Wednesday, May 27, 2009

stop trying, just be

I really want to be joyful, to be positive, to have peace, to will myself out of this. I really, really do. But I feel so terrible. Miserable. And I am desperately trying to gain perspective. To know that He has a plan, to know that this will pass and be but a faint memory, to believe our family can get through this. Everyday when I wake up I try so hard to be optimistic.
And it hit me: maybe that is my problem, I am trying instead of just being. Just acknowledging that even though this is something we wanted and prayed for, a blessing, God's gift to also sucks. Not the baby, the sickness that comes from having the aforementioned bean living in my body. I have not really been able to get to the excited part yet. I am trying to not let being sick steal my joy. But it is hard. Like really hard.

After I woke up today, tried to eat, and proceeded to threw up everything in the sink (with an audience) I was discouraged and it was becoming toxic. I felt the shortness in my tone with Annikah, a dread about having to "waste" another day, and general irritability. I tried to breathe, I tried to eat (who am I kidding?), I tried to pray, I tried to reflect on all that I should be grateful for (and am, underneath this incredibly frustrated surface) but it did not help. No, I just had to stare in the face my ugly disappointment. I feel sad, bitter, and generally really crappy. I am sure it is in part hormonal but it just is.
Before experiencing pregnancy I used to think most pregnant women were milking it, exaggerating, or just plain sissies (don't worry payback is a .....). But I have repented of my evil ways and now acknowledge that it can be a wonderful, glowing, exciting time....or it can put the hold button on your life for a period. As much as I know "it is worth it" I just don't feel the glow at all, I am too busy blowing the stomach acid out of my nose.

But despite my foul deposition I know that this is not happening to me without God's knowledge. And that He is using it in my life. And that He uses everything for the good of those that love Him. I am holding on to that. I am realizing that even if I am sitting in a bed for months (please, no!) God still loves me, I am still the daughter of the King because I did not earn that title, I was adopted into it. And He does not love me less even though I am whining and slothful and generally feeling worse than wretched. It is just so hard for me to just be, I am a "do-er," it is just who I am am, I need to feel useful, to be doing and therefore feel that defines me. But even though I am praying this sickness ends like yesterday it is teaching me that even if I cannot "do" all the things I want to or need to, I am still me and I am still loved. By my friends, by my family, by my husband, my daughter, my savior.

And I have a lot to be thankful for.....
a local friend coming and just sitting with me and telling me she understands because she was so sick with her son, emails from home asking how you can help, a team mate making food for me and bringing it by, text messages from friends constantly checking in, girls in the children's program I used to help with sending me sweet emails, team members calling to check in and listening even when the news is still the same, an incredibly encouraging phone call from a stranger from Germany that had a pregnancy this bad and survived to tell the story, packages sent from friends who would be here in person if they could, a local friend coming by and then volunteering to take Anni on a dala dala ride and to visit with her family and later returning with an overjoyed and sugared up Anni AND food for us (fish and mashed least Jason and Anni enjoyed it), my mom repacking and running to any store I send her to with my latest idea of what I could eat, prayers from many faithful people, my husband becoming amazingly able to perform any household task with ease (and still loving me despite the enormous load he has taken on), Annikah giving me her blanket "for Mama feel better" when ever she hears me gag or cry, and His word, this verse that encourages me in this small (in comparison to many) trial...
" Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:14.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I need to preface this story by saying we have always taught Annikah the correct names for all her body parts. I have always felt there is no need to make up cutesy names like "pee-pee" just because adults blush at the thought of explaining said body part. Every part of our body is created by God and none of it is shameful. Now, I am sure my cheeks will redden when Anni actually asks me about the birds and the bees but for now we have always taught Annikah the correct names and will stick to that. Recently she has become more interested in knowing the names of everything, I think it is the part of the "why?" toddler thing. She wants to know every person's name we pass or anyone she sees in a book. The constant "Mama, what the name is?" is adorable but also tiring but we roll with it. Last night I was giving her a bath and she was narrating "I am washing my armpit, my tummy, my knee, my 'gina (vagina)" and then paused and said very proudly "mama, boys don't have 'ginas they have peanuts." Close, Anni. Almost.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

where things stand...

This little girl is going to be a big sister.....

To this lil' bean we have affectionately named mtoto mchanga
(Kiswahili for newborn baby, literally baby sand).

*other updates include that I am still as sick as a dog and basically move from the bed to the couch, to the toilet to throw up. Argh! We took a trip to the mainland to see a doctor and get some more foods we think will help. The great news is that the baby looks good, strong heartbeat and right on schedule for growth. The bad news is I have lost a bit of weight (normally WooHoo! but not so much right now, although I swear my pants are already does that happen?) So, the doctor there prescribed 3 different types of anti-nausea medications used in Europe, all 3 were a bust and the last one (the strongest) made me so loopy I could barely stand up AND it did not stop the nausea. So that was fun: I was just like a semi-comatose, drunk version of my puking self. Poor Jason! He continues to earn husband of the millennium award for taking care of Annikah and me. Other great news: My Mama and sister on on their way in a few weeks to give him a much needed break: yeah! We are ok, our team is amazing and helping with everything and I know this will pass. Sigh. For now, back to the couch and other slothful activities.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day: a rave & a rant

God is good. And He chooses to bless us with relationships. He created us for them. He is really good. Anytime I momentarily forget that I look at Annikah's curly ringlets of hair as she laughs, or feel my husband hand of reassurance and love on my back, or read a specially picked out card written by our family, or see the amazing smile of my friends here that transcends cultural differences.

We’ve experienced a big life change in our family in the past few weeks! Praise God that He has answered our prayer to conceive another child, as we’ve been praying and trying for 6 months. We are excited and happy for this new life and this new opportunity for relationship and we are certainly blessed! It is early, really early but when one thing is dominating your thoughts to not share it feels too weird to me. I know there is some sort of taboo in telling people before the 12 week mark but I just can't get with that. Especially since if something did happen I would need to share my feelings about that too. Writing here is sort of like my ongoing journal of my life, of what I learn, how I grow, why I am always screwing up, and what I experience, and well, that includes everything. Well, almost everything. It is just that other people happen to read it (which is still surprising to me :). I cannot write blog entries that fail to recognize this one huge new reality. It sort of feels like lying, or at least like cheating on you all. Strange, I know. So for Mother's Day I want to say thank you to my amazing Mama and my fabulous Mother-in-law. I learn so much from you and I pray that I can love my kids in the way you both do. And I want to announce I will be doing the Mama gig again.

So all of this is a huge rave! We are excited and a bit terrified not just because growing a human in one's body and then pushing said human out is a bit scary but because even though we are supposed to "know what we are doing this time" we are also sort of starting over since we have to figure out what this means in Africa. The timing comes at a point where I am accepting this place as home, we are feeling better about communicating in Kiswahili, and we are seeing real progress on the school. All great.

now the rant, at first we thought I may not be that sick as the symptoms were not terrible the first few weeks. However, over the past 3 weeks the sickness (all day, a man made up the term "morning sickness"), nausea, vomiting, weakness, etc has been really wreaking havoc on my body. And on my spirit. The only time I feel ok is when I am asleep, and even falling asleep has been a challenge given the way I am feeling. I have tried to take it easy, tried to eat different foods, and Jason has been doing all the work of taking care of Annikah and the housework since I cannot really do anything. I just feel worthless. And I know if I were reading this I would respond by saying "your body is telling you to rest" and "you have to not worry about doing and just be" but that does not make me feel any better. It actually makes it worse since I can be my own shrink on the whole thing. Especially given the hours I have spent laying in bed thinking....I worry I am starting to lose it. I am trying to will myself to eat, will myself to feel better. It is amazing how eating is such a simple thing but when you cannot do it it affects everything else in your life. It is becoming increasingly difficult to eat as most of the foods I feel like I can stomach are unavailable and the few things I might want here are ridiculously expensive on our island. Argh!

In additional to being a crappy wife and mother at the moment.....seriously Annikah watching 3 movies a day on the laptop is a little much, the part that is really weighing on me is that I also am not able to continue to build into the relationships I have developed here since walking in the heat is not possible (after a couple black outs at home, not serious only a few seconds but scary enough). I am still inviting visitors in most days but it is so difficult to be hospitable and to think in Kiswahili when feeling so drained. Just as with Annikah my brain is just not functioning properly, sort of like part has been disconnected. Most of the day my only thought is concentrating on not throwing up or gagging. This must be a common occurrence as Annikah even brought a little container from her duka and said "me like Mama" and proceeded to cough and gag into her container....what a legacy I am building. She is so sweet as every time she hears me throwing up she comes over and kisses my leg and says "you feel better Mama?" That is the stuff that makes it worth it.

Over the past 3 weeks I have spent most of my time praying for God to make the puking stop (or provide some serious drugs that will do just that), to give me the endurance to wait it out (seriously I am such a wuse, so many people deal with prolonged sickness and without the joy of a baby at the end), and for our team and the people here, and reading or watching things on the laptop.
As each day passes I feel increasingly helpless and hopeless. I can barely leave our house right now. The worst part is that last time I was pregnant I rarely craved any food at all (I was also very sick then) but this time I have many cravings and things I would love to eat but they are not available here. If we were back home I could get that Burger King chicken sandwich or Panera salad or any of the other number of things I feel like I can eat. Here I can’t even get access to lettuce most of the time! Yesterday I felt like eating sliced turkey so we drove to the only store on the island that has sliced turkey and we were even willing to get raped and pillaged at the price of about 8 bucks for 4 tiny pieces and they were out! Are you kidding me? I am sure at some point I will be able to laugh at all of this. That time is not now.
I have had several dreams about feeling like myself here with friends or being back at home but when I wake up and immediately feel like total crap I just feel so defeated. OK, I know I am pathetic. I am a pathetic slug on the couch. But I am hoping through letting everything out and asking any dear souls out there to say a prayer for us as we try to deal with this new reality; the blessing and the challenges.

So this Mother's Day I am both excited and exhausted and I want to give a shout out to all the amazing Mamas out there who love, nurture, and cherish the kids God blesses us with. It is a tough but rewarding job...even from the start.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

top tens

We have been missing home a lot recently but as we approach the one year mark of living here we were discussing some of the highs and the lows, the best and the worsts, and the result was the following top tens lists....

Top Ten things that are better in Africa:

10. You can never be too late!
9. beach days and swimming in the ocean anytime...oh yeah and wearing flip flops YEAR ROUND!!

8. getting gas and NOT having to get out of the car (it is especially hilarious when the attendants shake your car to get more in the tank) Also, being able to buy most anything from along the road; cell phone chargers, pictures for your house, fruit, ice cream; you name it and they sell it.

7. sinks in the dinning room (seriously this is brilliant for kids, why do we not do this?!)

6."butt washers" as we call them. They are little sprayers installed in many bathrooms since most people do not use toilet paper here they allow you to clean yourself after know........We think they are absolutely brilliant in giving that "so fresh and so clean, clean" feeling and we must agree with the Africans that simply using TP is pretty gross.
*TMI I know & it would not truly be an overshare without a photo:

5. fresh veggies and fruits (not genetically modified) sold everywhere!

4. Soda in refillable bottles for 20 cents a bottle. Although there is no formal recycling here everything is repurposed and used over and over again; it is amazing how resourceful people are!

3. Amazingly kind & welcoming friends, neighbors, and people. Always people to chat with and spend time with (as long as you can understand what they are saying:) The focus is always on people and relationships vs. just getting tasks accomplished. Very chill & laid back for us anal-Westerner types: we are learning a lot!

2. More time spent together as a family!! We see each other a whole lot more than we did running the "daily grind" back home.

1. learning the world is a whole lot bigger (at at the very same time smaller) that you thought it was.....

Top Ten things we miss desperately from home:

10. touching household appliances or anything metal without getting shocked

9. cheap take out food or any food that is reasonably fast

8. predictable power, or having power more often than not!

7. going to bed with jammies, socks, in flannel sheets and a comforter and STILL having the potential to be cold

6. Target...or the ability to know what you need, know where to get it, know the hours of said store, the ability to go anytime, easily find what you are looking for, and not have to barter for 30 minutes for said needed object and actually return home with what you needed.

5. Doing anything quickly (see #9,6)

4. access to reliable medical care (see all experiences last November)

3. Food, food, and food. Just to name a few things (not that we think about them ALL THE TIME or anything)...Mexican food (for those Chi-town folks Garcia's), proper juicy American burgers (for Jason), Chili's, Starbucks anything, Thai take out, Chicago style Pizza (we might consider petty crime for some Lou Malnati's), diet coke with lime or cherry (for Roxanne), Subway sandwiches (or any deli meat), boneless, skinless, hormone induced thick and juicy chicken breasts, milk that you actually would drink with cookies, snack foods.

2. Chicago....specifically bike rides and runs along the lakefront path, downtown, our friends, our church family, the food (did we already mention that?), inexpensive gas, the smell of fall, the crunch of leaves underfoot while pushing your daughter in her stroller with peppermint mocha in hand, the festivals in the summer, the lake, our condo, the library, park outings with other Roger's Park Mamas, holiday decorations, shopping in air conditioning, the El and public transportation where you get your own seat, the promise of spring after a long cruel winter, the noise and hum of too many people living in one place. Yes, we miss Chicago.

1. our dear family & friends...we miss you so much. Know that we think of you and pray for you often!