Friday, February 27, 2009

What's She Worth?

There I was sitting on the couch, crying, and wondering aloud to my husband whether we should decorate the nursery with bedding previously used by our other children or buy new for this baby... our last baby. Up until the prior week there had been no doubt in my mind. Our little caboose would have a sage and chocolate colored, organic cotton crib set with matching curtains and a mobile too. But now that we knew there was an 80 percent chance of Down syndrome, the question lurked about in my mind.

At the time I didn’t realize that I was actually questioning the value of a “defective” child. 90 percent of children with Down syndrome don’t make it out of the womb alive because their parents answered no to a question about value much more significant than if new bedding was in order. Ah, but still, I am just as guilty of misjudging my child’s worth because the underlying belief was the same.

I am angry that I ever considered such a thing. I had forgotten that God created this child for His own purpose and glory (not mine), forgotten that God himself was weaving this child together in my womb. And, I had forgotten the gentle admonition that this child has its own angel in heaven who always sees the face of God (and can probably see what’s in the nursery too...)

Who am I to tell God that His work is flawed? He sees this child in ways I will never be able to. Perhaps the Holy Spirit lives in this child in a special way that I will never experience or comprehend. God knew then, while we were on the couch, that it was a girl and that she would be a great teacher. He knew then that He already loved her as much as He loves me... or you. If the King of Kings sent His own son to die for her, surely I could buy her a new layette.

So what is she worth? Everything.

(Isaiah 43:7, Psalms 139:13, Matthew 10:18)

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Unlike our wild boy weeds
who shall grow strong
and burst into golden buds
with or without,

You, beautiful child,
are the exotic orchid
whose delicate blossoms
must be coaxed into bloom
by dappled sunlight.

You, exquisite child,
rooted in enriched soil,
watered with joyful kisses,
pruned by love’s touch,
will flower enchantingly.

You, precious child,
are the sweet fragrance
that delights our senses
and pollinates adoration
in this family’s garden.

(Orchid photo by Greg Allikas, used with permission)

Other Random Acts of Poetry:
Mom2six's poem by her 8-year-old daughter
Andy C's For Me
Lavonda's What is Required
Marcus reads excerpts from T. S. Eliot's Ash Wednesday
nAncY's On the Road
L.L. Barkat's Life, Ect.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nursing - Part 1

It is a Friday...Random Acts of Poetry I will start off with a not-quite-a-poem that is sort of the happily ever after to the story I will tell you today (which is a response to L.L. Barkat's Blogger Be Brave post.)

We lie together
stomach to stomach, and more
Delicate nose lifts up
‘ore rise of swollen breast
Eyes are watching
one another, locked
in shared fragility,
Sweet milk is flowing
to the rhythm...
suck suck swallow breathe
United in the moment,
eyelids swaying
Both mother and child
are coaxed to sleep
by love’s nourishing bonds...
suck suck swallow breathe

Once upon a time, when she had just arrived, she suckled against me, instinctively drawing in the liquid gold. I imagined she was imprinting, smelling, tasting, feeling softness of skin, connecting...mother...mother. And then sleep stole over her.

(Picture deleted... one of my guy friends hinted that he was "a little freaked out" by the picture that suggested a newborn was nursing...sorry boys!)

She did not eat again that night. In the morning they took her from me. I found her in the NICU and offered her more sweet milk. But, as if she were content to sleep her life away, she suckled no more.

Hovering over me the words came like spikes. “She doesn’t know how” “Her mouth is too small.” “Her tongue is too big.“ “It’s too much work” “It’s the Down Syndrome” they said.

I sat alone in a tiny room, with an occupied sign on the door for a lock, and fumbled with clear tubing and other parts. Smooshing hard cup to breast, I flipped the switch on the metal motor. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. Sprays of milk captured in small plastic bottles. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. Sprays of tears captured in an olive green cotton maternity shirt.

By four days old, feeding had become a dance of missteps. Despite the thin snake-like green tube taped to her cheek, climbing up her nostril, hanging down the back of her throat and winding into her stomach, she showed interest in my offerings. She would root toward me, opening her mouth and poking out her tongue. Her mouth couldn’t open wide enough. Her tongue wouldn’t stay down. She could not latch on to me no matter how I squeezed or flattened my flesh. We’d go through the motions until she tired out and nodded off, or until I felt guilty enough to move to the next step, the bottle.

Although she was my third baby, I had to be guided along...told how to hold it, how to move it and what not. There is a trick to holding the cheeks and applying pressure under the chin that is supposed to elicit a good latch and suck. It felt forced and my tiny baby gagged in agreement. My hands were shaking and I was overcome with sorrow.

Still hovering, nurses attempted to console me, “They are almost all like this.” They. They. Children with Down Syndrome...They. I wanted to yell out that my baby is not a “they”. She is more than a syndrome. She is her own person. But what do I know about this and besides I was choking on bile by then anyway. The nurse could see that I was frustrated and near tears and she wrote on the day’s medical sheet that mother was not accepting the diagnosis well.

RAP participants:
Nancy's Awaken
Jim's August Evening
Andy's Would You Have Known Him
LL's Scarlet
Erica's Red
Megan Willome

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recipe Day at Kim's

I love to cook almost as much as I love to eat. Kim over at Kim and Her Coffee is doing a little Wednesday recipe thing and I have been sitting around fantasizing about what to make for dinner...

Delicious White Chili
1/2 medium onion (chopped)
1/2 cup green pepper (chopped)
3 stalks celery (chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup mild green chilies

In a large frying pan, saute in 1 tbsp oil until just tender. Set aside.

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
2 cups chicken broth

In a soup pot, melt butter, blend in flour, and cook briefly. Stir in broth and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.

2 cups cooked great northern beans
2 cups corn
1 cup cooked turkey (chopped)
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup sour cream

Add to soup pot with sauteed vegetables and heat through. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese.

When I am feeling vegetarian, I add more beans and leave out the turkey and it is still delicious! The recipe says it serves four but I usually double it to ensure lunch the next day.

This recipe originally came from the cookbook Simply in Season. My whole family loves it, even the little guys.

Sorry there are no pictures of fresh ingredients in my lovely sparkling clean kitchen... I'll have to snap a few next time I make this (ah, or next time the kitchen counter is clean enough).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Enemy Love

In my last post I introduced you to a mother I know. She is my enemy.’s first definition of an enemy is “a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.” This woman has worked hard to meet the requirements of the definition. Eight years ago, after a bitter four year battle, her oldest child was placed in my home. And so, for good or for bad, there has been much fuel provided to feed the fires of hatred. It still burns hot and bright. And God knows that I struggle to not be her enemy back.

Why? Because Matthew 5:44 says I have to love her.

I have a confession to make. I sometimes can’t even manage to “love” the people I love. How am I supposed to love someone I loathe? By the actions of love, that’s how. Because love is a verb. It is an exercise and a sacrifice. It is something I can do.

I can give her the gift of helping her child to love her by being very careful what I say about her to or in front of the child. I can send her anonymous gifts to lift her spirits or meet a financial need. I can be kind to her when I come into contact with her. I can send small things I know she will like when the child goes to visit. I can invite her and her other children to birthday parties.

I can do all that but what I should do is pray for her. And that is a hard one. “...pray for those who persecute you.” That is the second half of the Mat 5:44 command. That is what God is asking me to do for her.

I would much rather spend my prayer time praying for the people I love, or the babies in the NICU, or the stranger who delivered my pizza last night. And so the truth is that until I get over this, I am her enemy too.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pink Frilly Underpants

The young green-eyed boy reaches out for his mother, who is sitting on the thread-worn couch and not in the mood for hugging. She lifts an arm to block his advance. Not right now. She is tired and her afternoon show is coming on. Today the world will find out if Hansen really is baby Amelia’s father. This can’t be missed.

“Go finish your lunch,” she instructs him pointing to an open Ramen noodle cup sitting spoon-less on the edge of the coffee table. He is insistent and pushes back toward her. “Love you mommy,” he says, ending with a high note that turns this proclamation into a request.

Familiar music plays on the television set announcing the start of today’s episode. The mother leans forward, edging around the boy, and squashes her cigarette down into the crowded green glass ashtray where it continues to smoke for a few more seconds. Her eyes are fixed on the handsome dark-haired man who has just stormed into the camera’s eye. The child pulls at her sweatshirt sleeve, “Can I have a drink?” The mother does not hear him anymore and does not answer. Louder now, “Mommy, I‘m thirsty!”

A beautiful woman is leaning against a high-backed gold upholstered chair in an elegant t.v. livingroom. There are tears welling up in her mascara-ringed eyes. Her right hand is covering her mouth as if some great big secret is trying to escape. Handsome Hansen is watching her intently and asking something very important.

“Maaah...meee” The mother turns toward her whining child just long enough to shout, “What is the problem? Eat your freakin’ lunch. I am trying to watch this.” The chastised child holds still and quiet. His lip trembles as he sizes up the moment.

“Hansen, there is something I have to tell you...” the honeyed t.v. voice says and then pauses.

The child tries to climb up onto his mother’s lap. He is crying now. The television scene jumps to a dishwashing soap commercial and suddenly he has his mother’s full attention. She takes him by his arms and gives him a shake, “What is wrong with you? What are you bawling about? Do I need to buy you a pair of pink frilly underpants?”

I know this mother. If you ever questioned her love for her children, she would probably attack you, physically, really. So I wonder, can love still be love when it isn’t 1 Cor 13 love?