Monday, September 26, 2011

...the earth is warmer when you laugh

These last few weeks have been a healthy dose of misery of remind us of what buttery bliss we’re used to tasting. I should explain that we live in an old house, with the small inconveniences that accompany that, but since we are pretty chill and have no aspirations to interior design or meticulous cleanliness, we were more than happy to deal with double-paned windows that are never clean, no washer or dryer, and an abundance of bugs, for the super cheap rent. However, the night of Labor Day our house suddenly erupted into the epicenter of horror.

We came home from a fun weekend in Ogden to a kitchen full of boutilous gas. We’d been having some mysterious leaks in the basement and when we tried to drain the filthy mold water out of the sink we discovered that the pipes had wrenched completely apart exposing the fetid contents of the interior and the poison water flooded our floor. It was pretty gross, but Jonathan was more grossed out than I was, so I remained cheerful (at this point). We wore face masks while we cleaned up because he said the gas could be dangerous. We had to clean everything that had been under our sink and at that point it was completely unusable, and so was the dishwasher. I remember putting on a bright face and saying I could use the bathroom sink or the hose out in the yard to do dishes, and then I went in to check on baby Chai and (this part makes me want to scream even now) I found him asleep on our bed with BED BUGS crawling all over his body. It was horrible, so horrible! I'd never actually seen a bed bug before and they are awful flat, nasty brown bugs and they were biting my sweet baby! I can't explain the helpless rage that I felt; I lost it and cried and I wanted to kill someone/something, it just felt so vile and intrusive and dirty. We slept out in the living room that night and made plans to deal with the infestation. How did we not know we had an infestation? Bites only show up on 40% of people, which means you can get bitten and not know it..I thought I was crazy the few weeks before this since I would wake up with itchy bites but couldn't see any on Jonathan or Chai. I'll spare you the rest of the details, but basically the problem is more complicated than we thought. I have no idea how we got them...we must have brought a stowaway home during some of our travels. They can live up to 18 months without ever eating and hide in really sneaky places like inside your light sockets. I found one in a pair of shoes I had on the top shelf of our closet.

At first sleeping on the couch/floor was kind of exciting, like we were camping out, but the excitement started to wear off when I found a black widow a few feet away from us one morning (I have a very healthy respect for the formidable arachnid) and freaked out again (see? no longer cheerful). We finally left our house and started staying with friends and family until we could get the plumbing fixed and do something about the bedbugs. Around that time Chai and I had thrush and it was re-e-ally painful, plus I also had my annual eye infection from my contacts and was walking around blind most of the time. Also trying to get used to working and getting the rhythm down with pumping and exchanging the car...we are now back in our house with a functional sink again but haven't slept in our bedroom since before Labor Day. Honestly, it’s been rough.

The low point was probably the day I ruined my mother in law’s microwave by (this makes me want to die to even write it) setting a bra on fire inside it. I was reading about cures for thrush with a frantic desperation since nursing my wee one had suddenly become agonizing and someone suggested that heating up your underwear kills yeast. The article offered the sage reminder to make sure your bra was not underwire, so I stupidly thought I was safe. It was maybe the most humiliating moment of my life, including everything that happened on my mission and puking in line at the airport and my father in law finding some gifts from my bachelorette party in the glovebox of his truck some months later. Jonathan was delighted because now he could with veracity call me a “bra-burning feminist.” Heh. So it's been a tough month, emotionally. I've been spitting negativity more than I want to. There is something demoralizing about not having a functional "home" when you have a baby. I've certainly been "homeless," (probably disrespectful to use that term, but you know what I mean hopefully) many times before; transient and sleeping on people's couches, when I only belonged to myself and didn't have a little one clinging to me in the night. I have felt surprised with how protective I feel of Chai. There are so many things that I don't think would be a big deal for myself but when I think of them happening to Chai is just crushes me. We'll be okay, though. And I still know we haven't really been through anything. Sorrow is floating thick around people I know and I'm so sorry...What’s going to happen? I cuddle up to my little boy, he’s everything, his gracefully folded hands while he nurses, his dear powerful smiles. He sleeps early enough so that we have a lot of time together. Jonathan is handsome and funny and good. I still want to make him like me, hope he has a crush on me. I could stand forever holding him. He has tender hands and glances for me always. I love him and I know we'll be okay as long as we're together...I have so much more I wanted to share but this is a pretty good update for now. Hasta ver!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life With Baby

Rachel recently stated working as a part time therapist so now 4 days a week I get to spend 4 1/2 to 5 hours with Chai. I love spending so much time with him! On days where I go in and work the full day, I feel a huge pit in my life. It is amazing how much you can miss someone who just smiles at you and coos at you for interaction. My life has changed...for the better. I feel like sometimes we're having conversations, even though hes just saying a bunch of goos and crap. He'll just continue making sound for a long time. He especially will do this if you sing to him. I think hes trying to mimic the sound. He is a little person with a big personality.

I think our Chai is very very calm. I heard a lot of horror stories about babies crying and crying. Chai rarely cries and when he does it isn't prolonged. Perhaps this is why I love staying home with him! I feel like we lucked out because of how easy he is. I hope this doesn't mean he'll be harder as he grows up, though quite a few parents have told me that their experience was that if they were calm, then they stay calm. Who knows.

Rachel and I are still adjusting to the change. It is different having someone else included in our relationship. There are some adjustments that have been difficult. But there is a certain sweetness our relationship has now that it did not have before. For example, I never knew how beautiful Rachel really was till I saw her asleep feeding Chai. Seeing them together has meant everything to me lately. I'm sure she'd tell you the same thing. I know Rachel much better now than I did before.

This could all just be because we've only been married a little over a year now. But I'm sure most of it has to do with the situation we've chosen to be in. It was unpredictable. But it is very pretty. Though more difficult, I love the new life that we have. There are ups and down, just like before. Only now at the end of the day I can look at my little sleeping boy and just wonder at life and its power. I feel like I didn't know what life was until I looked into his eyes. He is full of possibility and light. That type of beauty grows on you.

My pessimism about this world is at an all time low. Chai's relationship with Rachel is its living refutation. As hard as being a parent can be occasionally (so far), it is undoubtedly worth it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Be a little sheep learning who'll shear and who'll feed

There is so much I don't understand and where I once felt isolated and bewildered in my doubts, I have now heard many voices who echo them. I have found validation in that, but I don't want to live my life defined by what has hurt me and by what is wrong. I am marked with biases and scarred with selfishness just like any other human being and what I realized tonight when I sent up a short, desperate prayer is that I have found happiness when I have put others' needs before my own, when I have had compassion, when I have been humble. These times have been embarrassingly few and far between in my life. Nevertheless, I know in whom I should place my trust. The truth I've found is that when I do anything to help lift the weight of the suffering of humanity I am filled with gladness and with the kind of sorrow that moves me to good works. I need to live a Christlike life whether or not He is who the Mormon church says He is. I believe in Him, I want to believe in Him. I want to believe that the falling sparrow matters and that children who die alone, cold, lonely and in terrible pain are encircled at last in loving arms, met with a warm smile by a bright face. I want to believe there is joy over the horizon. Maybe it is just an opiate for the masses and a nice story we tell ourselves when the wind is cold outside, but it's a story that matters, that causes man to aspire for greater things than the baseness that we default to when we don't replace it with anything else. I want to believe that people have the power to change, that I do. When I focus on negativity, inconsistencies, wrongness and abuse I feel a sort of energy brewing in me, but it does not move me towards anything good. I want to be a person who is moving. I know I have a lot to change. When I think of my husband praying for two hours every night on his mission, I think of how wrong we were then, how young and naive, but also how earnest and right. We can both do better. I want to utilize my time with him and with my tiny one who is next to me right now. I can say for certain tonight, even if I knew absolutely that there is nothing After, I would not want to live any differently, wouldn't snuff out my life with selfishness. Whether or not we are "earning a great reward," I want to keep peeling back my weaker shell to my pure self who is good, who is made of love. Jonathan told me, if the universe was made with Love, what do you have to be afraid of? I keep thinking of this quote from The Silver Chair:

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.