Monday, December 19, 2011

birthdays and such

12/18/11 would have been my mom's 54th birthday.

and it was also piper's first christmas program.

okay, i love the way little kids perform at christmas programs. there are those positions that never change, even though the kids do.

there is always the kid that is SHOUTING the words to the song. usually, it's a boy. usually, he grows up to be the class clown.

there is always the shy little girl that has a beautiful voice, but is too quiet and scared to let it out. she usually ends up being the smartest kid in school.

there is always a group of kids that giggle the whole time. they usually end up being the "in" crowd.

and then there are the rest of the kids, that try to remember the motions, the words, the melody.

and they are all. so. damn. cute!!!!

piper did a great job.

Monday, December 12, 2011

dade man

in honor of my son's third birthday...some of my favorite pictures of him...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

consider the lilies of the field

today, i was accepted and received as a new member of emanuel lutheran church. almost my entire family was there, including my husband, son, dad, step-mom, and mother-in-law.

i feel incredibly lucky that in all the sin i have done and endured, that God has not forsaken me, but instead has led me to this wonderful house of worship.

my faith has always been there. i didn't grow up in a church-going household. there wasn't a lack of faith, just a lack of scheduled church time. my parents chose not to have us baptized when we were babies, as they wanted us to choose what religion or faith we wanted to follow. but we were raised christian. christmas was the most important holiday, and there were always prayers with meals and bedtimes.

i chose to be baptized when i was 18. i was baptized in a nazarene church, and this was the church that i attended with my grandmother. we went, on most sundays, in grandma's car with the radio playing country music. it was a very small church...not even having enough room for a central aisle. there were perhaps twelve pews, and the majority of the members were older than my grandmother. but it was a cozy house to worship in, and i remember being impressed with the theatrics of it all.

when i was in college, i attended sherman oaks christian church. this was a church i became involved with through a lady i worked with while i was working as a work-study at the office of the registrar at IU. i really liked socc, but communion was sort of...unimportant. well, it was important, and i suspect it was logistical, but the communion was passed throughout the congregation, as was the wine. there wasn't a presentation at the altar. the congregation at any given service was close to 500 people, and there were three services every sunday. so i understand the logistics of that...but to me, communion is meant to be presented directly from the ordained person. that's just my view on it.

during medical school, and residency, i didn't attend church. i made the excuse that i couldn't find one that i liked, but truthfully, i didn't feel i had time. i was selfish. i thought that i had enough commitments that i didn't want to dedicate more of my time to being away from my home/family/studies/whatever. so i didn't go. this was during the time of my mother's illness, and jay and i's difficulties.

i became very angry with God. i still don't know if that's okay for me to have done, but i did. i wondered why he took my mother away from me. why did he do that? she was a good and decent person, and i DESERVED to have her here with me. again...selfish. completely! but why was i being stripped of the chance to have her see me get married, have children, graduate medical school, give my children horseback rides, make cookies with them, read them bedtime stories. why me?!? why her?!? why then?!?

i didn't want to go to church. i knew, at that time, as i do now, that i won't know the answers until i meet Him, which will come in His time. my tiny human brain is not advanced enough to understand His timing or His intentions, nor do i really sit in a position to ask those questions. but that was something that it took me a long time to come to.

a friend of mine was attending a contemporary service of emanuel. her name is danielle, and she was also the babysitter/child care provider for my kids after i had dade. by then i was halfway through residency. i still wasn't ready to go, for whatever excuse i made to myself.

eventually, though, i went. and the very first service, pastor stecker made reference to one of my dad's favorite verses in the bible...matthew 6:28..."consider the lilies of the field. they toil not, nor do they spin. yet even solomon in all his glory was not adorned such as they."

how could it have been planned more perfectly if not for the Holy Spirit moving me to that service, that day, at that time? how truly great is He?

i was hooked, completely. i arranged to meet with pastor stecker, talk with him about my questions, about my faith, about my spiritual life. i attended service as often as i could. i even went to midweek service, since this was during lent. i began to see that instead of questioning, maybe the things that i went through were meant to teach me something...about myself, my faith, my blessings. instead of counting the ways in which He failed me, i began to count the ways that i was failing Him, and how no matter how much i failed Him, He was still always there. like a parent loves their child without end, so He loved me. He never left me, and He had never forsaken me. and while my mother won't have the opportunity to hold my children in her arms on earth, she will when we meet again in His presence. what a truly awesome concept.

because of this, we send piper to central lutheran school, which is affiliated with emanuel. there, she gets not only a Christ-centered education, but she has a love and knowledge of God and Jesus that i am only beginning to understand as an adult. she understands the triune nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit better than my adult and logical brain can wrap itself around. she knows the Lord's Prayer. she reminds me to pray at meals. it is amazing to see her flourish this way.

perhaps, this was all part of His plan. well, i know it is, but the "perhaps" comes from my feeble human mind. i truly hope that someday i can chat with Him about my journey to Him and with Him. and while i know that my faith and my spirituality is not right for everyone, nor would i push it on anyone, i know it is right for me. and i know that i am truly blessed to feel so at home in Him.

Friday, December 9, 2011

it's the most wonderful time of the year...

christmas has always been my favorite time of year...up until six years ago when mom passed away. however, finally, things are getting back to the way i remember feeling.

when i was little, there was a place "near" where we lived that decorated for christmas griswold-style. i was probably 6 or 7, and my mom, dad, sister, and i would pile in the car and go through and look at all the lights. i remember it being almost magical. dad would put on christmas music on the radio in the blazer, turn the heater up full blast, and roll down the windows so we could see the lights. it seemed to me, at that time, that there were sooooo many lights! the place seemed to glow with christmas spirit and magic.

i haven't felt that stirring of christmas spirit in the last few years. last year, it was better. i set out to make as many christmas cookies as possible. piper helped, and it truly was a lot of fun.

i want our family to have tradition like we had when i was growing up. every thanksgiving, we put up the christmas tree after our post-turkey naps. dad's "hero" was clark griswold, and every year he set out to outdo himself on the exterior illumination. on christmas eve, we'd all sit on the couch, in our jammies and slippers, and read the christmas story from the bible. the bible we had used to be my grandma' dad's mom...and it was weathered, and beaten, and loved, and used. that's what i loved about that bible. we'd put out cookies for santa and carrots for the reindeer. and we'd go to bed.

and inevitably, we'd be awake at 1am, excited to open presents. and my parents never fussed. we'd slept only two hours...sometimes mom and dad hadn't even fallen asleep yet! but never did they fuss, never did they make us go back to bed without opening presents. and no matter how many presents were under the tree, i always remember feeling grateful.

we didn't grow up with lots of worked in a factory for as long as i can remember, and for a long time, mom stayed home. it was cheaper to stay home than to work and pay for day care. i remember times when dad would get laid off and have to collect unemployment. i remember once mom got a job at kmart as a cashier while dad was laid off. i remember him working construction on parkview hospital when he was laid off. but christmas was always magical, even if it was just socks and underwear and one toy. it was special.

this year, my sister and her husband came over, and we decorated the tree. with christmas carols in the background. with the dog running under our feet. with the kids laughing and squealing. and it was magical again. and i felt bittersweet, wishing mom could be there, but feeling so blessed at the same time because i can share this with my kids and she shared with us. and knowing that God is there, amidst our laughter, probably smiling with us.

last night, we took the kids to the fantasy of lights, which is a 1.5 mile long trail through a park and there are 75 displays of lights. and we piled into our car, kids in jammies and slippers and under blankets, heat on full blast, christmas music in the background, chicken nuggets and fries in fists, windows down...and i was again immersed in christmas magic.

i am so blessed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

if i was a superhero...

if i was a superhero, i'd like to think i'd be on the side of good...fighting evil, fighting for the underdog. and in the movies, good always prevails over evil.

lately, though, i have felt the darkness creeping inside of me like it did before i got on the medicine. i don't have anything to feel dark about, other than the ache for my mom. but that's not enough to sway me from the side of good.

if i had a superpower, it would be superfaith. i have faith, but it seems that i need stronger faith. actually, i think i lack grace more than faith. so instead i would have supergrace.

maybe my superhero name would be Grace.

Monday, December 5, 2011

sleep deprivation

sleep deprivation is awful.

don't get me wrong. when piper and dade were very small, i used to loathe being sleep deprived. but there was something special about being the one that sat with them, in the dark, in the quiet of the night, humming songs or smoothing their hair. i didn't mind that sleep deprivation too much, because, in the end, there was a contentedness there.

sleep deprivation without the feeling of comfort is not the same. i have a hard time sleeping because my mind wants to constantly think of things to keep me awake.

the toll of sleep deprivation is a weird sort-of semi-conscious state. it's where i'm sitting right now. people pay money for this kind of feeling.

on mornings such as this morning, where dade didn't sleep all night for longer than 15 minutes in a stretch, i actually fantasize about going to bed early. is that weird? i think to myself..."i'm sooo going to bed at 8pm tonight!"

and then the day rushes by, and so does the evening, and suddenly it's 653pm, right now, and there are a million things left to do.

my favorite robert frost poem says..."and miles to go before i sleep." sleep will have to wait. the deprivation is replaced right now with a different kind of comfort, the shouts of excitement and peals of laughter coming from my children playing in the living room.

God always finds a way to comfort us, even if it's just a comfort from lack of sleep. ah, well, maybe bedtime won't be 8pm tonight. whenever it is, i'll fall asleep with the man i love and say my prayers that i have what i have.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

no regrets

these are why i have no regrets.

these are how i know God exists, and moves in my life.

just like mom

my shower is my sanctuary. if you're a parent, you know. sometimes the only quiet time you have is those five or ten (or, in my case 20) minutes of shower time. i do a lot of my thinking in the shower. most of the time, at 530am, it doesn't make a lot of sense. but on occasion, when i hit the shower in the mid morning after my cup of coffee, it does make sense.

on my mind yesterday was a patient of mine. S is a patient of mine in her fifties that has stage 4 cancer. she has tried chemo, surgery, etc, and despite our hope for remission, it evaded her. i went to see her at her home last week. she is on hospice.

just like mom was.

she laid there, in her hospital bed, in her living room, and smiled. dog on her lap. and smiled.


just like mom did.

i struggled to keep a chipper attitude. we discussed things very candidly. her husband and two sisters were there. thankfully, every one of them is on the same page. there are to be no heroic measures.

she told me she loved me.

just like mom did.

we laughed. we cried. and i tried to hold it all together. i gave them my cell phone number. that way they could call, anytime, without being transferred to the on call physician. i kissed her forehead, hugged her husband, and walked to my car in the rain. i drove away, honked twice, and cried the entire way back to the office.

just like i did, the last time i left mom's apartment.

why did i choose this profession? i believe God is teaching me something. why is S still alive? because i believe she is teaching me something.

just like mom did.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

my daughter

my daughter is five years old. five is better, and harder, than four. i find that with every birthday she has, it gets easier, and more difficult.

the story behind piper is...well, complicated. by far she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

piper is not my biological daughter. having said that, i can't imagine my life without her. she was conceived at a very pivotal point in my life, a point in which, to be truthful, i felt sort of hopeless. my mom had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, i was in medical school, i lived away from home, my sister was 3000 miles away in hawaii. and i went through this huge thing with jay that just...sucked. however, piper came, and when she was born, she looked a lot like jay. there was a small question whether she was his, just in the timing of all of this, but when she was born, i knew.

mom passed away three days after christmas before piper was born.

i was in medical school, like i said. i abused my privilege as a medical student to get into the NICU, where she had to stay for the first few days of her life. she was born at 41 weeks and weighed only five pounds. her mother hadn't taken very good care of herself during her pregnancy, and piper had such a tiny cry...there was worry that she was born with a chromosomal disorder or something. so i wore my short white coat and presented my ID badge as i walked into the NICU with jay. i looked her over, and i picked her up. i held her and i immediately handed her to jay, and it was an overwhelming sight to see. she was his, i just knew.

as it turns out, she was his. the paternity test said so, although that was only needed for legal reasons, because she looked a lot like him. she also was fortunate enough to have normal blood work, despite our worries. and thank God. and i wonder sometimes if my mom had something to do with all of that, and all of this.

and despite the way that she was conceived, but because of the therapy i was going through, jay and i went through with our wedding plans.

during the first few months, we only got to have piper once or twice a month. this continued on until we moved from indianapolis to fort wayne. some stuff went on with piper's bio mother, and we sued for custody in february 2008. we found out we were pregnant with dade in march.

our custody hearing was in april, and we were granted full custody (with her bio mom having visitation every other weekend). how great is God!

the most important things about all of this are:
piper has always known she has two mommies and two daddies and that we all love her.
she has always called me "mommy."
the love i have for her outweighs and outshadows the circumstances of her conception and birth. i didn't believe that would ever happen...believing that they would always be equal. but the more i love her, the more it doesn't matter where she came from. it doesn't matter that she doesn't carry my chromosomes. (maybe she won't get my foot structure then!) i am still medicated, but not self-medicated, and not with medication that helps feelings of hopelessness. i know that i am truly blessed, and i can see it now.

i still don't know how we will explain her conception to her when the time comes. right now, she understands that she was born from her bio mom. she understands that she lives here. but i don't know what we'll do when it becomes more than that.

piper, six months old

piper, 1 year old

piper, 2 years old

piper, 3 years old

piper, 4 years old

piper, 5 years old

my husband

my husband is my favorite person in the world.

there isn't anyone else on this planet that would put up with my line of nonsense like him. and he does it without question, and without too much griping. some griping is normal, of course.

we've been together for nine years. that's almost a third of my life.

i find myself in awe, and humbled, when i think of what he has brought to my life. he knows...whether it's a look, a touch, a hug. he knows what i'm thinking, what i want to say, how i feel, and what i want.

he is my best friend. our relationship isn't perfect, but it's perfect for us. and i hope that it always stays that way.

something that my husband has taught me is communication. now, that's not to say that we just say anything we please to one another. but he has taught me the importance of speaking to each other about our concerns, our thoughts. and he has taught me not to be afraid of my opinions. there was once a point in time when i was afraid of what i thought...afraid of being judged, afraid of confrontation.

he has watched me change over the years into the person i am today. there are parts of me that used to be there that aren't anymore, good and bad. but without question, he accepts me, he has taught me so much, and he has enriched my life. i'd be lost without him. and i love him to the depths of my soul.

my son

my son will be three years old in 9 days.

how did this happen? how did the time go so quickly?

seems like he was just born...

and now he is huge...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hello...My name is Rebecca...and I'm a...

wife, mother, and physician. the background story is long and tedious, but at the heart of all that i am is my faith. my faith has been tested, by me, a few times in the past, but it's always been there. i've finally gotten to a point where i've accepted not only my faith, but myself. my strengths, my weaknesses, my idiosyncracies.
i'm at a lost, kind of, as to how to start my blog. but i want this to be a place where i can share my experiences...maybe even offer a few insights about medicine, about my family, and about how i deal on a daily basis with things that i encounter...which i'm sure are not all that different than other mothers or christian women. so i guess i'll just start with some basics.
i was born the oldest of two girls to two working class parents that loved me without end. my dad worked in a factory for my entire life and ended up retiring at the age of 47 or so.
i lost my mom to lou gehrig's disease when i was 25. i loved my mom, and still do. she was my best friend. i still struggle to find friends that can live up to the candle i hold for her. she didn't get to see me married, or pregnant, or as a mother, or as a wife, or as a physician. she didn't get to be there when i graduated, or when i wore my wedding dress. i rely on descriptions and stories told by my family, and i try to pass on to my children what a neat, yet imperfect person she was. i hope that i make her proud.
my dad has always been my greatest cheerleader, and we are extremely close. i can talk to him about anything, and though we don't talk as much as i would like simply due to scheduling issues, i love him to this day and still call him daddy.
my husband, jay, and i have known each other almost our whole lives. i met him in the first grade, went to grade school, junior high, and high school with him. he comes from a slightly different walk of life than i do, but we both were raised as working class kids and we hold many of the same ideals about work-ethic, child-rearing, etc.
he and i have been together as a couple for nine years, as i'm writing this. we're getting ready to celebrate our 10th christmas together. we have had our tough times, especially in the year that i was 25. that's when our daughter was conceived. our daughter, piper, is not my blood daughter, and this was also the time that my mother was dying. there was a lot of therapy that occurred, and i went through a period of self-medication. right or wrong, it made me who i am today. i don't carry a torch for that time, and i also wouldn't change it...because if not for those things, i wouldn't have piper.
our daughter piper is one of the most spirited individuals i've ever met. she teaches me on a daily basis to be patient, to laugh, to curb my anger, and to show my love. she's one of the best things that ever happened to me.
our son dade is one of the funniest people i know. he is all boy, and he is kind-hearted and smart and such a neat individual.
i move about 900 mph, and i'm not happy unless i have 10 things going on at once with my hair on fire. to that end, i can become irritable and agitated and i take my anxiety out on those around me. i am medicated to curb this, and i gain insight on this on a daily basis. i don't want my husband or my kids to remember me as the "mommy that yelled all the time." i struggle with this, but i guess that's the way the Lord made me. i'm human. what can i say?
i have the most beautiful sister in the world, and she has recently married what i believe is her soul-mate. because my dad has remarried, i also have the most fabulous stepmom, and three stepbrothers that pick on me like i'm their own. and i love that.
my in-laws are a very unique group of individuals. i will likely talk about them frequently, as they make me laugh and remind me that it takes every kind of individual to show me life's and the Lord's possibilities.
i know that i'm incredibly blessed. and i thank God every day. i am Lutheran...i finally feel i have found a church that i've been looking for my entire life. i belong to a church named emanuel lutheran church, part of the missouri synod. my church strengthens my faith, answers my questions, and makes me ask even more questions. i thirst for knowledge in my faith. my daughter has the same thirst for knowledge, in faith and in school, that i always possessed.
i guess, in all, i'm a unique individual that has a lot of the same attributes as anyone else. like i said before, i'm human.