Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009...


My New Year Babies.

I have conflicted feelings about this past year.

On the one hand it gave us our two amazing babies...finally.
But getting them here was so easy feat.
So on to 2010 & all it has to offer.

I've been thinking about some New Years goals. Perhaps I'll think some more and share them later.

Eating Bananas...

Emerson has been showing signs of readiness in regards to food so at almost 8 months old we tried some bananas a few days ago. She loved every minute of it. She's funny she kept grabbing the spoon so she could try to feed herself.

She's eagerly waiting for the food.


She's got her spoon and bib, she's ready.


Yum...




She smiled the entire time we were feeding her.

Eli, on the other hand was another story. Since he's been sick we waited a few days before trying food with him. Today he seems a lot better so we decided to test it out.

Eww...

Yuck...


Are we done yet?


Looking at his dad for help.



Haha, it's so funny how differently they responded. Eli makes the same face when we put just the spoon in his mouth with nothing on it. He seemed relieved when we offered him the bottle. Crazy kid. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

1st Trip to the ER...

Eli has an ear infection. Last night he screamed and screamed and screamed for hours and was pulling at his ear. So after a call to urgent care they recommended we take him in to be seen, so at 1 am off we went to the hospital. Luckily in our small hometown we were the only patients so we were in and out pretty quickly.

When the doctor looked at Eli's ear he just about jumped out of my arms and he kept hitting the doctor in the face with his fists.

We didn't get any sleep last night (well Emerson did), but Eli continued screaming all night poor baby. He's been napping on and off today and we had Emerson go to my mom's house since we're exhausted. It's nice to be home to have some help. It's been kind of strange having just one baby to deal with today. Even taking Eli to the hospital last night without his sister seemed like such a breeze. We could focus all our attention on him, and it was nice for one of us to have our hands free.

Hopefully, he be back to his crazy, happy self soon. Poor baby.


Exhausted after we got back from the ER


At some point I'll post about their first christmas and their baptism but for now I need a nap.

What my MIL counter looks like. We're not used to sick babies.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Flying with twins....

Our cross country flight with two 7 month babies went surprisingly well. We made it, the babies made it, and I don't think we annoyed anyone too much during our flights. What we did learn however was how incredibly awkward and difficult it is to maneuver through an airport, with luggage, carry-ons and babies.

Our day started at 2:30am and the babies are pretty well natured at that early hour. A friend drove us, and our million pieces of luggage to the airport an hour away (babies have so much crap). She helped us into the airport and then we proceeded to wait in the longest line ever to check-in. Already things were complicated. Our double snap in go while handy does not really handle that well, especially one handed and Marcus and I awkwardly tried to manage all of belonging and the babies as we moved through the line.

After checking our luggage I realized our first mistake. Too many carry-ons. I knew that we had too many but I like to be prepared. When flying during the winter months, especially when connecting through Chicago we wanted to be prepared for any possible delays. Last year it took us 23 hours to get home. So, I wanted to have enough bottles, formula, diapers, clothes etc. to last the babies should we have the bad luck of a million delays. This resulted in a diaper bag and small rolling suitcase, plus my backpack with my laptop, books etc. since my semester was not yet over. So yeah, too many carry-ons.

The carry-ons became an issue at the gate when we forfeited our stroller and struggled to walk down the narrow aisle of the plane with the babies car-seats (which do not really fit) and our bags. I literally hit every single person in an aisle seat as I awkwardly staggered down the aisle, and rather than anyone offering assistance everyone just looked at us. As Mark stood in the aisle helplessly and I said, "Sorry, sorry, sorry" as I made my way down. Then I had to leave Emerson, in her carseat, and go back and help Marcus with the bag so he could bring Eli down.

The other thing I learned is that when you're traveling with two babies people have a tendency to over share. I learned the entire life story of at least three people on our way here, all the while trying to feed/calm/ the babies.

Overall, the babies did great on the flight and during our lay-over. Emerson had a bit of a meltdown on our second flight but she eventually calmed down.

All was well until we landed at our final destination, we struggled to leave the plane and retrieve our stroller from the gate only to learn that they had lost the wheel. Leaving us stranded with two car-seats, a broken stroller and far too much carry baggage. And nobody cared, except a really kind pilot who went back to look for our wheel, and the offered to try and help us get our babies and belongings down to the baggage claim area.

The airline was completely unsympathetic about our plight, and clearly had no concept of some of the difficulties with twins. As the woman said, "We're not responsible and you're here and it's snowing what do you need the stroller for?" um... everything. We literally can't go anywhere without our stroller. We take it grocery shopping, we often take it to the doctors, we take it any time we have to the leave the house with both babies.

I calmly tried to explain to her that the stroller was not merely used to take the babies for walks but that it was a physical impossibility for us to navigate an airport without having somewhere to put both babies. (The car-seats and babies are heavy).

We were able to call the maker of our stroller so hopefully we'll have a replacement wheel before we have to travel home. Overall, it could have been worse. I'm glad it's over and I'm not really looking forward to doing it all over again in a few weeks.

(Oh, and changing babies on a plane is ridiculous).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just in case you were wondering...

which was harder..

a). Finishing the semester while pregnant in the first trimester
b). Finishing the semester from the hospital on bedrest
c). Finishing the semester with two 7 month old babies and jet-lag

The answer is hands down C. I have never been more exhausted in my entire life (well maybe when they were newborns) but this is right up there. I have no idea how I'm actually going to finish and I keep having more work thrown at me. In addition to the last few papers and a final exam I was also asked to write an article about the Australia trip for the school... okay that's fine. Except I found out today, Wednesday, that they would like it by the end of the week. Great, thanks for the notice.

And we're leaving tomorrow at 3:30am to go home for the holidays so laundry and packing must also get done.

This too will pass it always does. I wonder how it will be to finish the semester with two one year olds. I'll report back on that in May.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shots and teeth...

The babies had an appointment this morning to get their second synagis shot and both flu shot boosters, and what should have been a quick appointment with just shots turned into a 2.5 hour wait because of a miscommunication.

We originally made the appointment over a month ago and at the time didn't know that Marcus had a final exam at the same as the appointment and I can't manage both babies getting shots by myself at their current stage and age. So Marcus called to see if there was any way to reschedule. There wasn't so we kept our appointment and left it at that.

This morning I had a friend go with me to the appointment and assumed all would be well, except it seems that they decided that Marcus cancelled our appointment, when he called to inquire about the possibility of changing times. (He didn't actually cancel it was a misunderstanding with the new receptionist).

Anyways, because the appointment was for the synagis the other receptionist made it clear that we had to be seen today and so we were told to take a seat and we would be seen when they had a chance. So we waited and waited and waited some more. In fact we waiting so long that Marcus was able to take his final, drive from his school to the doctor, and arrive before they even had their shots.

Oh, well I suppose these things happen I just have so much work to do for school and to prepare for our trip home that I really didn't expect my entire morning to be spent in the waiting room of the doctors office.

Eli weighs 17lbs 6oz and Emerson weighs 16lbs.

The other funny thing we discovered today at the appointment is that Emerson has teeth... yeah... somehow we missed this occurrence.

I was standing above her head as she was getting the shots and as she was screaming I noticed two tiny little teeth poking through the gums on the bottom and in my surprise said, "Emerson you have teeth!"

The nurse gave me a perplexed look and commented, "Is this the first time your noticing this?"

Yes, in fact it was. I really have no idea how we missed the whole teething and breaking through the gums experience. Apparently it was pretty non-traumatic for her since we didn't notice any unusual behavior. Weird.

I did give Eli's mouth a quick check just to make sure we didn't miss his teeth coming in and so far I think we're safe on that front.

Fun times, shots, teeth, and a morning spent at the doctor. And now I must attempt to do some school work.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Scenes from the Parliament (part One)

I had such an incredible experience at the Parliament of the world's religions in Melbourne Australia and to do justice to the experience I feel as though I need to share a little over several posts. So I'm starting with some pictures from the indigenous population of Australia.

Over the course of the conference the indigenous people shared their music and traditions. Each plenary session featured didgeridoo players, and there were several smaller sessions dedicated to preserving sacred sites, traditions, etc of indigenous people all over the world. I think one of the most unique learning experiences that I think the United States should adopt from Australia, is before any person from the country started speaking they first payed honor and tribute to the indigenous people. I wish I could remember their exact wording but it was a recognition that there were people who lived there first and the government and others did not to right by them.

In 2008 the prime minister issued a formal apology to the aboriginal people and those affected by the stolen generation (a period when they were forcibly removed by the government between 1869 and 1969). The United States with there own horrific history in regards to the treatment of the indigenous people could take a lesson on some of the efforts being made in Australia in relation to this area.




(Photo also by Graeme Sharrock)




video

And a video I took of a quick performance. I learned while there that woman aren't suppose to play the didgeridoo because they believe it is linked to fertility and will make one infertile, but only the woman.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I should have said no...

A few months ago I was asked to preach on December 13th. I said yes, knowing full well that I would be;

1.) Jet-lagged
2.) In the midst of finals and papers
3.) exhausted

I had such high aspirations of getting the sermon written before I left, but alas no, and now here I sit at 11:59pm without so much as a sentence. I have nothing to say, my brain can't function. I really should have said no.

Friday, December 11, 2009

7 months old...

I'm home (finally) and a bit jet lagged but the trip and the conference were amazing (more on that later). But first while I was gone my little babies turned 7 months old. How the heck did that happen?


Gone are these days.

Now...


This piece of paper is very interesting...


So we may need to re-think our strategy.


No sign seems to have much better results.


I love this picture of Eli, because this smile, as huge as it is, is how he always smiles (and we finally got it on camera). He doesn't laugh often, but he smiles as wide as his mouth will open.

At 7 months Eli can:

* Roll from his back to his tummy (a very recent discovery). He however doesn't roll from his tummy to his back, so there is a lot of flipping him back over.
* Does a modify scooting on his back. He arches his back and then uses his feet to move around the room. So he can only move in one direction (whatever way he's facing) and he gets stuck a lot.
* Loves to put things over his face. He always puts his blanket over his head, or his bib, or the uh... couch.


While I was gone Marcus went to brush his teeth and Eli had "back" scooted himself under the couch. He was very content, kicking his legs and hanging out. (We can't leave the room without him contained anymore).
* Can tri-pod sit very briefly but he hates it. I think it's hard for him to breath and he whines. So no real sitting going on yet.
* Still eats 5.5-6 oz each bottle.
* Can bear weight on his legs.

I think that's pretty much the new things he's doing.



Emerson at 7 months:

* Easily move things from one hand to the other
* Laughs at every thing, all the time. Even her stretches for EI sends her into a fit of giggles.
* She loves to play with her tongue and her spit. She also loves to blow raspberries when she's eating which sends a spray of formula all over our faces.
* She is fascinated by cell phones and loves to grab at our faces.
* And she loves to be held and cuddled. Especially by her dad.

I think that's about all. I can't believe they're already 7 months old.

I try really hard not to compare the babies to each other but obviously it's hard not to. Emerson compared to Eli seems so far behind. She never rolls, no attempts to move, no bearing weight, still pretty poor head and muscle control. I know it will come with time and the physical therapist isn't really worried yet, but it's hard not to be a little concerned. I guess we'll see what the PT has to say next week when she comes.






Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I made it...

And I'm exhausted. We arrived yesterday morning (which was Wednesday Dec. 2nd). So we somehow managed to miss Dec. 1st completely. It's a bit like time traveling. Now it's Thursday morning (I think) I'm so confused and I'm blogging from a McDonald's because they have free wifi. The conference doesn't start until this evening so we're going to register and then go to the beach I think.

I had a middle seat for the 14.5 hour leg from LA to Sydney and I sat between I guy who liked to crowd my personal space and a woman who kept coughing into the air. I so badly wanted to yell at her. Now I'm feeling a little sick and hoping that after adjusting to the time for a little longer that will go away.

It's crazy because it's summer down here. I have on shorts and it's suppose to be 85 degrees today. Last night we went to an outdoor market with music, tons of food and different booths. Way too many people, and way to far to walk with little to no sleep, but I'm trying to push through the exhaustion and experience Australia.

It's hard to communicate with marcus because of the lack of internet and phone situation, but finally I found this McDonald's. Thus far all is well. I miss Marcus and the babies. In fact when I was packing I tried to bring them with me...




But that didn't work out too well.

I'm excited for the conference to start and too see what the next few days have in store. Thus far Australia is actually a lot like the United States except they drive on the left and say G'day and mate.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm on my way...

literally right now. I'm currently in the air traveling to our first layover destination. How crazy is it that they have wifi on planes? Leaving the babies and Marcus this morning sucked, but I'm hoping all will go smoothly on both ends, and I'll be home before I even know it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Leaving...

I'm leaving for a conference in Australia in 11 hours. My suitcase it packed (I think) I'm not very organized this trip and the suitcase is surprisingly small so I'm feeling as though I'm forgetting something. Oh well.

I'm conflicted. Marcus and I talked about me applying for this seminar back in August. I went back and forth and decided I would apply and then if I was accepted we would go from there. Then I was accepted and it seemed so off in the future I went ahead with the class.

Now it's here and I'm having a hard time with the prospect of leaving Marcus and the babies for 10 days. I know they will be well cared for, although Marcus, bless him may go a little crazy. I know that when all is said and done I will be grateful for the experience, I'm just a little anxious about everything at this second. Plus, my semester isn't over yet and this is the busiest time of the school year. Finishing the semester from Australia, while attending a conference should be interesting. Although I do have 27 hours of flight time I need to occupy...  

I also still don't feel good.  I had an awful fibromyalgia week and didn't get anything done. *sigh* oh well. Off I go very soon...

(This is really random but I'm too tired to really edit my thoughts or form coherent sentences).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a fairly mellow low-key thanksgiving. We went over to a friend's house and had dinner with them. Nothing too exciting at all.



The babies got high chairs yesterday (so Eli played while we ate).


Then Eli wanted to join the adult table.




Emerson slept through the entire meal.


But woke up in time to play with Dad and watch the cowboys play.


Their first thanksgiving.




The whole family. Thanksgiving 2009.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

haha babies are fun...

Today we left the house early to do some errands before the masses came out. Both babies were fed and happy and we were set. During our shopping trip Eli needed a diaper change so Marcus took the stroller and off they went.

When they returned Marcus was shaking his head, and merely commented, "Eli needs a bath." As he pointed to a smiling, content Eli wearing a pink and yellow outfit that said, "I'm so pretty." Not what he left the house in.

Apparently Mr. Eli had a massive blow out. All over everything, Marcus used every wipe in the diaper bag and then had to resort to using wet paper towels, and then he managed to get Eli's spare change of clothes in the mess too so Eli ended up in Emerson's spare outfit, and he looked lovely.

Haha. I'm glad it was Marcus and not me who opted for that diaper change.

Today I am thankful for my little Emerson...#15

Emerson,
My second born, Baby B
What a silly, crazy, baby she is.
She was always crazy. In utero she never stayed in one spot, and the nurses could never find her on the monitor.
The nurses in the NICU also always commented about her personality, full of spunk even at just 3lbs. She was always ripping out her NG tube, trying to pull off her CPAP. When she was just two days old her little hand got stuck on the tape from her CPAP, she was trying to pull it off and got caught poor baby.
Such a tiny little peanut (this is what we call her).
She laughs all the time.
She laughs when she looks at Eli, she laughs when we talk to her, she laughs when she sees herself in the mirror, she even laughs when we do her physical therapy stretches.
Such a cuddly baby who loves to bury her head in our shoulders.
A wonderful sleeper. We lay her down and she goes right to sleep.
Loves to hold and suck on fabric.
Such a sweet, wonderful little girl.


I am truly blessed with my crazy little peanut girl.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today i am thankful for my Eli...#14

Eli,
My baby A
My first born (by a minute but still...)
We Call him Mr Eli (not sure why)
Such a cute smiley boy, who smiles as wide as his mouth will open.
Loves his changing table (who knows why).
Loves to look at and examine things.
Does circles in his sleep.
Screams when he's hungry (he has no patience, when the boy is hungry he wants to eat)...
But then he eats really slowly as though he's savoring every little bit.
Spits up all the time.
Is incredibly ticklish, a slight brush on his torso sends him into giggles
Loves to suck on his thumbs, and often tries to suck on his thumb and eat his bottle at the same time


I love being a mom to my little boy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today I am grateful for no class this week...day #13

That's all I've got. I'm tired.


But aren't they cute?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I hit a wall and can hardly function...

Friday, I woke up immense pain, aching all over, and I had a massive headache. I suffered through my class in the morning and through a really unpleasant meeting (which is another post) and then came home and crawled into bed. Thank goodness for Marcus who was home, and took care of the babies while I laid in bed all day long in pain. I'm not sick, I don't have a fever, I think it's a combination of things.

I've been over doing it. Taking 5 classes, an internship, plus the babies, and the incredible aching and pain which I've attributed to a particurlary bad fibromyalgia flair up, and it's all finally caught up with me and I'm just exhausted and can't function. My body hurts so much I can barely move, let along pick up the babies, I have way to much work to do before I leave the country, and the thought of leaving makes me want to cry for a variety of reasons.

I'm worried about Marcus and the babies. I know Marcus can handle the babies but 10 days without someone else is a lot, I don't know if I could do it. The thought of the incredibly long plane ride sounds awful (mostly because I'm currently in so much pain that sitting for that amount of time does not sound pleasant). Plus, when I come back from my trip I have a ton more things that have to be attended too, and according to one of my professors who is from Australia I'm going to be loopy when I return.

I have no energy for anything and I just need a break. I know I took on too much this semester. I think part of me felt like I had to prove that I could do it. That I could have twins and still manage the rest of my life, and so far I have, but it hasn't been easy. There are nights when the babies are finally in bed that I just break down because I have hours of homework in front of me and I'm so tired.

It doesn't help that I had a particularly awful conversation with someone today who essentially said I had no place to complain about things (school, twins, intership, pain etc) because it's all self inflicted and I chose it for myself, (yup because it was my choice to have twins, and it's my choice to have chronic pain most days... awesome) so essentially I was told to suck it up and deal with it. Which just made me cry some more.

I know this too will pass. The end of semesters are always hard, I've just never done the end of the semester + twins before and that's a whole different ball game. Thank goodness for Marcus. If I could I would seriously just make Marcus the subject of every single thankful post. I could not do any of this without him.

Today I am grateful for travel...day #12.

I love, love, love to travel. Which is a little strange considering I suffer from severe anxiety but I love being abroad, there's something about being a stranger in a new country that I love.

My first trip abroad (I don't count my two trips to Mexico) was my freshman year of college, when I took a trip with the Interfaith Council to Rome, Italy. I was hooked. All the history every where it was amazing and magical, and despite having a man sneeze in my face on the subway, and pretty much only eating Gelato for 7 days (I'm a picky eater) I loved Rome.

This is my absolute favorite picture from Rome.

The next year Marcus and I with some friends took a spring break trip to London and Paris. This trip was even better because Marcus was with me (it was his first time out of the country) and he was such a great travel companion. He put up with me when we went on a ridiculous adventure in an attempt to locate John Wesley's house and chapel (only a Methodist would understand my strange desire to do this). We went to 8 museums in 7 days, took thousands of pictures and oddly enough I think one of Marcus' favorite memories of the trip is when I fell on the underground and couldn't get up because my hands were in my pockets. It was hilarious and he was laughing so hard he had tears running down his face (and the rest of the people on the underground were laughing as well).



 Our last night in London we planned really poorly and ended up sleeping on the floor at the airport (we forgot we would need somewhere stay after getting back to london from paris oops). So much of the trip was so random and we did everything as inexpensivly as possible but we had so much fun.




Of course then there was Zimbabwe. Also an incredible life changing expereince. I went on a work trip to Africa University the summer of 2005 and I don't fully have the words to describe how life changing and transformative the experience was.



Then I spent the summer abroad in Spain in 2006 studying spanish and spanish religious history. So many great memories from my summer abroad, many awkward moments and expereinces with the woman I lived with, but incredible all the same.



That same summer I went to portugal which was beautiful.



And in just a week I'll be traveling to Australia to attend the world parliment of religions confrence.

I adore traveling I hope Marcus and I will be a position that someday we can travel with Eli & Emerson so they too can expereince and enjoy the many wonders of our world.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Today I am grateful for my education...#11.

My entire life I knew I wanted to go to college, and I worked hard to make sure that dream became a reality. I remember stepping onto my undergraduate university for the first time and I just knew that was where I needed to go to school. My undergraduate years were an amazing learning opportunity for me. My eyes were opened to the world and I grew as a person and I was educated in so many different ways. I had amazing professors who supported me and pushed me academically.  I love and miss our life in CA, my school was the absolute best fit for me.



I also really love my graduate school. My graduate school is part of a larger (well known) university but my program is relatively small in the realm of the university. It's a close knit and supportive community. Again, my professors and fellow students push my comfort levels and I am also incredibly challenged academically.



When I graduate in May I'm going to feel a little lost. School is so much a part of who I am and my identity and I love every part of it. I have a feeling that this is probably not the end of my schooling. I just need to take a break and work in the real world for awhile and evaluate what makes sense as the next step.

I also realize my ability and access to education makes me somewhat privileged. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal access and opportunity to obtain degrees of higher education. I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the schools that I have and although I have worked incredibly hard to get myself to and through these institutions it's not something that everyone has the ability to do for a variety of reasons. I hope that Eli & Emerson will have the desire to be educated as they grow and I look forward to trying to pass on my love of learning to them.

Today/Yesterday I am grateful for... my Aunt and Uncle day #10

I'm a day off because I felt awful yesterday (but that's a different post). So... today/yesterday I give thanks for my aunt and uncle. I don't know sometimes how I would survive things without them. My aunt has always been incredibly supportive when I needed her, and she's also pretty honest with me when I need a reality check on things. She listens, gives advice, and I have a really good time with her. I appreciate her more than I could ever really express, particularly these last few years.

I'm also thankful for my uncle. I can still remember the day when my mom told me they were going to get married (I was in the first grade at the time). I was so excited to officially have him as my uncle. I appreciate his sense of humor and his support as well.

I am very grateful and blessed for their role in my life. Plus, their always up to play games (and taught me pinochle) which I also appreciate and enjoy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My sermon...


 I decided to post the sermon I refrenced Here .  A warning the format is written for the ear not the eye, and reading a sermon is never the same expereince as hearing it, with that said here you go. 

Hannah Why do you Weep? 1 Samuel 1:4-20

In today’s scripture reading we encounter Hannah, a barren woman, who is described as having had her womb closed by the lord.
We encounter Hannah in the midst of her deep, mournful, and extreme pain and grief over her
barrenness.
Not only must she face knowing that she cannot bear children with her husband,
But she lives with Peninnah (pe-nm'nah) her husband second wife who had birthed many children.
Peninnah the second wife torments and provokes Hannah over her barrenness,
Which only compounds Hannah’s pain and grief.
We also encounter in the text Hannah’s husband Elkanah (el-KAY-nuh), who by all accounts loves Hannah, takes care of her, and seems prefers her to his second wife
and yet he too cannot fully grasp and understand the pain that Hannah experiences.
Although well intentioned he, somewhat dismissively asks, “Hannah why do you weep?”
“Why do you not eat?” “Why is your heart sad?” “Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
“Hannah…why do you weep?”
In biblical times the inability to conceive a child was accompanied with a great deal of shame and disgrace and that shame and disgrace was always associated and attributed to the woman.
The primary role and function for women in ancient times was to bear children, particularly male offspring, and this is illustrated several times throughout our scripture.
This importance of heirs is further illustrated in the very fact that in order to have heirs men would take a second wife to fulfill the duty the first could not.
Additionally, as we see with Hannah, described as having her womb closed by the lord,  barrenness was associated with some type of moral deficiency in character, just as many children were a sign of divine blessing, the lack of children was viewed as a sign of divine displeasure.[i]
So the shame and guilt and pain was multilevel, not only were woman like Hannah denied the status and joy that went with motherhood but they were also made to feel as though they had somehow caused the barrenness.[ii]  And this mythology still persists even today, Serene Jones in her book Trauma and Grace Theology in a ruptured world writes, “for women the experience of reproductive loss particularly [in light of] those social myths that lead women to feel that if they cannot produce children, they are not only failed women but are also failed persons” (133-134).[iii]
Hannah why do you weep?
Hannah, weeps for her reproductive loss. Just as many men and women today weep for their own reproductive loss. 
According to the American society for Reproductive medicine, 6.1 million Americans experience infertility, 25% will experience a miscarriage, and one in 8 pregnancies will end in a still birth. 
Hannah knows the pain of infertility.
She is described as deeply distressed, weeping bitterly, bargaining with the lord, crying out… “[God] if only you will look on [my] misery, and remember me, and not forget [me] your servant, but will give [to me] a male child. [If you do God}] I will set him before you until his death as a devoted follower of you Please God remember me”
Hannah is bearing her soul and her grief to God, she is vulnerable and exposed. This is her pain and current reality, and she doesn’t understand why her?
And yet today, despite the pain and the grief associated with reproductive loss we are often guilty of minimalizing and politicizing matters related to reproduction.
Infertility and the medical treatments associated with it are sensationalized by the media with couples like John & Kate plus 8 and the woman from southern California who gave birth to octuplets this last spring, with little education that these cases are the exception not the rule.
Society feels the need to debate and discuss individuals faced with reproductive issues as though they were voiceless, faceless, and void of any sacred value.
The New York Times in an October issue ran a series of articles related to infertility and the reproductive technology used to treat the many medical conditions attributed to infertility, by chronicling the journey of couples who used reproductive medicine to conceive their children.
And the political debates and judgments surrounding the issue of reproductive loss were evident in the several hundred comments left by readers.
            Ann from MI, “If they can’t have children get over it and adopt”
                         “Hannah why do you weep.” v. 8
            Laura from Atlanta writes, “These people are very selfish…”
                         “Am I not more to you than 10 sons?” v. 8
XC from Greenwich writes, “Selfish people. Insurance shouldn't cover any of their egotistical folly. An astronomical waste of resources and money.
            “Why is your heart sad?” v. 8
C.E. from MI, “Perhaps some women just aren't meant to bear children?
            “…The lord had closed her womb.” v. 6
Kathy in FL, “Hard to sympathize with fertility-clinic patrons…”
            “she wept and would not eat…” v. 7
John from NYC “Fertility treatments should be outlawed. It is selfishness. If you can't have a baby without treatments, you weren't meant to have a baby. Grow up and deal with it. You'll just keep passing down the same problems to your kids. Anonymous sperm and egg donations should be outlawed as well. There are too many people in the world.”[iv]
“Hannah why do you weep?” v. 8
You’re selfish, egotistical, not meant to bear children, get over it, grow up, deal with it, maybe it’s God’s way and nature telling you something…”
There were hundreds of comments in regards to the article, with the positive supportive comments coming primarily from those who are part of the 6.1 million who face reproductive loss?
Where is the justice? Where is the mercy? Where is the compassion and care?
Instead it’s a debate about selfishness, greed, money, and egos.
In the realm of the political we lose the personal.
We forget about the very real pain of many facing this kind of loss.
At one point in the text Hannah is praying so ferverently and with such emotion and passion that Eli, the priest suggests that she is drunk. (v. 14). 
Imagine what that type of prayer must look like.
As Hannah, “…pours out [her] soul before the lord.” (v. 15).
            Hannah responds to Eli, “Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” (v. 16).
            Hannah why do you weep? (v. 8).
We live in a broken world and it’s up to us to work towards justice in an attempt to put some of the pieces back together, using the examples and life of Jesus. Jesus had compassion for women, Jesus had compassion for men, he cared for those on the margins, he reached out and touched those others avoided, looked through or past.  He saw their pain he saw their suffering, he saw their sacredness. And we are called to live into that example, we are called to see the sacredness of each other in our shared humanity, to recognize the pain of others without dismissing or turning into a political debate the very real realities of others.
            It is far too easy to forget there are names and faces and stories attached to the many politicized topics, As we prayed in our prayer of confession today,
Lord indeed forgive us for our ignorance.  As we have not tried to understand or even know about what is happening and what has happened to others.  Yet, we have formed our opinions.  Lord Grant us the willingness to listen to other principals, ideas, and stories. Open are hearts and minds to greater understanding of the many things we would rather not talk aloud.

The church should be a safe place where men, women, families who have experienced this loss are safe.
A space to name that loss, to cry out in pain and anger, at the powerlessness, at the unfairness, a place where as Serene Jones names, “[they can]…in their grief experience the death of hope, the thwarting of an expectation.”
Hannah why do you weep?
            “A husband and wife, sit, silently, in quiet anticipation for the doctor. They receive their diagnosis. They will never have a biological child together. Tears roll down their faces, as they walk silently, clinging to each others hands, digesting this new reality, the loss of their planned future together.”
            Hannah why do you weep?
            “A woman delivers her twins at 23w far to early to survive even with the best medical intervention. One is born still the other lives for only a few minutes…”
            Hannah why do you weep?
            “A same sex couple is denied fertility assistance because the doctor is uncomfortable with their sexuality”
            Hannah why do you weep?
            “A woman experiences her 4th miscarriage …. Yet another loss”[v]
            Hannah why do you weep?
I know why Hannah weeps, the pain, and loss are real and the scars are forever present.
In the case of Hannah, “in due time” she conceives and bears a son whom she names Samuel. The ending is happy, Hannah is finally a mother to her male heir. Just like she prayed.
            Yet, the pain and scars of her infertility mark her forever, she is forever changed. She remembers her promises to the lord those times when she so fervently prayed and she intends to make good on those promises and soon as her son is old enough.
She is forever changed by the experience.
And, today, just as with Hannah many, not all, but many who encounter loss will experience some kind of success, whether they conceive through invitro, IUI, use donor gametes, or chose to adopt or make the decision to remain childless.
But they too are forever marked and changed by the experience.
Returning to serene Jones she comments that, “…there is a failure of the church to speak in theologically pertinent ways to people who have suffered the traumatic loss of a hoped-for child.” (xiv). We miss out on sitting with, and by those who suffer and grieve when we dismiss or politicize the issue.
            The pain is real, the loss is real, and the loss of a child is at the root of our tradition.
            As Jones so beautifully and poignantly describes. God too knows the loss of a child. She writes, “I imagine [God] holding [these men and women], curling her own ruptured body around them and rocking with them. “I know” she says “I know”  For those who have faced this loss, “…there’s a solidarity with this God who has born such loss,… [as together] they grieve the loss not only of a child but also of the entire world. Jones goes on to note that, “What these discussions miss… is a rather ironic fact: the image that most effectively captures the nature of God’s redeeming grace in not an image of mothering, but an image of maternal loss” (150).
            So too should we find the faces, the voices, and the reality of all of those who grieve reproductive loss. Stop politicizing women’s bodies, stop the dismissal, stop the judgments, and allow space for this loss to be experience and expressed.
For God is with us in all our pain whispering silently, “I know, I know…”
 And This. This, is why Hannah weeps.  Amen.


[i]  Davies, Eryl W. The dissenting reader feminist approaches to the Hebrew Bible. Ashgate, 2003. 75
[ii] The dissenting reader 74-75
[iii] Jones, Serene. Trauma and Grace Theology in a Ruptured World. Westminster John Know Press. Louisville, KT, 2009.
[iv] All reader comments from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/health/11fertility.html?_r=1
[v] All stories of loss are true. Names were avoided to protect the identity of those experiencing the loss.

More shots...

I've been so preoccupied with the voting crazyness that I haven't had a chance to update about anything else going on. The babies had the remainder of their 6 month shots on Tuesday plus the first month of their synagis shots. Poor babies in the last week they've had 6 shots, (between the synagis, their regular 6 month shots, and both flu vaccines) plus the oral vaccine. Poor babies.

The babies were hysterical after their synagis shots. Both cried harder than they ever have and I felt just awful, plus the appointment took forever. We've never had to wait longer than 5 min. at our pedi. office and we had to wait close to a half hour just to get some shots.

 Luckily, after the long period spent at the doctor they both came home took a nap and woke up happier than usual. We've been pretty lucky that shots just seem to make the babies sleep better and don't make them too fussy.

I also took the babies to chapel with me on tuesday morning because my friend was giving the sermon. In an attempt to keep the babies away from people I inlisted the help of my friends. We stood in the back with the babies and then I enlisted the husband of a friend to act as a shield after the service was over so people wouldn't touch the babies (dramatic? perhaps. Effective? yes). It was hilarious. At one point the dean of students came over to see the babies and his hand was swatted by a rolled up bulletin, by the babies' bodyguard (all in good fun though, the dean has a great sense of humor and laughed hysterically). The babies did really well in chapel, nice and quiet, and everyone was respectful about keeping their distance.

I leave for Australia in 10 days, but that's another post for another time.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today I am thankful for all the people who voted...#9

I am so astounded by the amount of support we received in the on-line voting. That's about all I can say today I'm exhausted from the non-stop voting from the last few days. No more on-line voting contests for me. I don't want to look at my computer anymore for awhile, my head hurts.

We Won!!! Thanks to all who voted. No more voting for me ever.

If you have a chance please vote as often as you can for #2! We're behind by thousands and voting ends at 5:00EST.

Thanks!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today I am thankful for online communities and friends...#8

There are many in my life who do not understand the appeal of on-line communities, but for me in the past 3 or 4 years the friendships and bonds I have formed with women, whom I have never met has been amazing.

Immediately after out IF diagnosis I sought support from an on-line community of women also going through IF, and through that board we were given a TTTC-sister. Jess  and I were matched up and we began communicating through email as we both began to wade through the IF process. All of it. The grief, disappointment, the struggles and emotions surrounding other peoples pregnancy announcements etc. Of course we have also had cause to celebrate. Jess was the very first person in the entire world to know I was pregnant (even before Marcus), and I happy to say that she just a few weeks ago gave birth to her little miracle daughter Avelyn. I can say without a doubt that Jess is my friend, one of my best friends, despite the fact that we have never met. There's an understanding and a bond that we have as we navigated the murky waters of IF, and my hope is that we will stay in touch forever. I think of what a great gift it will be for Eli, Emerson and Avelyn one day to meet and talk and have someone else with a similar story.  

I also have found support in on-line communities for parenting preemies and also parenting multiples which comes with it's own unique challenges. The shared knowledge and friendships on those boards have been amazing.  I am grateful for the technology that allows for the sharing of stories and the support of one another across and around the globe.

I also really love blogging which is a community onto itself. I don't have a huge readership, but I do appreciate the advice and support that I find here as well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today In honor of National Prematurity Awareness day I'm thankful for medical care...Day #7

Because it's National prematurity awareness day I am thankful for my access to some of the best medical facilities in the country. I never intended to move to Connecticut and attend graduate school where I'm currently at.  I intended to have a baby take a year off from school and then apply to law school...

Those plans didn't go so well since it took 3 years to have kids, so here we are, I'm in completely different degree program and we live across the country. In hindsight being here, with access to the this medical care and facilities, is probably what helped my babies make it to 32 weeks and continue to thrive.

My cervix started shortening when I was 21 weeks, and each week, despite all of my best efforts it continued to shorten. At 27 weeks I virtually had no more cervix, had a positive fFN test, was contracting and was admitted to the hospital for the first time, to get the steroid shots, and attempt to stop the contractions. During this time the doctors began talking to us about what it might mean to have babies at 27 weeks and we were terrified. I spent the next 5 weeks on bedrest (all of that in the hospital except a few days).

Those days of bedrest were awful, living in the hospital is not restful or enjoyable, but I knew everyday I could keep them in there was a few less days they would be in the NICU.

At 2:00am in my 32nd week of pregnancy Eli's water broke and they were unable to stop my labor. In an emergency c-section, under general anesthesia my babies were born, and immediately taken to the NICU. It would be 36 hours before I held Eli for the first time and 5 days before I was able to hold Emerson.

As much as the bedrest, delivery, and NICU time sucked, I know that we are some of the lucky ones. I have access to incredible medical insurance and health care. I have access to some of the best doctors in the world and because of that my babies were given some of the very best care before they were even born.

This is a privilege that many do not have, and I feel so blessed and thankful everyday that we live where we live, with the medical facilities that we have, so my babies, born 8 weeks to soon had the very best chance at life. Being a mom to preemies is challenging and presents a whole new set of issues for me that I'm still working through, but in the end my babies are thriving and growing, and for that I am thankful and blessed.



The last and final round Please vote one last time!!

First, thank you all for your support and putting up with this non-stop voting. We have finally reached the last and final round (Thank goodness). This contest is turning out to be more involved than a presidential election, but we made it to the top 10. The winner of this round will determine the winner of the stroller, so it's the last and most important.

Same as always.

2.) Scroll way down to see the top 10 and vote on in the right hand side of the page we're #2 this time around the little nun and priest

You can now vote as many times as possible.

After this round you won't be bothered again.

Thank you so much!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Today I'm thankful for some healing ...#6

Today I am thankful for some healing and moving forward. Our IF is one of the hardest things Marcus and I have had to face as a couple. The diagnosis was devastating and it was a loss we had to deal with, and in many ways will deal with for the rest of our lives, and since our diagnosis in Jan. of 2008 I have been really angry and haven't had a real space or forum to express that anger and sadness and the big ugly grieving process.  Even now with our two beautiful babies the pain is still very real.

This Sunday I preached on 1 Sam 1:1-20 which is the story of Hannah's encounter as she experiences the grief of her own infertility. I structured my sermon on reproductive loss (IF, miscarriage, stillbirth etc). and on the politicalization of IF and the treatments used to treat the IF. The sermon was deeply personal (although I didn't name our story necessarily, it's there but veiled by anonymity). The first few times I practiced the sermon I couldn't get through it without crying. The wounds and the pain of it all are still that fresh, and even Marcus as he listened to me practice could only just say, "It's really sad."

On Sunday as I was preaching I looked into the congregation and saw a man with his head in his hands crying, and I knew, just from looking at him, and his reaction, that he too knew the pain of reproductive loss, and again I had to work to remain my composure. There was a commonality, an unspoken understanding, and I was so glad that I was naming this loss in a public space. It would have been deeply healing and helpful for me to hear such a sermon during our own struggles and even now just for someone to name and recognize the reality of the loss, but unfortunately it's just a topic that's not talked about enough. I suppose unless you've been on the side of some kind of loss it's just hard to know how to approach it.

Afterwards, many people from the church spoke to me about having a new understanding, they thanked me for my words, and I know to at least one person I spoke truth about the pain, grief, anger and sadness about a longed-for child.

Although many didn't know, I was speaking from personal experience. So many commented that I must have done a lot of research, but honestly the research was from my own lived knowledge. I know the pain Hannah felt about her IF, because Marcus and I too have been in that place where we cried, wept, and begged, for a child. Naming that experience out-loud, while incredibly difficult, was also incredibly healing. I am changed because of the IF that is a fact, all I can do now is try to make use of my knowledge and understanding related to reproductive loss, and move forward in a way to be helpful to others who also face that loss, and for that empathy and understanding I am grateful.

I'm debating whether or not to post my sermon here. Reading a sermon isn't nearly as effective as hearing it, since it's written for the ear and not the eye. I guess we'll see.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Today I'm thankful for my in-laws ...#5

All of them, my mother in law, my father in law, and my brothers in laws the aunts, uncles and grandparents too. I'm very lucky to have a good relationship with all of Marcus' family. His brothers are like my brothers (and they without a doubt treat me like their little sister and pick on a lot of the times) but  I also know that if I ever needed anything they would do anything to help, and they're a lot of fun most of the time.

I'm also close to my MIL. We have a lot of common interests appreciate that she takes an interest in our school and our lives She was also very supportive during all of our IF stuff and is someone who can get along with just about anyone which is a skill I appreciate. Plus I really love her cooking. I'm an incredibly picky eater and she is always thoughtful about the meals she makes and they're always so good too. Especially the homemade soups and the twice baked potatoes.

I really enjoy spending time with my IL's and the babies are so very luck to have them for grandparents. I'm looking forward to Christmas so they can meet their Granddad and their uncles for the first time (Marcus' mom came out her in July).

I also really admire how close Marcus is with his parents and his brothers. They all communicate with each other so regularly and often. I am blessed to be a part of their family, and I am thankful everyday for my in-laws.

Christmas last year. (Marcus other brother and his wife are missing plus as a random side note I was 13w pregnant in this picture).



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Today I'm thankful for my friends ...#4

I literally could not do the full time grad student/mom of twins thing without them. They were so helpful and supportive to both me and Marcus while I was on bedrest, and when the babies were in the NICU and now that the babies are here they have all been amazing.

They watch my babies for free (and actually fight over who gets to do so I have never had to miss a class since I have many backups), they follow my crazy, strict, hand-washing and sanitizing requests without blinking an eye, and they truly love my babies and I trust them all with the care of my babies. They also bring me food, stop by to visit, stay away when they're sick, offer to watch the babies so Marcus and I can go on dates, and are just really amazing incredible people. I am blessed. They are my grad school family (since our families live a few thousand miles away) and without them I could not have survived the last year (my pregnancy, bedrest, NICU, parenting preemie twins, being a student/intern combo).


The babies love to nap on D & his husband J, the babies pretty much napped on them the whole time we were in Cape Cod and they've offered to watch the babies for a day so marcus and I can go into the city sometime this winter.


Just some of my other friends at my baby shower.

I am blessed and so very thankful.