Thursday, March 5, 2009

birthday distortions

So I am now 28 years old. The funny thing is that I have been telling people I am 28 for quite some time and missed most of my more youthful-sounding 27th year. They say forgetfulness comes with the getting older.

Historically, I make a big deal about my birthday. I want my cake. I want a party and presents to unwrap. This year, however, my wish list was stranger: I wanted to breathe through my nose, not be in labor, and to sleep whenever I wanted. I got two and a half of those. Not bad. Plus, Pat bought me a dishwasher with some of our tax money for my birthday. I think I *smiled* with excitement. These last several days (weeks?) have seen me with little energy to do...anything, including being very excited about a dishwasher. Getting a load of laundry through on a given day feels like a great accomplishment. (Speaking of which...the sheets are in the washer! There goes going to bed when I want. I'm glad I I can remember what's really important!) I am glad to have the dishwasher, though, and I think Pat is able to correctly interpret my smile as what would normally be me jumping up and down and clapping my hands.

Three years ago on my birthday, I had Bell's Palsy, which paralyzes half of your face. My smile then was a very strange-looking occurrence, with one side of my mouth curling upward and the other side was merely strung along for the ride. My face looked like this:
when I really meant for it to look like this:
It was rather embarrassing to get excited at that time and I remember trying to just keep a straight face about everything, knowing I looked a bit scary when I attempted a show of emotion. It was very strange not wanting to smile and I felt like a significant part of me had been taken away. I didn't even want to laugh at my own bad puns! There are no guarantees with Bell's Palsy. Sometimes your face returns to normal and other times it's just gonna stay that way. When you get it, you don't know which part of the population you will be. Your face's every expression could be distorted for the rest of your life and you just have to wait and see. Obviously, I was blessed to be part of the you-get-your-face-back group and every now and then I remember just how nice it is to be able to smile like a normal person and recognize my face as a gift.

I would've been so excited to have a day like today for my birthday as a kid. The weather is NICE, (about 60 degrees and sunny) and I can remember only once as a kid being able to go outside in just a jacket on my birthday. This is truly a rare occasion. Also rare is being able to stay home with Pat on a weekday, which I got to do today as well. Give me that combination on a typical day and I will fill the day with all kinds of things to do. However, this year I find myself "keeping a straight face" again and not wanting to do anything particularly grand. This is because I am a wimp. I have had the same whiny cold for over three weeks now and am tired from being pregnant. So when presented with a day on which I could do whatever I wanted, I opted to sleep. I slept in a bit. I took a nice nap. I hope to go to bed early.

I feel like a little part of me has been taken away and I hope to get it back. Of course, this isn't like Bell's Palsy. I know that my condition won't last the rest of my life. I mean, a cold can't REALLY last forever and I'm actually praying that my pregnancy will last at least until next week, even if it means I lose a few hours of wake-time every day until it's over. But since when do I decline birthday cake on my birthday due to a weird-feeling stomach and since when is sleeping on a beautiful day the most enjoyable activity I can think of? I have tried to think of this as going back to my roots; I slept a lot and didn't eat cake on my actual birth-day, after all. But really, it's just not quite like me. It makes me just yearn to feel "normal" again and causes a strange contentment with something small -- like a nice nap.

It's kind of like the day after you have a cold, when inhaling seems like a miracle. (Can't wait for that!)

But in matters greater than my physical state, I have been keenly aware that, as with Bell's Palsy, there are no guarantees in life and people often are presented with conditions that don't just go away. This past week, some friends and I got together for a little prayer time. Our church group has had several problems related to children in the last year or so, ranging from infertility to an infant who died to a couple who had a miscarriage just last week. One of my friends, as a result, wanted to specifically pray for my child to be protected. It was a strange prayer time. Mostly, the three of us there confessed to not being entirely sure what the point of such prayer is. One of the friends praying for me is the friend whose daughter died this year. I have struggled this whole pregnancy with asking God for anything, since so much has been denied my friends. What right do I have to ask God for anything? When I look around me at the terrible and difficult things that have happened to my friends, I just become speechless before God and prayer gets added to the list of things that would take too much energy to do in earnest. I've already fought it out with God once and I really don't have the energy to do it again now. Besides, I know the "answers." So I mutter prayers like, "God, you know what I would want and I know you'll do whatever you want to do anyway, so I'm gonna try not to be anxious about it and trust you." It's a prayer that says, "I trust your Sovereignty in the short term and your Goodness only in the scope of eternity." And it's not entirely like me to be that way -- not in practice. It's me trying to keep a straight face and take a lot of naps.

After choir practice this evening, we had a brief time of prayer for various ones of us in the group. I asked for prayer (because what could it hurt?) that I will not go into labor this weekend while the midwife is away and that I could stop worrying about it. (I don't feel like worrying about it.) One of my friends there prayed for Pat and me, asking that we would have a wonderful labor. It was a simple, short prayer and it made me cry a little. I cried, I think, because I don't have the faith to pray like that right now, but I'm glad someone does. Having just a normal delivery sounds like more of a blessing than I could ask for at this point. I think a part of me would feel guilty if I had one that was anything close to "wonderful." I know not one of my friends who has had difficulty would wish anything but the best for me and my children, but when neither good nor bad seems fair, it seems easier to opt for nothing noteworthy. Of course, I have my wish list for a time frame for labor and for Israel and me to be well and for my mom to have time to get here and for Eden to be healthy and not have colic like Israel did and for nursing to be easy and for enough money to cover the expenses associated with another child and, and, and.... But for now I am hoping I'm not just selling God short in trying to be grateful for nasal spray and Kleenex with lotion.


Maria Kristiansen said...

I love you Lezlie! I celebrate your life (without birthday cake as well)

Anonymous said...

Hey! Lezlie...

We love you guys and Happy Birthday!

I am sure Cristina could sympathize with you over the pregnancy. We are only 5 weeks away!

Bless you from KC,

Chris n Cristina