Wednesday, August 30, 2006

And Then She Had Another Good Cry

The feedback from my last blog entry has been phenomenal. Thank you, thank you. Your encouragement and grace has been a balm for my weary spirit. I found myself awake last night at 3:00 or so (after my fifth trip to the bathroom) writing blog entries in my head again, something which hasn't happened as often, but seems to have returned (of course I was too lazy to walk downstairs and get my laptop...but rest assured, the laptop will be within easy reach if the insomniac fairy strikes again tonight.)

The bottom line I suppose is...I'm just going to keep writing, and sorting through feelings, and trust that if someone doesn't want to read, they just won't read. Who knows where the Spirit will lead us.

[I just wrote a whole paragraph here about the fatigue factor and the seasicknessy queasies, etc, etc, and somehow accidentally erased it, or the mystery of the blogging universe somehow deemed it imagine it here...moan, whine, moan, thankfulness for it not being worse, sigh...there, it's as if it was never gone.]

This evening I took a tepid bath (pregnancy tip: the pregnancy gurus are not so keen on those scalding hot baths I really like...) with some sweet smelling bubble bath (or, it was sweet smelling until I became a little green at the thought and smell of all things soapy). I lay in the bathtub, my neck perched against a bath pillow and took a few deep breaths, and then out of nowhere began to sob. I cried and cried, biting a washcloth to keep from having the girls hear me downstairs.

My tears were nostalgic ones for I realized, in that soapy abyss some of the truths of my existence anew. I come from a long line of women bathers. My grandmother took a bath each night, often with lavender bath oil and I still remember the clean smell and the fogged steaminess of the bathroom on 38th Street after she'd come back out to watch 20/20 with me on Friday nights, trailing talcum powder with each step she took, her hair a little wet on the ends. My mother recently acquired her dream...a whirlpool bathtub where she can soak in her Apricot bath salts until her toes and fingers get pruney. When I was a little girl I would come in and sit on the toilet while my mom took her bath. And it seemed as if our conversations were somehow more sacred as our words reverberated off the tile walls and drowned out the noise of splashing water.

As I lay in the bathtub this evening, with my belly just beginning to poke out from under the bubbles, I thought about this new life I'll usher into the world. I wonder whether she'll be a bather too, or whether he'll make bubble beards on his chin. She or he is another link in the chain, another piece of the genetic puzzle, another step closer to the divine as this world continues to unfold and create itself with the Spirit's urging.

I miss my grandmother. I miss her profoundly. She would have loved this time. She would have loved the waiting and the anticipating and the baby showers and the offering of advice. She loved babies, and she loved me, her baby, with unconditional acceptance. This baby would not exist, in part, without her--not only for the obvious reason, that I would not exist without her--but because the fertility treatments I have undergone have cost money, money which R. and I did not have. Money which was ultimately an inheritance from my grandmother, but given in an act of tremendous generosity from my mother and step-father. If the baby is a girl, her name will be Ella, which is, in addition to being R.'s mother's birth name, a derivation of my grandmother, Ila's name.

At night, the light which shines in our upstairs hallway was the nightlight that shone at my grandparent's house from my earliest memories. I like to imagine her leading me through the darkness, and I recognize that somehow she still surrounds me, as soothing as the water which I soak in every night.

But it doesn't ease the sense of emptiness I sometimes feel at knowing she'll never hold my baby in her arms. And tonight I miss her fiercely.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On Why I Haven't Blogged...

I apologize a million bazillion times for those of you who have sent me personal emails saying, "Uh, excuse me, what's going on?" Because it isn't fair to leave people hanging on a thread in the first trimester of pregnancy. Before I go any further, let me assure you (and myself again) all is well, and like the medieval mystic woman (which one, Hildegard? Julian? Catherine?) said, "And all will be well..." That's sort of my pregnancy mantra.

My reasons for not blogging are myriad. The first is my utter EXHAUSTION (personal aside: in those pregnancy books that you can buy at your local bookstore, those ones with reassuring pictures of duckies and contemplative pregnant women sitting in rocking chairs looking saintly, they, the wise gurus of maternity, talk about how, oh, you may feel a little fatigued in early pregnancy. This is like saying that George W. is a little bit inept as a president. Get the picture?).

But more than the exhaustion, is that I don't know what this blog will be right now. I began writing as an outlet for my spiritual quest as a hospice chaplain, and I'm finding myself feeling a little sheepish at how little attention I feel I have for anything other than our family (those who are here, and he or she who will be arriving in April). And, I don't know how interested this readership is in hearing me wax poetic about the changes which pregnancy is bringing. There's part of me that says, "You know, women have been dropping kids into this world for ever and ever, it's not that revolutionary just because it's you, Christen."

I hesitate about becoming a "Mommy blogger," not because I don't find the blogs of Mom's to be phenomenally insightful and downright hilarious, but perhaps because I don't know if my writing is ever in the league that there's could be (i.e. dooce and amalah, etc.). Or perhaps because this role is still so new to me.

And on the contemplative front, I guess I feel like a contemplative sham. Perhaps I don't think I'm worthy of writing under this title, when I feel as if I have become the anti-contemplative. I'm simply too overwhelmed to do any reflecting.

So, there's my rambling wanderings which I've been playing with in my mind...and it feels better to have them in print. Even if I don't have any answers yet.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Guess I'll Have to Make Shelby An Honest Woman

Because we saw the heart beating today on ultrasound.

I've never seen a more beautiful blob on black and white screen in my life.

Friday, August 18, 2006

And Now I'll Have to Change My Blog Title...

Here's a Jeopardy question for you, the $1000 question in the topic "Overwhelming Encounters."

Q: What is...the event which combines the characteristics of a Spanish Inquisition, a therapy group, a job interview, an ordination committee, a spiritual direction session, and the most intense CPE supervisory session?

That's right, friends. I spent my morning in a chaplaincy conference room in Indianapolis being interviewed, grilled, understood, challenged, weakened, strengthened, stretched. I was prepared for a grueling experience, but I'm not sure I was aware of how exhausting it could be while six weeks pregnant. I walked into the meeting repeating, "They won't make me cry. I will not cry." And, lo and behold, when challenged on whether or not I "hid behind my words" in my spiritual autobiography, I found myself choking up a bit as I spoke of my reluctance at times to feel secure offering spiritual support to my patients when so often I feel untethered myself. Sometimes, or often, I don't touch that sadness or doubt within. And, well, that's when I had to swallow some tears.

I am not good at allowing myself to be nurtured. This amazing group of chaplains saw through my bullshit, and claimed me as one of their own. They heard my doubts and fears, and named me as worthy. It made me ache, but it challenged me to grow.

Oh, and I now get to add those three magic letters B.C.C. after my name, because the certification committee "passed" me. But moreover, they made me feel not so alone. And that made all the difference.

So am I now the Certified Contemplative Chaplain? Nah...too wordy.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Grumpy, Part Deux

And continuing on from yesterday's post, the one about grumpiness... Here is today's realization.

If you are the peppy activity director at a nursing home, it would be wise for you not to snap and crack your gum in such a way that it irritates the highly sensitive pregnant lady seated three feet to your right, lest she do something with that gum which would render you an identical twin to Dumb Donald in the Fat Albert cartoons. Just a thought.
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But really, for all my bitching and moaning and grumping. I am doing well. And I am utterly thankful for doing so well. I promise I'll be back to more routine bloggage soon, and won't become someone who is so utterly transfixed on her pregnancy that she forgets the rest of life. It's just for now, I'm called into a bit of a quieter place...and for some reason I feel as if I've lost any vestige of creativity I once had, so writing feels a bit laborious. God save the poor Huntington congregation which I fear are hearing some mighty shitty sermons of late.

More soon...thanks all, for your prayers and kind words. Even if I am a little testy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


So far, I have very few symptoms of early pregnancy. Which mostly make this hypochondriacal maniac fear she's mere moments away from a miscarriage any if they'll take away my honorary postitive pregnancy test and say, "Sorry, ma'am there's been a mix-up here." Most people tell me to be thankful that I'm eating like a horse and craving only canned green beans (canned, dammit, they must be canned!) and watermelon. But, I am always wondering, wondering, worrying, wondering.

I do seem to have one clearly discernable symptom of pregnancy though...grumpiness. I am Grumpy (note the capital "G"). Today I had to deal with an asinine nursing home who weren't giving a patient her Ativan on time, and thus the patient was noticeably and understandably edgy and scared. I found myself clenching my fists in rage as I tried to be oh-so-polite to the nurse who was gossiping with her co-workers instead of doing her job and who made my patient wait 50-fucking-minutes despite the daggers I was staring at her across the dining room as I spoon-fed Betty her oatmeal between her panicked sighs. And then, there was the driver who was tailgating me in the Hummer as she talked on her cellphone incessantly. I refrained from giving her the, what I deemed appropriate, gesture. And instead demonstrated my wrath by driving really, really slow in a no-passing zone. Take that, Hummer-Lady! And I won't even go into the fact that my Martha's Vineyard salad at Arby's was lacking in red delicious apple slices. I realized I was muttering under my breath, "Where are the damn apples?" only because my colleague started laughing at me.

All this is to say that hell hath no fury like a newly pregnant woman whose scared out of her mind that she won't stay this way.

And now, dear readers, I'm off to soothe my mind with a bath and a cup of chai. In the meantime, be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I Know, I Know

I know...I've been quiet. So distant. You must ask, "Is it something I said?" I drop important news on you in a cryptic way and then am so silent...

Sorry. All is well. Just contemplative. Lots to digest this week.

Forgive me for not talking more about the big news that we dare not name. I promise in time I will spill all the "he saids" and "she saids" and details of the drama that is unfurling even as we speak within my body, but it still is just so early. And I am such a nervous Nellie that I worry about "jinxing" it by saying more. Once we hit that golden milestone, or hear that first heartbeat perhaps it'll feel more comfortable to write freely.

So...I hold hope. And I marvel at feeling so good.

Thank you all for your kind messages and greetings. You calm me and nourish me with your words.

Other big news at Chez P-M. The dog got a new middle name. Every year it has become a habit in our family, I believe a tradition gleaned from another branch of R.'s family, to add a middle name to the dachshund's already elaborate title. It's sort of a rite of passage. She will officially be crowned with the full name of "Maisie May Weinerschnitzel Butt-whirler Frito Feet Pettite Miller." The newest name aquired for the penchant she has of smelling as if she just tiptoed through a bag of corn chips. And you're wondering how it is I've kept this news from you for so long!?!

I promise more bloggage this week. I'm just now getting my brains back after a week long mind lapse as I sat in slack-jawed wonder meditating on how much has changed in one week's time.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


"Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her."
--Luke 1:45

Cautiously, gently I say, "Thanks be to God."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Futher proof that I need a child...

And these words were spoken and heard in my house tonight.

Conversation (or rather admonition) recorded at 7:56 p.m. on Strathdon Drive:

Contemplative Chaplain: Moses! Moses, STOP IT! No...Moses...quit messing with Mommy's hope...(30 second pause)...Moses. Leave Mommy's hope alone. Leave it. Moses! (Loud hissing noise made by me)...Moses. You are a bad, bad boy for messing with my hope. That's Mommy's hope, that's not your hope.

Explanation: On Monday I decided it would behoove me to have a few more visual cues to represent my need to hold hope when I feel desolate. To that end, I bought several beautiful polished stones with the word "hope" etched into them. I've placed them in strategic places...above the sink where I can see it washing dishes...on my worship center in my to my my computer...on my desk at the office...

The problem is that Moses, my gray-and-white spitfire of a cat believes that these stones were created especially for him as cat-styled hockey pucks to knock down with his white paws at random and try to scoot across the floor.

Hope, apparently isn't hard to come by when you're a 20lb. tomcat. All you have to do is knock it around a bit.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

On Not Crying

I don't cry. Not so much. I gave up crying that day in March of 2005 when, after not being able to stop crying for 6 weeks in the shower every morning while mourning the sudden death of my beloved grandma, I realized I needed some additional pharmaceutical assistance. And thus, the Lexapro. Which has mostly been a great thing, but which keeps me from crying. Most of the time. Which I hate, as I am a crier. I am one of those people who in my natural, non-medicated habitat cry while preaching sermons, while watching loved ones say goodbye to the dying, while witnessing a phenomenal sunset (trite as that sounds), and during many Hallmark commercials (ditto the trite). But with Lexapro...well, I stand detached and I watch (sort of like Peter Sellers in that one movie where he's the gardener, entitled Being There where he says, "I like to watch" in an endearing, nerdy, and not-stalkerish at all sort of way).

The not crying has it's many positives. I actually do my work, rather than fretting about my work. I actually step out of myself and stop panicking about what I would do in this situation. I actually make it the way it should be, less about me and more about the patient, imagine! I actually get up on mornings when I used to wallow in the dark and ponder the dark existence of the ominous scary things awaiting me in the world...student loan interest rate increases, butt saggage, possible infertility, the step-mothering angst, not fulfilling my potential, global warming, and the chance that somone may not like me or that my Greek neighbor's dementia will become so severe that he and his adorable wife will have to move out of their home, thus disrupting the rightness of the universe on Strathdon Drive (see, it is all about me in my non-Lexapro induced state, isn't it?).

BUT...and you knew this was coming, didn't you sweet blogees? The tears, I miss them. The tears connected me to so much of myself, and I feel like I lost parts of me to find parts of me, if that makes sense. I get homesick for my tears, and while I know that I will return to that part of myself in time, that there will be a wonderful time when life feels stable enough to reenter my non-medicated state (like when I'm not struggling with infertility woes), it still gets lonely on this side of the veil.

So, I wrote all this, and what I really wanted to write was: I cried tonight when I read the Church of the Brethren's account of their every-four-years National Youth Conference where 3,000+ youth stream into Colorado and do what youth do best...exude, shine, brighten. Y'all, I am a cynic. I am such a cynic, and yet when I read the accounts of what the future of the CoB holds I find myself whispering, "Yes, oh my God, yes." And the tears feel good on these dry cheeks.