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Dear James January 28, 2013

Posted by dreamom in Faith, Fears, Life, Peace.
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What can I say. I have read your book several times, but I am realising that I hardly know you.

First you say to consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds. That seems hard enough on its own.

Then you say if anyone lacks wisdom to ask God and it will be given to him. Now forgive me if this makes me nervous. I have been at this long enough that I know full well how God grants patience. Knowing that, and what my aching heart has been through in the last year… Well. Lets just say wisdom starts to look over-rated.

I just want some security, comfort, and to have a break from hard lessons for a bit. Can I ask for that too?

I guess I have to keep studying to find out…

Milestones March 18, 2012

Posted by dreamom in 1000 Gifts, Faith, family, Fears, Goals, Happiness, Home, Life, Peace, Pregnancy Loss.
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As humans we are drawn to milestones.  There are birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, coming of age celebrations – We use them to measure our lives and accomplishments.  We use them to celebrate and revel in the joy of making it to the next milestone.

Some milestones are not as pleasant to dwell on.  We tend to dwell on them too as we remember, relive, and grasp at the loss it represents.  Recently I was up too late on the computer, and I noticed that the date rolled over to the 2nd of March – marking one month since finding out about the death of the baby in my womb.  At that moment it gave me pause, and I faced with apprehension the coming 24hrs and what emotions that might bring.  I posted on Facebook to mark the event and went to bed.

It was only one month previous that I got the news, I faced head on a very dark time as I faced the loss, made decisions and waited.  I remembered the despair, the confusion, the feeling that nothing was ever going to be okay again.  I woke up in the morning and I was surprised that initially I … forgot.  I intended to take the day as it came, and when I did I found I was not focusing on the pain that I was remembering.  I was moving through my day and I was not pulled back to the place of sorrow and tears.  Instead I was grateful for the distance I had come.  I was thankful that those huge, harsh emotions I felt were not threatening to overcome me again. In fact, I found I had to remind myself of the day from time to time.  At one such point I began to ponder why.  Why am I WORKING to revisit a pain that I am not feeling?  I decided that if I started to feel the pain that I should address it, but otherwise I did not need to force myself back there.

It is now a little more than 24 hours to marking one month since Hannah’s birth.  Again I find that I don’t feel the pain that I feared I might.  I am remembering the joy.  The joy of the support of friends, the joy of seeing Hannah, the joy of moving to the next step…

Today in Sunday morning Bible Study I was reminded of my old stand-by verses:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”  James 1:24

and I also thought about:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Now who would get something for which they consider it a joy (a birthday present for instance), thank the giver, and then a month later think back with sadness, regret, or even anger?  For me this is what this is like.  I CAN look back on various aspects of losing Hannah and find lots of things that hurt, moments of loneliness, words, actions, inactions that hurt.  But why?  Why take something that I DECIDED (it was not a natural inclination, but a conscious decision that required purposeful action to carry out) to “Consider … pure joy”, and take the gift of “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” and set it aside for the sorrow, grief, pain, emptiness, envy, despair, anger, etc. that I would be left with?  I could use it to mark the days.  I could use it to say “See what I suffered?”, but the fact is I can’t.  I have gone there numerous time looking for it.  Expecting it.  I have been told flat out that it is there, but I can tell you that today, and the days I have checked with certain trepidation, that it is not.

I can tell you that I wholly and fully gave all of that to God.  When I was not eating (dare I say fasting), and I was reading the Bible, I was counting the gifts, I was offering *with thanks* the whole experience to God  – something amazing happened.  He did exactly what he said he would do.  He took it.  He gave me a “peace that transcends all understanding” (even mine – ESPECIALLY mine).  I don’t intend to hand that back.  What I do plan to do is that as the days, weeks, months and years wear on I plan to keep giving thanks, for everything he gave me, but none less than the peace I have.  If a day comes where I find those emotions and scars that I expect to find – I plan to do just as I have done.  Consider it joy, give thanks, and give it to God.

As for marking the days that I could – I am not going to try.  I am going to see what days become important.  I am not going to paint them with the brush of loss, but see what gifts God chooses to bestow on those days.  I will not be marking milestones of grief, but rather will celebrate in all that God has given me through this unique journey he has taken me on.

19 Days February 22, 2012

Posted by dreamom in 1000 Gifts, Faith, family, Fears, Goals, Happiness, Home, Life, Pregnancy Loss.
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This story starts on the day that I found out that my baby had died in my womb. After hearing the news from a midwife I had not yet met, having the OB on call at the hospital near by phone with answers to some questions – she asked if I knew what I wanted to do – I could go see the OB to talk about induction with Mesoprostal (Cytotec) or a D&E (the big brother of the infamous D&C which involves the added step of cutting the fetus into manageable sizes for extraction), or go home and wait for my body to deliver my still baby. The only options that seemed reasonable at all was waiting and induction. I looked around the office at the pictures of developing babies, and at the multiple bulletin boards of people’s pictures with their babies sent to thank the midwives for being with them for their child’s arrival. I said “My plan was always to deliver at home unless it was medically necessary to do otherwise. I still feel like that is what I want. Can I plan on that for now?” No problem. Very reasonable.

In a stooper that was brought on by the axe of grief being applied heavily to my womb, I left. I visited some friends and went home. There I fell into a grief that was wider and deeper than I knew was possible. For a couple of days I did not sleep, for several I did not eat. I went to the Dr, and saw the OB and discussed options and had blood work explained and done – and all of it was in a fog. I had friends all over the world holding a space for me to cry and talk, and vent, and question. From where I am now that week seems surreal – like a dream. Being a ‘religious person’ it was impossible that my faith would not play a role. Much like I believe that God created me, and my body, and the birth process, so I believe that He created the process to clear a pregnancy that is not viable. I decided early on in the process that not only did I deserve the homebirth I had planned, and my baby deserved the homebirth I had planned, but that unless it was medically necessary at some point that God’s design for my body would work, and I would deliver this baby without interventions.

When all this began – in that first week I was sure that this was the worst thing that had ever, and could ever happen. I thought that if I made sure that this experience had a permanent place of being monumental that my baby’s life would matter. It became this cornerstone for my faith that I needed to see through. As people commented and pushed and questioned and ‘expressed concern for my health’ over the choice to wait for God’s timing, and wait for this delivery to happen naturally **unless it was medically necessary to do otherwise** (<< key point here – I kept under the watchful eye of the local OB who was supportive, and dutifully had blood drawn twice a week to screen for problems that might indicate a need to re-evaluate the plan) I became hemmed into the choice I had made. I had people who had made different choices for themselves, or perhaps some weren't given choices criticizing me for waiting. I was risking my life, according to them, and that was not fair to my husband and kids… My mom will tell you that I am stubborn like my grandmother, and all the pressure was doing nothing but strengthening my resolve to see this out. Suddenly my baby's delivery was not only a process for me to go through and accept, but necessary to prove that God, nature, and my body could and would know what to do – and NOT to me, because I *know* – but to all the people I was feeling pressured by – most of whom were Christians themselves.

Throughout this process I was healthy (after I resumed eating) and could do anything I wanted, but didn't like leaving the house much – especially alone. The only thing that anyone could promise me was that the process is not one you can predict – less so than with a full term delivery – so the idea of delivering my dead child in the grocery store, or church did not appeal to me and I chose to stay close to home. This also meant I did not see a lot of people, but the same friends were holding my space and 'hanging out' on Google+ regularly and were my connection to the outside world when the outside world stayed away.

As the days wore on I grieved, I got books to read, planned how to handle the delivery and the body, and everything in between. I revisited my 1000 Gifts book and listed 18 things about the situation at that point that I was thankful for. During this time I made an important decision. As much as this news rocked me, and was challenging my beliefs, testing my resolve, and forcing me to learn things that I would have been happy to stay ignorant about for the rest of my life – I decided that This. Was. Not. Going. To. Define. Me. I had already lost the baby, but that was not WHO I was, but rather just one thread weaved through the fabric of my life. Where that thread was, and the prominence it would have would make no difference to my child – but it would to me. I want it to be there, and special, but not the central thing. Making this decision was a huge milestone in my processing of the whole thing. It had to be. It was up to me how this aspect of my life would affect me, and who I was… It didn't really change anything I was doing, but it changed how I thought about it.

Over the following days I would pick up my friend who came by train from Montreal with her toddler to see me – someone she had never met in person (just over FB and skype) but wanted to be with me through the process. The following weekend another friend from Montreal was coming to spend the weekend and take her home. Over the course of the next week there was much talking, tears, and chocolate, and my resolve was to have this baby with them with me.

In an effort to speed things along I tried homeopathic remedies, accupressure and trying to make sure that I was not mentally holding on at all. All the while praying for my body to release my dead child. I was sure that these things were going to work, but then they didn't. There were signs that it was close – but it didn't happen. I was SO frustrated. The friend coming on the weekend offered to bring something with her that should work that I could use at home, but that I didn't have to use it – she knew I wanted to wait and see this out. I told her to bring it, but that I didn't know how I felt.

Shortly before she got here I had an epiphany of sorts. I realised that I was making the same moment in my life that I did not want to define me, my 'hill to die on'. It was going to prove to me and all who knew me that God/nature/my body works – but NOT define me? Hmmm I had to think this one out. I KNOW my body was working to release the baby, and I KNOW that it was designed to do so when something happened to a pregnancy. Who was I proving this to, and why? The fact is I was proving it to the doubters. The people who were sure that without a D&C (but don't forget that at this stage that is a D&E) that I would suffer from infection and haemorrhage and die were the ones I was determined to wait for. *I* didn't want it to define me. So it came down to am I A) going to do this a certain way for them or B) MY way (cue Frank Sinatra). The fact is that I believe in organic and natural food, but I don't always buy it because of various choices made week to week in the grocery store. I believe in natural medicine, but choose to compliment it with Western medicine at times for different reason's. If this moment in my life was going to be like anything else I was going to make choices like in all those times for what I and my family needed. People would just have to learn to trust God and their body's themselves. This was my journey, and no one else's.

My second friend arrived, we visited some friends, came home and I took a small amount of the stuff she brought in the hopes that it would be the nudge I needed. Whether it was that or whether it was the knowledge that I had done this myself and for myself in a way that honoured my beliefs it began to work RIGHT away. 7 hours later I birthed my baby girl in one piece in the caul. Everything about that birth was perfect for what it was.

After the birth I took my time – I listened to my body and myself in terms of how to move, when to move, when to look at the baby I delivered. I cried oceans in the 19 days leading up to this, but on that day – not a tear. I was ready. I could look at my daughter as a marvel instead of a loss and a hole in my heart. In the moments after the birth I marvelled at HOW okay I was. My friends and I wondered if women who are rushed through the process to end it quickly, if they miss out on that? I think back to Hannah's birth as amazing, wonderful, a release. There is no sadness, no regret. I had who I needed with me and was in my space. I can't think of how I would change it given the limitation of the circumstances.

When I think back to Hannah's life – that is where the sadness is – that I didn't see her take a breath, nurse her, raise her. That is sad. But that is the way it was meant to be for reasons that I can't fathom. I LOVE that amid that sadness – that heaviness of heart – that I can look back on her birth and smile. It was perfect. What a difference 19 days made.

#92. 19 Days

To My Dear Child… February 13, 2012

Posted by dreamom in Faith, family, Fears, Home, Life, Parenting, Pregnancy Loss.
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I never thought I would have to say goodbye to you before I met you, but here we are. You are gone to heaven, and I am carrying your body in me just waiting for this last part of you to leave me. You are gone and I have never seen your face, counted your toes, or kissed your fingers. I will never have that moment when you are fresh from the womb, dripping with amniotic fluid to see you squinting at me and feel your breathing on my chest. I will never feed you at my breast, as I have all your siblings. Those things feel really huge and sad right now, and I am trying to understand why you didn’t stay longer.

Part of me feels really guilty. Guilty for not cherishing the annoyances of pregnancy for the sheer fact that you were with me. I didn’t know that was all the time we had. If I did, I would like to think that I would have jumped for joy when I was throwing up. Grinned with sheer glee as my ligaments felt tight and sore. Smiled as my hips pained me with the sciatica. Danced with enthusiasm when I thought that the exhaustion was going to overtake me. I didn’t though. I complained, I scowled, I grumbled that the pregnancy was not easier – then poof. You were gone. Did I chase you off? I know in my heart that I didn’t – That your life on earth was meant to be a mere vapour – the purpose for which I can’t conceive.

I have struggled for the last week and a half with letting you go. Physically I have tried to induce your birth for the past week. Nothing is working. I COULD go to the hospital and force you out, but I can’t do that. You are holding onto me for a reason – or me to you. If I rush that I know that I will miss out. On what? Grief, sadness, anxiety, pain? Maybe. What I am afraid of though is that I will miss out on healing. I will miss out on that moment of accepting that this is the totality of our parent/child relationship. I conceived you, grew you for a mere moment (or so it feels), and now I have to let you go. Not for you though – When I let you go has no impact on you at all. You are HOME. You are with God. The only piece of you that my body is clinging to is not important to you anymore. For me – it is all I have. The empty shell of you. I never got to witness the person that was in the shell. I don’t know how to be okay with that until I meet you in heaven. I need to though.

I am hurt, and angry, and confused at how this has happened. I can’t hold onto that though. I need to be active and participate to wade Kyle through his impending adolescence. He needs my focus and energy, so I need to leave you in my past so that I can do that. Libby is such a nervous and anxious little waif, and she needs me to teach her bravery, and trust. I can’t do that if I am holding onto fears and doubts. She needs my time to teach her how to be a woman of God, and to develop her potential – I can’t do that if I am living in the past where I have you with me. Jordan is smart as a whip, but is having problems. Behind on his speech and I won’t even start into the potty training or the problem of beating on Micah every chance he gets. He needs me to focus on his weak areas and to help him overcome his difficulties – whatever they may be. Micah is starting everything. Talking, potty training, learning social skills. He needs me to teach him everything I know, and to nurse him down at night so that he slows down and rests. I can’t do that if I am so wrapped up in you and your brief stay with me that I can’t see or attend to their needs. We absolutely wanted you, and had room for you, but I need to accept that you are gone. That you DON’T need me. That is why I need to let you go. I don’t really know what that is going to involve yet, but the first step is to birth your body to this world. I need to let go of it.

It is scary to contemplate. I have managed in the last week to get myself to a point where I could eat and function again, but what about when I REALLY let you go? How much is that going to hurt? How am I going to be able to let you go? First your body, and then your lack of presence. How will I be able to let you go THAT much. Will I ever have a day where I don’t think about you, or try to find out what went wrong? Will I ever accept that you were never meant to breathe the same air as me, or suckle at my breast? Will I ever accept that I was never meant to nurture, raise, and hold you like I was the others? I hope so. I am told I will, but right now I can’t fathom that…

I love you, my child. Until we meet in heaven watch over us, wait for us, and know that we love you. We will always love you.

Love,

Mom

Stuck February 6, 2012

Posted by dreamom in Faith, family, Fears, Life, Pregnancy Loss.
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When I wrote the other day my emotions were still quite raw, and reading back it is all still true – even as some of the rawness is scabbing over.  That was a few days ago, but it feels like months.  Time is moving both fast and slow, and I am left in a weird state of awareness of where we are, compared to where we are going.  It is like in a movie when everything is a whirl moving fast around the character standing still.

This experience earned me membership to a special Facebook group.  It is one designed to let women connect and support each other as they have all experienced a pregnancy loss.  Quite frankly it isn’t a group I want to be in.  I want to be naive to this reality – but that is not possible.  This is permanently etched as part of my story.  Sometimes I retreat to that group, but other time I want to run from it, as I can get overwhelmed by the pain of the stories unfolding there.  It is okay though because they are all the same.  Vacilating between heartbreak, happiness and envy.  No matter what there is the steady support regardless of where you are.  It is refreshing despite the painful parts.

I have learned that as a victim of this tragedy I have a huge responsibility to others.  When people ask how I am chances are they want me to say “Ok”, not the truth.  This isn’t true of everyone, and some might not think that they expect this.  The fact is that if I tell you I am not fine and I have to pick up the pieces and console you from witnessing the pain I am experiencing – that I can’t tell you the truth, and I have a hard time lying about it as it seems to defile the enormity of finding your your child is dead.  If you want to hear about such an awkward situation ask the cashier of the dollar store where I was buying a stamp pad to make a foot print of our angel baby once it is born.  I can’t say “fine” and not mean it – I never know what is going to fall out instead.  Result?  One of the most terrifying phrases is “How are you?”.

Another responsibility I have is make the choices that everyone else would.  Maybe that choice is a D&C, or medical induction, or natural induction, or waiting for a natural miscarriage.  Whatever I choose (with the information I have been presented and chased down) I am doing the wrong thing.  Someone thinks I am being foolish in trying to avoid the inevitable, or I am going through unnecessary pain when it can all be over like ‘that’, or I am not utilizing everything available, and finally I am putting my life and health at risk unnecessarily (not true btw).  Whatever I choose is my choice, and my responsibility to carry out responsibly.  I might be the only one who sees it that way though, because I have to defend my choice to everyone.

I also have the responsibility to protect other people’s emotions.  As cut up and wrecked as I am about what happened, there are people who are more emotional about it than I am.  It isn’t that I don’t feel that gut wrenching pain – but I need to function – I need to work toward a place of accepting that.  I can’t do that when  I am dragged back over, and over again into the ocean of emotions that threaten to overtake me at any minute.  I am not ignoring them, avoiding them, or bottling them up.  I have to give them a space, and I need to keep it in its space.  PLEASE let me take the lead on expressing emotion – that is not to say you can’t ask, but hugging, crying, etc – let me lead – it is my tragedy.  Maybe this same event is a tragedy for you as well – as it is for our families.  It is not my job to help you deal with that – if you are with me – let me determine the level of emotion.

As far as I have come in the past few days I am still stuck.  I accept that the baby is gone.  I accept that there are limits to what I can do with the remains of my child as there is a chance that to the medical community it will be nothing more than expelled tissue, despite having all the features of a person.  I accept that how we treat the remains is NOT my choice.  I have learned that women can choose to terminate a pregnancy, but they cannot choose to have their lost child treated as a person.  I accept that I am going to experience physical pain, and have nothing to show for it other that a memorial somewhere, and a broken heart.  I accept that I will experience emotional anguish beyond that brought on by the tragedy itself as a result of my hormones adjusting from “pregnant” to “not pregnant”.  I accept that I have a husband and children to walk through the grief as I pave the path.  I accept the new fear that ‘you never know’ while still trying to trust.  I am ready for this next step.  Something isn’t.  I don’t know what, but as I type my child, who is no longer of this world, is nestled in my womb.  How do you mourn something you haven’t lost yet?  How do I dream of forcing the tiny body from mine when it is clear that it is still here for a reason.  Do I have to prepare physically? Mentally? What is it that is making it hang on so tight to a mama that can no longer meet it’s needs?

Through all of this I HAVE to trust in God.  He has a plan for me, and for my child – me on earth, and my child in heaven.  The truth is my child is already in heaven, and I missed  it.  I didn’t know.  I thought it was here to stay.  How naive to think I could foresee the plan…  So.  I trust, and I put one foot in front of another, and I dream of seeing my child’s body for the brief moments it will be in the span of a life.  I will never know my child this side of heaven.  I can’t fight letting go – it is gone already.  Oh my sweet babe.  Your mama loves you.  Will always love you.  I can’t wait to get to know you in heaven.  Can we both move to the next step now?

Don’t mind me – I’m just trying… August 4, 2009

Posted by dreamom in family, Fears, Goals, Happiness, Home, Homeschooling, Life, Parenting.
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It was suggested to me some time ago that when Mom’s use the word ‘trying’ that they are setting themselves up for failure.  I listened intently, and added some thoughts of my own, and decided that it is true.

I volunteer for an organization which comes along side breastfeeding mom’s and offers various types of support as needed.  I hear Mom’s say “I am going to try to breastfeed” all the time.  If I had a nickle  for every time I heard it, I would be a rich woman indeed.  (Feel free to give me a nickle when you use that term with me! lol).  My thought was always ‘FANTASTIC! They are going to try!’  What was pointed out to me though is that in saying that they are leaving the possibility open for failure, and thus reducing their commitment (as to not look to do more than trying) and increasing the chance of…  non-success.  In hindsight this makes perfect sense to me, and I can see that playing out in the people I have ‘trying’.  The solution?

It was also suggested that what we as parents should do is just make a decision – such as “I am going to breastfeed” (which incidentally what I did unintentionally).  If things aren’t going well, and your life is falling apart, you aren’t receiving sufficient support, and you feel trapped – you don’t just gradually make little consessions here and there – eventually slipping out of breastfeeding without noticing it – you make a new decision.  Perhaps saying “I will now be  pumping to supplement one feed” or some such thing as to make it manageable, yet maintain control and having a clear idea of where you stand.

I found this to be a fantastic way of looking at things and have been trying to rephrase my parenting strategies as to tell myself, as well as others that I am committed to said strategy.  For instance, I am no longer ‘trying’ homeschooling.  I AM homeschooling.  When and if I see a need to make a new decision regarding the education of my children (for which I can choose – sadly for one child I am stuck with whatever I can manage to get from the PS system…), I will.  This has made all the difference for me. I can plan things without fearing looking foolish, and I can order curriculum without ‘hoping’ not to waste money.  I can tell the kids that we ARE doing such and such today without hoping I wasn’t just wasting everyone’s time on something that might not work…

Today I began to read a book in preparation for the birth of baby #4.  I know that when I tell you the topic that many of you will choke on your tea, water, etc. and say “Why on earth would you try something like that!?”  It is on having a Diaper Free baby.  I was first introduced to Elimination Communication (EC) by a good friend (who I miss dearly) from Guelph.  I was skeptical too – although I hope I was nice about it…  The first time I was handed the baby and was asked if I could ‘pee her’ (at maybe 2 months), and I did the whistle cue, and that sweet baby started to pee – I was convinced!  I tried to start with Jordan at that point, but he was nearing 10 months and having nothing of it…  Keep in mind I was ‘trying’.  I did start attending the EC meetings and met other Mom’s (besides my friend) who were, or had done this style of infant hygiene with success.  I knew that this was indeed something I wanted to do – if only Jordan was willing…

Now with baby #4 getting closer, I started reading the book to refresh my memory of what I was hoping to embark on, and build up my knowledge bank so I would be ready.  Tonight as I headed for bed I set down the book, and with renewed vigor thought “I will have to try that.”  At that moment it hit me.  I was only planning to try.  I was in other ways getting the diapers organized, thinking about where to put them so they would be handy.  I was pondering getting disposables for the icky umbilical cord days.  I was only trying.  I was excited to try, but even for something as non-life threatening as diapering decisions I was getting my emergency plan in place and planning my escape route.  I would like to say that going diaper free is more daunting than breastfeeding, thus relieving myself of the commitment to the decision, but that is just not the case.  I was lucky to have access to the support I needed and the stubborn drive to get through the bumps, and the fact that I gave myself no other option for infant feeding.  Baby was getting my milk.  Period.  I was not going to pump for the nursing years because that is way too hard.  Period.  Somehow the baby and myself were going to figure out the dance of milk transfer from me to baby.  Period.  There was no word ‘try’.  EVER.

If I am going to plan to succeed with this I am going to have to erase the word ‘try’, and insert the word ‘do’.  Period.  If I was having this baby in Guelph I would know that I would have the support of my dear ECing friend, and the group of women who met to support each other in this diaper choice that was so against the norm.  Here in good ol’ Manitoba I don’t have that.  My friend Mhairi is supportive – although having not done it herself… yet 🙂  That is all I know.  Heck I have been a bit of a black sheep here for having cloth diapers.  (When mom’s see the diapers or covers they beam and say “OH!  You have cloth diapers!”  Like they have just found water in the desert…)  It is going to be hard to not try.  It is going to be harder still to just do it.  I can’t wait to start explaining my taking my infant into the bathroom at…  anywhere!  I DO know that it is achievable, and I do think that it is a wise choice (in the end) for Mom, baby, and the environment – but this is going to take an AWFUL lot of doing!

The Dark Side of Geocaching July 5, 2009

Posted by dreamom in Fears, Geocaching, Home, Life.
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As followers of this blog will know, I have a new hobby.  Geocaching.  It is fun – you are given GPS coordinates, and use those, and generally a GPS to find a ‘cache’.  This is often a bag or box containing a logbook, and sometimes a small collection of miscellaneous items to be traded and swapped by all who find it.  The log book is filled with dates, screen names, places and notes to the creator of the cache.  Often in the description of the cache the creator will talk about the unique history, geography, etc of the area.  It offers mental stimulation, an educational opportunity, exercise, and a social experience with others that encounter the caches you visit.  What is bad about that?

The geocaching website has a disclaimer that says:

“Geocaching, hiking, backpacking and other outdoor activities involve risk to both persons and property. There are many variables including, but not limited to, weather, fitness level, terrain features and outdoor experience, that must be considered prior to seeking or placing a Cache. Be prepared for your journey and be sure to check the current weather and conditions before heading outdoors. Always exercise common sense and caution.”

That is perfectly reasonable – clearly they don’t want a law suit…  Today I encountered worst possible ‘variable’.  The wood tick.

This is not MY tick, but a picture of one like it off Flickr - there was no way I could have operated a camera!

This is not MY tick, but a picture of one like it off Flickr - there was no way I could have operated a camera!

As I rescued a cache from a grove of poplar trees, in a low lying area full of tall grass, I thought to myself – it is a good thing that tick season is over (according to several friends native to the area), or my goose would be cooked!  As quickly as the thought entered my mind, it left – with my discovery of the coveted container.

So Kevin and I arrived home, fed our children (the ones that are here – Kyle is away) a healthy dinner of white cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese, and commenced our bedtime routine.  As I sat at the computer catching up on email, facebook and the like I happened to lift my shirt to see if the slight sensation I had was a 1,000,000,000,007th mosquito bite.  To my horror what I discovered, was a paper thin, 1/2cm round insect which I recognized at once as being a tick.

People who know me know that I do not handle insects well.  I used to be fine, but in one shocking, horrible summer when I was maybe 14 or so – earwigs had a population boom in Ontario, resulting in earwigs showing up EVERYWHERE.  One day our family discovered them lining the walls and ceiling of our hall by our back door.  This particular summer scarred me for life.  It didn’t matter if it were creepy centipedes, disgusting earwigs, gross cockroaches (including the escaped giant African ones in the tunnels of UWO), stealthy spiders, intriguing caterpillars, cute lady bugs or the common ant.  They all – one by one started to illicit the same response.  I lose my ability to breathe, verbalize coherently, or see straight.  My body tenses, and I flail about in a non-verbal panic (although – occasionally for my kids I control the flailing and opt for the completely frozen on the spot option.)

Tonight, upon my shocking discovery, I stood up, and headed straight out to the deck where I paced like a caged animal muttering “tweezers, Anna, number, shoot, Julie, no, TWEEZERS, Linda, Evelyn, no no no…”  At this point Kevin is trying to dial the number of my friend Linda, who lives a solid 25 minutes away – to get phone coaching on tick removal.  I should point out that Kevin was not going to be a tremendous amount of help, as it is my job to extract slivers – lest he see some blood and pass out.  The idea of extracting anything from flesh is not in Kevin’s range of abilities (but we love him anyway!  🙂 )

I had been given tweezers, and attempted to grab the stationary bug with my shaking hands.  I managed to grasp it, and tried to pull on it – hoping that it was not embedded yet – before my shaking caused the tick to slip out of the grasp of the tweezers I noted that it had its barb in me, as my skin had pulled with the insect.  I knew I was so far in over my head I ran through the house and out the front door.  I was trying to think of people who might want, or maybe just not mind assisting me in this awful procedure.  Jon and Linda?  No – they were on vacation for 10 days.  Crystal?  I didn’t know if she was home from her trip back east yet, and is from Ontario, so might not know more than me…  Evelyn?  She mentioned the other day that she had moved here from Toronto…  What was with all the useless Ontario people!  (I can say that because CLEARLY I am the worst of them all…)

As I emerged from the house I caught the glimpse of my very pregnant Girl Guide Leader neighbour out for a walk with her husband, and some neighbours from further down the street.  THIS is what I needed.  A local Girl Guide Leader HAD to know how to do tick removal!  I ran up to the group panicked, and said “I really need some help, and have to preface this by saying that I am from Ontario and NEVER seen a tick before except for one that was on my dog but I didn’t do anything with it so I really don’t – I don’t like …”  At which point Kathy grabbed my arm, started up my driveway and said where is it?  I showed her the beast that seemed to grow exponentially in size every time I looked at it…   She magically grabbed it WITH HER HANDS, and pulled it off.  Just like that.  The whole time I am still yammering like an idiot – no breaks in sentences – heck, not even committed to completing an idea that might have resembled a sentence.

By this time the other female neighbour had come up, and was reassuring me that it would not be my last tick.  I did not find that reassuring!  Then she enquired as to the ticks fate, making sure that in Kathy’s extraction that she had properly destroyed the creature.  Around this time Kevin came out of the house with a naked Jordan to check on my prognosis.  Assured that the tick was out, that Kathy was both experienced and knowledgeable, he returned to the house to resume bedtime routines.  Slowly as I stood talking to Kathy, my ability to speak coherently returned, and I became much more calm.  I walked her home (as the men had gone ahead), and returned home.

As I sit here I am still trying to get the image out of my mind, and the sensation of bugs crawling on me off my body.  I go to bed tonight a wiser, more deeply scarred person.  I suggested to Kevin that he could bring me home a spray suit to geocache in.

A must for any outdoor activity in Manitoba during any season - with the possible exception of winter.

A must for any outdoor activity in Manitoba during any season - with the possible exception of winter.

He agreed that it would probably help avoid a repeat of today’s events, but that it might draw more attention to myself.  You see when you geocache you are supposed to be discrete to keep muggles (or people who don’t geocache) from uncovering the cache, and stealing/moving/or destroying it.  On the other hand people might think that the area had some toxic spill and I was there to check it out, and stay away?  I vote for that.  I want the suit.