Monday, June 17, 2013
This morning you woke me up. I was in our bed, wrapped up in the arms of our eldest daughter. She had spent the night with me because you needed to spend the night with our youngest daughter. I stepped out of bed, walked into the kitchen, and immediately we began an intricate dance trying to team-tackle the five piles of cat vomit that Hille had so lovingly thrown up seconds before (around the time I was untangling my arms from our daughter's). Minutes later you cornered the small one with a bottle of sunscreen while I convinced the taller one get dressed before breakfast. As one was bouncing around begging to watch one of the DVDs she brought home from the library, the other was declaring (loudly) that she really needed to play with one of her sister's toys. Somewhere in between the madness I prepared some breakfast for our first born while you ushered our second born out the door. There were hugs, squishy kisses, giggles, yelps, bounces, whispers, cries, and together we all started our day. With you on your way to daycare/work and me on my way to school drop-off/work, our Monday had begun.
And then a couple of hours later I realized that today is our sixth wedding anniversary.
Ten years ago we met on the first day of school. Eight years ago you finally found the nerve tell me you were sweet on me (though only after I asked you out on repeated dates). And six years we stood under the chuppah, surrounded by the people we love, and became a family.
Then there were children, jobs, moves, adventures, more moves, more adventures, laughter, sighs, gasps, sobs, and kisses. Lots of kisses. We have leaped through life together these six years and while we find ourselves distracted by the world zooming around us, I can only leap because you leap with me. Thank you for holding on so tightly. The madness that surrounds us means nothing.
Also, thank you for the children. We did good.
Happy Anniversary, Matty. xox
Thursday, May 16, 2013
We're all exhausted and I think still digesting more sugar than we've had in a long time (which is saying a lot). Shira turned three on Saturday and it was delightful. I was dreading the weekend a bit because I've been worked up about Shira growing so quickly (because of that lingering fear and sadness that she
Happy Birthday, Shira Clementine. I'm so glad that you are mine.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Angelina Jolie write about her choice to have a preventative double mastectomy yesterday in the NYT. After losing her mum to ovarian cancer and having discovered (through genetic testing) that she, too, carries a "faulty" BRCA gene that greatly increases her risk of developing ovarian or breast cancer, she chose to have her breasts surgically removed. It reduced her breast cancer risk from 87% to under 5%.
Angelina (I'll choose to believe we're on first name basis) has six children. She made the decision, her decision, to reduce the threat of dying young and missing out on her children's lives. I think we can all understand that. Nevertheless she's received some criticism (shocking, I know) on account of her sharing her medical decision so publicly. Everyone makes their own choices, but I'm a little surprised that some people are shocked that she'd share her decision with the world.
Angelina (again, we're close) is public figure who, through sharing her experiences, might help another few people out (both women and men can develop breast cancer). We've learned how she grieves the loss of her mother, how she worries about missing out on the lives of her own children, and how on account of her mum's cancer stemming from a genetic defect that she herself inherited, she made a personal medical choice to take preventative action. She explains the procedure, trying, I think, to normalize a surgery that sounds so terrifying, and assures us that it was the right decision for her.
I had the same genetic test done five years ago.
My grandmother, my namesake, passed away from breast cancer a few months before I was born. When my lovely aunt, now cancer-free, developed breast cancer seven years ago, she discovered that the recurring breast cancer in our family stemmed from a genetic defect on one of the two BRCA genes. Most cancer doesn't develop as a result of genetics, but it did in our family. My aunt wrote a letter to me (and I think to other members of our family) suggesting that I get tested myself. This was an uncomfortable letter to receive.
Some people just don't want to know, and that is their choice. But in case you are wondering, in case you are ever faced with the same kind of letter (though I hope you are not), here are my reasons to have the genetic testing done:
I was 31 with a baby just learning to walk. We had just celebrated Alyce's first birthday and we knew we wanted more babies. Lots of babies! Having met with a genetic counselor to learn more about the test, especially about what steps could be taken if it was discovered that I did carry the "faulty" gene, I learned that most women, upon discovering they tested positive for the genetic defect, choose the double mastectomy. It seemed like a very radical step, but I gave it a lot of thought.
I briefly considered not going through with the test, but in the end I needed to know. I needed to know because if I tested positive I was going to drag Matt to nearest empty hospital room and get pregnant that day. And then again the next year. I was going to keep breastfeeding Alyce, and then breastfeed our next babies with all that my body could give. I was going to join forces with my body, my potentially genetic-defect-carrying body, and celebrate these breasts the best way I knew how. And then maybe I'd say good-bye to them, farewell to these glorious breasts.
Basically, I wanted to know if I needed to get knocked up that afternoon.
Matt and I talked about what it might mean to test positive. I might choose extensive monitoring of my breasts and ovaries. I might choose the double mastectomy. We just didn't know. It was a terrifying decision to go through with the test because it opened up so many possibilities. Would I live my life differently? Was I going to die young like my grandmother? Would my children grow up without a mother? Would I lose my breasts? Would I still love my body?
I tested negative.
I still got pregnant pretty quickly after those results (no sense in taking any chances).
For those wondering why Angelina (ahem) chose to share her experience with the world, think about it for a few minutes. Think about how life-changing it is to make life and death decisions about your body. Consider what it would be like to lose your mum as a child, to know that she won't meet her grandchildren, or what it would be like not to have the children you dream of. Spend a moment wondering about how difficult a decision it would be to remove an entire part of your body. This isn't a publicity stunt, this is one woman telling another woman that it's ok to do whatever you need to do to live your life to the absolute fullest. It's not the choice for everyone, but it was hers. Let's let her share that.
There are a lot of things I could have brought up in this post surrounding a women's decision to have her breasts removed. Women's breasts and bodies are politicized and fetishized constantly and this certainly plays a role in the decisions women make. I'm also sure that there are many good reasons not to endure a preventative double mastectomy. This post is simply about why someone might choose to undergo testing, and why he or she might choose to act in the face of a positive test. This is all so very complicated, but I'm offering you just a piece of my own experience.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
You guys. They said yes. They actually said yes.
I will begin midwifery school this fall, though I wish I could start tomorrow. I've waited years, years, to become a midwife. I could go on and on (and I probably will for weeks, so bear with me) about how long I've wanted to do this for my future. Now I am here to tell you that things can happen. Dreams and big ideas and tiny goals that you only whisper to yourself late at night are real. I am so excited I might just float away.
If you see me floating around, just let me go. I want to bottle this feeling and carry it with me as I throw myself into what will be the busiest, most demanding, four years of my life. I want to dance around and twirl and declare to most anybody that I'm going to be a midwife. I think I'll be a good one.
I'm not sure what this will mean for this blog. I'm about to embark on a very busy summer leading up to a very busy fall, and a very busy winter, and you get the idea. Will I have time to return here, to store little bits of my everyday life while the whirlwind takes off around me? I hope so. This blog is where I come to exhale, and I'll need that more than ever as the year continues. But there is so much real life going on that deserves my attention, I can't make any promises to myself. I'll just take it one busy day at a time.
Now, bring on the babies.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
|Returning to Nana's|
My mum welcomes these beasts with open arms every time.
What do you do when you need to collapse and step way from life for a day or two? I go to my mum's house. She no longer lives in the house I grew up in (my grandparents actually live in that house now, so I'm still able to visit some of the favourite places of my childhood, like the secret fairy garden that still grows outside what used to be my bedroom window), but because it is where my mum lives, it's home. Occasionally I feel a bit juvenile returning to mum so often, but sometimes it's just exactly what I need.
It could be that she feeds me some of my favourite foods (I'll be there briefly this coming Sunday and I'll be asking her to make this soup again) or that the red wine flows freely (which it does), or even that she loves my girls *almost* more than I do. But it isn't quite any of those things exactly. There is something about being in my mum's presence that just makes be feel strong and it's always been that way, since the beginning of us.
|At mum's house there are king-size beds.|
|Alyce's work of art|
|Snail and worm, detail|
Or maybe that's just what love feels like. Glorious strength, rooted in relationship with another person.That's the only possible explanation for allowing your grandchildren to draw pictures on your pantry walls, right? Only fierce love could do that. That, and drunkenness, which while I promise you there was wine, my mother only gets giggly when she drinks champagne.
Sadly, there was no champagne this weekend. Maybe the next weekend.
Whatever the feeling, whatever the reason I have for returning again and again for short visits (or long ones, but that was just once), this is what I do. When I daydream about Alyce and Shira growing older I always fantasize about those times when they return to me. They'll leave me to explore, to love, to fail, to put one foot in front of the other, but they'll return, or at least I hope they will. I wonder what kinds of food they'll want me to cook, or what special things I'll sneak into their bags as they leave again.
|I was taken by this blossoming turnip in my mother's kitchen.|
I asked my mum if we could visit last weekend because I told her the girls were missing her. Which they were, deeply. My mum has been written into the foundation of our family, not only because we lived with her for so long last year, but because she comes with me, as I do with her. We are a bit of a package, the two of us. I really wanted to visit because I needed a quick recharging after my interview last Friday (which was hard, but still felt good). The four of us threw ourselves together and drove to Cambridge for a quick sleepover, just time enough to enjoy my mum's home and to feel a little bit more like myself again.
Update: This was the post I had intended to publish last Monday, but couldn't. This week's Sunday visit I mentioned above turned into two days, and yes, this time there was champagne, and yes, my mum did get the giggles.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I've been all talk of regular posting lately, and on Monday afternoon I was about hit publish on an update about my weekend to kick off a week of regular updates, but then I heard about the explosions at the Boston Marathon and I couldn't hit publish. Later that night I heard that an eight-year-old boy died in the explosions and I just didn't know what to do. I know eight-year-old boys (and five-year-old girls and almost-three-year-old girls) who have families who love them and need them, and I'm just so sad.
I do not enjoy running, not even a little bit. As my friend Larissa declares, I'm a lover, not a runner. But I love marathoners. I think they are a bit wacky, but I love them for it. I love how they believe in themselves enough to run for hours and hours for apparently no reason (I'm sure they have reasons but I just can't for the life of me figure them out). I love that they push themselves and how they are supported and cheered on by thousands of strangers. Anyway, like I said, I'm just so sad about the whole thing. My husband went to college in Boston and has for years told me about how special this days is in Boston. He gets this lovely, nostalgic grin on his face and tells me about how the Red Sox play an early game before the marathon ends, how almost everything shuts down so that people can be there to cheer on the marathoners as they cross the finish line. I just don't understand.
Anyway, I'm back to my regularly scheduled life, as we all need to do, but I just want to declare that Monday sucked.
Be well and smile at someone today, because I just don't know what else there is to do but offer some love.
Photo from The Boston Globe
Friday, April 12, 2013
|Alyce, 1 day old.|
Maybe you remember last year, when I didn't even get an interview. I had applied to midwifery school with so much passion and excitement it never occurred to me that I wouldn't get an interview. When I got the letter my heart was broken, but the world didn't collapse. Doesn't that always happen? We get so worked up and teary (or sobby, as it happens with me), and then in the end, we adjust. Plans change, new ideas emerge, and we move forward.
Now it's a year later and I am one step closer. Today I have an interview for midwifery school. I am roughly equal parts thrilled and nervous. I'm standing at this place where I want something so badly yet I know, I just know, that everything will be fine no matter what. I'm coming to see, stubborn as I am, that I have everything I need already. I am built to be a midwife, but I'm build for many other things, too.
As I make the final preparations for my interview later today, I find myself thinking about my midwives, the women who helped me bring both my children into the world. Thank you Houley, Andrea, Lindsey, Manavi, Katie, Sarah, Nicole, and Dorinda. They supported me and inspired me, and I am forever grateful. Thank you for making me feel safe when I was scared, for encouraging me when I doubted myself, and for catching those slippery babies, especially Shira, who was enormous.