Thursday, December 27

Mommy Guilt, y'all. Just sit right down and let's talk about it.

So, here at Paisley Leather, we've already talked about Mommy Judging. If you missed that post, scan your eyes to the right and take a moment to read my Open Apology, where I confessed myself to be the chief of sinners in the area of Mommy Judging. Mea culpa. Mea culpa.

Today, I feel compelled to write about Mommy Guilt. If you're a mom, you're probably feeling that little lump form at the base of your throat as you read those words, the one that you have to swallow, like, a million times in order to make it go away. You are feeling that pesky airway blocking lump because you know exactly what I'm talking about. Just like Mommy Judging, we've all been guilty of Mommy Guilt. Oh sheesh, now we feel guilty about feeling guilty! Where will it end?!

Mommy Guilt begins before our babies even enter the world. Take, for example, the very dream I had just last night. In my dream, the baby I am carrying now (who we lovingly refer to as Baby Chapman #2 but who my dad lovingly refers to as "Laila's little brother") had to be taken from my womb early because of 1). Autism and 2). A complication with the baby's collarbone. You see how medical I am, my friends. My cute little subconscious can't come up with anything any better than that. So, in the dream, the baby was born very early, was very small and we weren't sure if she (Daddy, in the dream, the baby was a girl!) was going to make it. After having a c-section to remove her and seeing that she was being cared for by the doctors and nurses, I took a city bus (what?!) to Trev's office (which was more like Rockefeller Center) where I told him what had happened. He promptly became a version of himself that he could never possibly be as he passionately and heartlessly yelled at me (in the middle of a conference room full of people) for damaging our child by drinking one caffeinated beverage every couple of days and missing a couple days of prenatal vitamins, blaming me entirely and threatening to leave me because of my obvious unreliability and flightiness.


My friends, last night, Mommy Guilt took over my sub-conscious, villainized my husband, highlighted my deepest fears about who I might actually be (unreliable, untrustworthy) and caused me to lose precious precious sleep that I need so that I can actually engage with my 2 year old in order to not feel guilty about making her play by herself all day!! You see the ridiculousness (Made up word. Allowed.) of this, dear reader? All because I had an iced grande (easy ice) soy chai a couple days ago and missed my prenatal vitamins twice this week.

And may I venture to say that even if I was the most perfect pregnant mom, who always took my prenatals, drank 250 ounces of water every day, had spinach with every meal and overcame pregnancy fatigue with the vigor and might of Superwoman, I would probably STILL struggle with some level of Mommy Guilt? For some reason, none of us are off the hook. No matter how perfect we are. And I know who reads this blog. All of you are darn fine mamas who give sacrificially of yourselves every day; loving, hugging, repenting, playing, tucking in, zipping up, welcoming in, giving OUT... None of you should feel the things that we feel.

Why, God, why?!

Well, for me, (confession time again), I think it's a trust issue with the Lord. I can admit that. It's kind of like a reverse pride. Like, "I'm so important, my job is so big, I have to be perfect, it's all on me" kind of mentality which Jesus never expected us to bear. Which, in all actuality, is probably offensive to Him. Is our job HUGE? Are we extremely important? Crucial, even, to the development of these precious little hearts? Absolutely. But God, in His grace and mercy, would never call us to such a monumental position and then not walk in it with us through every step.

And He doesn't trudge through with us out of duty or responsibility.

I believe God, our Father, delights in sharing parenthood with us! His heart is for co-creation, my friends. Did He not work WITH our bodies? Literally co-creating with Trevor and I to form this little being? To form Laila Grace with her one dimple, her strong legs and arms and those stunning blue eyes? He joyfully knit these little people inside our wombs. He wants to be part of the continued process of co-creating with us as we steward their hearts, minds, bodies and spirits for this short time. Mommy Guilt (dare I say it?) is from THE DEVIL and it's intent is to distract us from the privilege and pleasure it is to be in communion with God as we carry out the most important role we'll ever have.

I, for one, have been in desperate need of this little pep talk, y'all. With selling the house, packing, moving, unpacking (sort of), being in my first trimester and Christmas, Mommy Guilt was creeping in like a hurricane. But, from here on, I'm going to trust Jesus. I'm going to give myself grace for this season. I'm going to pray for Laila as I doze on the couch and she watches the third in a row episode of Sid, the Science Kid. I know that God is with me. He's at work, molding her spirit, teaching her, speaking to her. What a beautiful truth. When I'm tired and grumpy and speechless, God will speak to my children. And His Word is perfect. His truth is sustaining. His grace is sufficient. For you and yours as well. Join me in this?


Wednesday, December 26

Coming to you LIVE from the cutest little technology EVER!


I'm blogging from my brand new shiny iPad mini, my friends! What this means for you is that you'll be hearing from me a lot more often. I know this is a lame excuse but, used to... Hold on. I am absolutely sure that "used to" is not a grammatically correct way to refer to the past. But you don't mind, do you? I'm a Texan, you see. With an English degree. So maybe we'll allow it. This time.

Ahem. As I was saying, "used to", when I was only ever blogging from my computer, I felt like I had to have something really legitimate to say, something really meaningful or insightful or funny to justify the time it took to pull out the computer, plug it in, turn it on for heaven's sake... This does sound pretty lame. ANYWAY. Now, you'll be hearing from me even when there's nothing meaningful, insightful or funny to share.
There will most likely be musings. Lots of musings. Like these:

Today, I felt my first real and honest breast pain! Which makes me very hopeful that, this time around, something is actually going on in those milk ducts. Go, milk ducts, go!

Pregnancy fatigue is real. Very real. And, as I mentioned on Facebook, it's a BEAST. My poor sweet Laila Grace. I just keep telling myself that I'll make it up to her on that blessed and glorious day that marks the beginning of my second trimester. What a day that will be!

Also, pregnancy makes me crave kid food. Tonight, LG and I had the same dinner... PB&J sandwiches with white cheddar bunnies and strawberries. And, if I had had some in the house, I would have also had a big glass of whole milk. COW MILK. Oh, if I could just get my hands on some cow milk right now...

Lastly, I found myself overwhelmingly thankful for my mama tonight. What a self sacrificing beautiful woman she is. May I always remember and be grateful for the beastly pregnancy fatigue, weird cravings, hours and hours of labor and sleepless nights she endured on my behalf. And for the innumerable sacrifices she's made since. There are no words to truly express my heart on this matter.

So, this is what you have to look forward to from me, dear reader. Musings. With maybe some breast talk, some meal recap and some lovey dovey stuff thrown in for good measure!


Monday, December 3

An Update. And some mushy feelings-type stuff.

Times like these bring out the best in relationships. They inspire empathy, the bearing of one another's burdens and sacrifices made on behalf of a friend.  Dear friends, I mean it so deeply from the bottom of my heart. Hear me when I say: THANK YOU. So many of you have reached out to us, prayed for us, asked questions out of your concern and care for us and have been generous with visits to the hospital, hugs, rides and sweet words. I speak for myself, my mom and dad, my brother and all of our family when I say that your support over the span of this now 11-year journey has been overwhelming and (let's be honest) absolutely crucial. 

We have felt the love of God through you. And you have proved Proverbs 17:17 to us over and over. "A friend loves at all times." How blessed we are. 

How about some history?

So, for those of you who are new to all of this, my dad was diagnosed with a gastro intestinal stromal tumor in 2001, my freshman year of college. (I know ya'll think my freshman year of college couldn't POSSIBLY have been 11 years ago but, trust me, it has... You are shocked, I know. It's all that Wal-Mart brand anti-wrinkle cream I've been using.) 

The tumor was/is occupying an important "nether region" as Chaucer would say... I usually whisper when I say it… The tumor is in his rectum.

At the time, he was told that the only option was surgery to remove it, as these types of tumors don't respond to radiation and, to date, there was no FDA approved chemotherapy drug on the market. The surgery, however, would most likely leave my dad with a colostomy. Pause and google that if you don't know what it is because you won't understand any of the rest of this if you don't. (I'm being bossy. I know.) Okay, you back? Got the info? Now you see why an active, spritely, YOUNG 41 year old wouldn't be keen on the idea. SO. My dad started researching (did we even have the Internet back then?) and found that there was an experimental drug called Gleevec that was being developed and was having success fighting GIST tumors. Being the go-getter that he is, he got on the phone with a doctor in Philadelphia and learned about the trial. It was too expensive, though, and our insurance wouldn't cover it. Not willing to give up, Dad visited the Texas Cancer Center and met Dr. Spivey, a local oncologist who was successfully treating chronic miloidal lukemia patients with Gleevec. Dr. Spivey consulted with the doctor in Philly and, miraculously, agreed to prescribe Gleevec to my dad "off label". There are SO many awesome doctors in this story. It's pretty impressive. Just count em. And then go hug a doctor.

 Anyway, naptime only lasts so long, ya'll. I gotta type fast.

So, for 8 glorious years, my dad had amazing success with Gleevec. He and his doctors agreed to leave the tumor in, provided that it remained stable (as in, no funny business) and didn't grow. It turns out, however, that our magnificent bodies learn to adapt and tumors apparently do the same. Gleevec stopped working. So he tried another drug that caused problems and finally got on Tasigna, another medicine that had been successful in treating GIST patients. 

For the last 2-3 years, though, the symptoms have been harder to deal with. Pain, pain. A lot of pain. And the amazing thing about my Papa is that he never complains. You have to practically BEG him to tell you how he feels and, even then, he will downplay. 

Something that is very interesting in all of this is the fact that I can relate. Remember that pesky little arterial rupture that happened to me when Laila was born? Well, all of the internal bleeding that happened as a result of that tear caused a softball sized hematoma to settle right at the base of my pelvis, just below my tail bone. So, for about 6 weeks, I had the unique opportunity of knowing almost exactly how my dad had felt for (at the time) 9 full years. Ya'll, let me just tell you, that junk HURT. And I cried (and screamed) every time I went to the bathroom and I sat down gingerly and I walked slowly... It was excruciating at times. And, I'll be honest about something. I was a hot mess. 

My father has dealt with that kind of pain and discomfort for 10 years. With the most beautiful grace and dignity. Never asking why. Never shaking his fist at God. Continuing to serve and be a blessing to others. And inspiring me. Every day.

So, let's fast forward to last week. Papa had been having more pain in the last few weeks and more symptoms.... Shortness of breath, etc, so he saw his doctor in Denton. After some tests, Dr. Masciarelli told him that his red blood cell count was too low and that he needed (yet another) colonoscopy. That was scheduled for last Friday. 

On Friday, at Denton Regional, Dr. Awan preformed the colonoscopy and found that the tumor had changed rather drastically. It appears to have grown, the texture of the surface has changed and it is now bleeding. He also found a bleeding ulcer in my dad's stomach (no doubt a result of the ibuprofen he takes to manage the tumor pain). Papa was bleeding internally from 2 places. Thus the low hemoglobin. He also had an unexplained fever. These findings turned what was supposed to be a routine colonoscopy outpatient procedure into an admittance to the hospital, close monitoring and a series of tests. The goal was to figure out the cause of the fever and to perform a CT scan and chest x-ray to determine whether the cancer cells had spread as a result of the bleeding tumor. 

In all these years, we have been SO blessed that the tumor has not metastasized. That the cancer has not spread. Waiting overnight with him for that CT and the results was... allow me to over simplify... hard. HARD. For all of us. 

How do you battle fear?
How do you reject it? Push it away? Give it no place? When what you are afraid of would break you in half, cause a part of you to die, utterly and completely change your life? 

I think God understands our struggle with fear. He is, oh God, thank you, an empathetic High Priest, knowing our weakness and anointing us with grace when we fall short. I know that His grace is sufficient to cover my lack of faith in those early morning hours. In the battles I've fought deep in the dark places of my heart. Oh God, you are good. You are deeply loving and endlessly faithful. 

There was no spread. Oh Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus!
As far as the CT could tell, those evil cancer cells are still contained in this one area. They have not been allowed to attack the vital and precious organs that are dangerously near it. And, for that, we are... well, words cannot express... Grateful.

The tumor is still bleeding. The tumor is irrevocably changed. It seems that the grace period for my father to LIVE with this cancer inside has lifted and we are now talking about a life-changing surgery. His appointment at MD Anderson is Wednesday at 12:30. No doubt my parents and the doctors will discuss the removal of the tumor and all of the implications that come with it. 

And I know that my father will face this meeting and these life changes with the same beautiful grace and dignity with which he has dealt with the past 10 year's challenges. I know he will. He will continue to inspire all of us in this way. 

And he will know, again, what it is like to wake up without pain. 

Thank you for caring. Thank you for walking with us on this journey. Thank you for loving us.