Feeble Knees

Saturday, April 30, 2005

100% Sure

Well, we saw Baby F for the first time yesterday, waving, stretching and opening that little mouth. We saw the little chambers of the heart pumping away, tiny hands flittng here and there, the delicate string-of-pearls spine and what appear to be very healthy leg bones and precious little feet.

Oh, and we saw something else too...

It's a boy!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Pregnancy Surprises

Since I became pregnant, I've realized just how little I knew about it beforehand. Sure you know about some of the more common stuff that seems universal to most pregnant women, but I discovered that there are a whole host of strange things that can go on within one's body. Some are cool, some, eh, not so much...

I'd read about how heartburn is a common pregnancy complaint, so I was prepared for that. Same thing with the nasal congestion and sneezing. However I was rather unpleasantly surprised last week when a particularly strong sneeze caused me to pee my pants, just a little. Yick! How embarrassing! I thought that particular problem would come much later in the pregnancy. At least I know now how to brace myself when I feel a sneeze coming on.

Hip pain is becoming more of a problem. Having to sleep on one side or the other is getting pretty uncomfortable, even though I've always been a side-sleeper. Yesterday the pain in my right hip was really pretty strong, and caused me to wince and hobble around like an arthritic. It did get better gradually during the course of the day with activity and some light stretching, but boy I was not looking forward to going to bed last night. I packed myself front and back in extra pillows to try to alleviate some of the pressure off my hip. I looked like Fort Feeble - surrounded on all sides by big fluffy cushions. If I could wrap myself in goose down or foam I probably would.

Poor Mr. F. I'm sure he never suspected he'd end up having to share his bed with an entity resembling the Michelin Tire Man! :)

Early Transition?

In the course of reading very many pregnancy "what to expect" type of books, I've learned a little bit about a phase during the labor process that is commonly referred to as Transition. It is the point at which all systems are go, and the woman is almost at the point where she can start pushing, but not yet. I've read that it is during Transition that many women experience feelings of extreme frustration and hopelessness that she'll ever get this baby out. Some women begin to think and act irrationally. I remember a friend telling me that when she got to the transition phase, she became combative and told her husband to call a cab, because she'd had enough, she was done with this labor thing and wanted to go home. She also told the birthing staff that she'd like to go outside and have a cigarette, thanks very much.

A couple weeks ago, I found I could already relate, granted on a much smaller level.

I had another one of those moments where I stopped and thought: Oh my head, what have I gotten myself into? I can't do this! We're not ready for this!

I turned to Mr. F last night and told him about it.

"I was thinking today, I don't know if I want to do this right now." Bless him, he took it in stride, knowing me the way he does.
"Well," he said gently, pausing to think for a second or two. "It's kind of late now."
"Yeah, I know."

What triggered all this was the cats. Or I should say one of our cats. He's never been wired completely right, having been separated from his mother a little too soon. The day I picked him up from the pound, he was so tiny and needy. I picked him up and he crawled right up on my shoulder and tried to suck my earlobe. He's almost eleven now, and some days he's acts as if he hasn't aged a day.

This particular kitty is perhaps too attached to me. When I leave the room he follows. Heaven forbid I go into the bathroom and close the door - he'll sit outside and cry and scratch the door until I reemerge. It's trying on a good day. While I sit here and type on the computer he cries and pulls himself up on my leg, sometimes sinking his claws into my sleeve until I relent and pull him up and put him over my shoulder (thankfully the earlobe sucking stopped a long time ago). He tries his best to curl all ten pounds of himself up on my chest and he purrs and drools on me. Some days he seems needier than others. Since I've been pregnant, he seems to have ratcheted up the neediness a notch, and it's getting rather tiring.

The other day he was really acting up, and all I could think was "what's going to happen when I add a baby to this?" I sat in the loo while the kitty cried and scratched outside. I imagined the cacophany of a crying infant AND a crying, door-scratching kitty. Then I imagined a crying infant and crying, door-scratching kitty after a week or two of insomnia. I started to get a little panicky.

I can't seem to raise well-adjusted animals. What on earth makes me think I can raise a well-adjusted child?

Catching Up

Short version: We're all fine, there's lots going on, and I'm a bad, bad blogger. Read on for the long version....

Okay, so it's been awhile, once again. Where do I start?

Things are progressing well with my pregnancy. At our last obstetrician appointment, Baby Feeble came in loud and clear with a heart rate of about 155 beats per minute. As one friend pointed out, 155 bpm sounds more like a hummingbird than a human! The doctor is pleased, we're pleased and presently I am beside myself waiting for our ultrasound appointment when we'll get to sneak a peek at Baby F and determine if it's a he or she. (Yes, I will fill you all in when we find out.)

* * *

Why does it still surprise me when God answers? I guess it isn't that I'm surprised anymore when He does answer, it's just the way He chooses to go about it. Not too long ago I wrote about a personal stalemate. Last week I was having a bad day, a lot of personal things were coming to the surface. During that rather trying time I remembered our friend again and prayed for him - it wasn't a prayer so much as a plea to God on his behalf. It was nothing lofty or particularly spiritual - I can't say I pray that way really. Something in my heart just ripped open, and I ran to my Father to show Him, to ask Him to help.

The next day both Mr. F and I received the same email from our friend, the one who hasn't been speaking to us. It was cordial, it was brief. It completely skirted the issues at hand that had driven us all over the edge. He inquired about me and the baby and wished Mr. F a happy upcoming birthday.

It shouldn't surprise me anymore. But the timing sorta knocked me on my keister.

Things are still not OK. There are issues that need to be addressed and resolved. The relationship is still tenuous at best. But we made contact. God is on the case. There is hope. There is always hope.

* * *

Mr. F turned another year older and wiser. My father mischievously mentioned that Mr. F is now half his age, and yet in the next couple of years, Mr. F will be more than half his age. Dad got a good chuckle out of that, but I'm not sure Mr. F. enjoyed the joke as much as he.

We had a great "birthday weekend". I made a carrot cake with cream cheese icing, which we proceeded to eat for lunch, dinner and breakfast. Hey, it's got carrots in it. As far as desserts go, it's practically health food.

We had our OB appointment the first thing in the morning on Mr. F's actual birthday, which was a pretty neat way to get Baby F in on the celebrations. As we listened to the baby's heartbeat, the doctor mentioned there was some movement going on too. Being the naturally super-intelligent baby that Baby F is, we assumed s/he must be kicking "Happy Birthday Dad" in Morse code. Naturally!

* * *

I just haven't had the desire to blog, and I'm not sure why. I've been withdrawing into my own thoughts a lot more, which hasn't necessarily been satisfying or productive. Perhaps it's because I'm still just getting my energy back, but I haven't been giving myself much time for anything mentally stimulating, which I feel pretty guilty about. Even my reading habits have taken a sharp nosedive, to the point where I've been just skimming pregnancy-related books and web sites. I'm starting to annoy myself.

So this week I made a point of picking up a book I'd started and put down back in January - Reading Lolita in Tehran. It's a fascinating, heartbreaking memoir of a teacher and her clandestine literature classes with several female students in the heart of Iran. It's just the kick in the butt that I needed. While I've been sitting here letting my brain go to mush, there are men and women in repressed societies who would risk their personal safety to delve into some of the unread classics and challenging new works sitting untouched on my bookcase. They'd probably also love the opportunity to blog and share their minds freely, as I have the freedom to do.

The great danger in having personal freedom is the temptation to become soft and lazy, to take one's liberty for granted and do absolutely nothing useful or productive with it. This has been nagging me lately. It's time to shape up!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


This was the first thing I thought of this morning when I woke up, and I can't get it off the brain.

We don't have any SpaghettiO's in the house (I don't think I've had them in at least fifteen years - ouch!) yet I'm sitting here debating whether or not to make a special trip to the store just go get some for lunch. At least I had the restraint to keep myself from going out and getting some for breakfast.

Honestly, sometimes I think this child is just having a lot of fun at my expense!

Monday, April 11, 2005

They'll be a Lot of No-Shows at Work Today

Today is a sacred holiday in New England. It is Opening Day at Fenway Park, and for the first time in 86 years, the Sox will hoist a new Championship banner over the Church of the Faithful.

It's hard to explain what this means to us. If you're not a fan of baseball, it'd be impossible to explain it to you. Fans from other teams might sorta get it, but not entirely. At the risk of scandalizing many Christians out there, baseball IS the official religion of New England. Nothing else even comes close, no, not even Catholicism (which is pretty dominant around these parts).

There is so much history, personal history for each of us in all this. For example, I never knew my grandfather, but I do know that when he came home from his grueling job working for the electric light company, he liked to work in the community victory garden down the street with a little radio tuned to the Sox game. I know that when his wife passed away, he took his young son, my dad, to as many games at Fenway park as he could in an effort to help soften the loss. I know my uncle saw Babe Ruth bat in Sox uniform, before "The Babe" became both a Yankee and a curse word.

In one post I could never explain what all this means to me as a fan. If you could see me sitting here on the couch with my big box of tissues, already dabbing my eyes as replays from the Sox' historic 4 game sweep are replayed, you'd rightly think I'd lost my mind. So I won't try to explain. I'll just settle in, gripping my tissues, and let the tears flow freely as they raise that beautiful World Championship banner.

It's kind of bittersweet for me that Mr. F can't be here for this - he dutifully went into work today, the stand-up guy that he is, even though so many are playing hooky to catch the game on TV. I wish he was here! But we are recording all the pregame ceremony and the game itself so he can see it tonight. Oh, and I bought a cake at the bakery today that has "World Champs" written on it in red icing. Yes, we're all nuts around here. Even the bakeries are getting in on the celebration.

What a beautiful day it is in New England; a beautiful day indeed.

p.s. Having the New York Yankees here to see that banner go up is just the absolute epitome of poetic justice for us Sox fans. It couldn't get any sweeter!

Friday, April 08, 2005


It's been going on for about two months now, with no end in sight, and I hate it. I didn't want to write about it either, but it's gnawing at me.

A good friend of ours is not speaking to us. For the past couple of years he's been hiding bits of himself from us and building a new life in secrecy. Important decisions were made and he didn't tell us; we found things out after the fact. We tried to let it slide and give him space, we just wanted to keep the lines of communication open. It started to feel less and less like a close friendship. We were concerned, frustrated, tired, and eventually ticked off by the strain.

It came to a head about two months ago. He called us to say he had gotten remarried the weekend before. We couldn't be happy for him. We were sorry we couldn't be, but circumstances and details were such that we just couldn't. It hurt. We want nothing more than to be happy and overjoyed over the direction of his life. We are worried about his present and future, and concerned that things are bound to turn out badly for him. We'd tried to express our feelings before, but it fell on obstinate, deaf ears.

Anyway, details aside, things didn't go well after he broke the news. He said and did things that upset us. We said things in anger and frustration. What we had to say may have been justified, but we didn't check our emotions, and they just boiled over. It got ugly. We haven't spoken since.

The silence is deafening, and we hate it. We wander around the house sometimes, both of us wondering what we could have done differently, if things could have worked out another way. We question ourselves and wonder if we over-reacted. We wish we could rewind the last three years with this friend and do them over.

* * *

I met with his ex-wife not long after his remarriage. She was doing better with the news than I. We met for lunch, which mostly consisted of playing with our food and staring at the table top as we talked in low, resigned tones. She was trying to look at his remarriage as a means of closure for her. She was looking for a bright side, something to hang on to. I was looking for a tragic, Shakespearean ending, replete with ruined lives and fortunes piled in a bloody heap as the curtain came down. It is times like this that I get annoyed that I'm supposed to have faith, that I'm to believe that God can work all things together for good.

* * *

Unforgiveness is a killer. Several years ago I had a life and death struggle with unforgiveness that ripped me apart. It was a cancerous thing, with ravenous sucking tentacles invading my soul. Its excrement seethed and boiled and oozed out of every pore and poisoned me slowly for years. I was a gracious and willing host though, and fed this toxic pet with a steady diet of righteous indignation; and so it flourished.

One of us was going to die. For weeks I knew the diagnosis and the treatment. I tried to deceive myself: it's unnecessary, it's just too radical. Even thinking about killing off this thing made my heart rise in my throat and my pulse quicken. I didn't want to, not yet, not ever. How the willingness finally came is inexplicable, it was a cosmic surrender that shook me to the core and made me physically ill. I cried many bitter tears, like a child bereft of a favorite toy. But in the end I admitted Jesus was right, and I had to let Him rip my unforgiveness out at the root. He waited quite patiently for my permission, and held me firm as I struggled. When at last I gave in, He moved in quickly with surgical precision. In a night and a day, I was free.

Outward signs and wonders do not impress me that much. I've seen lame people leap up and gallop around the sanctuary, and hey, that's great. Bones may be healed and strengthened and lengthened; that's wonderful, but someday life will leave them for good and they will decay in the grave. Complex, unknowable miracles of the heart take my breath away. Those are the ones remain and endure into eternity, the ultimate proof of the presence and power of a living God.

* * *

Since our big blowout months ago, I've been trying to starve the new thing growing inside, this bitter little shoot. Anne Lamott once wrote about harboring her own "worm", and confessed to feeding it "grim bits" to sustain and grow it. I try to remember that we love our friend, that deep down he loves us, even if he can't stand us right now. He's never far from our thoughts, our concerns and prayers. We remind ourselves of the good things we miss about him. I've been hoping that would be enough, and telling myself it's sufficient for now. This week I caught myself patting myself on the back for even trying to think kindly and mercifully of him, given how lousy and defective a friend he's been lately. This is a red flag, and Jesus won't let me ignore it.

I've acknowledged that. As of this morning, I put my hand up and said "Ok, You're right, there's something wrong here in me that must be dealt with soon." Even so, I can feel my willfulness digging in for a fight. "But it'll do no good yet, because he's not sorry," I reason. "When and if he's sorry, then I'll forgive." In the silence I get all the response I expect to hear.

The Surgeon and I are in a stalemate.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Alive and Well

Yeesh, has it been that long since I blogged anything?

Since last I posted, spring has sprung, much of my energy has returned, and I've had absolutely nothing to say. Well that last part may not be entirely true. Perhaps I had too much to say, and no words sufficient to express it.

The passing of Terri Schiavo made me very sad and meditative. There didn't seem to be anything I could add to the discussion, so I remained mostly silent. I just grieved for this poor woman, that she has endured so much over the last number of years since she was first stricken. The whole tragedy was Shakespearian in proportion, and every angle of it wrenched a different part of my heart. I have no conclusions to offer, just deepest sympathies for Terri, her family, and all involved, even Michael Schiavo. He has to live with himself for a while to come yet, besides all the fallout. I've said elsewhere that I am not sympathetic to him, and this is true. But I do believe that if it was freedom he was seeking (and I don't know that beyond speculation), how terribly has this all backfired on him? He created a living hell on earth for himself. I'm sure he never bargained for it. But that is enough and all I mean to write on the subject. Rather than pick it all apart again, I feel it's time to continue to quietly and prayerfully examine our own hearts and minds about it, so that's what I'm doing.

On the lighter side of things, I'm feeling well, and I'm thankful for that. Spring couldn't have come a minute too soon for me, it's done wonders for my mood and energy. Each day I take a little walk around the yard to see what's poking up through the good earth: hyacinths, lupines, catmint, foxgloves and even the tiger lilies are starting poke their little green leaves up through the dirt. A few bold and enterprising Johnny-jump-ups have even started blooming, almost despite chilly evening temperatures that still hover around freezing.

The Geese are back too. Early every morning they fly right past our bedroom window with a great cacophony of honking. Who needs a snooze alarm with these guys around? I love them, and every year I look forward to hearing that sound. The peepers are back too, and they're peeping to beat the band every night when the sun begins to set. Even with the doors and windows closed we can hear their high-pitched steady peeps. There must be thousands of them out there in the brook out back. At least it sounds like thousands, or more.

I haven't wanted to miss one single nuance of spring, so much so that I've put other things, other pursuits aside. Frequently I find myself holding still, waiting for the sounds, the sights and the smells of spring - just standing and breathing in the smell of warm dirt and the scent of things growing, of sap running in the trees. I've no flowers to smell yet, no freshly mown grass, but the rich earth itself is intoxicating on a warm sunny day.

So it's been a time for observance of all things for me, of being quiet and watching for things about to be.