Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ready. Or Not.

People keep asking me lately if I'm "ready."

The go-bag is packed, the nursery furniture is in place (except decorations--those can wait. Everyone knows the baby doesn't care anyway...), the car seat base is installed, finals are DONE, Christmas presents are wrapped and shipped, I have six meals in the freezer, and Isaac asks me every day if I'm in labor yet.

38.5 weeks. For those that missed this on FB
Um, yes, those are pajama pants...

But are we READY? I'm...ready to be done with pregnancy, even though I've enjoyed it overall. (I also enjoy sitting on the couch with a pillow behind my back and my feet up. Delicious. Why did I used to like exercising so much?). I think being pregnant is the most fulfilling and miraculous thing I've ever done with my life. Also, I am convinced the whole "I didn't know I was pregnant" thing is a quack. A foot in your ribs is NOT indigestion.

I've also had plenty of distractions:

A baby shower

These amazing people (and some others not in the picture) threw me a shower after knowing me only a few months.
Bless them.

A lovely visit from Isaac's younger brother & his wife and baby boy
We definitely forgot to take pictures with them.
Because that's the way I roll.

And, of course, school, which I have loved. I can tell you how to manually assess for meningitis, kidney stones, appendicitis, tennis elbow, and a torn ACL. I can also tell you about most of the things that can go wrong in childbirth that I'm currently worrying about, and about 60 diseases I'd prefer that our child not have. These things may or may not keep me up at night.

But are we READY?

I don't think that's possible. But we are so excited and so happy to have this chance.

I guess we'll wing it when she gets here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


A few weeks ago I passed a huge life milestone.

I turned 30.

Sheesh, that is still a little surprising to see in print.

I made a goal long ago to never complain about my age. I hate it when other people do that. Why is it taboo to say the words, with head ducked in shame, "I am 53." That's not embarrassing, it's amazing! Some people never even make it out of childhood.

And yet, I found myself feeling a tad apprehensive about the approach of a new decade. Because, let's be honest, the 20's are some pretty good years. Most people are healthy, energetic, idealist, fun, and, often, a shade irresponsible. (Sometimes more than a shade).

But once that grand threshold from 20-something to 30-something is crossed, there is no going back. You are, unequivocally, a grown-up. And there's no going back.

I have found great comfort in reminding myself that other people I know/admire have also crossed this great divide. My parents. My two older brothers. Abraham Lincoln. Charlton Heston. I am not alone.

Aside from becoming a grown-up (and by the way I really feel like I should get a certificate in the mail or something, so I feel more legit), I'm not sure why we make birthdays harder than they need to be. Is it regret over lost opportunities of the past decade? A mourning for our fleeing youth? Jealousy for people that are younger are perhaps more attractive/skinnier/boasting fewer grays? Well, they will cross the threshold too. And then they'll be jealous of the younger people. It's a vicious, pointless cycle. As for my fleeing youth, I enjoyed being young, but I'm not sure I want to go back. I'm a better person now. I've learned stuff. My younger self kind of bugs me. I'd rather cut ties and move on as Camber 3.0.

Here is a rough photo timeline of my 20's. Digital pictures from college are a little scanty, because yes, I used film back then (gasp). 

Engaged! 2006
Disneyland 2007

Mount Timpanogos 2008

Homecoming 2009
Zion 2010


32 weeks pregnant
And 30 years old

As for regret for lost opportunities of the past decade, there are lots of cool things it would have been fun to do (cruise, sky-diving, African safari minus the stampeding rhinos and risking exposure to a sketchy African disease, etc.), I also feel like I packed in a lot of great things:

becoming an EMT and volunteering with BYU EMS
picking a major
learning Spanish
studying abroad in both Mexico and Argentina
running a full marathon (without blisters!)
graduating from college and becoming an RN
marrying Isaac (awwwwwwww.....)
working as a nurse for 5 1/2 years
helping lots and lots of people in pain
causing lots and lots of people pain (usually with needles)
traveling to Hawaii, Disneyland, the beach, Washington D.C., Chicago, Nauvoo, and Boston
hiking lots of mountains
moving to the midwest
surviving a midwest blizzard
moving to Cincinnati
and, most exciting (after marrying Isaac), being pregnant

I'm not doing this to brag (although I am proud of picking a major. That was traumatizing) but to express gratitude for a chance to be alive 10 more years. Also it makes me feel like the last 10 years were productive.

Because mostly I just feel like they went too fast.

Monday, October 1, 2012

On grad school, moms, and pregnancy

World, no cause for alarm, Camber and Isaac are still here. And Camber is taking a studying hiatus to bring you this update:

On grad school:

I never thought this possible, but I stayed out of school long enough that now that I'm back, I love it. 

I feel like everything I'm learning is so interesting. Being pregnant makes it more so. The other day I read a giant chapter on breastfeeding. After we had an hour lecture about what to do with a kid with a fever. Another day I learned the history of stethoscopes. Sometimes I don't understand why anyone would want to study anything else.

I have decided that studying to be a nurse practitioner will either make me a super mom, always knowing when to take my kids to the ER and when to tell them to cowboy up, or else it will make me a quivering bag of nerves, thinking through every obscure (and potentially fatal) disease that could be causing their sniffles. Considering how I've handled pregnancy, I'm inclined to think I'm doomed to the latter.

I've also spent some time comparing this experience to undergrad. So far the biggest difference seems to be that I haven't fallen asleep in class yet this time around. Even during 3-hour lectures. It's possible it has something to do with sleeping 8 hours at night now, instead of 5-6 like I did in undergrad...

On Moms:

In other news, we've had both of our moms out to visit. That means TWO trips to Skyline Chili, TWO trips to Graeter's ice cream, TWO trips to Jungle Jim's International Market,
Jungle Jim's deserves a blog post of its own, but I'll settle for  this--
the worlds' awesomest bathroom entrance. Inside is a normal (nice, in fact) bathroom.

and TWO trips to natural bridge state park.

Isaac's mom and I, at our sporty best.

My mom and I at the park

Underneath the natural bridge. It's no Arches in Southern Utah, but still pretty awesome.

On TOP of the arch. No railings or anything! WHAAAAT?!
Also, we are always happy to show off Aspen, who likes to pose as if preparing for a lovely back handspring. And then falls asleep instead: 

On pregnancy:
27 Weeks. 
Today I am 28 weeks, 2 days and officially starting my third trimester. However, I have made a personal resolution not to waddle until I hit 8 months. Then I plan to waddle on purpose, whether I need to or not.

Also, I am highly entertained by the belly button transformation process. I'm about halfway there, and feel like I should be photographing this for what I think is great You-Tube material. I'm pretty bummed I thought of this 6 months too late, but for any readers that are contemplating pregnancy, you're free to use my idea (please give me royalties if it makes you rich).

Additionally, I hope no one who has hard pregnancies hates me for saying this, but I love being pregnant. I love feeling the kicking and water polo she performs for me (even though she loves to aim for my bladder lately. WHY?). I love having the chance to create a life. This may sound cheesy, but I'm grateful every day to be pregnant.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Isaac's Moment of Glory

Few people will experience the glory of being mentioned daily on the national news. 

The president.

The guy running for president. 

Charlie Sheen.

And now, our very own, 

He has been basking in the headlines and newfound fame.

Some reviews have been positive:

Isaac Brings Touch of Relief, and Hope for Next Season

Some mixed:

Is the gulf Coast ready for Isaac?

Isaac is not quite gone and not quite forgotten

Isaac finally leaves Gulf; uncertainty fills gap

And some a tad critical:

Isaac's legacy grows...death toll now at 7

Isaac crashes GOP Convention

Sheesh. Everyone's a critic these days.

All the same, any press is good press.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Decisive. Sort of.

I have been reluctant to write this post. 

The long and short of it is, I have FINALLY made a decision about school

My reluctance to write comes partly because I knew that, whichever way I chose, approximately half of my readership would secretly disagree with my decision. 

And my reluctance comes partly because I know that, whichever way I chose, approximately half of my brain would secretly disagree with my decision.

Pathetic? Yes.

But I, despite my pathetic indecision, have decided to go to school

Why did I decide this? 
1) I feel like it's the right decision for me.
2) My school is unusually flexible, allowing me to switch back and forth from full- to part-time as needed, and requiring only that I take at least 1 credit hour per semester to remain in the program.
3) I truly believe that going will bless not only my life, but also my family and other people around me. I believe that it will increase my capacity to do good in this world.
4) I feel like it's the right decision for me.
5) I was tired of the daily meltdowns from the indecision.

Could someone in a very similar situation to me face the same dilemma and make the opposite choice? Yes, and I'm sure it's happened many times. That's partly why I hated making this decision so much. I'm the girl that loves multiple-choice tests, not essays. I want the answer to be right or wrong, no arguing an absurd opinion (sorry English majors). 

Did I decide to do this because I think being a stay-at-home mom is a waste? No, I sincerely hope not. In fact, I read a really great blog post by a friend that almost made me change my mind about school, because she talks about how it is okay to stay at home. And if my sole reason for going to school was because I felt like staying home wasn't enough, that it was a waste, then I would be going for absolutely the wrong reasons. I believe that is absolutely the wrong idea to have about motherhood. 

I love and respect many, many women that have made tough choices about careers and education and decided that for them, the best decision was to stay at home, at least for now. 

Yet, because my program is so flexible, I don't think that becoming a mother, and trying to be a good one, and going to school, have to be mutually exclusive. 

After I had made my decision, and was still thinking daily "Maybe I shouldn't go...but maybe I's not too late to back out..." I read a couple of articles from a publication by my church that offered a really helpful perspective to me and helped confirm the decision that I had made. One is an address directed at young women ages 12-18, and another is by an apostle (at the time) of our church to everyone. These reassured me that the things I'd been feeling and thinking about my decision were right.

That said, I've told my parents to check with me on the first day of class. To see if I actually went through with it. Because there's still time to back out...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Florence Y'All

For those unfamiliar with midwest geography, the great city of Cincinnati lies right on the river that marks the border between Ohio and Kentucky. This makes downtown Cincy easily accessible from northern Kentucky, where many choose to live. 

I have crossed many rivers in the midwest. Crossing the Missouri from Nebraska into Iowa, for example, brings... more of the same. You know, cornfields. Same with crossing the Mississippi from Iowa into Illinois. 

But crossing from Ohio into Kentucky feels dramatic. Like somebody should be asking to see my passport, maybe. And then searching my car for drugs or fireworks. 

On the other side of that river, suddenly people speak with drawls. You see more tattoos and fewer...sleeves. The line at the grocery store moves a little more slowly because the checker is telling the person in front of you about their deceased father and then about the fatal accident that happened "right out at that light" several months ago (true story). You start to notice restaurants with names like "Bubby's BBQ" (true story), and people will tell you their life story if you ask their name (also true and yet rather endearing). 

Kentucky is famous for the Kentucky derby:

fried chicken, Daniel Boone, bourbon, and hot browns:
Photo from Southern Living
And, my personal favorite, the Florence water tower:

And it's also really beautiful. Beginning in Kentucky, the landscape changes from flat farmland to hilly and densely forested. It also has 50 state parks, one of which we visited the other week:

This is Cumberland Falls (hence the falling water in the picture). Yes, it was hot and muggy (we keep forgetting that going outside in June or July in the midwest is usually a sweaty mistake), but it was just so beautiful. There was water. And green stuff. Both novelties to westerners like ourselves. 

So come visit, y'all.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mary Hannah

Disclaimer: yes, this is yet again a post related to my pregnancy. If you can't stomach it, feel free to visit again later. I have a few non-baby posts planned.

This weekend I am having my first baby shower. Premature? Possibly. In T-shirts you still can't tell I'm pregnant. But when it's your last chance to be around family until Jr. comes, you take it.

Last Friday I had a doctor's appointment and mentioned this to him and asked if it was possible to have my 20-week ultrasound a week and a half early so we could find out the gender for the baby shower.

"No." The kind of "no" that is not open to negotiations.


Sure, if there's a problem, they can see it better after 20 weeks, blah blah blah, but obviously the man has never doomed his child to wearing exclusively yellow and green.

So we took matters into our own hands and went out that night to a commercial ultrasound place and splurged a little on our own ultrasound.

Nobody panic. Our child does, in fact, have legs. 

This place is such a better experience than hospital ultrasounds. You lay on a bed with sheets and pillows. They have couches for your family. You can go back for free as many times as it takes to find out the gender.

Speaking of gender...we have a problem.

"Roy" is a GIRL!

 (I will decline to show the ultrasound picture that establishes that).

And Roy-a, Royamina, Royderella, and all other attempts to feminize Roy just don't have the same ring to them. 

For now, we've settled on Mary Hannah--a family name, and I think a good name for a Christmas baby too. And little Mary feels even more real to us, even though Isaac is panicking. "Do you think she'll want to wear sparkly shoes?" And, "I don't know how to raise a daughter!" And, "What if she turns out too girly?" 

As if I could raise a girly daughter even if I wanted to.

Don't worry, he already loves her. We both do.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Belly Obsession and a Parenting Warm-up

I have noticed a strange cultural phenomenon, which seems to pervaded not only our families but all of America.

It is an obsession with pregnant bellies.

Any internet article you read about pregnancy inevitably includes a picture of a pregnant woman, shirt rolled up gazing lovingly down at her belly (always without stretch marks--where do they find these people?). Caressing it.

The first thing anyone wants to know is how big my belly is. And as soon as I tell someone I'm pregnant, their eyes go automatically to my midsection. It is a human reflex and it is unstoppable. I do it too, even unwillingly. I could no more stop it than stop closing my eyes when I sneeze. 

Among bloggers, the belly shot is also irresistible. You have all seen it and many have done it yourselves--the photo log of the growing belly. As a reader, I can't help but be fascinated by how that thing grows and how big it gets by the end. It's weirdly intriguing. 

And strange as it is, I am as drawn into the process as anyone else. In no other circumstance would I be thrilled to find myself unable to button jeans, or to feel my abdomen spilling out in beer-belly like fashion when I sit down. It is appalling to watch numbers on the scale rise and yet feel reassured somehow. In the end, my growing belly is a sign of something I've wanted a long time, and, impossibly, I am pleased to feel fat. 

So, succumbing to peer pressure, here's my first belly shot, at 17 weeks. Although the camera angle obviously enhances the size of the bump, that was unintentional. My photographer didn't want to get up from the couch. 

A few notes on pregnancy for me:
-I was only nauseous for about a week during my first trimester. However, I developed a strong aversion to anything, um, healthy. To this day, I can't remember why I used to think eating vegetables was so important. I guess salad is okay (smothered in ranch and croutons). But why did I used to spurn cheese? And nachos? And buffalo wings? (I haven't actually had any wings since getting pregnant. But I think about them. Every day). And pizza? I think pizza is the perfect food. 

-On the food note, I currently have the eating habits of a hobbit. Breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, etc. No matter how much I eat at breakfast, I'm ready for more in 2 hours. No bueno.

-I feel pretty energetic except I take a nap every day (or would I do that anyway, being unemployed?) and I try to walk 3 miles most days. Because of bleeding problems I had in the first trimester that haven't gone away, I'm avoiding more vigorous exercise until after I deliver. Sigh.

-I used to be a calm, rational person that rarely got angry (except when playing Risk) and rarely cried. I was generally sensible. And while I hated getting hungry, I never felt like throwing a tantrum if I couldn't have food immediately. 

That person is no more.

And in other news, we decided to start getting in the parenting groove by adopting a kitten. 

Meet Aspen.

We like to take pictures of her from every angle. We laugh at everything she does. We will employ any means of bribery necessary to get her to cuddle with us. And when Isaac calls to ask how I'm doing, I mostly tell him how Aspen is doing.

Yes, I think we've already got parenting down.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mormons, Moms, and Master's Degrees

I have a conundrum.

Earlier this year, months before we knew about Roy, I applied to nurse practitioner school.

This has long been a dream of mine--not only to get more schooling, but also to be a nurse practitioner. I've loved bedside nursing but am ready to close that chapter. With Isaac finishing school, and having no idea when any offspring would arrive, I decided it was finally time. I applied to a 2-year Master's degree program, and I got accepted.

Four days after my acceptance letter arrived, the doctor's office told me I was pregnant.

That was an amazing, beautiful, happy day. And that night, as we went out to dinner to celebrate, our delicious Indian food was overshadowed by this troubling question: "What do I do about school?"

More than 3 months later, I still have not decided. Granted, this is from the girl that will try 15 flavors at the ice cream counter and still second-guess my decision, but indecisiveness aside, I also think this is a difficult question. Most Mormon (Latter-Day Saint or LDS) moms stay home with their kids if they are able to do it. There are abundant exceptions to this rule, especially in these days of modern parenting and in this economy. But in general, that is the truth. My mom was a stay-at-home mom for 17 years until she became a single mom and had to work. But she never graduated from college and started out at minimum wage. She engrained in me the need to do better and get my own education.

I planned my whole life to be a stay-at-home mom. I firmly believe that family relationships are the greatest source of joy and satisfaction we can have in life. Working with lots of old people, I have found that in old age, children are your life. People that choose not to have them (if they have the option) often regret it deeply as they age. I still firmly believe that. Truthfully, I still want to be a stay-at-home mom. With a Master's degree.

I have examined the problem from every possible angle.

I have talked to moms that went to school part-time while their children were young (even very young) and loved it. It was their break for a day or two a week, or even just a few hours a day. They say their children benefitted from learning to mind other people, they were still around plenty, and they feel that having more education blessed their families. Also it opened up more chances to serve other people.

I have talked to other moms that chose not to pursue graduate work so they could focus on having children, and felt that was the right choice for them. Others had kids just as they finished a program, but then they felt obligated to work to keep up their skills, and their lives thereafter descended into chaos.

I don't want our lives to be chaos.

LDS church leaders teach that women can do a great deal of good staying home with their children. In fact, they say the greatest good they will ever do will be within the walls of their own home. But they also encourage women to get all the education they can.

A guidance counselor at BYU Idaho summed up the difficulty for young LDS women this way:

[A young LDS female] is likely to perceive her duties as:
-get as much education as you can;
-go on a mission if you feel so inspired;
-get married if a worthy man asks;
-stay home with your children if you get married and are able to have children; 
-provide for your family if your husband dies, is disabled, or leaves you; 
-provide for yourself if you stay single or somehow lose your husband; 
-help provide for your family if your husband gets laid off or your family encounters other difficult 
circumstances…and so on.
There are no certainties on the list.

I love being a women, but that is a bit of a tall order.

In reading extensively on the subject, I've found that women in America in general (whether religious or not) debate this topic of education vs. motherhood vs. career hotly. It is guaranteed an emotional and highly controversial discussion. Take, for example, this front-cover article on the Atlantic about why women still can't "have it all"--but that is the fault of corporate America. And this response that contends that no one can "have it all", and that corporate America is not to blame.

I hate decisions.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


The past 6 weeks have been ... busy.

I thought about blogging about it all:

Isaac's graduation

Our trip to Utah

Our trip to Arizona

Our trip to Yosemite that never happened (really sorry, Dave, Merry, and Jason)

Our return to Iowa and flurry of getting ready to move (THANK YOU movers! And thank you Isaac's job for that beloved relocation package!)


Our move to Cincinnati

But honestly, who wants to hear all those details? Maybe I'll post a few pictures in weeks to come.

All I really want to blog about is Roy:

Due December 22
Let me first explain that Roy is the name of the fetus, not the baby. Nor do we know yet whether we are having a boy or a girl. My mom named the embryo back when she saw what the baby looked like around 7 or 8 weeks:
With short arms, big head, and a tail, she thought it was the spitting image of Roy, the T-Rex from Dinosaurs, the old sitcom our family used to watch:

See the resemblance? So the name stuck, even though the fetus looks, um, human now.

Strange names aside, there is a lot of joy and rejoicing in our house. I have had over 150 shots during this process, and while we have to admit that reproduction is not our forte, we're both pretty handy with a needle and syringe now. 

And because I have been quietly supporting the home pregnancy test industry all these years, taking failed test after failed test (probably about 20-25 of them), once we had a positive pregnancy test from the infertility doctor, I decided to take one of my own. Even though I knew I was pregnant, I still had an irrational fear that the stupid test would still be negative. But it wasn't. Take that, First Response!

I used to think, when I'd imagine what it was like to be pregnant, that the first trimester would be all butterflies and happiness and, probably, vomiting. For me, it was none of those (including the vomiting) as we worried about miscarriage, worried about whether or not I should still go to grad school, and then panicked when I had two episodes of bleeding which led to blubbering on my part and stressful trips to the doctor for ultrasounds. 

This happened on our trip to Utah. I was also ordered on an activity restriction by my doctor. Hence the cancelled Yosemite trip (*sniff*).

Once out here and finally able to see a regular OB, we went in for our first office visit, and even at almost 14 weeks he couldn't hear a heartbeat. He listened for a really, really long time, then looked at us gravely and suggested we get an ultrasound as soon as possible.

You keep stressing us out Roy! We spent an agonizing hour waiting for the ultrasound, and as soon as the screen popped up, there was our cute little guy (or girl), heart beating away like nothing was wrong, and even rolling around and hiccuping. 

Then the stress faded. And we fell in love. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bittersweet. But mostly sweet.

I quit my job the other week.

(This was on purpose because we're moving 8 hours away).

My last day was filled with well-wishing, a surprisingly easy set of patients, and chocolate in several forms.

I am nearly certain that I am ready to leave hospital nursing. I am ready to be done with nights, holidays, and weekends. Nursing has many options, and as we move I'm considering options that include working M-F and getting Christmas off.

And yet I felt pangs of nostalgia hanging IV fluids, getting morning report for the last time, starting a new IV (actually, missing it and having another nurse try. Bah.), and checking the cardiac monitors. I wandered from task to task, wondering if each was my last. Some aspects of being a hospital nurse are really fun. I also felt sadness leaving some wonderful coworkers, knowing I'd never ask x about her wedding or see pictures of y's new baby.

But lest the nostalgia overtake me, I got a new patient right at the end of the shift, who not only pushed me behind schedule but also frustrated me by acting utterly confused and trying to crawl out of bed, chest tubes and fresh surgical wounds notwithstanding.

I didn't use my "I'm being patient" voice as I ordered him back in bed.

Then in the neighboring room I found another patient also trying to get up for a walk. She needed large amounts of oxygen supplementation to keep her alive, but decided to just walk without it. Maybe she likes living on the edge.

I can't remember if I used my "I'm being patient" voice with her.

Shift change report went late for me, and as I left the floor 30 minutes late and well after all my coworkers had finished, listening to IV alarms and ringing call lights in my wake, I tried hard not to run.

Farewell, cardiothoracic nursing. And to my crazy patients, thanks for easing the pangs of separation.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My feminine indulgence

We've already talked about how I am girly-impaired. No need to re-visit that topic. 

But in the spring, when I can bust out my flip flops, there is one activity in which I allow myself to indulge. 

Behold my crimson toenails.

And there is something about looking down at my little painted digits that validates me in the most satisfying way. Nail polish is not functional. But it is feminine.

To the world at large these toes declare, "I am female." 

Should you catch me without makeup or accessories, please do me the favor of looking at my toes. And be proud of me for asserting my gender. Even if it's on my feet.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


It's official. 

This blog is now at 100 posts!

Image from

Believe it or not, Isaac was the original mastermind behind this blog and the momentum that got it started. Camber gave only occasional cameo appearances. 

Writing initially reminded her of college. Ugh.

Then life happened, things got busy, and Isaac decided to take a hiatus from blogging. 

And Camber hated to see a good thing die

I never thought I would grow to enjoy writing or blogging. It turns out blogging is different than  analyzing Charles Darwin or writing 10 pages about preventing falls in the hospital. Riveting as those papers were to read, I managed to write them only after a few all-nighters and a Costco-sized bin of chocolate-covered raisins (thanks, Sarah).

It took me a few years out of college to recover (both emotionally and from the ensuing chocolate buzz) but here I am writing without compulsion. And liking it. Thanks for reading.

For fun, I'm including some links to some of our favorite posts from the olden days that you may not have seen. You'll see that Isaac's hiatus is a true tragedy for us all.

Our Favorites:

Laughing Gas by Isaac

Automatic lights and Hotels (poems by Isaac)

Monday, April 2, 2012

At Least

Forgive me, world, for posting something that's actually serious...

Infertile people always seem to have a lot to say about tact. It's fun therapeutic I suppose to point out all the tactless things other people say to make things worse. But I need that lesson on tact too, and it's taken me these four years to come to understand one pernicious phrase a little better.

It's these two little words: "At least..."

Fill it in with 
-you're saving so much money
-you get to sleep through the night
-you don't have to deal with horrific tantrums like you just saw my toddler throw
-you get to stay skinny
-you don't have any stretch marks
-you and your husband actually still have a relationship 

There are limitless variations on this phrase, and we use it all the time. In fact, until recently, I also used it all the time. We say it to people whose loved ones die, to moms who have miscarriages, to people who lose their jobs, to people who get cancer, etc. 

We say it because it hurts to see someone suffering. We want to alleviate that suffering by pointing out that things could be worse. It's important to see the bright side, we think.

I completely understand this urge and have been saying this to people my whole life. I am all about looking at the bright side, finding humor in sticky situations, and trying to stay hopeful. 

Here's the problem. Someone says this--completely meaning well and out of a sincere desire to be helpful--but it belittles the problem. Someone who had a miscarriage doesn't need to hear, "Well, at least you have another child." Yes, that's true, and it is great, but miscarriage is still sad. They don't need you to fix it or belittle the fact that they are mourning. (We have not miscarried--this is just an example).

Personally, I'd rather not hear about all the money we're saving because we don't have kids yet--I'd happily pay money to get them (which, it turns out, we are doing. Infertility isn't easy on the wallet...)

Here's another problem with that phrase. We may need to hear the bright side when we are complaining. Sometimes when I'm whining I do need a reminder to be grateful, recognize hidden blessings, maybe even find things to laugh about. 

But it is not for someone who is mourning. Mourning is absolutely legitimate and natural, and a person can mourn a trial or loss or disappointment without complaining or being ungrateful. 

I don't often wax religious on this blog (mostly because I don't often wax serious), but here's a good example from the Bible. Christ visits Mary and Martha after the death of their brother Lazarus. They great him with tears. And what does he do? Jesus weeps. He just mourns with them. He doesn't say, "Hey, at least I'm about to raise him from the dead." Even if he wasn't going to do that, he doesn't say, "Hey, he's going to be resurrected so you'll all see him again eventually." He doesn't tell them to quit crying or to feel better or even to trust in His redemptive power. He just weeps. 

Then he raises him from the dead. He lets them mourn first. Interesting, no?

Sometimes when we tell someone "At least..." we are pushing judgment on them--saying that they are wrong to mourn, and that they have a bad attitude about their hard situation. We may be wrong on both counts.

Here's a recent example for me. 

I had a patient which a leg with a nasty infection and some other problems. The surgeon came into her room and explained they needed to do surgery to get rid of the infection, and there was a good chance they'd need to amputate if the infection had spread too far.  I had to step out before he left, and when I returned, I found my poor patient with her face in her hands, sobbing. 

And for once in my life I suppressed the "At least..." that sprang to my lips (took a lot of willpower, I tell you) and instead knelt down next to her and put my hand on her shoulder and just let her cry. I'll admit, a few tears sprang to my eyes as well (don't tell anyone, though, because I have a strict no-crying-in-public policy that I only break for emergencies). Sometimes, it's better to let someone hurt. But help them not hurt alone.

Three days later (after her surgery) I happened by her room and we chatted briefly. She was smiling.

She still had two legs.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Merry, one of my all-time favorite people, tagged me in a blog post with some questions to answer. I'm cheating a little and not doing the whole challenge, but I still think it's fun and will do my best with the questions.

1. If there was one place that you would want to live, where would it be? Arizona! I swear to you, it's the promised land. 70 degrees in January? Swimming pools everywhere? No humidity? Check, check, check. Nothing green in sight? Weeeellll, it's no Hawaii. But it's cheaper than Hawaii. I'll take the discount.

2. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Chocolate ice cream with peanut butter in it. Any variation on this will do. And if there's no peanut butter in it already, I just stir it in. 

3. Who are you planning on voting for in November? I plan to write Isaac's name on the ballot.

4. What is your favorite thing to do to waste time? Read other people's blogs 

5. What is your favorite song to listen to right now? I'm back to playing the piano again, so I prefer playing Clare de Lune to listening to songs about break-ups. 

6. What are you reading right now? I'm about to embark on 1st Chronicles in the Bible. I cheated and skimmed ahead, and it doesn't look promising. If you ever find me passed out at the kitchen table, the genealogy of King David is the likely culprit. 

7. Do you like shoes?  How many pairs do you have? In the summer, I have three pairs: flip flops and church sandals (white and black). 

8. Does your husband ever force you to try something that you detest (like licorice)? Mostly he tries to get me to eat extras of unhealthy foods. Is portion control so bad, dear? Or fitting into my pants?

9. Could you tell that there was a story behind Question Number 8? The licorice did seem a little specific...

10. What is one rule that you implement/plan on implementing with your children? Just one? How about 3? Like no barfing between 10PM and 7AM, and no toys that play high-pitched songs, and NO giggling during prayers (we're hoping to turn over a new leaf with the next generation). 

11.  Do you currently own or want to own a pet?  What kind of pet?

I want a kitten

And a puppy

And whatever this thing is, I want it too

Or maybe I just need a cotton ball with eyes. Probably cheaper.