Friday, December 21, 2007

A Little Update

Spud and I are in Texas eagerly awaiting the arrival of Daddy Rib on Saturday. I had a whirlwind of a week trying to get myself out the door on Wednesday. I managed to remember everything I was supposed to bring... except, of course, the thing I probably need the very most, my thyroid supplement! I realized this about 6 hours before I needed to take it, in the middle of the night. Fortunately, Texas is full of super-friendly, helpful people, and the pharmacist at Walgreens saved the day by simply GIVING me 3 pills, all I needed to tide me over until Brendan shows up with my meds on Saturday night. Disaster #1: averted! SO, if you ever need some pills... I know how to get them ;)

Wedding plans are going swimmingly for my sister, and we're having fun checking things off the list one at a time. Yesterday, we got some make-up for the wedding after lunch with my cousin and grandma. That was fun.

Also, I should note that Spud and I are feeling OK. My midwife and I talked about my spotting issues and my concerns about my activity level. She thinks the nature of the spotting is nothing to worry about, so I'm glad of that. It's easy to say it's nothing now that we've hear little Spud's heartbeat so many times. She also said that it probably would be good for me to limit my activity and rest more especially if that's what my instincts are telling me to do. I have full permission to laze about as much as I need. She's so great. She said that I'm just exhibiting good maternal instinct and that this all practice for learning to say no to too much stress/ activity when Spud is out here, and my family requires it. So, I'm feeling good about all that.

Last little thing: we had a great, but all too brief, time catching up and hanging out with Auntie Brenna and David during the 24 hr. period that our presence in Seattle overlapped. We also talked a bit about doing whatever we can to try to ensure that Brenna is at Spud's birth. Pray with us about that if you think of it because Brenna's presence would go a LONG way in my level of comfort and feeling of security on that huge day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good Thing Everyone I Know is Nice

Well, it happened again. Last night in the middle of teaching the level III's, I started having spotting again. We were having a particularly good class; it was one of those times when teacher and student really meld and understand each other. They were working hard for me, and I'm starting to see such beautiful glimmers of real, natural talent in my favorite little 9 year old. I had to do this weird "Ok, everyone take a minute to do some stretching before we do our adagio in center" and run to the bathroom to find out what was going on. Then, I had to find my boss, tell her I was having issues, and watch the poor dear scramble around to figure out what to do with my class... who were supposed to have another hour and fifteen minutes of instruction, including their pointe class. AGGGGHHHH!!! So frustrating!!! Then, I called my friend to let her know that I wouldn't be babysitting in the morning. Again, I felt so frustrated. The spotting the last two times has turned out to be nothing, so I hate letting people down when there may be no reason to worry.

I managed not to cry (until I talked to Brendan) even though I'm always terrified when the spotting happens. This is the third time. I haven't had definitive instruction about what to do when it happens because we really don't know what is or why it's happening. In the past, any pregnant woman having spotting or bleeding of any kind was told to lay down and drink lots of water. However, now studies are emerging that show no significant difference between the miscarriage rates of those who use increased bed rest and those who don't. The advice to women now is leaning towards "go about your life and don't be stressed." That is extremely hard to do. That's what I did with Speck. I know that I lost Speck early enough that he or she was likely a baby with chromosomal abnormalities, but I still really wish that I had stayed in bed more. I know it's a little irrational. Part of me was relieved to hear those study results back then because it helps an extrovert like me to get out of the house rather staying home to ruminate and cry.

After my miscarriage, I read a book called To Full Term. It is the happy, but stressful, story of a woman who had a very sick premie then lost 3 babies but finally carried her second child to full term. It's full of research about the new trends medically in investigating causes of miscarriage. She had to practically bully her way to tests and diagnoses to help determine what had caused her losses and what she could do next pregnancy to prevent further problems. She had a myriad of issues including a genetically inherited blood clotting disorder and an incompetent cervix... both conditions that lead to tragic, painful late losses. It was almost cathartic to read it. Her experience was so horrible. I suppose it wasn't cathartic because in the end she was, in a sense, redeemed. She finally had a healthy baby... although a stressful and very physically taxing pregnancy. I was encouraged. One thing that definitely caught my eye was her set of comments about bed rest.

In his book "Preventing Miscarriage: The Good News," Dr. Jonathan Scher explains his belief that nature intended women to get more rest during the early stages of pregnancy, hence the fatigue and the frequent nausea. He believes that extra rest can sometimes curb bleeding and prevent miscarriage.
While the value of bed rest to ebb bleeding is considered questionable, from my own experience with bleeding, when I was up more, I bled more. Each woman needs to make this decision for herself, but for me, my body clearly told me that I needed to rest.
Darci Klein, To Full Term: A Mother's Triumph Over Miscarriage

The last two times I've had spotting, I was up and being super active. The first time, I was leading rehearsal and costuming 40 5 year olds. The second time (last night), I was teaching ballet for 4 hours. While teaching isn't as physical as taking a class, I do have to do a lot, especially with the 5 and 6 year olds. I bunny-hopped across the floor more than once! I also did the very bad thing... back bends. I have no business, with my back injury, doing that, but sometimes I just can't resist. BAD JESKY. So, I think I might be in that category of people that need to lay down more often during a pregnancy. It's only been twice, but the correlation of the spotting and activity worries me.

Two things suck the most about this... well, maybe 3. The number one thing is, of course, that I worry about Spud. #2: Having to impose/let down people around me. #3: Not knowing why. Funny how all these things require trusting God. Praying and trusting my God are the only things that I know for sure I can do and that I know for sure will "work." They might not result in a totally healthy pregnancy, but I'm certain they'll lead to the result that is the very best for me in light of God's kingdom. I can't be everything that I wish I could be. I can't be super-helpful, always there for you teacher/babysitter/friend. Good thing Jesus is always available to the needy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Baby, Baby, can't you hear [your] heart beat?"

Yeah, we can!

I had another little spotting scare last weekend in the midst of the Nutcracker madness. That was stressful. So, I called my midwife to ask if we could come in for a listen. I felt pretty sure that everything was fine, but I'm about to leave town and wanted to be really sure. I'll be through week 12 by next weekend when I'm there, so I figured if I heard the beat one more time that would allay any fears that might arise with any more minor spotting in Texas.

We went this morning, and it was pretty funny. She uses a little doppler machine to detect the beat. The first doppler machine was really static-y, so she changed the batteries, hoping that would help. It didn't. So, she found another one. That one was a different kind, and she couldn't find the beat with it because the beam (probably the wrong word) couldn't be pinpointed enough to find it. So, she went to get a third machine from her car. We barely heard the little beat... and the batteries died! She changed them, and then finally we were able to listen and search long enough to find the steady, little throb. Once she found it, we sat and listened for a couple of minutes so it could really sink in that everything is fine.

I wasn't worried, and all the delays didn't really make me anxious. I'm getting better at taking things one step at a time. As long as she wasn't worried, I was fine. I had a great time listening to Spud. I wish so badly that I could just put my hand over my uterus and feel the little beat! Of course, that may get a little maddening over time :)

Our short appointment ended fittingly. She wanted to run a copy of a page in a book that shows the approximate size of Spud, so that I can take it to Texas with me. The copier ran out of toner! After she fixed the toner, all the other faxes and reports started printing first, so we had to wait. It was hilarious. But, "all's well that ends well."

Monday, December 10, 2007


Just when I thought it was safe to go out during the holidays... I've been sucked back in!!!

(A note to my readers: I know this looks long... cuz it is, but I don't talk much about these feelings with anyone because they make me cry. So if you've ever wondered how I feel about it, here you go.)

I first danced in The Nutcracker when I was 7 years old which, by my calculations, was in the year 1990. I will never forget (unless dementia has something to do with it) the magical, overwhelming feeling of walking into the Amarillo Civic Center Auditorium (which is actually huge and nice) and seeing the amazing scenery for the party scene. Whatever virus it is that causes a performer to yearn continually for the stage, the smell of the lights, and (for a dancer) that Marley floor entered my body instantly and stays there infecting me to this day. I was just a "party girl," and the littlest one at that. However, I was the very first person to walk on stage. I could still do that whole part from start to finish.

Fast forward 9 years. When I was sixteen, I performed almost every big part in the show that there is (at different performances, of course). I was the Snow Queen, the Dew Drop Fairy, and even the Sugar Plum Fairy for the benefit performance. For the rest of the shows, a guest artist from some real ballet company would do it. I still remember most of the choreography for all those parts too. I felt like a real ballerina, and I was wildly happy.

By the time I left Amarillo, The Nutcracker was nothing but fantastic memories. Even though, that last year, I was extremely sick for most of my shows. My doctor bought a front row ticket. He said I probably wouldn't be able to do it... he was not familiar with the irrational, adrenaline and artistic spirit driven ability to dance under nearly any circumstance because the SHOW MUST GO ON!

Then, I moved to Seattle and had the grand privilege of dancing in the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker. It's crazy. It's this Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) designed version of the ballet choreographed by Kent Stowell (whose choreography is a little crazy). Incidentally, his Nutcracker is my favorite thing he choreographed that I've seen. The choreography is very emotive and festive. I LOVE his snow scene. That was my favorite part I performed with PNB. Of course, no big parts for me out here. I was just another fish in the pond, but it was wonderful all the same... at first. Everyone in a professional company has a love/hate relationship with The Nutcracker. We love it because we get to dance a lot, and younger company members get the opportunity sometimes to do a soloist role. However, we also stinkin' hate it because you have to do it a BILLION times. Most of the magic disappears around show 10... then you have 24 or so more to do. Your body starts to rebel; you miss Thanksgiving and Christmas with your family (at least I did); and you HATE anything resembling holiday cheer because it usually involves the absolute inability to escape from The Nutcracker score anywhere you go: Safeway, Nordstrom, even Old Navy.... it's everywhere!!!

Then, my Nutcracker bitterness was sealed forever on November 29, 2002, 12 years after my first show. Most people who read this know what happened. Stage hands made a mistake, and I wound up with a partially herniated disc and a fractured vertebrae that eventually ended my dancing career at the ripe old age of 19. All my glorious associations with the music and dancing were covered with new associations like these: Spanish music = searing low back pain, Snow Scene = searing low back pain, Flowers = searing low back pain... and so on. It was horrible. It still is horrible. I've cried every 11/29 since then (and many other days too). I then had a 4 year break from The Nutcracker.

So now, in 2007, I'm back to The Nutcracker. The studio I teach for just did their first performance of a medley of Nutcracker pieces. It was a rough day. I had all sorts of sad memories swirling in my head. If I hadn't been injured (and, I KNOW, who knows what could have happened), I might still be performing the ballet with a professional company not corralling a bunch of 5-7 year olds and whisper-screaming from the wings, "No, Ashley, this way!!!!" Of course, I was on my feet for a good 6 hours through the dress rehearsal and performance, so my back was killing me. For the little Spud's sake, I couldn't take any Ibuprofen either. The searing low back pain associations work in reverse from the above. The pain instantly makes me long for the ability to dance and perform and that virus that I caught when I was 7 years old throbs inside my heart.

That was the painful side of what was going on in my head and heart. There was a warm fuzzy thing happening too. Because God is supremely good and loves me and has given me the ability to see his wisdom (although, I will never completely understand it) through the mist of my severe pain over the whole thing, my redeemed soul was so happy to be given the opportunity to share the joy of that ballet with a bunch of little girls who are just like I was when I was their age. I made them ornaments to commemorate their first Nutcracker experience. I taught them about stage etiquette. I gave them a warm-up. I showed them their tape marks on the stage. I was so happy that those little, cute girls got to have the fun of doing that stinkin' ballet.

The next day, we went to Bellingham to watch Brendan's cousin's daughter perform in her first Nutcracker. That was actually almost harder for me than being backstage for my students. I had to actually sit and watch the whole thing. I relived so many moments that afternoon, good and bad. Even the good are somewhat bittersweet now. It was a strange feeling watching the highschool students (a couple of whom seemed quite talented) perform those roles that had so greatly satisfied me: Snow Queen, Dew Drop, Sugar Plum. I felt their pain when they each consecutively messed up their fouettes. And I thrilled along with them when they held their balances and nailed their pique turns. I wanted to run backstage and find them all. But, I didn't know if I wanted to say, "You're great! You can do it! Keep going. I'm proud of you, bizzaro version of me! You might just make it!" or "RUN AWAY! GO TO COLLEGE! THEY'RE GOING TO STRING YOU ALONG AND THEN CAUSE YOUR DEMISE! NO ONE REALLY CARES ABOUT YOU! GO BE A DOCTOR!" I just sat in my seat and quietly cried.

I believe that God loves The Nutcracker because it is a reflection of his creative character. It is a well made piece of art that combines the talents of so many people who by His common grace were blessed with the ability to reflect God's character. It has provided the means to teach probably millions, at this point, of children the joy of working to do something well and participating in art. So, all in all, I'm extremely thankful for The Nutcracker, but I'm not sure that I was ready to go back to it. Maybe being pregnant made the emotions more intense.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I just got the call from Brendan: "Jesky, what the heck is 'Team Strikeforce'?" I said, "Oh, that's not what it's called." Condescending laughter from Rib then began.

SO, apparently, the game is NOT called Team Strikeforce... that's just what I call it. It's actually something about a fortress... and a team... I think. I don't know. But, and I should get points for this, it came with the "Orange Box." :)

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

I know. That's like asking Mount Rainier to move over a bit (although, geologically speaking, I don't think that is entirely out of the question... interesting). At any rate, rain in Seattle in the fall and winter is just a visitor we all must accept. It's been raining or snowing (wet, slushy) since Friday. The snow on Saturday was fun for a second... until I had to go somewhere. I'm becoming a completely snow-fearing Seattlite... it's embarrassing, but true.

The really bad thing about all this wet is that several of our friends are dealing with flooding! Flooded basements, flooded apartments, etc. I feel so bad for all of them. The secondary bad thing is that it's depressing the pregnant girl. Yesterday, I actually sobbed! I vaguely felt like it was related to Brendan playing Team Strikeforce during his lunch hour on his day working from home (b/c he has a cold), but I was definitely abnormally upset about it. It was a perfect storm: seasonal affect, pregnancy emotions, and Team Strikeforce.

In case you're wondering, the computer game playing just bothers me because I'm jealous of it. Not a new issue, for sure.