Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Then and Now.......

At 3:30 this morning I dropped Peter off at the airport for him to begin his long trek back to Sierra Leone.  He'll be gone for 2 months.  As I was driving back from the airport I couldn't help but remember the last time we were separated for 2 months.  And I started to chuckle.  So I thought I'd share. :)

Peter and I started "dating", "talking", "getting to know each other" ...whatever you call it, in September of 2012, about two years into my living and working in Sierra Leone.  As per my tradition, I came back to the US every November for two months to spend the holidays with my family.   Peter and I lived very close to each other so for the two months that we knew each other before I left, we spent a lot of time together.

I headed down to Freetown a couple days before my flight so I could wrap up some things with my co-workers before I left the country.  I decided to invite Peter so he could meet everyone.  Yikes! I was nervous.  There was some hesitation on the part of my friends and family about this budding little relationship which I completely understood because I had a LOT of hesitation myself!!!  The cultures are so different! Our upbringings are so different! Are we just wasting our time?
Marie wasn't living with me at the time so the plan was for Peter and I to drive down, have dinner with my friends for the BIG INTRO and then the next day Peter and I would spend the day together at the beach.  A little farewell if you will.

Now I don't know how many "romantic comedies" you've seen.....but I've seen a lot.  And it doesn't take many Meg Ryan films to figure out that "beach time" equals "romantic time."  Picnics, romantic walks, the works.  I had it all planned out in my head.  Poor Peter didn't have a clue.  Apparently he'd never even watched "The Notebook!"  He had no idea that he was supposed to hold my hand as we were walking down the beach, or shower me with compliments and tell me how his heart was breaking because I was leaving and he didn't know how he was going to survive the next 2 months.  He was just having fun swinging in the hammock on the beach! Meanwhile I'm going over what seems to be a disaster of a "last date" before I left thinking, "What's this guys' deal?!?!?  Does he even like me?  Does he care at all that I'm going? I'm going to miss him....is this just no big deal to him?"  The final straw came that evening when I dropped him off at his brothers house and he hopped out of the car, gave me a friendly wave and said, "Take Care!"  Wait....what?!  "Take care??!!?"  I lost it.  I got to my friends house and just sobbed to them that "I can't do this.'" "This isn't what I want." "We're too different." Etc. Etc.
To be fair, the hammock was a lot of fun!

So now I had a problem.  I was flying home soon and wasn't going to get a chance to talk to Peter in person before I left but felt like I needed to let him know that I didn't think this whole relationship thing just wasn't going to work.  I didn't want it to be a shock to him when I got back. So I summoned my courage, pushed down my nausea and called him.  Here's the gist of our conversation.
Me:  "Hey Peter. So......I'm really sorry but I just don't think this is going to work.  (The tears have started now).  We're so different and it's not anybody's fault, it's just....I don't think this is going to work."

Peter: "..................................................................Emily, what happened!?!?"  (Poor guy just thought we had a great time at the beach and had no idea about the melodrama that was playing out in my head).

Me: Rambling at this point. "It's not your fault! You don't know know that you're supposed to hold my hand on the beach! And you just said 'Take Care' when we were leaving!!!  You don't know these things that I'm used to and it's not your fault, but it just isn't going to work!"

Peter: "............................. (He's way better at thinking before he speaks than I am).  Emily, It's true. I don't know about these things that you're talking about, but you can tell me and I'm a very fast learner!!"

Me: "Peter, that's not fair to you. It's not either of our faults.....but to explain all these things.....all these differences......it just sounds exhausting!"

Peter: "It's true that it won't be easy, but I believe that by the grace of God and with His help, we could have a marriage that would really glorify Him!"

I mean....what's a girls supposed to say to that??  Plus, I really liked this guy!

Fast forward several years and I can see that what happened that day on the beach was the first in what will no doubt be a long list of differences, both gender, personality and cultural that we will be navigating though out our marriage.  I remember when I got back to Sierra Leone after those first two months apart and was talking about Peter and our relationship with a Sierra Leonean friend of mine. I mentioned the meltdown that I'd had before I left with him just waving and saying "Take Care" as he hopped out of the car.  I was met with a blank look.  I tried to explain further.  He didn't say he was going to miss me, that he was sad I was leaving...nothing!  Another blank look. When she finally realized that THAT was what I was upset about, she started laughing.  "Ha! That is really not a problem for us......" Thanks....I'm realizing that!

While these differences can and are a challenge at times, we've also learned to laugh at them over the years.  The other day I worked a late shift so woke up in the afternoon.  (Now this is an embarrassing admission but I blame a. my pregnancy hormones and b. the fact that I was preparing to  lose my husband for 2 months....so keep that in mind when you judge my neediness).  I was laying in bed and heard Peter out in the living room. I asked him to come in and told him  I just needed a quick hubby snuggle before I got up.  (Like Marie does with me....and she's 6.  I know.  Pregnant. Leaving. Remember?)  As we were laying there I started laughing and said, "Can you imagine if you'd married a Sierra Leonean and she asked you to just come in to snuggle...in the middle of the day?"  He busted out laughing and said "That would NEVER happen!"  I'm laughing again as I write this....it's just so absurd!

We were right at the beginning. It's definitely not always easy, but Peter does foreign things like wash the dishes even though he's "the man" and snuggle with me in the middle of the day because he loves me and that communicates his love to me. I do foreign things like gut fish call his family and friends without any other reason except to "greet" because I love him and those are ways I can show him.

I feel like that kind of wraps things up in a nice neat little way.....which is the way romantic comedies are supposed to go..... but just isn't real life. So don't believe for a second that we don't know that we are only 9 months into a very long road.  The few years that we've been together have already had its share of tears, frustrations and anger when we just don't understand WHY the other person would do that, or think that way!!  In the last couple of months Peter and I have both remarked to each other that before we got married we each thought we would be excellent spouses because we had x, y, and z character traits. Our future spouses would be so happy for this or that!  It didn't take long into marriage before we were both confronted with sin and selfishness issues that were so well hidden even our closest friends and family couldn't see.  We couldn't even see them in ourselves!  Until they began hurting the other person.  But as Peter and I said when we first started talking about marriage.....if we decide to commit, that's it.  No going back.  We'll be happy or we'll be miserable, but we'll be married, so we might as well do the work to make it a happy one!  And we're SO thankful for our Helper who is even more invested in our marriage than we are!

P.S.  Yesterday I told Peter that although I realize that the misunderstanding regarding our first "goodbye" was purely cultural....and I was sorry to be high maintenance, I was still going to need more than a wave and a 'take care" at the airport this morning.  :) He just giggled.  I like this guy. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Oh Baby Baby.....Please Stop That

NOTICE:  I started this blog on Monday but it took me forever to finish it so I attached a little update from today at the end.  So read this like it was written on Tuesday...... :)  

I'd planned for my next blog to be about the cruise that my sister and I went on a couple weeks ago.  However, since it now seems like old news (and I have something else to write about), I will sum up what would have been my post with this picture (worth a thousand words, right?)

This is basically how my sister and I spent our 4 days.  This picture shows several orders of room service that, since we so rarely left our room had yet to be picked up yet.  We got so sunburned after 3 hours in the sun on our first day that we were still in pain after the cruise was over.  Hence the 3 seasons of Downton Abbey that we watched....in our room.  We left the boat for 1 1/2 hours at one of the ports.  We didn't have a lot of exciting news to report at our group dinners but..... it was wonderful. So THANK YOU to my mom and my hubby for watching Marie and for my special friend that paid my airfare so I could go!! Great memories with my sis!

Yesterday was not quite as relaxing as those days on the cruise.  Over the weekend I'd been noticing some slight tightening in my abdomen.  Yesterday morning some kind of pain woke me up at about six am.  I hung out in bed for the next hour or so and noticed that the "tightening" kept happening.  It wasn't painful, didn't feel crampy.  It just came in a wave, and I noticed I could feel the outline of my uterus really well.  What the heck was going on?  

II didn't want to be that neurotic patient who calls with silly things and overreacts.  Did NOT want to be that patient!!  However, I also didn't want something to happen to the little one and to not have done anything so I bit the bullet and called my doc.  She told me that what I described sounded like contractions and sent me to the hospital to get checked. Well now I had a dilemma.  I'd started doing Marie's hair in extensions the night before but ran out of yarn and still had about 2-3 hours to finish up.  Shoot!!! She literally had the bottom half of her head with hair halfway down her back, and the top half of her head with three little puffs about 3 inches long.  Not cute.  And her friend was on the way to pick her up.  Darnit!!!!  I quickly did some little twists to try and make it presentable.  I don't have a picture for you, but just envision the 7 year old version of "business in the front, party in the back."  Sorry Marie!!

Marie was picked up and headed was out and about with her friend (and Mom).  Peter and I headed to the hospital.  I felt pretty sheepish as I walked in because I'd only felt this "squeezing" a couple times since standing up and moving around.  The nurse was very sweet and got me hooked up the the monitor.  Sure enough, I was contracting regularly every 2 min.  I immediately felt relief that I wasn't crazy and imagining things, but it was quickly followed fear that I really was contracting....and that it wasn't just a couple.  The nurse started an IV to give me some fluids and gave me a shot of medicine to stop the contractions.  As soon as she left the room.....of course I burst into tears.  Poor Peter had thought he'd missed something and was like "What?!!? What did she say??!!"

She hadn't said anything.  I'd just been laying there envisioning several different things.  One of the memories that haunts me a little about delivering babies in Sierra Leone was the time that I delivered a super small one...into a bedpan. I learned my lesson and since that time I have NEVER let a woman in labor try to use the bathroom, no matter how much she insisted.  It was just such an...undignified way for this little one to enter the world that I've always felt badly.  I scooped him out of the bedpan and held him while he took his first few and final breaths.  One time we had to do a c-section on a woman who's baby was too small but who was ecclamptic and wouldn't stop seizing.  We tried what we could with bagging and oxygen....but it didn't end well for the baby.  These faces, along with the babies from my NICU rotation in nursing school were swimming in my head......hence the tears.  Peter just took my hand and reminded me that God is in control.  

They did some tests, looking for possible causes but didn't really find anything.  The only possible cause they could see was a sinus infection that I'd been fighting for the last week and a half and had finally decided I needed to see a doc for some antibiotics.  Since the contractions became less intense and more irregular with the second medication they gave me to stop the contractions, they decided they could send me home.  I went home with some antibiotics, nifedipine (to stop the contractions) and instructions to take it easy for a couple days. 

This morning I woke up and the contractions were still there. I was super frustrated....and anxious!! I had so many things that were going through my mind that as I was having my time with Jesus this morning I just decided to write down everything that I was worried about, starting from the fact that Peter's supposed to go back to Sierra Leone in a few days to the potential of bed rest, the financial implications, etc.  I had a nice little list and was just writing anything coming into my head. I literally stopped and laughed when I wrote down that I was worried about how we're going to travel to Eugene and back every day for months if this little one ends up in the NICU for a long time, how I'd be able to work, how Marie would get to school, etc.  Seriously Emily?  Talk about borrowing trouble from tomorrow!!!!  I kept hearing the verses in Mathew that say " Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Rest for my soul? Easy yoke and light burden? Yes please!!!!!  I just prayed and told Jesus that I was really tired of carrying this anxiety burden, so I was handing it over!  It's too heavy for me!!  Nothing in my circumstances changed, but being able to focus on that precious verse from Scripture radically changed my outlook and I felt at peace.  Peter's words that "God is in control" which I'll admit sounded a bit hollow in my ears at the time he said it, now hit me like a mack truck.  A mack truck bringing peace. :)  

UPDATE ON TUESDAY:  I was up pretty much all night last night with the same feelings that I had on Monday. This wave of tightness in my abdomen that would come every couple of minutes.  I took my nifedipine early and it did seem to slow things down a bit so I waited until the office opened and called for some advice.  They told me to come back in.  They hooked me up to the monitor to look for contractions but even though they felt the same to me, they didn't register as contractions like they had on Monday....more just like uterine irritations.  She checked my cervix again and it was still closed, although she said the little fella was in a low position, which could be irritating my cervix.  She also said that some women just have "colicky uteruses" which I took to mean....they're just a little testy and easily annoyed.  But you know what they say...."Colicky uterus = non colicky baby" right?  They say that don't they?!?!?!?  So here I am, back at home and feeling rested after a nice long nap. I didn't get put on any restrictions which was a huge blessing! My mind is at ease so I'm hoping my body takes that cue and knocks it off already. :)  Thank you so much for all your prayers and encouragement!!  We appreciate it so much!