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Hanging in there.

I should write. Here, there, anywhere. It’s better than nowhere. It’s better than getting lost in a hailstorm of worry and anxiety in the few down moments I have during my day.

I guess somehow I was waiting for the crisis to end before I resumed my regular writing. So I quieted down during infertility, barely peeped during loss, kept tight lips during IUI and IVF, remained silent during a difficult pregnancy. I hardly breathed a word once she was born, and had two surgeries, and was hospitalized for 101 days.

And now we’re home and it’s all good but it’s not. She’s fine but she’s not. My career is on hold while I play full time nurse to my baby girl. It’s hard to talk to anyone because no one has been here and no one knows what it’s like except: my husband, our nurse friends from the hospital, and the various doctors and nurses at Children’s who are still coordinating her care. Oh, and the pharmacists at our infusion company. We’re totally tight.

The hardest parts are not: the g-tube and central line dressing changes. Mixing the PN and priming the lines and hooking her up to the pumps every night. Organizing the weekly boxes upon boxes of medical supplies. Taking her temp and girth and administering meds every six hours. Keeping up pet and personal care despite all that.

The single hardest part is the constant, overwhelming, all consuming… CONSTANT worry. Worrying every time you pick her up that you may tug on something. Worrying that her bowels aren’t doing well. Worrying that she threw up. Worrying about the plan of care you’ve devised for the week/day/hour/minute isn’t right. Worrying that she may never be free of all these things.

This is not typical parent worry. This is anxiety over the health and well being of my only, hard-earned, long-awaited child.

So yeah. That’s how I’m doing, how we’re all doing. Fine but stressed. Okay but worried. I don’t go into the details because it’s far, far too complicated. Instead I simply give a wry smile and say, we’re hanging in there.

Right now.

Right now, we’re sitting in our shared hospital room, both absorbed in our phones as we listen to our roommate’s family prepare to be discharged today. He was born only four days before Juniper and today he goes home.

Right now I’m still trying to absorb everything that’s happening to me, to my new daughter, to my husband, to us. I’m still trying not to feel the urge to cry every time I think about the fact that she needs another surgery in seven weeks. And that there’s a chance her bowel obstructions will be so bad that she’ll need even a third procedure and we’ll be here for many months more.

Right now I’m trying to find my way back to thankfulness and positivity, as Andreas and I vowed to do a few days ago. But it’s hard. To not feel sorry for us and envious of others. To not wish more than anything for my daughter not to have a non-functioning g-tube coming out of her stomach that caused her to throw up everywhere yesterday while Andreas and I tried to take a rare break from the hospital at home. And caused her to get her NG tube threaded back through her nose into her stomach.

To not wish she didn’t need the central line going straight into the center of her tiny chest, keeping her alive on liquid nutrition instead of the breastmilk I struggle to pump 8 times per day. It’s hard to ignore the urge to feed her, to hold her without the tubes and wires, to take her out of this place and let it be breeze and sunshine that furrow her brow, not the flicker of florescent light over her face or the annoyance of yet another group of vital signs being taken.

Right now I watch my husband watch over his daughter, paying meticulous attention to every aspect of her care, making mental notes for tomorrow’s rounds, protecting and loving her so fiercely that even I, who knows his heart better than any other, have been taken aback.

I watch my parents do their best to support and protect me as I’m hurdled against my will down this terrifying path.

I watch my daughter take it all in stride and patience. Her chubby cheeks, her perfect lips, her bright gray eyes observing all in calm wonder.

That’s what’s happening right now.

Boston.

I’m not sure what I can say that hasn’t been said so eloquently already. Should I preach my love for this city? The city where my parents met and fell in love, where my husband and I went to college, came of age and became adults? How we were steps from Fenway Park when the curse was reversed and afterwards during the riots?

Should I tell you about all the times I stood on the sidelines on many a glorious Patriot’s Day? Shouting “one mile, one mile!” with my friends as the race passed right by my first floor bedroom window on Beacon Street? How it could have easily been me standing there near the finish line, as we almost always wandered down that way as the race wound down? How it very almost was my coworker, standing 50 feet away from the second blast, or how my husband, a volunteer at mile marker seven on Monday, had been invited down to the finish line to welcome the runners?

I remember the exact moment I fell in love with Boston. It was one of the first times I drove alone in the city and I was going up Beacon Street from the Common toward Kenmore Square. It was late afternoon, in late spring, one of those first deliciously warm days of the year. The windows were down, the sun was pouring through the trees and around the brownstones and after four years of living there the city felt like home, like it was truly mine. And though I always felt comfortable here, even from my first orientation visit during high school, in that moment, it became home. I’ll never forget that feeling. It’s part of what keeps me here, more than five years after graduating from college.

Can I even begin to express the way this town, whether you’re from here or not, lifetime resident, college graduate or even one-time visitor, gets in your blood?

I think President Obama said it best today, when he said:

So whether folks come here to Boston for just a day, or they stay here for years, they leave with a piece of this town tucked firmly into their hearts. So Boston’s your home town, but we claim it a little bit too. I know this because there’s a piece of Boston in me. You welcomed me as a young law student across the river — welcomed Michelle too. You welcomed me  during a convention when I was still a state senator and very few people could pronounce my name right.

There’s so much I’ll never understand in this world. Violence, in any form. Voting against background checks when purchasing items designed to killPicketing funerals. Refusing equal rights to all individuals. These things I just don’t get and never will.

But there’s so much more good than bad. Boston will keep its arms open to all those who come here seeking history from its storied streets. To those who come seeking knowledge from its fine institutions. To those who come seeking healing from its renowned hospitals.

For me, it’s where my story started, where I learned, where I got married, and very soon, where my son will be born and healed. I couldn’t be more grateful for this city. And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

Film favorites from Acadia.

There’s a reason they call it photographer’s paradise. Behold, Acadia on film.

Acadia bound.

 

Oh hey there! Funny bumping into you here… Let’s just get the awkward stuff out of the way first. Yes, I’m alive. No, I haven’t forgotten you. Yes, I’ve missed you dearly and thought of you often. No, I’m not sure if I’m back for real or just for now. But love me while you’ve got me, will you?

This weekend… this weekend we’re headed up to Acadia National Park on the rocky Maine coast for a three day camping extravaganza. Why do I love camping so much? I. don’t. know. But when I think about waking up in a sleeping bag, slipping on some boots, and enjoying some coffee with the sunrise, my heart starts pounding a little.

So that’s where we’ll be. I plan to take lots of pictures (indulging my newfound film obsession), log some serious campfire hours, overdose on fresh air, and just generally forget about the world for a while.

………………………

In other news, I made another beach video. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

On struggle

Good Timber

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

by Douglas Malloch

***

Couldn’t have said it any better myself, Douglas.

West.

Here are some my favorites from our trip out West in March. Yes, I’m way behind on sharing my life. Is what it is. We started in Vegas, celebrating my dear friend from camp’s 30th birthday. Then on to San Francisco for tourist times, followed by Napa for another dear friend’s wedding. ‘Twas a lovely trip all around.

<3

In twos.

Ten years ago this November, my Nanny died. In Louisiana they call her my Nanny but here and most places, she would be called my godmother. She was my mother’s oldest sister and her role as Nanny to me and my cousins was one she took seriously.

To say the least, we were always very close. I have so many fond memories of visiting her and my grandmother every summer in New Orleans, how she would bring me everywhere, the zoo, the aquarium, the French Quarter, despite the overwhelming heat. How every Christmas, we’d go on a special date just the two of us to The Oaks at City Park to ride the rides and see all the pretty lights. I remember her singing me to sleep every night to “Baby Love,” in her beautiful low alto voice. Her untimely death in 2002 came as a shock to everyone and it’s something I still feel nearly every day.

After she died, we were going through her things and came across a green, spiral notebook that said on the cover, To Shelley Lena Greenberg. I never knew it but she had kept a journal for me of her thoughts on my babyhood and an account of family gatherings from my birth up through the first two years of my life. It starts, “Dear Shelley, I am writing this so that one day you will realize how loved you are and also know something of your family.”

It was a wonderful though eerie moment, finding that journal. It’s about 30 pages of her beautiful script. I don’t know why she stopped or why she never gave it to me, but I’m just glad we found it and now it is one of my most prized possessions. And last weekend, I got four of those beginning words of hers from the journal, in her oft-praised handwriting, tattooed just under my left clavicle. It looks like this:

I love it so much. Every time I think of it or catch a glimpse of it or brush its fresh bumpiness, I feel a rush of joy. I had been wanting those words on me for a while, but it wasn’t until Saturday that I realized exactly where and that I was ready. And in part, this desire to draw her and her immense love for me in close was fueled by the fact that last week we suffered another (very early) loss on our journey toward parenthood. I can’t figure out exactly why but in some way I just needed this tattoo, this second tattoo, to find peace and closure after this our second loss.

Here’s what it looks like when I’m more covered up. I love how it just coyly peeks out at you. Those pretty, pretty letters. Those dear words. I feel like the luckiest ever when I read them.

Bandwidth.


{Jamie Beck}

You know what’s weird? My back and forth, love and hate relationship with blogging. For the most part, I love it. The concept of it, reading other peoples blogs, and even a lot of the time writing and creating my own blog posts.  But then I go through these bouts of not wanting to blog. It’s not even not wanting, it’s not having anything to say. Sometimes it’s just physically not being able to bring myself to the keyboard to write.

I try to think about why that is. It’s not because things get busy. Things are always busy. I’ve blogged more during super busy times than I have during the slowest, dullest days of my life.

For a long time I thought it was a feeling happy vs. feeling low thing, with more blogging when I’m happy and less when I’m low. But I’ve blogged so much about the lower points in my life, I think that it can’t be that.

I think it has more to do with head space, and the amount that’s available for extemporaneous pursuits. It’s about how much mental bandwidth I have free, I think. Or is it emotional bandwidth? See now I’m torn. Maybe they’re one in the same.

Work has been going well lately. I’ve had to step up to the plate a lot more and I feel as if I’m really coming into my own. That’s not to say it isn’t stressful and I guess it’s the industry I chose to spend the majority of my days wrapped up in, but you never reach comfortable. You can’t ever really sit back and just be. It’s like Lucy and the chocolate factory. You can’t slow down for even a second or you’re screwed, and just when you think you’re getting the rhythm of things? The boss yells, Speed it up!

Not that I’m complaining, I’m grateful just to have a job. Grateful to live this nice, cushy life with my husband and my cat and my dog. Are things just exactly as I hoped they’d be at this moment? Gosh no. We’ve suffered quite a few setbacks in our master plan for world domination for life in general. But I guess I’m past the point of being angry about things. I’m at a place of acceptance, which is a beautiful place to be because it gives you the drive for action.

And gratefulness, what a lesson I’ve learned in gratefulness. To allow yourself to feel truly grateful in your bones for what you have, is to want what you  have. You know that saying? Want what you have. For so long it plagued me because I understood in it theory but I couldn’t feel it genuinely, in my soul. I wanted to feel it, but I also wanted so much more. SO much more. I’ve spent years feeling restless.

And now I know, you can have wants, you can want anything. But not having it won’t leave you feeling sad or anxious or frustrated or anything, as long as you feel grateful for your life and the people (and animals) in it, you’ll be okay. Funny how, as leery as I am about organized religion for so many reasons, gratefulness in prayer is the one thing I must say brings me peace.

My prayers go like this nowadays. Thank you for everything. I’d like for this to happen. But most of all, thank you for everything.

And I mean it.

Thanks for reading.

Resolved.

For 2012

I will take the best care of my body possible. I will listen to my body and I will hydrate, exercise, fuel, and rest it as needed. I will do all this while striving to accept my physical person in all its imperfect glory. I will seek the realization that it is enough, I am enough.

I will pay closer attention to sources of stress and anxiety in my outer environment and attempt to minimize them while striving to recognize that I cannot control other people, things or events, I can only control my reaction to them and their effect on me.

I will more carefully nourish and cultivate my relationships with the people in my life, friends and family, old and new, close and far. I will make bigger efforts to stay in touch while showing myself mercy when life gets in the way.

I will forgive myself more.

I will make space for the quiet. I will welcome it in and become intimately familiar with it. I will continue to learn how to tune out the “have to’s” and “should do’s,” if only for one hour per week.

I will take one step each day toward my future goals, be it reading one chapter, drafting one blog post, organizing one coffee date, or spending just five or ten minutes thinking forward.

I will aim to keep myself organized for I know I cannot have peace of mind without my finances and my house in order.

 

What will you strive to do in 2012?