Friday, January 29, 2010

Curried Chickpeas w/Sweet Potato and Kale Recipe

Tis such a quicky that there was no time for pics.  But you can make my version of Chana Dahl, as they call it in Indian cuisine, at home with just a few ingredients.  I think this cost me about $15 to make and it's soooooo good, you'll be making it very often.  You'll see...  Cut up everything before starting and this will be done in a zip!

You'll need:
2 tablespoons ground Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Cumin
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon hot indian chili powder (you can find this at most indian spice and sweet shops or here)
2 teaspoon tumeric
Olive Oil
Chickpeas- (garbanzo beans)I used canned... 4 cans.  you can make this with dried ones but you have to start the night before with soaking them in water and the cooking time will be about 2 hours at least instead of 30 minutes.
1 red onion diced
1 sweet potato diced
4 cloves of garlic crushed
4 tomatoes diced1 cup of vegetable broth (low sodium)
1 bunch of Kale greens coarsely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt

Heat a large saute pan over medium fire.
Add your spices to the heated dry pan to toast.  This adds that slightly smokey touch to the flavors.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter 
When butter is melted and hot, add chickpeas, onion, and sweet potato. 
Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until onions are transparent.
Add garlic, cook 5 minutes
Add tomatoes and half the vegetable broth.
Cook another 5 minutes.
Add remaining broth, kale, cilantro, and salt.
Toss together, cover, and turn heat down low to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender,  and flavors begin to marry. 
Remove lid, turn heat to high, and allow some of the liquid to reduce for about 3 or 4 minutes.
Serve hot with plain rice, couscous, or my Cinnamon and Cardamom Infused Risotto. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Garlic Lemon Chicken, Wilted Spinach, and Ravioli w/Alfredo Sauce

Sorry, there are no pictures of this.  The natives gobbled it up before I could take the pictures.  When I make it again, I will be sure to get a couple and add them here. 

You'll need the following.

3 Lemons, 4 Chicken Breasts, 2 packages of fresh Spinach (10 oz...), Dijon Mustard, 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, 1 sprig of fresh Rosemary, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 small carton of Heavy Cream, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese, 2 tablespoons of butter, two packages of fresh Ravioli such as Buitoni brand.

In a container large enough to hold your 4 chicken breasts use a zesting plane to grate the zest of all three lemons

Squeeze the 3 lemons and add juice w/out the seeds to the container.

Add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, oil, the rosemary chopped fine, the 4 cloves of garlic crushed.  
Mix well and coat the chicken breasts well, and leave covered in the refrigerator, for at least half an hour.

Bring chicken back to room temperature out of the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes. 

Heat water for boiling your pasta, use amount of water suggested on package.

Heat a large saute pan and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

When the oil sizzles add your chicken breasts smooth side down.  Save the marinade.

Cook for 7 minutes or until golden brown then turn over.

When your water is boiling add a couple tablespoons of oil and add your ravioli.

Cook chicken on the other side for at least 8 minutes.  It's almost done when it becomes firm when you press it. 
Add  the lemon juice marinade to the pan and 1/4 cup of water.
Move the chicken breasts to the outside perimeter of the pan and pile the spinach in the middle on top of the liquid. 
Turn off the fire immmediately and put a lid on the pan.
You are not cooking the spinach, just wilting it. 
After 5 minutes remove breasts from the pan and cut each one into four pieces, return to pan with spinach and lemon juice and toss together.  Replace lid.

When pasta is cooked, drain immediately and discard water.

In the same pan the pasta was cooked in, warm over medium heat, cream, parmesan, butter, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and about 1 tablespoon of fresh ground pepper, stirring until well blended and bubbly.

Turn off fire, and add ravioli to alfredo sauce and toss together.

To serve, put a few ravioli on the plate, then spoon a few pieces of the chicken and spinach in lemon sauce on top of the pasta.


The Plight (flight) of the Polymath (butterfly)

The other day I received a message on twitter that caused me to take pause and contemplate.   
"  (By the way), I thought I was a may have me beat. ;)  "

Now, I kinda knew what the word meant but I would in no way have ever held that perspective of self, so I stopped and looked up the word to make sure I understood what it meant, because, by my definition, he must have me confused with someone else who's a lot less disfunctional than I am. 

I often find myself stuck unable to decide what to do next.  About what?  About most anything.  It's not because I lack imagination or education, or resources.  It's not because I lack initiative. It's not because of fear of failure.  It's not because I'm depressed.  It's not because I'm lazy.  Although most of the time when I feel stuck, these things are exactly what I've been conditioned to think of myself, mostly due to being diagnosed as such throughout my life at one time or the other by well meaning grown ups who never really took the time to actually get inside my head.    Occasionally, I get up the gumption to get things done, and there's almost always some sort of measurable success

I have, in my lifetime an innumerable collection of these small successes.  But I have always put a lot more credit (or charge, as it were) towards the long periods of time in between them, when I was stuck in seemingly endless bouts of ruts asking myself "What to do, what to do?"  This has always made me feel like I lack direction... like I can't make up my mind who I am.... like a need to stop hopping around from one thing to the other and just choose something reasonable and stick to it.  But that's not who I am, so attempts to do this have always ended in disappointment and injury to my self esteem.   I used to dread anyone asking me what I do.  What should I tell them?  I'm a mother, I'm a volunteer at the pyrate's school, I'm a hobby gourmet...soon-to-be cookbook author and home cooking teacher, I'm a writer, I'm a vocalist, I'm a songwriter, I'm a blogger, I'm a former makeup artist, I'm a poet, I'm a bridge connecting many people, I'm a painter, I'm a crafter, I'm a business partner, I'm a supporter of the arts, I'm a wife, a daughter, a friend to many, I'm a motivator, I'm a teacher, I'm a truth seeker, I'm an entertainer.  Those are the things I am everyday.  On occasion, I am my family's hub, I am an activist, I am a therapist, I am a world traveler, I am a speaker of several languages, I am a healer, I am an employer...
I suppose I could go on and on if I think about it long enough.  Most of the time I don't think about it like this.  All I see is that over the last year I didn't accomplish any of my goals from the year before... except getting married... and that feels like failure on first pass to me when i'm in a rut.  I've been as hard on myself as those who would, in the past, judge me harshly without knowing me... almost as if I don't know myself.  All those things that I am... collectively they can feel very overwhelming if I hold myself to the high expectations in my head.  When I sort of finish something or it comes to a halt for some reason, I find myself unprepared with the next thing because I've dedicated my focus on doing the one thing with some sort of grand ambition.  Then all of a sudden that space in my head is wide open, and all the other things that I am come flooding in and I realize how many things I want to be doing, should be doing, have to be doing, in order to feel authentically me, but I'm overwhelmed.  I get so overwhelmed sometimes that I can't even think about it all.  I have to just be silent and pretend like I am none of those things... don't answer my phone, don't check my mail, just shut down and allow my mind to be silent and still until the feeling passes and I can pick something to focus on... It never occurred to me that it would be okay to just be them all at once.   That's the way it is to be multi-talented I suppose.... but I never really would have called myself this.  These many facets of me felt like indecision at best.  Most people, after all don't even understand what it means to have so many options so to them, I just look flighty.  It would be so much easier to just have one title. 

The newer stuff that I do is the hardest.  The music I make is good.  But I often feel like I cheated because I've not been doing it all my life.  I don't practice it for hours everyday til it's perfection.  I just do it, with some degree of organic movement and emotion.  It is an expression and not a science for me.  I expect to not get acclaim because I feel that there are so many others who work harder at it for a lot longer than I and they deserve to reap the benefits of their labor.  I can't even tell you how many times I walked into a room full of fellow artists and felt like I would be exposed for the impostor that I surely must be.  Because, how could I be a music artist AND all these other things? 

Then the other day, this message came, from a virtual stranger, a cyber friend, who doesn't know me from Joe Schmoe.   I thought to myself "Huh?  Polymath?  Me? Yeah, right... quit yankin' my chain bro."   That's what happens when you're a grown ass woman and someone pays you a compliment that seems to be a bit superfluous by definition.  You think your chain's gettin' yanked.  :) 

But I didn't respond right away because experience has also taught me to take a pause in moments like that and utilize my resources.  So I did just that and looked up the word.  Here is the wikipedia definition of the word.  Scroll over the little icon:


Now, in the first few lines of the definition, I was still convinced there was no application where this word related to me.  I'm certainly no expert at anything... at least not by my own allowance.  After all, there's an artist's rendition of Leonardo Da Vinci there as an illustration.  That's a lot to live up to.  lol..

But as I read on I began to see things in the definition that actually sound a lot like me... if I put aside those judgements ordained upon me in my youth and allow for a different perspective. 

I am a Renaissance (Wo)Man.  That information is quite empowering in this particular moment, when I've been having one of those periods of being stuck that seems to have gone on for almost 2 years now, since just after the release of my debut album.  Which if I allow myself to be honest about it, was a huge accomplishment.   Ever since, I've been bumbling around doing a little bit of this and then a little bit of that, but doing nothing with any significant amount of commitment because I felt ridiculous to do so.   The wedding planning distracted me for about 8 months, but that ended very quickly when all the festivities were over.  (Another hugely successful accomplishment considering it was mostly do-it-yourself styling and planning for 250 guests...)    But now, I think I realize, this is just who I am.  I have to just give my all, to all of it, in the best way I can, and be thankful for the multiple gifts that I may enjoy including never being forced to endure boredom. 

There comes time in ones life when one must rename themselves, redefine who they are, based on who they are, and put aside all of the externally projected judgments, labels, names, and definitions one trusts in one's youth.

There comes a time when you must either embrace yourself, in all that you are and celebrate or resign yourself to the misery of dissatisfaction with your life.  

I am a Polymath.   Like a butterfly, I may light upon many a different flower and that may seem like "flightiness" to some, but in truth, I pollinate each petal I light upon with life and love and in those visits the world is hopefully in a small way improved for myself and others and life is perpetuated.

I am a Renaissance (Wo)Man, and I am now aware of becoming enlightened to what I must do.  I must stop allowing myself to be overwhelmed with not meeting other people's expectations, and allow myself to just DO what I do,  the best I can do it... all of it... like...
my very own little symphony of ME.

This year's composition includes plans to write and produce a new cd, take a summer trip to Austria to visit the Austrian's parents, get my Cook 'n Dine sessions up and running, write a cookbook, perform live more, a trip to the UK in the fall for my cousin's wedding, the whole family getting scuba certification (which means classes and two dives), start brainstorming for the rock opera I want to write, work on some substantial health and wellness improvements, and somewhere in all of that make a baby! 
So I guess this year I'll just attempt to do it all with some astute choreography.  Let's see what happens.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Things Change Part Two: The Miscarriage

Please read part one before reading this blog.

This part of the story gets a little graphic, so be warned.  I don't want to leave stuff out because I want you to understand what we actually lived through.
I showed the Austrian the test stick when he got home.  I was a ball of confusion inside.  We are still building.  I had my concerns about having a baby.  We had some more really long talks over the next 24 hours about how we would make this work, IF we would make this work.  I didn't allow myself to be immediately celebratory, because, let's face it, this wasn't planned, (At least WE weren't planning it...) and there were concerns... things that needed negotiating... things to consider.
I wanted assurances, if not insurances, and I needed to feel this out with the Austrian, AND with the Pyrate for that matter.   I know, a little late... But sometimes life hits you like that.  We don't have control 100% of the time.  Sometimes there's a design that we can't see clearly.  Sometimes we're distracted by other things... our own designs... or Christmas crafts and recipes... or rock concerts... You know what I mean? Of course you do.
So we talked it out.  The Pyrate approved.  The Austrian swore up and down we could do this and that he had faith that all would be provided, including the strength and wisdom necessary to adjust where adjustments were needed.  I let myself warm up and get happy that, after 12 years believing I would only have one child, I was about to begin the process of having a second.  The three of us kept it to ourselves just then.  Spent some time just feeling it out together, fantasizing out loud about what kind of big brother the Pyrate would be, playing out scenes of the Austrian's first few times changing a diaper and how his mouth was gonna be the reason the baby's first words would very likely be profane... imagining out loud what it would be like to have the sounds and smells of a baby in the house.  We looked at baby product websites and playfully critiqued all the available models of stroller.  We decided that the next week we'd start a registry on a really cool organic baby products website.  We talked about making a webflyer to announce the news to the world.  We did all of this in the first 48 hours after the positive test result.

I made an appointment with my general doctor because I wanted a referral for a new Ob-Gyn.  24 hours passed.  I started to feel worse physically.  Light cramps if I stood too fast or bent to deep.  Dizziness when I turned too fast or if something smelled to strongly.  I was getting over a cold and was coughing still from that, and suddenly during a fit of coughs felt that I was bleeding.
We rushed to the hospital.  By the time we got there, the bleeding had stopped and they couldn't find anything specifically wrong.  They ran the official blood test to confirm the pregnancy, did an ultrasound, and basically sent me home with the instruction to see my regular doctor as soon as possible, and to avoid all stress or strenuous activity.  That was Thursday night, the 7th of January.  Friday I felt a bit better.  I was scheduled to see my doctor that afternoon.  Then the Pyrate had a lil' accident and we had to rush him to the same emergency room to have his lip stitched up.  Stress.  I was supposed to be avoiding stress.  Yeah.  While the doctor stitched up my son's lip, I was sitting in a chair in the same room.  The smells of antiseptic, anesthetic, and blood creeped up my nose and I broke into a sweat.  The room began to spin.   The doctor was leaning over my son, sewing up his lip, and I heard him ask, "You alright?"   The Pyrate mumbled "Yeah" through his numb lips.  The doctor said, "I was talking to your mom. I gave her the option to wait out in the waiting room... we don't really like to have two patients at once to treat..."   I was so lightheaded I thought if I don't do something I would surely pass out.  So I got up, and walked across the room and got a cup of water, then sat back down in the chair.  The swooning stopped.   I was baffled.  I have never gotten the vapors in my entire life.  I have seen many disgustingly grotesque things in my life, growing up on a farm, you can't have a weak constitution.  So to be on the verge of fainting at the sight of my son's lip being sewn up was perplexing.  The doctor said it might just be because I'm pregnant and that I should get some rest when we got home.
That's what I did.  We called our parents that night to tell them the good news, that we were going to have a baby.  We called our siblings too.  That's it.  The visit to the emergency room told us there might be complications to consider so we didn't go completely public with it just yet. 
The next day was quiet. That was Saturday.  I was told by my doctor to be on complete bed rest, only getting out of bed to go to the bathroom.  My guys waited on me hand and foot... for the most part the entire day.
That evening, the Austrian and I were having an argument about something that happened that day.  It was one of those things... you know, the kind that happens repeatedly and gets under your skin because of the repetition.  Well, because of the fact that I was supposed to be calm, stress-free and still, the fact that this particular thing was happening in that moment was, to me, a double infraction.  So I was PISSED.  We argued.  I should not have gone there.  I should have just let it go.  It was just one of those stupid things and I should have just let it go for the sake of the baby, and my health.  I'll own that much responsibility.  I've never professed to be good at letting things go when I feel I am being wronged.  Chalk it up to that little girl spirit in me who forgets she's not a victim anymore.  Anyway, I was pissed, and let him know every which way I could.  When there was silence again, I lay there next to him in bed, and within minutes felt the warmth of blood welling up between my thighs.  A sharp, hot pain shot through my lower belly like someone had stabbed me with a hot butcher knife.  Then another.  And another.  The blood was flowing stronger.  Whatever I was pissed off about suddenly disappeared.  I was doubled, curled up in a tight ball, screaming in pain, bleeding profusely.  The Austrian jumped up and ran for a towel to put between my legs, then in a panic made this motion almost like he was running in place, not knowing what to do, go this way or that... waiting for me to tell him.  I told him to get my sweats from the chair behind him and that we had to go back to the hospital immediately.  I couldn't even stand up on my own, I was in so much pain.  He had to find my sanitary napkins and figure out how to put it in my underwear.  (that would have been funny under different circumstances).  He managed to get me dressed and half-carried me down the stairs to the front door.

Thankfully, the hospital is only 5 minutes drive from our house and a straight shot once you get down the hill.  He drove carefully, but ran every light.   When we got there, I told him I didn't think I could walk.  He had to remove me from the car to a wheel chair this time.  My knees were buckling under me as he got me from the car to the wheel chair.  By then I was moaning, sobbing, tears running down my neck, in so much pain, I thought my head was going to explode. I couldn't see straight. I felt like I was going to have to come out of my body to get away from that pain. And the Austrian needed me.  He was distraught.  I was talking to myself, telling myself everything was going to be alright, just breath Brig, (why can't he do this without my help?) calm down Brig, just breath Brig, calm down Brig.  Every now and then interrupting this chant to give the poor panicked Austrian instructions such as, "(omg...)You're going to rip my feet off if you don't put down the foot rest on the wheelchair for my feet.  You're dragging my feet under the chair babe!! Just breath Brig, calm down Brig.  That's good babe, thank you. Just breath Brig... (why is he leaving me sitting here and running around the car in a circle like he's lost?) Leave the car and just lock it and take me in.  Just breath, calm down Brig... tell them I lost a lot of blood, babe. Just breath Brig, just breath Brig... "  The poor guy, I don't think he'd ever been in such a situation before.  It was rather harsh.  I can chuckle about it now because I know he was just completely in shock and couldn't think straight.  They took me in and started a morphine drip.  I was upset, in pain, and very much afraid.  I had the Austrian call my mother.  You better know I must have been really concerned if I called my mother to drive for an hour to come all the way up to the north valley to hold my hand.  She came.  What a relief.  Mom's a retired nurse, so she knows how to comfort.  She's a pro at it.  I was so happy to see her.  Within minutes she had me laughing and much more calm and breathing deeply.

Eventually the pain subsided.  The same tests were run, and nothing was found.  They did an intra-vaginal ultrasound probe and a doppler procedure to listen to my fallopian tubes and ovaries to make sure that traffic was flowing freely through there.  After several hours of poking and prodding, and stabilizing my condition, the doctor came in and told me that my hormone levels seemed to be increasing in comparison to my last visit which means the pregnancy was indeed progressing.  he said, however, that it seems as though my body is rejecting the pregnancy and that it was very possible that I might miscarry.   I was to see my Ob-Gyn on Monday... two days later.   Meanwhile, again, complete bed rest, and... NO STRESS or strenuous activity.
The Austrian waited on me hand and foot, like I was too fragile to even lift a finger for anything after that night.  We were upset, worried, but reassuring each other that it was important to have faith and believe that everything would be okay.  I shared my situation with a circle of female friends, and to my surprise learned from their responses, that more than half of them had gone through this during pregnancy and some even got through it and had healthy babies. So we still held hope and faith that everything would be alright.  The Austrian turned into this prince of a man, with his shape-shifting self, reminding me to have faith, anytime he saw a look in my eye that resembled fear.
The next day we would just try to get through until Monday when we could see the new Ob-Gyn doctor to find out what exactly was going on.
The Austrian was my hero that Sunday.  My husband, sweet as he is, made me roasted chicken with herbs and orange zest, and mac n' cheese to die for.  We ate dinner and just waited. He lay next to me in bed, with his warm palm on my belly, and talked to the baby for 3 hours straight.  Telling it the story of his life, describing the town center in the little mountain village where he was born, promising to take him or her there for a visit next year, describing the fresh mountain air, the lake, the river that runs through town, listing the names of his family and describing each one's personality, telling about the little cousin Daniel who was waiting to play with him or her... I drifted in and out of sleep during this talk he had with our baby.  A peace came over me, a calm, like I was being hypnotized.  For a little while, I believed that everything was going to be alright.  That was just what I needed. 
Monday morning, first thing, we went to see this new doctor.  He looked over the records of our 2 visits to the ER and sat down to talk to us about the results of the tests the hospital had done.  He explained that although the numbers were indeed increased between the first hospital visit and the second, they should have doubled... from 6000 to 12000 in the two days that passed between, and that by now they should be somewhere in the 30,000 range.  He said that the tests from my second hospital visit showed 7000 when it should have already shown 12000, which tells him that the baby was not developing in a normal way, well beyond just risk for birth defect, and that he didn't believe that it would continue to develop at all, but that he would run another blood test to see what the present numbers were.  He said that the bleeding was due to my body's natural defense that would not allow the embryo to continue to stay inside me if my life was in danger.  That at anytime he expected that I would miscarry and that if it didn't happen in the next few days, he recommended surgically removing it to prevent further danger to my health.  He said I would know I was miscarrying because there would be large blood clots, and some bleeding.  Blood was drawn and sent off for testing.  We went home, held each other, and cried.  Then prayed, then decided not to give up hope until we had no other option.  I updated my circle of female support online and via text, and read their words of encouragement.  This helped a lot.  We called our family members and let them know the updated status of things, and then just waited out the night.

So we waited to hear from the Ob-Gyn the next day.  Andreas went in to work and waited to hear from me when the doctor called, and he should have called me in the morning on Tuesday, but he didn't.   Noon rolled around, and I got out of bed to go to the bathroom.  I sat on the toilet to pee, and felt a bit of cramping then two blood clots fall into the water.  I called the doctor's office and told the head nurse what happened.  She said that the miscarriage was probably starting, but that I could stay home and rest.  That I only needed to go in to the ER if I was bleeding heavier than my normal period.  Basically what's normal is one pad soaked in an hour.  She said the doctor was still in a meeting and that he would call me with the results of the test in a little while.  She said that if I pass another clot, if possible save it in a container so that they could run pathology on it.  This pregnancy was ending... just as abruptly as it began... just as I'd gotten attached to the idea.  My heart was breaking but no time for hysterics.

I went back to bed and called Andreas and asked him to come home just in case we had to rush to the hospital.   It took him about a half an hour to get home.  By the time he got here I'd gone through 3 pads (that's 6 times what is normal according the the nurse) and was in a great amount of very familiar pain again.  I could feel another clot inside me but I didn't want to pass it alone and I knew I could not catch it by myself.  So I just lay there and waited for him to get there. When the Austrian got home, I calmly instructed him to get a plastic container from the kitchen, and explained to him what we were about to do.  He got me to the bathroom, and onto the toilet and held the container beneath me.  Then out came this enormous clot the size of a large slice of liver or a steak.  My head was spinning.  I was crying, in pain, devastated, and watching him to make sure he wasn't losing it at the same time, because one of us needed to keep a level head through this horribly grotesque trauma.  He saw the look on my face.  He was reassuring me that he was fine, that he prepared himself mentally on the way home to face whatever was to come and that I should not worry about him, that this time he wouldn't panic.  He cleaned me up and got me back to the bed.  He called the doctor's office again and told the nurse what happened, put the container in the refrigerator. But wait, it was Tuesday, and the Pyrate gets out of school at 1:30 on Tuesdays and it was 1:45!!!  He rushed out the door to drive the 1 1/2 miles to pick up the Pyrate.  I reassured him that I would be fine. The Nicks (Nikki and Nick... friends of ours) were here cleaning the house and Nikki made me a cup of peppermint tea.
When he returned with the Pyrate, Andreas got me dressed and we went immediately to the emergency room after reassuring my son that everything would be fine.   He'd stay home with the Nicks and do his homework and have something to eat.  I didn't know I wouldn't be coming back home that evening.

When we got to the hospital, they knew me immediately.  This was visit number four including the one for the Pyrate's lip.  So I was taken back to a room immediately.  They kept me there again, for hours running tests, giving me morphine through an IV, and liquids.  I was partially miscarrying.  8 hours passed and they hadn't been able to get in touch with my doctor (he will not be my doctor for much longer... but that's another story... not really important here...), who finally called them back and said that I could choose to either stay there in the hospital overnight for observation, or go home, then come in to his office in the morning and either way he would perform the procedure that would completely remove all gestational tissue development from my womb because I was losing a dangerous amount of blood and that could not continue without harm to my vital organs.
I stayed there.  No way did I want to be at home bleeding out slowly with no health professional watching, and the poor Austrian being responsible for making the decisions.  I was still very weak, still in enormous pain, and couldn't imagine how I'd manage to survive the night without supervision and pain relief.  So I stayed.  They admitted me officially and got me a room.   The procedure (similar to what happens when you have an elective pregancy termination) would take place the next day at some point in the afternoon, depending on where they could fit it into the OR schedule.  The Austrian went out and got me a bean and cheese burrito because I was to have nothing to eat or drink until after the surgery and I hadn't had anything to eat that day except a small bowl of oatmeal at 7am and the cup of peppermint tea.   I ate half the burrito, and he ate the rest.  We sat together, and a bit of tv... the history channel.  Then I sent him home to make sure the Pyrate was okay, and make sure he got to bed.

The next day, 2 hours before the procedure, my Ob-Gyn doctor arrived and sat for a few minutes to speak with me about what would happen next.  When he left, many things ran through my head.  My mom was on the way.  My dad was called.  My sisters were called.  Then I thought of the Pyrate's dad, my ex-husband... who was in Germany and didn't even know yet that I was pregnant.  "What if something goes wrong???" I thought in my head silently... it would be pretty screwed up if he was not informed then all of a sudden got a phone call after the fact when something goes wrong.  So he was called too... all the way in Germany.  The gravity of making that phonecall was the last straw for me.  I was sad, yes, I was disappointed, yes, even devastated, but I was holding it together for the last 24 hours, pretty darn well, mostly out of pure exhaustion.  Processing pain is a tedious, and arduous task.  There really was literally no reserve energy for hysterics.  But the gravity of having to make that 'just in case' phone call to the father of the Pyrate, really hit home.  What would happen to my son if something happens to me?  What if they get in there and find something more serious going on and have to remove all my plumbing?  Had I even considered any of this?  No.  I'd been so busy trying to stay calm, trying to keep the faith, trying to not worry the kid, that I'd made no preparations and there was nothing I could do about it.  I would just have to believe that all would be fine.  I would just have to spend those last moments putting as much positive energy into my path into that OR as I could muster up.  I spoke with the man sent to transport me to OR, joked with him about being a better driver than my husband. The enormous male nurse who transferred me from my bed to the one I would be on during surgery had me put my arms around his neck as he moved me, and I told him how great a dancer he was and that we have to stop meeting like this.   I touched the anesthesiologist and smiled at him affectionately while I silently blessed him and prayed for his astute professionalism as he held my consciousness in his hands.  I touched the secondary doctor when he introduced himself to me and asked a few questions just outside the OR door sending faith infused energy through my fingertips and into his body.  I think he felt it because he gave me a funny look.   The anesthesiologist came back and asked me if I was still in a lot of pain.  I told him yes, and he told me not to worry and that would be over soon.  He put something in my IV and told me to start breathing deeply and count backwards from 100....99... 98....

I woke up in a noisy recovery room with a radio blasting "ARE YOU GOOOING TO SAN. FRAN. CISCOOOOO..."  and people moaning and groaning and crying and nurses rushing around.  I was crying.  I couldn't stop.  So I just lay there and let it come over me.  I cried for all the past week and a half when I couldn't let it out.   I cried for my husband's broken heart.  I cried for my own.  I cried for the Pyrate's.  He was looking forward to being a big brother.... I just let it go and lay there weeping openly and it felt good to just let it out.  A curtain was pulled and I was greeted by a friendly nurse who took my hand and asked me if there was any pain.  I told her there wasn't.  I felt absolutely no physical discomfort for the first time since the middle of  December when the nausea started.  I cried some more for the relief.  She said that in a few minutes she'd go get my husband and sneak him back here because she thought under the circumstances (miscarriage) that I might want the company.  When he got there, he and the nurse were talking back and forth in German, because on the way, she'd figured out he was Austrian and she comes from a German family.  The radio in the recovery unit was blasting "PLAY THAT FUNKY MUUUSIC WHITE BWWWWOOOYYYY..."    The hilarity was surreal...   I heard the curtain pull, and there he was, those green eyes sparkling, a careful smile on his lips.  He kissed me and told me he was so glad that I was safely on the other side.  He climbed onto the bed and told me he'd had lunch with my mom and the Pyrate at the local mexican restaurant near our house.  I quickly thanked him for that information seeing as all I'd eaten in the last 24 hours was a half a burrito the night before.  He hugged me and said it sounded like I was feeling better already.  We stared into each others eyes for a minute, and I started to cry again.  "I was thinking, maybe that wasn't Lou-Lou. Maybe we just needed to be reminded that we'd put that aside. Maybe we're supposed to use this to create an awareness of that part of us that we were at best ignoring."  He kissed me again.  We didn't talk much more about it that day.   I got back to the room, settled into bed, my mom and my sister were there.  We watched monsters of the deep until the Austrian realized how completely drained he was.  The Pyrate was at home and needed to look somebody in the eye and see that everything's fine.   So he went home.  My mom and my sister eventually went home, and I was left there alone with my thoughts.  I stayed awake all night long... until about 5am.  I got a text from the Pyrate's father in Germany.   He wanted to see if I was okay.  We chatted back and forth for a while.  He was very kind... shared more words with me than he probably had in the last two years.   I didn't expect him to express that kind of concern at all.  I'll take it without questioning it.  No energy to read into it, and it was nice.  I got a text message from my friend HT who said something so moving that it made me cry.  In the background on the tv was the news, a report about the earthquake victims in Haiti.  HT was saying something about me being sheltering by more love from more people than anyone else he knows.   People were screaming on tv, scenes of devastation everywhere in sight, reports of loved ones missing, some lost every family member.   I, on the other hand, am sheltered by more love from more people than anyone HT knows.  What a gift.
I thanked God for that moment and ever since that moment, I've been thanking God for every little thing.  I thanked God when I got out of bed on my own, with absolutely no pain,  to go the bathroom.  I thanked God for the graham crackers and ice cream the nurse brought me in the middle of the night because all they'd let me eat earlier was a bowl of broth and some nasty jello.   I thanked God for my husband when he arrived in the morning, sparkling green eyes and big grin on his face.  I thanked God for the view as we drove up the street I live on, and for the rose bushes as we walked up to my front door.  I thanked God for his strong arms that wanted to help me up the stairs even though I could do it again for myself.  I thanked God for that.
I thanked God for the smell of old pine needles in my house because our tree is still up due to all the "excitement" over the last 2 weeks.  I thanked God for my bed.  When the Pyrate got home from school, I thanked God for him too, while I held him extra tight and thought about the miracle that he is in my life.
That was yesterday.  Today I'm still thankful for all that I am, all that I have, all that I've experienced.
We will recover from this, and  now we know, that we want a baby.  That's something right?
We'll see what happens.  For now, I'm resting and looking forward to getting back to life!
I don't think I'll cry anymore about what happened to me this past week.  I thank God for that too.  I know folks who lost babies much further along in a pregnancy... several months even.  A week is nothing.    We can get through this.
Things change.   They do.  All the time.  All we have is now.  This moment.  I'm learning that there's no use in being afraid of what will be different in the next one.  What I do with this one is all that matters.  I learned from a friend who recently went through childbirth with her plans spoiled and some heartbreak involved.  When she wrote about those disappointments, she said, "I choose joy."   I remembered that this week.  It's not a hypocritical statement.  It's not either or.  Pain is inevitable sooner or later.  But what will you do when you face it?  Will you crumble under the pressure?  Or will you try to be still, breath through it, go to that other place in your consciousness?  When your hopes are dashed will you pick yourself up and keep moving or will you just give up and cower in a corner defeated?  When sorrow comes will you set up camp and decide to live there forever? Will you pretend like it's not happening and let it fester inside you?  Or will you use the moment, that particular "now" to show yourself what you are capable of?
I learned so much about myself in this last week.  I am full of God-power, a gift that lives in all of us.  I saw it in my man in ways I would have never imagined he could display.  I saw it in the Pyrate whose God-power never ceases to amaze me.  I saw it flowing in and around me between myself and the professionals in charge of my care, the people who were praying for me, the friends who shared their stories with me, the friends who simply spoke words of love and encouragement and sympathy, each one a gift.
So now, it's Friday again.  All that stuff is over.  Past.  I spent the last 24 hours together with the Austrian and the Pyrate... not answering the phone... not calling anyone... We haven't been alone through any of this.  It was good to be with them, take inventory of where we are... where I am.  A new day has come.  I am well.  I am recovering.  I am healing.  I am strong.
And things changing doesn't scare me any more.

Things Change Part One: The Possibility of Lou-Lou

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Thank you.

We were on our second or third date... I don't remember which it was.  We were driving through the foggy night towards Palos Verdes.  He wanted to sit at the cliffs and admire the ocean and spend some time together.  I remember it was really foggy and I wondered to myself how we would see anything with all this fog.  The roads were windy and he was driving like a maniac.  I held on to my door handle all the way there.
I wasn't talking much.  But it didn't matter.  The Austrian, I was learning, could talk enough for both of us.  He could run his mouth until his mouth ran out, it seemed... but I didn't mind, because I'd had a dream the night before, vivid as if it were real.  One of those dreams that come to me occasionally... The kind where I usually don't know the people or places, then years later, they appear in my "awake" life like a deja vu.

I had this dream.  It was pretty simple.  I saw a little girl run past me, squealing, giggling, shreiking, her honey colored skin, dripping water everywhere, her curly shoulder length hair loose and flying everywhere.  She zipped past me and I heard him shout out, "Lou-Lou! Come back here! I'm trying to comb your hair!"  I heard a door slam down the hall and muffled giggles, as the Austrian came bumbling past me, wide-toothed comb in one hand, towel in the other, face red with frustration, "BABE! Why didn't you stop her!"   I felt myself shrug, "I'm having too much fun!" I said.   He stomped past, grumbling and huffing and puffing down the hallway toward the shut door.  "I'm counting to 3 Lou-Lou! Come Ooooonnnnn! 1....2..."

That's all I remembered when I woke up the next morning.  I thought to myself, that it was just a dream.  But I couldn't get it out of my mind all day.  When he called me in the afternoon to confirm when he'd pick me up for the date, I was unusually quiet because I didn't want to tell him about this dream and it was freaking me out a little.  I managed to keep it to myself til we parked the car at the cliffs that night.  We were sitting there and it was ridiculous because not only was it foggy outside... after we managed to kiss our way through the first five minutes of sitting there, it was also foggy INSIDE the car.  There was no view, there was nothing but fog.  We couldn't see a thing.  So there was nothing to do but look at each other.

He would stare at me with his big green eyes.  I was fascinated, because they sparkled a little too much.  Like cartoon eyes... like in a 50's television commercial for a dishwashing liquid where they show how clean the dishes are by inserting an artficial sparkle into the film and a "DING!" sound effect.  That was his eyes.  He just stared at me.  Not talking for a very long time once we stopped kissing, then decided to drive further down the road to find a clearer spot.  As soon as the car left that spot, it spilled out of me and I told him about that dream.

We talked about it with amusement for a bit.  But for the most part, we put that away for the last 5 years, only remembering in random moments where we'd be telling someone the story of how we started to be "US".  We didn't really talk about it because things changed.  Life happened and we got to know each other and got about the business of building a relationship.  No time for silly dreams.  We had a lot of building to do.  So much so, that there was not even a consideration of any part of that dream happening... no plan for it, not even a conversation.

Things change. 
Even though we'd like them to remain. 
Things change.
That's the only thing that stays the same. 
Just when you get comfortable and sit back in your chair there's someone rearranging the room. 
The chair's no longer there.  
Things change.

Things change.
Life is full of twists and many turns. 
Things change.
Every day there's something new to learn. 
Just after one door is shut, another opens wide, revealing opportunity just on the other side. 
Things change.

Things change.
The night eventually turns into day. 
Things change.
No situation's here to stay. 
Just as you decide you might not ever love again, someone comes and knocks you off your feet and then 
There goes that pain. 
Things change. 

Things change. 
Things change. 
Things change. 

I remember writing those lyrics many years ago.  Sort of a nursery rhyme to the child in me who feared change most desperately because before the age of 10 my parents divorce, schools changed, homes changed (more than once), people changed, economics changes, everything changed, and none of it at all felt pleasant or positive or good to my young heart.   My fear of change stuck with me into adulthood and attached an annex which housed an obsession with time passing.  So there I was paralyzed by a fear of change, watching time pass me by (from a linear perspective), and being perpetually devastated by this.   It was a complex harmony of misery.

At this stage in my life, I've found plenty of ways to get around those voices in my head that made me live like that and managed to actually DO something with myself.  I've had a successful career as a makeup artist.   I was a good wife in my first marriage.  I AM  a good mother to my son, the Pyrate.  I am a good writer, song-writer, and some say, I'm a good singer too.   I am a good wife to the Austrian, the man I married six months ago in July.  I am a friend to many.   I'm proud of these things... especially with the knowledge that it was never easy for me.  Nothing was ever easy because of those voices.  But I learned how to work around them.  This was a necessity with the Austrian in my life.  The Austrian is a shapeshifter... He has become 3 or 4 different people over the years we've been together, upgrading each time.  Yes, child, I said UPGRADING.   So I had to get used to change and learn how to enjoy it!

I know it seems like I'm rambling.  This is one of those blogs that I don't know how to edit down to the important stuff because it all feels really urgently important to me in the moment.  If this inconveniences you, please forgive my self indulgence, but patronize me long enough to read the whole thing because I think it's important to share it with you.

There's no real way to start this story.  That's why I'm this far into it, and haven't said what it's about.   It just is what it is.  In the last ten days, the Austrian, the Pyrate, and I found out we were pregnant, then lost the baby.  That's how my new year started.  Yeah.

Back around the third week of December I'd been sick... nauseous off and on for about a week.  If you follow me on twitter, facebook, or myspace,  you may remember that, and you might even be one of the smarties who quickly assumed I was pregnant and publicly stated your suspicions in response to my tweets.  In my house, we were not even thinking about such things.  Holiday preparations were in full production.  We were trying really hard to get everything done, and all I could think was, "Why do I have to get sick NOOOOWWW?????"   Well, after about 10 people mentioned pregnancy it was getting harder to ignore, and I told the Austrian that people thought I was pregnant and wasn't that funny?  We had a laugh and kept going.  The next day, there were more messages to that effect, and I showed them to him.   He smiled and mumbled something sideways that I couldn't quite make out.  But I saw something in his face... a softness... a shy smile... a hesitant truth.   I called him on it... "You want a baby?"  He blushed, "Welllll.... I don't know... I mean... I'm changing again, and I have to believe..."  I interrupted him and stood up, put my hands on my hips, head tilted to one side in bewilderment.  "You want a baby?  Seriously?"   He smiled some more, and said, "I believe if that's what God has planned for us, then, yes, I would like that very much. Besides, what about Lou-Lou?"  I was stunned.  No.  I was floored.  We had several long, revealing talks about the subject about my concerns.  He was sure.  He made a list of promises, vows to put my concerns to rest, and begged me to not worry.

The next day, when he came home from work, he brought a pregnancy test, so that we could first put to rest the possibility that I was already pregnant.  The test was negative.  But there were two sticks in the package and we decided to check it again right before Christmas because not enough time had passed since my last period apparently.
Then the nausea went away.... and we assumed all the fuss was for nothing, and put it away, long enough to get through the holidays.
I started to feel sick again right after Christmas.  Belly aches, dizzy spells, long bouts of fatigue, unplanned 4 hour naps in the middle of the day... and by then, I realized, I'd missed a period.  I remembered that we still had that extra tester, and hadn't used it.  So on January 5th, while the Austrian was at work, I took the second test. 
You're supposed to pee on this little stick and wait something like 10 minutes for some blue lines in a little window.  If there's one line, it's negative and either it's too early or you're not pregnant.  If it's two crossed blue lines, you are pregnant.   So I peed on the darn stick.  I sat there and stared  at it.  Before even a minute passed, the blue cross in the little diamond shaped window was staring back at me plain as day.  Plain as day.  I sat there anyway, waiting for it to change back maybe.  Wondering if it was defective.  It was the most bizarre thing.  I felt like I was in a movie scene. 
When the Austrian got home, I handed him the test stick and waited to see his response.

The rest of this story will be in a second blog later today.  (click "second blog" to go to part two)
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