Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Three Years - You are not stagnant - but the advice remains the same


On the occasion of your THIRD Birthday, I am sending you this letter I wrote to you before I knew your face, once again.

To our first grandson, some thoughts on life

Dear little man,

It hardly seems possible that in four weeks you will be with us on the outside. Enjoy these last weeks in your mommy because being carried around in there is by far the easiest of all the options in life. Your old Mojo (that is me) sometimes wishes she could get back in the dark womb and hide in the warmth and peace for a bit.  (Don't be concerned about me, I won't actually attempt to do it.) I am not trying to scare you, I am just saying - enjoy it. That right there, inside your Momma, is the high life.

There are so many things I want to share with you.  Things about your Mom, things about this family, things about my mistakes and things I hope you can learn without pain. Learning is hard, it takes so many tries. To me it seems that most of us need to learn the hard way. We learn slowly, we fall, we stand up, repeat, repeat. 

I wish I could tell you ALL things that would help it be easier on you. More than that, I wish you could listen and truly hear me. The thing is, I know that you cannot.  I know you cannot  because I did not, and your Mommy did not. Because that is not a thing. We seem to be a gene pool that wants to get knocked around a bit as we learn.

Having said that I know I cannot save you from all pain or from making mistakes, there are just a few things I decided you might like to know before you come out into this boisterous and chaotic world. 

Love wins. Every time.

Now you might be saying to your baby self, what does that even mean, Mojo?  That is so abstract! You sound like a hippie or something. Let me tell you: As you grow up, you will find that sometimes things hurt you or make you angry.  Someone might misunderstand you, say something hurtful, or even intentionally lash out at you. When things hurt, when we hurt, we always want to curl up, withdraw, or strike back. That is just how we are, this gene pool.  

Your old Mojo wants to tell you that love never returns void.  I know you don't know the word void yet.  Let me try again.  When you are hurt, if you can try super hard to love yourself and love others around you, even the person that was mean to you, that will never be something you live to regret. A regret is something you later wish you could change.  The things I wish I could change in my life are all things that I did when I was very hurt or angry. We read that a soft answer turns away wrath, but a grievous word stirs up anger. That just means, when someone hurts you, you return their insult with a loving response. This sounds simple, but it is so crazy hard. It might take you fifty or sixty years to get it right.  I  know people that died very old that never quite got how important kind words and love are. Your Mommy and Daddy are going to teach you about love, watch them closely. I think they both know a lot about love.

Forgivness is so hard, but it is a part of love.  

This one is gonna be rough, there is just no way around it. I am sorry to hit you with so much before you even get here.  I just want it to be easy for you later, that's all. There is a man named MLK Jr. that I hope you will learn about that said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” That is a way of saying, forgiveness has to be worked at non-stop. People will hurt you, if you are able you will respond with love, but you will still have the work of forgiving ahead of you. If you try to continue to love someone you have not forgiven, you will get a big old smack of reality right between your blue eyes, it is basically impossible. Forgiveness just means that you don't allow that hurt to continue to cause you pain. You turn it over and cross it off, and it no longer acts as a weight you must carry.

One of my very favorite Dutch guys, his name is Henri, said it his way, “Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”  

To simplify for you, Henri was trying to say this: Forgiveness is really just love, and you already know how important love is.

Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

This is just something you figure out when you reach 40 or so.  I am telling you early, to save you the trouble.  Sometimes it feels like the pain won't go away, or the embarassment or shame is just insanely HUGE and earth-shattering.  It does feel that way in the moment, your Mojo knows it so well. This might sound silly to you, but just give it a few weeks.  After a few weeks things seem smaller. You are just gonna have to trust me on this one until you get a chance to see for yourself.

~           ~            ~

Now that I have shared those things, I feel like I should say one more thing to you.  Someday, when you are quite a bit older, you will learn about my reaction to the news of you.  You might hear that I cried and felt overwhelmed for your Mommy and Daddy.  You might learn that for a few weeks we had a bit of hard time. Then, like number three says, we woke up a few weeks later and realized that things were going to be okay. We figured out that it was not so big or impossible. Not only did we realize that things were going to be okay, we got quite excited about the prospect (do you know that word? it means the coming possibility) of meeting you, holding you, smelling you, and getting to know you. 

More than 30 weeks have passed since I learned about your little beating heart inside your mommy. In those weeks I have prayed for you, loved you more each day, and watched your Mommy's tummy grow and begin moving like crazy. (She sends me videos. What is it you are doing in there, exactly? Nobody expects you to produce work until you are a bit older, take a load off and get some rest while you can, because it is not nearly so calm and dark out here.) When I meet you in just a few short weeks I know I will be in awe of you. I hope you will show me some of those fancy moves once there is more space to perform. 

I need you to know, the time it took for me to get totally excited, was really just fear.  I was afraid for your Mom and Dad and for you, too. It was unnecessary fear, I know that now.  I guess you get your first chance at forgiving (which we already know is love), right away. Forgive me for being fearful about you, please.  

I am so excited to meet you. I think we are going to like each other a lot. 

all my heart,


Tuesday, October 03, 2017

What a Vas deferens you made in our life (a birth story)

Sometimes life is incredibly strange.  

Let it be said on this the tenth anniversary of the birth of Lydia Beth Livesay:  There is nothing stranger than stopping in Muskogee, Oklahoma.  
At least not for our family.

October 4, 2007 - Lucky No. 7 joined us

Let me take you back to the beginning.

In 2003 we were living in Zimmerman, MN. At the time Troy worked for the local phone company and I was mainly home with newly adopted Isaac and Hope.  I worked a part time job managing a banquet facility a few evenings and weekends a month.  We were waiting on the birth of Noah Livesay, our surprise after-adoption pregnancy.

In March of 2004 Noah made a huge deal of arriving while also simultaneously trying to die. His one minute APGAR score was a 1.  If you have ever read this weblog before, you obviously know he made it and came home to Zimmerman to make us a five kid family.   

Troy was 28 years old. I was 31 years old.

Troy **might** have had a total and complete hysterical meltdown over being the father of and/or responsible party for five children. I am not coming right out and SAYING he did. I am just saying it is POSSIBLE that he did. By "possible" I mean "probable" and by "probable" I mean, yes, 100% for sure. He was disoriented and freaking out about the financial responsibly and the cost of diapers alone for three children all in diapers at once. He had a few panic filled months from March to May 2004.

In June of 2004 Troy turned 29 years old. That month, when Noah was only three months old Troy announced that he was going to get a vasectomy.  At first it seemed logical to me. Yes, of course, five kids is a lot.  Do it.  Never mind your age or our relative youthfulness. We cannot sustain this current circus so why risk more clowns on the tour. Chop that shit up and get us out of here alive, that’s all I ask.

Around the time that he went for his consult, I started to feel like it was not the right choice. I attempted to put the brakes on but Troy had long since advanced into the ‘no turning back’ zone and he wasn't willing to hear me out. We had three or four tense conversations about it and he was all, "Woman. You're not stopping me." 

I ended up refusing to help him get to or from his appointment on the day of the procedure because I wasn’t at all on board and had failed at talking him into at least waiting a few months to think it over more seriously. 

I have no idea who brought him or picked him up, but it wasn’t me.  I was wicked ticked off and I’m not sure I even brought him frozen peas in the days after.  I’m not big on sympathy for any variety of man physical pain anyway, but this was down right cold-heartedness on my part.

A few days after his procedure we had to drive to a Porter Family Reunion in Branson, MO and I was not nice about his discomfort on that ride either. 

Life was happening at a furious pace in those days. I was home with two two-year olds and a newborn and training for my first half marathon and getting a high-school-aged kid to and from school and swim practice as well as delivering the 4th grader to another school each day. Even though I only worked part time at night or on weekends, it felt like chaos to both Troy and I. Keeping all the balls (DOH!) in the air in those days was pretty mind-numbing.  With all that crazy-making the tiff about the severed vas deferens sort of faded into the background by the end of 2004.

Around June 2005, a year after Troy’s procedure, I started to be annoyed again and thought all sorts of super holy and self-righteous things.  I actually said, “You did this and we never even prayed about it.  What if we were not done with our family yet?!?”  Troy listened at that point but he was like,  “Yeah, well. What is done is done. So I guess we need to let that go.” 

I agreed with him but in the way that you agree when you don’t agree. Within moments I marched to the computer to use internet explorer and see what a vasectomy reversal might cost or entail.

I found all sorts of wonky info, as one can often do when searching the world wide web. Mostly I found that we would need many thousand dollars to do it.

I put my name into some group about the blessed arrows - they firmly believed that birth control was always wrong and that limiting your fertility was like flipping God the bird. I did not think that was the case and I have no issues with birth control or limiting the size of your family by preventing pregnancy.  I only had an issue with Troy and his decision and wanted to know what could be done if we desired to un-do the 2004 decision.

That research all happened in the same months of 2005 that we had started to strongly consider a move to Haiti.  Isaac and Hope were both close to turning four and Noah was 16 months old.  We had the big idea that we might want to move to Haiti, we just didn’t know when. We began to actively research what jobs were available in Haiti online that summer. We ended up visiting in September of 2005 to see the place we planned to move.

Things back in those early years of our marriage were always a little bit out of control. Whatever took normal people a few years to do, took us seventeen minutes.  We bought a house fast, we bought new vehicles fast, we bought a boat (story of that purchase is excellent Troy mockery, saving for another day), we went from two manageable-aged children to five not-at-all-manageable kids in a matter of 18 months. We added a huge addition to the house. 

In October 2005 we started planning to move to Haiti and within 58 days the funds we needed in order to move had been raised and our house had been rented for 18 months.  Nothing was slow to happen. If people had not seen us in a year they were guaranteed to look at us like, “What is wrong with you people?”  It was much.  I see that now in hindsight.  

In December of 2005 we were having Christmas in South Texas with my family.  It was a big emotional deal and everybody was all stuck in feelings and drama because our tickets to move to Haiti were purchased for mid January.  I was sitting outside in the backyard of my parents house when an email came in telling me that we had been selected by the Blessed Arrow group to receive a free vasectomy reversal. You get those emails too I'm sure.

The details were such that we could only do it if it worked to go to the Doctor offering it at his location in Oklahoma. It would only work in early January 2006. 

I had never told Troy about the weird groups I had found. I never told him I put my name (his name) on any list for a reversal. I had only told him that we couldn’t financially swing the reversal.

I got Troy away from the family Christmas chaos and asked him if he wanted to have his sitch glued back together if it was free.  Always the good sport he was like, “Wait wait wait now. WHAT are you asking me?”

We had to drive back to Minnesota to finish up details with our house renter and pack our belongings.  We had already planned the road trip in early January to get home from the Christmas in South TX by vehicle.  The mapped route did not include a stop in Muskogee, OK but we decided it could in fact be changed.  Muskogee is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL in early January.  Everyone knows that.  PERFECT, RIGHT??

On a crisp day in January of 2006, Troy laid on a table in a outdated little strip mall in Muskogee, OK and Dr. W. showed me my husband's vas deferens and then proceeded to glue it back together.  Appalachian bluegrass music played in the background. Because of course it did. After the procedure Troy was in much pain and he wailed about how bad his boys hurt.  I put Brittany and 22 month old Noah on an airplane to Minnesota to make room in the Suburban for Troy’s giant swollen nuts to be as comfortable as possible.  I drove the remaining many hours back to the Twin Cities while attempting to be nicer than ever about man’s physical pain.

Troy moved to Haiti ahead of the kids and I.  He arrived in Haiti with drainage tubes coming out of his balls.  It’s pretty memorable really.

It was not until we had lived in Haiti a year (February ’07) that we learned that we were expecting a baby. 

Troy had gone to buy lumber and I was at home with the six kids. We had just taken Phoebe into our home only six weeks prior and we were already freaked out and getting used to having a baby again. 

Phoebe had a rough first ten weeks of her life prior to coming to us. She was neglected in those weeks. There was a lot of work to be done helping her bond with us all. While Troy was out buying lumber I thought, “Why do I feel weird?”  The possible answers were limitless really.  I decided to rule out pregnancy as one of the reasons for my odd floaty sensations.  It took three pregnancy tests in a row that were positive for me to sit with my hands shaking on the bathroom floor and say to myself, “Self. You are the one that went to Muskogee and just couldn’t pass up free. You did this.  Also, pull yourself together!”

When Troy got home I said, “We need to talk.”  We marched up some stairs on the back of the property where we lived and to this big goofy rock that they called the “prayer rock”.  At the prayer rock I told Troy he better pray for a good sense of humor.  

I handed Troy an envelope with my positive tests.  He looked at it and started laughing hysterically.  He laughed until he was basically sobbing. Tears ran down his face and he rolled around like a mad-man while he laughed and cried.

He was back to freaking out again  -  only this time he was 31 instead of 28 and it was about suddenly going from 5 to 7 kids in a few short weeks. Everyone in our close circle just shook their heads and said, “What the heck did they think would happen?” and “Idiots. Both of them.” 

On October 4, 2017 our little Vasectomy reversal baby is turning TEN YEARS OLD.

I thought it was time you all knew that it is all because of a stop in Muskogee, Oklahoma - It made a vast (Vas) difference (deferens) in our lives.  

The deferens is named Lydia Beth.

Happy Birthday Lou-Lou. Daddy says you are more than worth ALL that oddness and physical pain he endured and we have never been offered a free surgery prior to OR since this one so we think maybe you are supposed to be here with us.  We are forever grateful for your life and the gift of you, #7.