Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thank you (and Mom and Sister Reunion #3)

My friend has expressed to me a couple times how she feels that Facebook and blogs and the like will surely have a largely negative affect on society as a whole--mainly because of the way they are changing the way we all communicate with one another. Namely--they hinder our ability to communicate clearly and appropriately through good ol' fashion spoken word. These days, things are typed and texted (is that a word) that would likely never actually be spoken to a person. It seems the computer (or cell phone ) provides us with some kind of defensive shield to hide behind as we write the things we are too afraid to actually say. Also, these social networks open up a whole new avenue for unhealthy competition--and therefore a whole new breeding ground for hurt feelings, jealousy, self loathing, pride, depression, etc.
And although I would argue that these forms of communication have also allowed us to reunite with old friends and keep track of relatives, etc., I think she is right. While I'm not a big fan of Facebook, I guarantee you I have blog stalked on a number of occasions and found myself wishing I was as skinny as so and so, and as rich as so and so, and as creative as so and so, and as talented as so and so, and as interesting as so and so, and as attractive as so and so, and....yikes, this blogging thing IS dangerous. And I have definitely said things on my blog that I would never have said directly to everyone. Ironically, though, that is exactly the reason I felt so grateful to have my blog a couple weeks ago. The truth is--I love keeping a blog. I love remembering the past and documenting it....and I just really love the writing. I don't (and can't) write stories. I don't (and can't) write poems (well, except for the occasional one in my Christmas letter), and I don't know nearly enough words to write descriptively....I just write my blog. So anyway....thank you for being my friends, and thank you for reading, and thank you for your kind comments every once in a while.
This last weekend was our third annual mom-and-sister reunion, and it was as good as ever. This year we stayed at my maternal grandparents' house in southern Utah, and it was perfect. Their house is just big enough to pack us all in, and just small enough to keep us all together. We went out to eat, did a little shopping, watched a couple movies, played a couple games...but mostly, and most enjoyably, we just talked and laughed and talked and laughed some more. I've said this before, but sometimes it can be kinda sad for me to realize that both of my little sisters became adults without me. I mean, I wasn't there. I always felt like I knew them really well, but in many ways I didn't, and really couldn't, because I wasn't there. So while at these reunions there is always a little sadness in recognizing there are things about my sisters that I never knew, I always feel grateful to now have the opportunity to find out. I love all my sisters (and Kat's one of them) and we all adore my mom. She is the best.
Sarah reminded me of a time when we (at least she and Charley and I) had ridden (could that be the right word? It sounds so weird) our bikes to school--I'm sure I was on my hand-me-down bike with the banana seat. On the way, we braved our way past the usual group of older Jr. High kids. Well, we must have looked at them the wrong way or something, because one of the boys ran after Sarah and punched her in the back. All three of us were horrified and scared to death, and I was balling, of course, and none of us knew what in the heck to do. As Sarah recounted it, my mom (meanwhile) felt a prompting at home that she needed to jump in the car and check on us on our way to school. Finding all three of us in hysterics, she asked what had happened. Sarah told the story and pointed out the perpetrator as flames started shooting out of my mom's ears. She whipped the car around and went and found the bully; and man, she let him have it. She got right in his face and assured him that if he EVER messed with her kids again, her husband would have him arrested.
What a good story. I was so glad that Sarah had pulled that memory out of the recesses of my brain. As Sarah finished telling it, we all chimed in about how in tune with the Spirit my mom has always been, and how she has always protected and stood up for her kids. You mess with us--you definitely mess with our mom.
Funny thing is--my mom was asleep as the rest of us were having this conversation, so I related it to her on our way to the airport on Sunday. She kinda laughed and said that although she wished she had been so in tune with the Spirit to know to rescue us in the very moment of our need, in actuality, we had returned home that day and told her what had happened. And the next day, she had followed us to school and had Sarah point out the mean kid. Ahhh, so what? She DID let him have it. We all remember that part. So it's still an awesome story. Too bad my mom couldn't be there every time someone was mean to us.

Oh, yeah, and you're probably thinking, "Ann, I don't remember your dad being a cop." Yeah, well--what is it they say? Drastic times call for drastic measures?........Yep, they sure do.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It'll be OK.

This is difficult for me to write about. We've all had experiences that are difficult for us to share--maybe partly because it is so difficult to express in words the intensity or details of our emotions regarding the experiences--and maybe even more because we fear not being understood or validated. And sometimes we're not sure we are handling the situation in the way people might expect, considering the circumstances. We know that most of the time, those whom we are telling will not, and probably cannot, understand what we are truly feeling. I suppose that for this reason, it really can be an amazing blessing to suffer and have traumatic experiences, because it is only under those circumstances that we are really able to provide comfort to others who have also been there. I know there are many of you who have suffered in ways that I have not been able to understand because I have not been in your shoes. And just as it is difficult to not be able to receive comfort from others at times, it can also be discouraging to feel like we are not able to offer the comfort that is needed by someone, as well. My sister, Sarah, suggested to me one time that sometimes being able to truly empathize with someone else is a gift that is given (and can only be given) by the Savior, because of his atonement. We know that HE took upon himself our infirmities, that his bowels might be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he might know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.. I've always understood that the Savior does always know exactly how we are suffering, but is this really a gift that He can give us--to really be able to understand the suffering of others without actually having suffered like them ourselves? It that what the gift of charity is?
Anyway, I feel like I cannot avoid the issue forever--nor do I want to avoid it. I just haven't been able to talk about it directly to people for the reasons I mentioned above. I feel grateful, though, to be able to write it, because this way I will be able to think about and express just how I feel without actually having to face anyone.
I lost my baby on Tuesday at 15 1/2 weeks along. I went into the doctor's office in Eugene, by myself, without concerns, only to learn that the baby's heart was no longer beating. After the Doctor used one of those stethoscope things to listen to the heartbeat and was unable to find it, he did a vaginal ultrasound to determine the problem. I knew the news was not good when the Doctor didn't say anything for a period of time and was hesitant to have me looking at the monitor. I covered my eyes and began to sob. The Doctor tried to comfort me and told me he'd give me some time as he went to order a more detailed ultrasound. I called Brian. He told me he would come over, but I told him to wait until I had found out more. In the detailed ultrasound, I got to see the baby, curled up with it's back to me. Were they sure he or she wasn't just taking a break? Sometimes I need to just take a break and I probably stop breathing for a minute or two, too. I wanted that baby to be alive.
The doctor told me that he felt the best thing for me to do was to have a D&C operation. Since I live more than an hour away from his office and since keeping the baby inside you after it has passed away can cause more serious complications, he recommended I have the procedure done as soon as possible. I called Brian once again and we decided it would be best to allow the Doctor to perform the D&C that day. :(
Once we were back in the Doctor's office, . He explained that since I was so far along, the baby was more developed than is usually the case with miscarriages, and therefore suggested that Brian may want to wait in the waiting room because of what he might otherwise see. However, I felt like I needed him there with me, so I asked him to hold my hand and just close his eyes.
Because the doctor feared that the procedure would be even more uncomfortable and traumatic than usual, because of my being so far along, he administered a larger-than-usual dose of anesthetics. Soon after, I commented that I could taste a strange taste in my mouth. The Doctor said that sometimes, a little bit of the anesthetics will get in your blood stream and cause that strange taste and that it might also cause me to feel tingling in my lips. In seconds, my lips had begun to tingle and go numb and then those sensations started spreading down my body. I continued to describe to the Doctor how I was feeling and he continued to reassure me and give me directives. Suddenly, I started seeing sharp flashes of bright light and I began to feel scared. I didn't know what was happening. I tried to continue to listen to what the Doctor and nurse were saying to me, and I could feel Brian holding my hand looking over me the whole time. At some point, I could no longer see. I felt like I was in total darkness except for the continuing flashing light. I continued to try and respond to what I was being asked to do, but I became more and more panicked when I was unable to speak normally. When I responded, it sounded to me like my words were coming out in pulses that matched the flashing of the light. I remember being able to hear the doctor and nurse and Brian the whole time ( I think), but strangely, I felt like I was far away at the same time and that there was some kind of (literal) darkness that separated us. I became terrified as my forced words became more and more slurred and it became progressively harder for me to follow the directives being given. (Brian tells me that the doctor and nurse were mostly telling me to breath deeply because my breaths tended to be spastic and short, and I would hold the air in for a couple seconds before letting it out.)
I remember thinking, they will not be able to understand what I am saying, but they will hear the fear in my voice and they will know that something is happening to me and that they need to save me. Then the thought came to me: I'm dying! I wondered if I was in the tunnel that I had heard described so many times. I knew that if I died, Heavenly Father or Scotty would be the first persons I'd see and I became terrified. I didn't want to see their faces, yet! I was not ready to die. I remember thinking of my kids and Brian and being most scared that if I died, surely my mom would die, too. She could not lose another of her children and live through it. I remember seeing what I feared was the outline of a person flashing with the light, but I felt that as long as I could not see the face, I must still be hanging on. I remember crying I'm s-c-a-a-a-r-r-r-e-e-d-d-d..
Finally, I remember hearing the Doctor ask me to start breathing slowly and tell me that I should start sensing the feeling coming back into my lips. I was paranoid about what it might mean if the feeling didn't come back, but soon my fear was replaced with the deepest relief. I soon felt the feeling come back to my lips and then to my feet and I was able to open my eyes and see the nurse and Brian above me. I began to sob, saying, thank goodness! Thank goodness! Thank you, Heavenly Father! I didn't want to die! My mom would have died! My mom would have died! And I was overcome with love and gratitude for Brian having been there with me. He had given me a blessing beforehand and now I felt like it had likely saved me. I was SO grateful. What would I have done if he had not been there? I could not have survived the fear. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for such a wonderful husband. I am so lucky to have him. I cried, and cried, and cried.
The Doctor and nurse continued to try to comfort me and reassure me that I would be alright, but I was exhausted and feared that if I fell asleep, I might not wake up. The Doctor explained that an unusual amount of anesthetics must have entered my blood stream and made it to my heart, causing my blood pressure to drop. I asked him if that happens sometimes and he said it does. He didn't however, say how often, and I'm still wondering. I'm still not sure how unusual or dangerous the situation in fact, was. I felt like the doctor and nurse didn't want to say too much for fear of making matters worse (and possible for fear of a lawsuit.) The Doctor, though, did say how sorry he was multiple times and that he understood how terrifying it must have been for me. Whatever the situation was--I'm grateful to have felt the calm reassurances of the doctor, nurse, and Brian throughout it all, and I'm grateful to Heavenly Father for letting me live.
The actual D&C, which had not yet been performed, went well, by comparison, and after lying on the table for a while and then throwing up, Brian and I drove home. I will go back in next week for a follow up.

So there it is. I've been able to write what happened, and now I can go on living.

This experience, of course, has made me think about and be comforted by the things I believe, and I want to make sure everyone knows what those things are:
I have no doubt that that baby (and the other two that I lost in miscarriages)will still be a part of our family. I'm not sure if its spirit will be put into another body in a later pregnancy at a better time, or if we'll be yippin' to meet again when I do get up there, but I'm not worried about it
I know we have a Heavenly Father who loves us. He watches over me every day. He is proud of me when I try to be like Christ, and he doesn't ever give up on me when I make mistakes. He always answers my prayers and makes me feel like He has confidence in my ability to do better. I know that He has power over all and that he always consecrates our lives for our good--if you will. He lets us make our own choices and then he works around them in whatever way he can in order to bless us.
I'm starting to know the Savior more and more. I've enjoyed reading again in the New Testament--the actual words and teachings of Christ. His central message to me seems to be: don't get distracted by the little things. Focus on the big picture; remember the things that are most important; love one another.
I feel the comfort and hope brought by the Holy Ghost, and I am so grateful for it. I know everything will be fine.
I am so grateful to have people that care about me.
I would have this experience a hundred times before I would rather lose one of my living children, or husband, or parent, or another sibling. I have so much to be grateful for.
To those of you who have experienced far, far worse, and I know it is many of you, I hope to not have trivialized what you have gone through. I sincerely hope that far more than me, that you are comforted through the power of the atonement or through his giving of His gift of charity to someone around you.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


It's been a great girls' weekend. No, not the old school girls from Vegas. Just my regular posse (Jane and Danin). Brian drove to Manti, Utah on Friday to attend the wedding of a friend from his mission--Celia Bishop. We had not seen her since close to the time that we were married almost nine years ago. Celia was one of the several sister missionaries with whom Brian had a good relationship on his mission.
I remember going with Brian to one of his mission reunions soon after he returned home in March of 2000. Brian had told me that he wanted to marry me and I was in the process of trying to sort out all of my feelings and make the decision. I had been praying for guidance, and I remember that before that reunion, I had prayed and told Heavenly Father that I was going to the reunion, and that I wanted to be able to make my decision based on my experience that night. (It was one of those times when I was trying to corner Heavenly Father into giving me an answer in the way I wanted it. Risky, I know.) But anyway, after a few minutes of having been at the reunion, I remember thinking--OK. This is the deal breaker. Brian is just too loud, too casual, and too obnoxious. There is no way I could live with this forever. Later on, though, we went out to dinner with a bunch of people from the reunion, including many of the sister missionaries, and all they talked about was how wonderful Elder Lacouture was. They talked about how he showed them so much respect, how he served them, and what a good leader he was. And I left thinking: Yep. He's mine. And I'm keeping him. I ultimately decided that a man might be loud and obnoxious and a bit inappropriate at times, but if he treats his wife well, none of that other stuff matters nearly as much. And you know what? He is definitely loud, and a little obnoxious, but he definitely makes me happy. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for obliging me.
But anyway...
I suggested he take Camp with him so that he (Camp) could stop and spend a day with Collin. From what I hear, it was quite the reunion. I'm hoping Brian stuffed Collin in the back seat on his way home so that Camp doesn't have to live without him any longer.

Oh. Have I told you that I've discovered something new about myself? I don't like to cook. And I don't like to bake, either. In fact, I like baking less than I like cooking because I don't feel as free to eat all of the fruits of my labor. It's the weirdest thing. For most of my adult life, I had somehow been tricked into thinking that I liked to cook because of how much I love to eat, and how much I love to host people for dinner. It's only been over the last several months that I've realized I don't like to cook at all. It's just the eating and the socializing that I love so much. It's kind of a depressing reality, really. I'd much rather clean all day than have to cook three meals. And I've realized I'm not a very good cook. Good cooks use all kinds of ingredients and spices and stuff. My sister Sarah always uses shallots and fresh ginger and veggies from her garden (said in a snotty mocking voice), Maryanne knows exactly the right amount of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette to dribble onto her salad, and Erin and Nikki can't wait to bring home fresh basil or squash from the farmers' market. Well, you know what? I've decided to broaden my horizons. I'm going to broaden my repertoire of ingredients, and I'm going to like it. My family is going to become more healthy and less picky, and I'm going to smile while I'm at the stove. You guys have inspired me. There probably really is so much more to life than cheese and sour cream.
As chance would have it, my mother-in-law got me Julie and Julia for Christmas. I actually had no idea what it was about, but upon watching it, I thought, How did she know?! It was so perfect for my new resolve. So I'm becoming a new woman. I started by finally making one of the dozens of recipes that I've ripped out of my BH&G magazines, called Coconut Chicken Chili. It wasn't something I'll likely make again, but it was pretty good and definitely different, and I'm on my way to better cooking.
What else.....
Aside from the cooking thing, I didn't really make a new New Year's resolution, but I feel good about continuing to work on two other goals I've been working on: to be on time and to bridle all [my] passions (I'm talking jealousy, greed, pride, anger, impatience, etc.), that I may be filled with love. (Alma 38:12)

And one more thing. None of us can pretend that it doesn't mean something to us that anyone ever reads the things we post to our blogs. So it really is a blessing and a treat to have someone leave a comment. Well earlier tonight, I was looking back on a few of my old posts (it it therapeutic for anyone else to go back and read stuff you've written in the past?)and I read a comment from an old post that had been posted on January 3rd. It was from an anonymous person who commented that she (presumably) liked my more recent posts and that they have been more interesting than some of my older posts. (Hmmm...is that a compliment? It reminds me of when I was about 15 or 16 and my aunt MaryLou commented that I was starting to blossom--or something like that--after always having been kind of awkward looking. I'll take what I can get, though. You gotta appreciate someone who will tell you like it is. ) Now I fully agree that this person is likely just my grandma or my dad, or someone who knows me but just doesn't quite know how to sign in or leave their name, but wouldn't it be cool if it were some girl who had randomly found my blog and has been following it faithfully ever since?! Oh, man! That would be so exciting! I know, I know--the chances are slim, at best, but you just never know. Thank you, too, Anonymous, for making my day.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's all over.

You know what these are pictures of? Yep. All of my Christmas stuff, packed sadly away in the top of my closet.
And if you remember from last year--taking down Christmas trees and all of the other stuff means rearranging furniture and (hopefully) putting up (or out) whatever new little decor item I got for Christmas. This Christmas I was originally asking Brian to build me a desk for the front room (which I am currently in the process of re-purposing. I sold the couch and coffee table to make room for a desk). However, I have decided that I would like it to be made of cherry and unfortunately, cherry is not that cheap. You likely know that most furniture pieces you see in stores may be stained to look like cherry, but very few of them are actually made of it because it is so expensive. But anyway, we've been hoping to get a great deal on it somewhere. The legs, however, we had been hoping to buy online because the lathe Brian used on the feet of the armoire is not powerful enough to turn four full legs. I can imagine this is really boring to you. But anyway...the few legs we found online that may have worked for the style desk we would like (see below) are all over $100 a piece. So needless to say, my desk dreams are on hold for a while.

But anyway....
As far as decor goes, I ended up getting this fabulous piece of wall art (it's a cut out of the the United States made from slats of antiqued mahogany--and this time he didn't make it) from Brian, and some great bright green decorative books from my mom. And those items were plenty to get me excited to clean up and rearrange. So my ferns came down, the armoire and the couch traded places, United States thing went above the couch, and I put some of the ferns back up on either side of the armoire (and I may put up more). And I love it. If I scrounge up the energy, I may paint a block of white behind the United States thing just to make it stand out more.

Oh, and I've already decided on the first item on my 2010 favorite things list:
these little puppies. Incredible.
These little suckers may be more expensive than nails, but they work like a champ and I am no longer going to have to be straightening my ferns every time I walk into the family room. Ahhh....

Oh, and in case any of you care (likely not), we cut out the doorway (that Brian had framed into the wall when we built the house) that connects the front room and the dining area. Big whoopi, I know.

That painting behind the table and chair (that are pretending for now to be my new desk) is what I gave Brian for Christmas. Have I already mentioned that he's gotten really into politics this year? Well, Glenn Beck happened to show a video montage thing that had this painting in it and Brian commented on how much he liked it. And when Brian mentions that he really likes something that would just happen to look good on a wall...you get it. :)

As for everything else....
I did the majority of my work in figuring out our 2009 taxes on New Year's Eve day. Don't ever do that. It totally ruined my day, and I'll tell you what--there was no celebrating that night, either. Why do [honest] self-employed people get so crapped on? Sorry for the terrible language. I better stop talking about it.
And Camp goes back to school tomorrow. Thank darn goodness. It's been real, and it's been fun, but it aint always been real fun--if you know what I mean.
So that's about it. Happy New Year.