Archive | January 2013

Leading By Example

If you have read many of my rambling posts, or even if only just a post or two, you know that my Mother is often a humorous subject—and there could be more to come!  What you don’t know is that when I read them to her word for word before posting, she giggles good naturedly and urges me to post them, and she never once has asked to change even one word of what I have written.  But, since so many of my writings lovingly tease her, the time has come for a compliment.

People ask me frequently if twins run in our family.  “Well, they do now”, I say.  And, sometimes I say yes and tell them truthfully that my grandmother was a twin, she is believed to have lost a set of twins herself, and her sibling had a set of twins.  And, sometimes, I tell them that and how we needed help.

Joel and I miscarried five times before seeking help.  Two of those five losses were ectopic, and one of those ruptured requiring emergency surgery.  Ultimately, we sought evaluation and testing with specialists because of an inability to carry to term, and then an inability to even conceive after the fifth loss.   Five long years and multiple surgeries passed by.  (And, eventually we would have a sixth loss after Joel‘s vasectomy.  A darkly humorous story for another day.)

But, joyfully, our second attempt at in -vitro fertilization resulted in a twin pregnancy.  Despite the remote possibility of a multiple pregnancy, we did not expect it.  And, during a routine ultrasound when no one had said anything to us about more than one, I asked matter-of-factly, “So, it is just one?”  The doctor replied equally matter-of-factly, “Oh no, its two.  Here look.”  Joel and I were both taken aback.  Delighted, but shocked.  Joel just about fell off the stool where he was seated next to my head.

But, only weeks into the pregnancy, I awoke one Sunday morning to the unmistakable and dreaded spotting.  I had been down this road before, and with a heavy heart I called the doctor and went in early that morning for an ultrasound.  Since it was Sunday, Joel, as pastor, went to church and carried on.  We both knew that science could do many things to help one become pregnant, and conversely medicine could do very little to keep us pregnant at this early stage.  After all, we had been there, done that, and gotten the hospital i.d. bracelet several times.

Mom and Dad drove up from Knoxville, and after my early morning appointment, we sat glumly in the Krystal’s restaurant located on the corner of the intersection within view of the medical center where I had just been.  Only time would tell whether we would lose one or both of the babies.  Mom and Dad tried to encourage me as best they could, but we all knew that lives hung in the balance.

Miraculously and unexplainably, weeks turned into months.  More quickly than singleton first timers, I needed maternity clothes since I was showing larger and earlier. I am a shortwaisted  5’3’’, and there was only so much room for two in there!  The nearest maternity store was in Knoxville, and I drove there to meet Mom in the mall.

We walked into Motherhood Maternity…about five-hundred square feet of clothing and maternity accessories covered every nook and cranny of the store and assaulted my fragile senses.  Within minutes of entering this foreign world, and one which I never had any reason to enter before, and utterly overwhelmed by selecting even the first garment to try on, I began to cry.  Not dainty moist eyes, nor merely a few leaky tears, or a stray salty water drop.  No, I began uncontrollably sobbing and the more I wanted to stop, the more I continued to cry.  Waterworks, blubbering, ugly cry….that and more.  Tears washed mascara over my cheeks and dropped onto my blouse.  I was afraid to try on actual maternity clothes because I had never made it to the point of needing them, and I did not equate being pregnant with actually becoming a mother.  Here in bold letters hung MOTHERHOOD over my head above the doorway, while simultaneously hanging emotionally over my heart.  If I bought clothes, then I would have visible reminders hanging in the closet if we miscarried again.  My body had crossed into a developmental stage before my mind caught up. 

The saleslady graciously retreated and said something along the lines of she would give us a few minutes.  But, I couldn’t breathe or think straight and Mom lovingly pulled me out of the store “for some fresh air”.  We sat on a bench smack in the middle of the hallway in West Town Mall while Mom encouraged me to let it all out. 

Mom is a retired surgical nurse.  She never minded blood, guts, or vomit, but strangely if you came at her with a little mucus she couldn’t stand it! Just try handing her one little damp Kleenex and she would lose it and run away.  But, there she sat  wiping snot bubbles as they blew from my nostrils without flinching.  She patted my back….like I was five instead of my actual thirty-five.  Mom employed a  delicate mixture of sympathy, strength, encouragement, humor, and practical bluntness.  She expressed confidence and faith that we would make it this time, dried my tears as I hyperventilated in the middle of the mall, and finally plainly said I couldn’t go around naked and if I didn’t buy some clothes then that that would be a looming possibility.  She calmed my nerves and instilled the courage to buck up and keep going.  She talked me off the bench and back into the store.

So, with much less mascara on my eyes, and black streaks still on my cheeks, Mom gently ushered me into the store for the second time.  As I began to try on clothes, the saleslady gave me a contoured pillow to place under the garments to simulate advanced months of pregnancy.  We laughed as they all seemed impossibly large, and there was no way I would ever need that sized clothing.  Shows what we knew!  By the end of the pregnancy, I exceeded those pillows!  I was so round that I had my own zip code. 

And, that is how our twin boys joined our family.  Mom did some of her best mothering that day.  She bore my pain but masked her own fears, selflessly wiped my snotty nose, and motivated me to buck up and persevere.  Mothering is hard, and I learned my first early lesson in becoming a mother that day.  Thank you, Mom.


Happy New Year!  And, more importantly, Happy 71st Birthday to my Dad.

Growing up, whenever we had some bright idea of which Dad was skeptical, he would simultaneously exhale and murmur, “Hmmm” in a softly trailing off disapproving tone.  Not enough to exactly stop us from our endeavors, but just enough to convey his concern and to plant a subliminal seed of doubt in our minds.  Which usually meant personal injury for me when I ignored it.

In law school when I signed up to play intramural flag football for our team, The Tortfeasors, Dad uttered his signature hmmmm, and even added, “I wish you wouldn’t do that.  I have seen lots of injuries from that.”  Dismissively, I said, “Oh, Dad, I’ll be fine.” And I was perfectly fine right up until the last game when the referee stepped in front of me and the collision knocked me backwards and the back of my head smacked the hard sod.  The worst injury inflicted, however, was the unspoken “I told you so” in conversation with Dad as he diagnosed a probable minor concussion and major bruise to my ego.

This past Sunday after church we went with friends and their children to Beech Mountain for sledding.  While driving up the mountain, Joel and I discussed that I would not sled because the last time I attempted sledding (two or three years ago), I ended up in the emergency room for a CT Scan of my neck after a particularly frightening spill.  So, just to be safe I would just watch.  We laughed about my accident prone nature, and how our current plan was the safest.  Positively idiot proof.

Coincidentally, Dad called just then.  “What are you guys doing today?”  “Oh, we are taking the kids to Beech Mountain for free sledding.”  And then I heard it.  A barely perceptible hmmmm.  I ignored it.  After all, I would not be sledding.  The kids would be sledding and on a reportedly tiny hill at that.   But, Dad’s silence was conspicuously loud and filled with volumes of unspoken worries about sledding in general—-which I recognized all too well from years of growing up with a doctor and a nurse for parents. As children and teens, my sister and I were unwillingly well informed about many “dangerous” activities and the horrible results from the same, usually preceded by “You haven’t seen what we’ve seen in the emergency room….” and then followed by an eye roll from us.  Except that this time, Dad said nothing more except reluctantly, “Well, have fun.”

We arrived at the top of the mountain.  Bright blue cloudless skies wrapped around the mountaintop.  Tree branches glistened with thick layers of ice.  It was extremely cold—in the teens —and slightly windy, and the sledding hills covered in deep white snow beckoned.  Post card perfect!  The kids ran up the hill with their sleds while Joel and I walked to the observation and landing area at the bottom of the hill.

I waved enthusiastically to the kids.  Have fun! Yes, I see you! SPLAT.  Now you see me, now you don’t!  I’m up, no I’m down!  I disappeared from Joel’s line of sight, and bewildered he turned and found me on the ground at his feet.

We had not been there even five minutes.  Literally one minute I was upright and the next I fell sideways onto my outstretched left arm.  I took a very hard fall onto packed snow and ice, and I knew instantly that I was injured. But, I popped up quickly from sheer embarrassment at falling in front of the crowd.  You know, in the I -meant -to -do -that and never-let-‘em-see-you-sweat type of way with some nervous laughter as I stood up and shook off the snow and ice.  Quietly, I said to Joel, “I think I really hurt my arm.”

We came home several hours later (after a truly fun day and during which the extreme cold helped somewhat numb the pain) and I went to the emergency room to confirm what I already suspected.  I fractured my radial head and stunned my ulnar nerve.  I am now casted and medicated and will have more x-rays in two weeks.  Not to be defeated though, I typed this post one handed. Take that Beech Mountain!

I was not on a sled, I was merely near a sled. So for now, the final score is:  Sledding 2; Suzy 0.  Dang, I hate it when Dad is right.

Christmas 2012 and Beech Mtn 093             Christmas 2012 and Beech Mtn 141