Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A year has gone

Today marks the first anniversary of missing Tabitha. A year ago today, she returned to heaven. Her mother writes about it more beautifully than I ever could, but since this is a place for me to express how I'm feeling, I decided to share a poem I wrote.

A year has gone,
And it still feels wrong.

You're still not here,
And at times, the pain is near.

A different baby wearing an outfit you wore.
Another girl with the name that is yours.
A moment remembering.
A moment reliving.

And always knowing
And always believing
Your end was not the end.

That knowledge is what we cling to
Since we can't cling to you.

And most of the time, it's enough.
We love you.

I am up in Michigan right now, staying with my parents and brother's family. We went to their church's trunk or treat on Friday night. There was delicious chili, lots of candy, and tons of happy children running around.

Always in my mind, though, was the knowledge that Tabitha was at the trunk or treat last year but wasn't at Halloween. So close to the end. What a happy memory that Disney family had. (Tabitha was Daisy Duck, Emily was Minnie Mouse, Dan was Goofy, and Rachel was Mirabelle.)

I am so glad for all those happy memories.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

When reality fails to meet expectations

I had a disappointing experience earlier this week. Last minute, I decided to go up to Michigan to visit my parents and brother's family. After the December incident, I obviously didn't think that driving by myself would be a good idea, nor would it be very pleasant since I wouldn't be able to hand my kids any toys, books, or treats.

Jeff was willing to go, but I wanted to be gone for longer than the weekend, so I was looking for other options. My mom offered to drive down to get me, but it seemed a bit much for her to drive five hours to get me and then drive right back up to bring us there.

Planes are expensive.

All trains go through Chicago, which would add a lot of extra hours to the trip.

So, I looked into buses. Very reasonable pricing. And there was even one that went during the night, so we would get in at 7:00 am. I thought that would be genius. My kids have always been good at sleeping in their car seats on long road trips, so it seemed like a fantastic idea.

From there, the fantastic idea just kept being less fantastic.

From what I read on the website, I thought my children would be able to ride in car seats, so we spent the extra money to buy Danny a ticket rather than let him ride for free on my lap. (I'm five months' pregnant, so I'm running out of room on my lap.)

However upon checking in, I learned that not all buses are equipped for car seats. And the bus I was on was not, so the kids were not able to ride in car seats. I arrived at the station really early, so the kids ended up waking up due to the long wait. And I didn't even get the benefit of being their early, because with two kids, two car seats, and three suitcases, moving forward with the line didn't really happen, and everyone was fine with going around me.

That meant we were the last people on the bus, but I was confident that fellow riders would be sympathetic to my plight and ensure that I could sit with my kids. Surely no one else on the bus would want to listen to my kids crying, right?

The seats are two next to each other, then an aisle, and then two more seats, except for in the very back of the bus. Next to the bathroom, there are three seats. I didn't know about those at first, and when I got on the bus, I asked if anyone would move, which is when I was informed by many people on the bus to try in the back because there were three seats there.

When I arrived in the back, I saw a backpack sitting on one of the three seats. I waited, and a man came out of the bathroom. I asked him if my two children and I could sit there and if he would move for me. He informed me that he had been sitting there since Atlanta and was not going to move, because they were his seats.

I am five months' pregnant.

I was traveling alone with a one year old and a three year old.

It was three o'clock in the morning.

I was going to visit my family to be there for Halloween festivities and to be there for them on the anniversary of the death of my niece.

What would you have done?

Well, I started to cry.

I didn't do it to be manipulative, but just because I was feeling very emotional.

Either way, it had no effect on the man. He sat down and repeated that it was his seat.

Two other people moved for me, so then I at least at two seats. (Good thing we had paid for a third!!) Danny would only sleep on me, and Jill would only sleep leaning on me, and well, I didn't sleep very much and was very uncomfortable. The children slept (only waking up once or twice) until there was about an hour and a half left. They really were fantastic considering how they could have been. There was a very unfortunate chocolate milk incident that involved soaking the side of my shirt and my entire left thigh. That was cold. And sticky. And wet.

And the bathroom. Well, let's just say that I think men should only pee standing up when there is a urinal present. Toilet SEATS are for sitting. Especially on moving buses. It was disgusting, and Danny kept touching everything while I was trying to clean it with toilet paper. Not a good memory.

To cap everything off, my phone fell out of my pocket and was left on the bus. I realized I didn't have it when we made it to my parents' car. My dad went back for it and watched helplessly through the glass as the bus drove away. We left our information and actually got a phone call saying my phone had been found. Unfortunately, the bus garage was an hour away from my parents' house, so it was super to spend two more hours in the car after already having been in the car for an hour and the bus for four and a half hours.

All in all, it has been wonderful to be here with my family, and I am glad that I came. But middle-of-the-night bus trips are not the ideal way to travel when your children are young and completely dependent on you for comfort.

And the next time you see someone who needs help, help them. You don't know what is going on in their lives.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pity Party

I have been feeling a bit down this week. I have my next OB appointment coming up. I am getting blood drawn, having a regular exam, and having an ultrasound. I was also planning on visiting the birthing center and handing in my application and the paperwork that my OB signed approving me to birth there. I had it all filled out. It was in a blue folder with all of the other information I have gathered this pregnancy so far about doulas, natural birth, vitamin K injections, circumcision, etc. It's a great folder. I keep it with a purple notebook in which I have written all of the phone numbers, names, and extensive notes from interviews with four midwives, three OBs, three hospitals, and a birthing center. I've done a lot of research, and it is all contained in that folder and that notebook.

The blue folder and purple notebook have been resting safely in the second drawer on the right side of my desk.

I've been attending a hypnobirthing class the past few weeks and acquiring more worksheets and handouts, and I finally went to the store to buy a binder to put everything together. I opened the drawer two days ago to take out my all-important folder and notebook only to discover . . .

their copycats, their twins, their doppelgรคngers.

It is tragic and unbelievable to me, but somehow that drawer contained a different empty blue folder and a different purple notebook.

I have spent the last few days looking all over my house and vehicles for the notebook and folder that I so desperately need. The birthing center application has all of our information on it—names, maiden name, address, phone number, social security numbers, insurance numbers, everything. I feel very uncomfortable not knowing where it is.

I've looked in all the same places more than three times. I've said a lot of prayers. I've called my mother in Michigan to see if it is in her car. I've called my mother-in-law to see if it is at her house. I cannot remember the last time I saw the real folder and notebook. I am starting to wonder if I threw it away accidentally. I am feeling discouraged about having to do all of that work over again.

This inability to find them and this frustration over my pregnancy brain (I've been standing people up, forgetting appointments, etc.) all added up to making me feel a bit depressed yesterday. I got into the Halloween candy and let Jill watch two and a half hours of PBS and didn't shower or change out of my workout clothes and just moped.

I called my mom's house a second time to ask my mother to look in her truck again, but it was a Thursday evening, so she and my father were serving in the temple. My brother answered the phone, and I got to chat with him instead. After reminding me of where my mother was, he gently asked "Are you doing all right?"

And suddenly everything crashed into perspective.

Yes, I have lost a folder and notebook. Yes, it will be tedious finding those phone numbers, making those phone calls, filling out that paperwork, and performing that research. But is it replaceable? Yes.

My sweet, older brother, who was so concerned about me and didn't make me feel silly at all for being so upset about losing replaceable documents, has lost something he won't be able to "retrieve" (for lack of a better word) for a long, long time—Someone irreplaceable.

For, you see, October 30 is the one year anniversary of the Lambert Boling family losing Tabitha Grace. I know my brother asked me how I was doing, because he honestly cares about how I'm doing, but it served the dual purpose of helping me realize how small my non-tragedy really was.

So I'd better end my pity party and get to work making phone calls.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Growing Up

I have had two thoughts running through my head today: my name and pride. I decided to shock my regular readers by actually posting twice in one month (I've been very absent on here!). So here are my thoughts. They may be super boring to you, but here they are. Oh yes, and the third thought I'll write about is related to pride, but it's more on the beauty of running.

My whole memorable life, I have introduced myself as "My name is Michelle, but you can call me Mimi." It was even kind of a joke for a while (at least I thought it was funny), because it is just so long and ridiculous when everyone else just says "Hi! I'm Amy." or "Hi! I'm Maria." or "Hi! I'm Becca." But I begin pretty much all new relationships with two names.

It may be evidence of my general indecisive nature that I have never chosen just one name. I think that Michelle is a beautiful name, long and French and flowing. One of my best friends is named Michelle. On the other hand, there are a lot of Michelles. I was always Mimi at home to my family, and then at school when there were multiple Michelles, teachers would ask if anyone had a nickname. I, of course, did, so then I began being called Mimi at school, too. I went by Mimi at work as well, because it is more memorable and, again, Michelle is a popular name.

I asked my mom once why, since she planned on calling me Mimi, did she actually name me Michelle. I think she said something along the lines that she thought I might grow out of the name Mimi and want Michelle to fall back on. I was named after a Michelle who has gone by Mimi her whole life. I think it may have also influenced my mother to have the name Vickie Lee. (She goes by Vickie.) Her whole life she has been asked, "Is it really Victoria?" And she replies, "No, it's really Vickie." So perhaps she didn't want me to be named a nickname like she was. Whatever the reason, I have had two names since birth.

Most of my life when I have given people the two name choices, they always ask, "Which do you prefer?" To which I respond, "I prefer the one you remember first when you want my attention. I like them both." Again, my indecisiveness shines through. I'm sure most people would just choose one. For the majority of my life, usually people picked Mimi. I am actually listed as "Mimi Boling" in some of my yearbooks. And some people didn't know my real name was Michelle.

Recently, I have noticed that a lot (possibly the majority) of my Cincinnati friends call me Michelle.

I've been wondering why.

Am I more serious now? More boring? Just older? Not as much of a fun, spunky Mimi?

Do they see "Mimi" as childish?

Perhaps they have grandmothers or great-grandmothers in their lives called Mimi, so it seems weird to call me Mimi.

Maybe they think Mimi is an intimate family name for me, and since they aren't family, they feel awkward calling me that. Interestingly, I think my family is pretty even on calling me Mimi and Michelle. My husband definitely uses both.

Maybe I should make a poll on my blog: Do you think of me as Mimi or Michelle?

Whatever the reason, I am mostly a Michelle now.

On to my next thought, which is somewhat connected. I ran in high school. I didn't particularly enjoy running. But I did enjoy soccer, and it made sense to me to run track, so I could stay in shape. I was never amazing, but I was not slow either.

After I graduated from high school, the running pretty much stopped. There were a few months here or there where I would pick it up, because I had a friend interested in having a buddy to run with, and that's about it.

I didn't exercise at all with Jill. Her labor was quite difficult. I had heard that exercise can make pregnancy and labor easier. I exercised a fair amount during my pregnancy with Danny. I pretty much stopped (other than a few attempts lasting a few weeks each) exercising after his birth. There were always "good" reasons to not continue Now I'm pregnant again and exercising again. (I guess soccer was the motivation in my youth and now easier delivery is my motivation.)

A while ago, one of my friends approached me with the idea of running a 5K. I have never run an official 5K. I was intimidated by the prospect. With Danny's pregnancy I only ever ran 1 mile at a time. And, at the time she asked, with this pregnancy, I was still just trying to survive the first trimester, and I had not started exercising yet. My uncertainty was clear to my friend, who then said, "Michelle, you strike me as the type of person who could do anything you decided to do."

That stopped me in my tracks.

I thought that was quite a compliment, but I wasn't sure if I agreed with her.

Oh, I used to be that person. I was quite confident (cocky?) as a child and teenager. My parents did a very good job in persuading me that I was amazing and could do anything. I remember when I was starting college having difficulty choosing what to study. The problem, for me, was that I honestly thought I could succeed at anything I tried (unless it was something like bassoon performance in which I would have had to already achieved a certain level of skill). I was pretty sure that I could excel in almost any area I chose if I just dedicated myself to it. I recognized that some subjects would require more effort than others, but I really felt capable of almost anything.

Marriage and motherhood have changed that. Perhaps aging as well. Perhaps this is part of me growing into a Michelle rather than a Mimi.

I now feel much more limited and much less capable. I face mountains everyday that seem impossible at times: getting a crying baby to sleep, getting a toddler to clean up her mess, getting a baby to actually brush his teeth instead of just sucking the yummy toothpaste, forcing myself to make dinner, forcing myself to not do things that I know annoy my husband, finding the time to read my scriptures, etc. I fail all the time. Living a much less self-centered life has definitely instilled in me an awareness of how human I am.

(Please note that I am not depressed or discouraged about life. I just realize that I am not a superhero, and I have limits.)

As I mulled over what my friend said, a new idea began to form within me. Could I be that person again? Even though I can't seem to ever be the perfect wife and mother all the time, perhaps I do still have the ability to choose something and then complete it.

It took me a long time to decide that I could do just that, and so I started running again this week.

I had run a mile here or there early on in the pregnancy, and then the less fun part of the first trimester hit. And I decided that running alone on a treadmill was really boring. Once I started feeling more like a human, I started attending group exercise classes and having a lot of fun (usually).

The date of the 5K kept creeping up on me, and I continued to think about it.

Last Tuesday I arrived at the YMCA too late to feel comfortable walking into a group class that had already started, so I went over to the treadmill. I hadn't run more than a mile in years, but I decided to try for two miles.

I succeeded.

Wednesday, I registered and paid for the 5K.

Thursday, I ran two miles again.

Today, I went to the park and ran 3.25 miles (the near equivalent of a 5K).

It was pretty amazing.

The first mile was the hardest. During the second mile, I thought, "come on! You've done it twice this week—you can do it again." And the third mile was surprisingly the easiest. I was pretty wiped out by the end, but I wasn't dead. It made me wonder how much more I could do. I decided though that a pregnant woman didn't need to find out what her absolute limit was. I find it interesting that once I pushed past the hardest part, it became a lot easier.

And please don't think that I'm an amazing fast super pregnant woman. It took me 45 minutes to do five kilometers. The Olympic world record is just under twelve and a half minutes. I have no idea what the average person's time is, but obviously, I was not sprinting.

The best part is now I know I can. I am excited to do the real 5K next week, get the shirt, run with hundreds of people, run along the Ohio River, and run around the Great American Ball Park. But on the other hand, if it is raining or super cold or all of a sudden at 21 weeks it is impossible to do what I did at 20 weeks, I can at least know that I did a 5K today by myself at the park.

As I was running (jogging) around the park today, I paid attention to the other people running. There were men and women. Gray-haired and youthful. Overweight and athletic. People in jeans and people decked out in athletic gear. There seemed to be all types running, jogging, or walking around the park.

But we did all share one common characteristic, that same characteristic that my friend saw in me—we decided to do something that morning, and we did it. I thought about how unifying that determination and follow through was and decided it was pretty cool to share that with all those strangers.

me after running 3.2 miles

And just in case you really only read my blog to see cute pictures of my children, here they are at the pumpkin patch. Jill is a golden bear, and Daniel is a tiger. They were pretty sure they were Winnie the Pooh and Tigger.

Monday, October 8, 2012

You May Have Failed If . . .

I have lots of thoughts running around in my head, trying to get prepared for a lengthy blog post I am planning about birth choices, but I haven't gotten everything untangled yet. I decided though that I shouldn't use that as a reason to not blog. Surely I can find something else to blog about!

Today as I was enjoying leftovers for lunch, I started mentally compiling a list of "You may have failed as a housewife/young mother if . . . " So, without further ado, here is what I have so far.

1. The chili you made for dinner a few nights ago actually tasted like bean dip.
2. Your husband says "Do you think you could find time to do laundry anytime soon? I'm almost out of underwear" and you know for a fact that he owns enough to get him by for over two weeks, so it's been a while since you did "find time" to do laundry.
3. People ask you where your children got their bumps and bruises, and you honestly can't tell them.
4. You substitute condensed chicken noodle soup for condensed cream of chicken soup and actually think it might work in the casserole recipe.
5. You can't remember the last time you bathed your children.
6. You have seven drawers in various locations of your house where you stash miscellany that has no other home.
7. You think burnt meat tastes good, and you're losing your ability to taste when meat is burned.
8. You can't remember the last time you were able to bathe, or the last time you took an uninterrupted shower.
9. You dress your son in clothes that your older daughter used to wear, rationalizing that he's too young to remember it anyway.
10. You have decided that your children eating food off the floor because you haven't swept in a while is actually a good sign that they are learning important self-reliance skills.

Okay, some of those are exaggerated, humorized, or not very common, but I thought you might enjoy them. If you have any to add (whether as the housewife/young mother list) or just a personal "you might have failed at X" list, please feel free to share.

In other news, I have officially crossed the half-way threshold of twenty weeks. Here is the photo I'm sure you've all been waiting to see.

I am feeling great so far this pregnancy. (Well, if I pretend that the first trimester never happened, but still I have been luckier than many pregnant women.)

I am tired more often, but I'm keeping up with exercising and actually doing even more than I did when I was pregnant with Danny. I keep wondering at what point I will no longer be able to participate in the ab workouts. I have had to modify one particular piece of torture. I think they were called . . . I can't remember. You jump up into the air and then down onto the ground out into plank position and then back up into the air again. Anyway, that one made me see stars, which the instructor said was bad. Apparently I should avoid (due to the reduced blood flow to the brain during pregnancy) having my head quickly go from higher and lower than my heart. Duly noted. I'm doing leapfrogs instead and feeling like a five year old, but no more cartoon stars!

I am in my first childbirthing class and really enjoying it. I'll write more about that when I finally write my long blog post about birth choices.

My mom was in town for a weekend, and we accomplished this:
Beautiful, don't you think? My mother honestly did most of it, but I can claim doing most of the work on the apple butter and helping cut some of the vegetables for the vegetable soup (which tastes delicious!). With my mom canning me meals and my mother-in-law freezing me meals, I feel like a very pampered pregnant woman.

My dad was able to join us for one weekend, and we made it to East Fork State Park. It was beautiful. The weather was pretty perfect. I really enjoyed the educational activities offered by the rangers. I think they were supposed to be for the children, and indeed I was often the only adult paying attention or even present, but I found it fascinating. Luckily, I was there with three other adults who were willing to watch my children while I played the role of kid.

Danny going down the slide at the campground playground.

Jill at the beach of East Fork Lake
(apparently it was renamed William H. Harsha Lake a while back, but no one actually calls it that)

My parents drove their trailer down, so it was a pretty spoiled camping experience, but it was fun to have campfires at night and make s'mores with the kids. Jeff and my dad made breakfast both mornings, and my mom made the other meals, so really I was a spoiled brat. (I suppose there are a few perks to being pregnant—other than the whole getting a baby at the end.)

A few weekends ago, I spent my first night away from Danny and only my third (fourth?) night away from Jill. If my mother-in-law's report is correct, this was much harder on me than it was on my children. Two of Jeff and my friends were endowed Friday night in the Columbus Temple and then sealed at the temple Saturday morning, and it just seemed to make sense to get a hotel room and stay up there over night. It was very weird to be childless, but nice to have uninterrupted conversations. (Well, Jeff may not agree—I do have an interrupting problem, but you know what I mean.)

Jeff and I at the wedding reception back in Cincinnati

I'm trying to think of anything else that has gone on or anything other deep thoughts I have pondered that I would like to share. I'm coming up blank right now. So I guess I'll end. Good night!