is confusing. Everyone has an opinion about everything. How do you know who to listen to? The medical community changes its mind on how to do things with every generation (or so it seems).
Eleanor has been Little Miss Fussy Piddles this week until today. We think it was from all the traveling. She was her happy self today, and then I took her to get shots. It was not near as bad as last time. Yesterday, I started preparing her for the shots by telling her that it was going to hurt, but only for a minute and it would keep her from getting bad diseases. I even explained as best I could in Indonesian, just in case she understands that better. She did really well through all four shots, much calmer than last time. I was quite grateful for this since Matt could not get off work.
So, Matt will be finishing his chaplaincy residency either in August 2006 or August 2007 (depending on if he is offered the second year or not). Where do you think we should go after that?
Monday, November 28, 2005
We went on a walk while we were at Matt's family's house. It was quite chilly, so I put Eleanor in the baby carrier with her hat on and then put my sweater on over her. It was quite cozy and comfortable, except when she would turn her head to see things her eyes would get lost either under her hat or in the sweater.
Eleanor is asleep and I should be too. As usuall, click on the photo to see more.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
A couple weeks ago I started feeling really guilty about all of the landfills we were filling up with diapers. So I did some research, mostly trying to appease my guilt by proving that using cloth diapers was just too much work and too gross. But like the atheist who set out to prove God didn't exist and became a Christian, I am now a proud cloth diaper user.
The more I read, the more I realized that cloth diapers are not what they used to be. There are no pins involved, no plasticy covers, and no dunking used diapers in the toilet. The diapers I chose have snaps and soft fleece inside (it keeps Eleanor's bum quite dry and cozy). The diapers come in several colors and prints. I even found one site that sells batik diapers. Maybe Eleanor will get one of those for Christmas.
I have to admitt that I feel quite betrayed. I never saw an advertisement for any kind of cloth diapers in all the pregnancy and parenting magazines and books. Diaper companies have money, so they convince us that putting plasticy chemicals up against our babies skins is good for them, and that everyone does it so it must be okay. No one (except April and Levi) told me that cloth diapering could be as easy as it is. Instead of tossing the diapers in the trash, they go in the washing machine. Doesn't that make more sense?
Well, I have to go hug a tree.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
In other news, we went back to the hematologist yesterday. He told me to take the rat poison for three more months. After that we go back for a couple more tests to see if I have any other clotting disorders that they can't test for while on the medicine. I am very happy to not have to have surgery and to be able to get off of the medication. Matt and I celebrated this with ice cream and a movie.
Matt is still very much enjoying his job and I am learning how to answer the constant "Do you work?" stream of questions. My favorite responses so far include:
"No, I spend my days lounging in a pool with various drinks that have umbrellas in them."
"Oh, good heavens no! That's why I have a husband."
"June Cleaver is my name."
Eleanor beacons and I must go.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Monday, October 31, 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Monday, October 24, 2005
“Oh, uh, I have a blood clot in my leg.”
“Really? Wow. What were the symptoms?”
“It hurt, turned blue, and doubled in size.”
“Oh, well, you’re pretty.”
This conversation took place between the lady next to me and myself while I was waiting for some blood to be drawn at the hematologist today. I was sitting in a room full of people waiting for blood draws and I was the youngest by at least 30 years. In all, it was a good visit. The doctor does not think that a surgery would be helpful, which was good news. I am going for a Doppler study (ultrasound of my leg) tomorrow. The doctor also wanted to run some more tests to see if I have other clotting disorders. We will go back in two weeks to further discuss a treatment plan.
I’ll post some more pictures soon.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
"You look too young to have a baby."
"Are you too young to have a baby?"
This is a real, true-to-life conversation that I had with a middle-aged church woman this morning at the Bible Study I recently joined. Sigh.
Monday, October 10, 2005
"Sweet Lil' Gal" Ryan Adams from 'Heartbreaker'
"Ty Versus Detchibe" Prefuse 73 from 'Surrounded by Silence'
"Bob Dylan's Dream" Bob Dylan from 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan'
"Airline to Heaven" Billy Bragg & Wilco (by Woodie Guthrie) from 'Mermaid Avenue Vol. 2'
"The Build-Up" Kings of Convenience (feat. Feist) from 'Riot on an Empty Street'
I hereby tag David Pulliam, Robert Hand, Jacob Martinka, Brock Mitchel but he never reads this and doesn't have a blog... Dave Westbrook too, for that matter. I would tag Matt Cleveland but I already know what he's listening to. Our iPods are hopelessly inbred.
If you take at least as long to respond to this as I did, don't worry, I won't mind.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Monday, October 03, 2005
The rules: list five songs that you are currently LOVIN'. it doesn't matter what genre they're from, whether they have words, or even if they're any good, but they must be songs that you're really enjoying right now. post these instructions, the artists and the songs in your blog, then tag five other xangans/friends to see what they're listening to.
You're So Vain -- Carly Simon
Both of Us'll Feel the Blast -- Waterdeep
Blackbird -- The Beatles
Death of an Interior Decorator -- Death Cab for Cutie
Alphabet of Nations -- They Might be Giants
I tag sonnetjoy (Chessie), the Franklins, Ben Utter, the McNarys, and bendblock.
Her official weight at two months is 11 pounds and 4 ounces. I figured out that she has gained an average of 1.4 ounces per day. If she continues to grow at this rate, by the time she starts kindergarten she will weigh 193 pounds. (I really need to find more to do).
She is starting to smile more and has a growing repertoire of expressions. Right now she’s flipping me off, but I’ll excuse that for now.
On Saturday, we went with my parents to see my brother Josh’s senior show. This is a picture from the show. You can see one of Josh’s paintings in the background.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Anyway, Eleanor, Matt and I are doing well. She has been a wonderful baby today. I'm amazed at how good she has been. We (Eleanor and I, Matt was at work) went to Arkadelphia to listen to Gracia Burnham speak at OBU's chapel service. She slept most of the way to Arkadelphia, then was awake and quiet for the chapel service. She seemed to enjoy meeting new people and liked having lunch with her Uncle Josh. Then she slept all the way home.
I am also amazed at how big Eleanor is getting. Today as I was buckling her into her carseat I accidently caught her double chin under the strap (it didn't even wake her up). We will weigh her at her two month check up next week, but I'm sure she's over ten pounds.
I will get some more picture up as soon as a) I learn how to post them using the PC, or b) we get the Apple up and running again.
Friday, September 02, 2005
While Matt is learning how to minister to the sick and weary in the hospital, I am learning how to meet the needs of a very demanding and small person. She is now a month old. That seems quite impossible.
You might notice that with Matt back at work, there are fewer pictures. I’ll work on that. I know you come here for the pictures and not the words. There are a few new pictures on the flicker site, click on the picture here to access them.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Sunday, August 14, 2005
We're sleeping a lot and still enjoyinig the newness of it all (not to mention the many free meals people keep offering).
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
6 pounds, 1 ounce.
blond hair, strangely enough.
I think she looks like Melody (though this close-up distorts her nose a bit).
Sorry about the delay. We're still in the hospital trying to adjust Melody's anticoagulation medications. Eleanor has been discharged to our care. The first few nights were trying but with a little teamwork everyone gets food and sleep.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Matt’s last day of work at the clinic is August 1. He will start the chaplaincy program at Baptist Hospital August 15. Hopefully this baby will come sometime in between those dates. If not, the hospital has agreed to be flexible with when he starts.
I just thought that you all (whoever still reads our sparse thoughts) would like to know all of that.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
On July 2nd, I went to Ray Winder Field to see Bob Dylan. What I didn’t anticipate was bullying and theft from the security staff. When I arrived (dropped off to avoid the parking nightmare), my backpack was searched, my water bottle was tossed but my still film camera was passed over without mention by the gatekeepers. That and the dozens of other cameras and photographers (not to mention camera phones) reassured me that I was alright snapping a few shots of the show. So I did just that, during the opener and through Willy Nelson’s show. When Dylan, my main interest in attending, took the stage I took a few shots, noticing the grim security guy in the corner of the stage.
A few minutes later, a young man with a radio pressed through the crowd to where I was standing and demanded my camera. Over the roar of the crowd and the music I attempted to ascertain who he was and why he thought he had rights to my property. He continued to assert that cameras were “not allowed” and that there had been signs to that effect.* I didn’t want to leave the show I had paid to see, nor did I have any place outside the arena to stash my camera. When asked why I had been singled out, the man pointed to another man dressed in black, on stage who had apparently selected my camera for confiscation. Somewhat stupidly, I gave up the camera after getting Dave’s name and his assurance that I could pick up my camera at the gate. I was pretty sure I had been conned out of an expensive camera until I saw Dave on stage with the man in black finding more cameras. Though I did get my camera back, I never received an explanation as to why they were forbidden or why mine was chosen over the dozens of others. I know many performers, especially older ones like Dylan, dislike flash photography as it can temporarily blind them. I hadn’t been using flash for that reason. But it didn’t occur to me that they were attempting to stop all imaging of the performance. When I checked my film after leaving I found that it had been stolen.
I use the term “stolen” because, after a bit of research, I confirmed my suspicion that in America, the seizure of property, such as film or a camera, is only lawful with a court order or in the context of an arrest by a police officer. Ray Winder Field and its employees are certainly within their rights to withhold permission for photography (as they were likely asked by the performers to do so). However, “taking your film directly or indirectly...can constitute criminal offenses such as theft and coercion.” (Bert P. Krages II, Your Rights and Remedies When Stopped or Confronted for Photography, 2003. www.krages.com ) Reparations for the seizure of film and other property may also be sought in civil court for those so inclined. A simple verbal request to cease taking photos would have been enough, but Dave crossed the line, exposing himself and his employers to potential civil and criminal liability.
More and more amateur and professional photographers across the country are finding their right to create images questioned and violated and their property stolen by private citizens, and well intentioned law enforcement officials. Had I been more aware my rights, my encounter with Dave might have gone differently. It is vital that individual citizens educate themselves about the protections afforded them by the constitution or we will see them evaporate. The website mentioned above is a good place to start.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Spouses are among the best at spotting these areas where we’ve been stamped by the DNA of their in-laws. Melody was the first to notice that a habit I have of sitting with my left leg bent sideways under my right knee was not an original invention but something my dad commonly did (as documented in a number of photos). This is all the more interesting because he died when I was three, before I could have possibly learned to copy this behavior. As a friend once said, remarking about the similarities between his habits and his father’s, “For people with bodies like ours, this is just a comfortable way to sit.” In turn, I have noticed the way Melody shares her mother’s empathy, intellectual independence, insatiable curiosity and the ability to talk circles around the same topics, spiraling toward some kind of deeper understanding or affirmation.
But it’s not as simple as DNA. Some of the ways we become our parents are clearly learned. I hear my step-dad Shelly every time I respond to Melody with the automatic affirmative “ummhmh.” I feel his same impulse toward discipline in curtailing the tantrums of young children who happen across my path.
This is simultaneously frightening and comforting for those of us who are on the cusp of parenthood. No matter how much you plan and strategize about how you will raise your children, the attitudes, values, postures, insecurities, and hopefully virtues of your parents will fill in the gaps. All the more reason to worry about and trust in your own improvisations, and all the more reason to pray and strive to be the kind of person you want your children to be. They will become like you, without even thinking about it.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Saturday, May 21, 2005
A peek into our twice daily ritual of blood thinner injections; Baby belly photos coming soon!
This week I recieved a series of phone calls from people offering fresh possiblities for the fall. Now, some of you are wondering: "Are they having a baby in the fall?" Yes, that already accounted for plenty of possibilities (fresh and otherwise), but I've been itching to use my hard won degree since we had to/got to leave teh school in Manado. I've been offered a position as Chaplaincy Resident at Baptist Medical Center which is a year long graduate level program with a stipend and medical benefits slightly exceeding my current arrangements. This is just to say that, just as I was about to begin to prepare my mind for making appointments and taking copayments ad infinitum, a new hope has arrived. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Today at work (at the Family Practice Clinic where I now work), a woman called askinf for an appointment to get ther "morning after pill" prescribed. Fortunately, Catholic Health Initiatives, CHI (with whom our clinic is affiliated) makes the decision for us about whether we even offer such services. She was asking me where she might find a physician who would prescribe this for her.
"Ma'm, I really don't know."
"You don't? I need this soon..."
There is a medical exchange phone service that helps patients find clinics and facilities and asnwers medical questions but in the moment when asked I knew some part of me didn't want her to get it.
An hour or so later another "woman" is at my window asking for "emergency contraceptives," however, she's not sure her ARKids First MediCAID will cover it. We inform her that it won't.
What surprised me more, was the fact that a significant number of my co-workers and superiors had never heard of this "morning after pill" This is surprising to me in a time when teh drug has recieved some national attention as the right of pharmacists to refuse to provide it on conscience.
As a lowly recpetions who feels the impulse to exercies his conscience by not helping a young woman possibly terminate her newly fertiliezed egg (or alternately perevent its implantation), I can empathize with teh druggists who choose not to provide the means. However, I have become intimately acquanted with the breadth of changes that just the firs tnine motnhes of a new life bring. I'll Let you know about the rest of the changes later.
Mmm Mmm MMM. Kids havin' kids.
So, what do you, our loyal readership, think? If physicians can refuse services on conscience should pharmacists be able to? Should receptionists be able to?
Friday, May 13, 2005
“When will the cd I ordered arrive?”
“Oh, next week.” (Two months passed, it never came.)
“When will we receive our salary?”
“Tomorrow.” (Or next week)
Dealing with car sales people tends to go about the same.
“Has it ever been in an accident?”
“Just a little fender bender.” (This really means a head-on collision.)
“Is there anything wrong with the car?”
“It has a few scratches and dings.” (And the back center seat belt and one of the door handles are missing, the engine is corroded from spilled battery acid, the bumper is about to fall off, the glove compartment doesn’t close, and the list went on.)
In other news, we are doing well. Matt’s “Will work for Health Insurance” sign worked. He spends 8 hours a day making appointments for people and then making the same people pay for those appointments. We found someone to take us up on the offer to exchange service for paying for health services. We clearly got the better end of that bargain. All of the medical expenses they pay double Matt’s salary, at least.
My garden is growing big and strong. I have spinach, squash, tomatoes, and bell peppers growing in five gallon buckets on what I like to call our veranda. The baby is also growing big and strong. She likes to knead the inside of my abdomen. It’s fun to watch my stomach change shapes as she moves. We start the third trimester next week. In all the things I’m learning, the thing that stands out the most is that books on pregnancy (especially labor and delivery) do NOT make good bedtime reading. Those are some of the strangest dreams I’ve ever had.
Some people have expressed interest in seeing a picture of me now that I’m round (is it really such a novelty?). I’ll try to get Matt to post something sometime soon...maybe.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
This morning I sat working on waking up and watched my stomach move spontaneously. Sometimes it feels like I’ve swallowed a hamster, but this morning the baby was making her presence known in a more pronounced way. “Her” is intentional. We spent last Monday morning in a darkened room looking at images produced by soundwaves bouncing off our child. She is healthy, developing well, and looks kind of freaky. Matt and I were both grateful to see that none of the deformities that could have been caused by the rat poison I was taking were detectable. Thank you for your prayers.
Today is a beautiful spring day. In about twenty minutes I have to go sit in an office for the rest of the afternoon, but for now, I am enjoying the springness of the day. I just saw a small, round animal run into the wooded area behind our apartment...maybe a groundhog? One evening Matt and I saw two foxes testing the boundaries of our complex. Even though we are living in the biggest city either of us has ever lived in, it is still very much Arkansas.
As the days start getting longer and the weather warmer, our lives are starting to feel more settled and more hopeful. Thank you to all of you for your prayers and support which has helped us get through some difficult months.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Well it is a sunny Saturday morning and as reticent as I am to admit it, we have much to be thankful for. Why am I so begrudging toward this fact? I can only say that all the upheaval of the past few months has left me at times, not a little frustrated and sullen (as my friends here in Little Rock can attest). As I read over the posts from our time in
I am thankful this morning for a place to sleep and wake and make hot chocolate and music; a place to make our own and make ready for our new family member.
I am thankful for the sound of a little peanut-sized heart beating faster than a techno drum-beat calling out to us from inside Melody; for every little “wump” sound that the Doctor told us was the baby kicking at the mini-doppler probe (apparently some kids don’t like the way ultra-sonic waves feel passing through their little sensory deprivation chambers).
I am thankful for the physicians, the medicines and the science that are able to help solve the enigmas of our bodies when they start to work against themselves.
I am thankful for Family and friends (who act like family) who feel it with us so that it doesn’t feel so hard as it might; for the love of our Father aimed at us from so many angles and so many hearts; for the patience of those around us when we’re less than patient.
I am thankful for the help we get when it seems like it’s not coming.
I am thankful for life and the wife that rests in the next room; for Saturday mornings with time to spare.
What are you thankful for?
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Friday, January 07, 2005
“That depends on how they bill it.”
“How should they bill it?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t give you that information.”
“You don’t know or you can’t say?”
“I can’t give you that information on how to bill it so that it would be covered. I can say that if it is pertaining to pregnancy then it would not be covered.”
“Like if it was ordered an OB/GYN or a high risk pregnancy specialist.”
“Right. That would not be covered.”
“(long sigh) Insurance is a frustrating game, Felicity.”
“Yes it is. But it’s something we all need.”
“The way the rules are now, yes.”
The division and subdivision of humanity into specialties and areas “covered” and “not covered” has a fractious effect on the individual. As a person who happens to think that God created us as unified wholes I deeply resent the way my wife is being carved up. It’s not the knife of the surgeon I fear as much as the categories of the medical professionals who work for those companies who are in the position to render the inflated costs of the best medical care in the world somewhat more plausible to people like us.
Melody had to stop taking birth control because it was a contributing factor to her blood clot. Shortly after, we found out she was pregnant. A condition complicated and made much more risky (for her and our child) by her blood issues. The unity with which we were created can be seen in the way that anger triggers high blood pressure, and in the way that prayer and petting a bunny can lower it. How much greater is the interplay between the complete overhaul the female body receives in pregnancy and something as blatantly physical as a blood clot? Changes in one trigger changes in the way the other is treated. Yet for reasons I do not yet understand (financial I am prone to suppose), the very companies we so trustingly finance pay medical staff that divide these bodies into “covered” and “not covered.”
I know. It was in the fine print. It’s not the legality of it that I question. It’s the unnatural division of what to me are so clearly, inextricably interacting with each other. I don’t even like to phrase it that way. The baby (independent personhood aside), the clot, the genes, they are all part of the unity that is Melody’s body. To say that they will not help us pay for treatment because it is related to Melody’s pregnancy doesn’t make sense to me. How can anything in her life, mind, body, NOT relate to her pregnancy? A child growing inside a woman foreshadows the changes it will require beginning now and from now on by taking her body and turning it upside down, inside out and leaves us all reeling, kicking its tiny, yarn-sized legs in the dark.