Monday, April 29, 2013

Lord Willing

Of all the memories I have of my grandmother, one of the ones that sticks out most is the phrase, "Lord willing."  Grandma repeated this after every statement of plans, even seemingly insignificant ones.  "I'll see you at dinner on Sunday, Lord willing."  It's a phrase that reflects how Grandma lived her life, completely at the will of God, allowing Him to be in control.  I wonder when she learned that life is completely unpredictable and surrendered her will to His?  Was it after she buried her first baby, Jimmy?  Was it after she buried her second baby, Sandra?  Or was it when she learned of her nineteen year-old son Hal's death?  I wasn't around for any of these tragedies, but I always knew they were experiences my grandma lived through, among many other enormously difficult circumstances that I don't think I could ever survive.  To say she was a strong woman is an understatement.

Over the past year or so, I've found myself saying the phrase "Lord willing" often, even if only to myself.  I'm learning not to count on tomorrow or the plans I've set forth.  "I'll be 37 weeks pregnant on Saturday, Lord willing."  Or, "Ellery will get to meet her great-grandma Roggie in July at the family reunion, Lord willing."

I wanted so badly for Grandma Roggie, my last living grandparent, to meet my first baby.  I imagined Grandma's face as she held her, full of joy at new life.

I assumed she'd make a comment about how much she reminded her of me as a baby.  I'd take plenty of pictures, and I'd treasure them forever.  But for whatever reason, that wasn't the will of God.  Instead, last night, He decided to take her Home.

I wasn't able to say goodbye to Grandma, and because of my pregnancy, I'm unable to go be with my family to grieve.  Instead I'm left here with my unborn child squirming inside, my mind filling with memories of this woman I was lucky enough to know, crying over the loss and wondering why the timing worked out the way it did.  So since I'm not there to share stories with my beloved Roggie cousins, aunts and uncles, I'll write them out here.

When I think of Grandma, several things stick out above all the rest.  The first is lipstick.  Grandma was always wearing lipstick, and it was always Jafra.  She was always very beautiful and put together, exactly how a woman selling cosmetics should be.  I remember countless nights at her house, getting makeovers, playing with the new lipstick and blush and nail polish Grandma was selling.  Birthdays and Christmas usually meant Jafra gifts, which were mostly appreciated, except for the year when she gave me Jafra's acne cream and all the other girl cousins got lipstick.  Subtlety was not one of Grandma's strong suits.

I also think of Grandma's monkey bread, cinnamon and sugar sandwiches, and the fact that she was always cooking or baking.  It was rare that she actually sat down to enjoy the meal with us, but she loved serving her family.  I think her happiest moments were when we all sat around the big table in her house, eating, playing games, talking.  Speaking of moments in her kitchen, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how often Grandma said, "You order it, you eat it," whenever my cousins and I tried to go play before finishing dinner.

Another favorite memory is Grandma at the piano.  I can still hear her sweet alto voice singing hymns, or leading me and Vince in songs like, "Life Without Jesus is Like a Donut," or "Come and Join the Joy Parade."  I think listening to her and my mom sing in church made it so that I always drop to the low harmony when I sing.

Grandma and Grandpa had a huge tan van that fit most of their grandchildren.  We took it to the beach and to the Sequoias, but it was mostly used to drive the neighborhood kids to church.  Their neighborhood out behind the furniture store was full of kids from Rockford, kids who probably would have never gone to church if it wasn't for Grandma picking them up every Wednesday night.  I didn't comprehend then just how significant that was, and how seriously my grandma took her job of ministering to kids.  I wonder sometimes just how many lives she touched in that neighborhood.  Grandma and Grandpa lived in that house on Magnolia Avenue for many years, and from the time my mom was a little girl to the time I was a little girl, she and Gramps continued to show Jesus' love to whatever children they encountered there.

I used to be embarrassed by how blunt Grandma was in talking about Jesus.  Whenever I introduced her to my friends, she immediately asked if they went to church and invited them to ours.  Now I see her unapologetic love for the Lord and desire for others to know Him as something I strive toward.  She was truly a servant of Christ, a woman who loved and served.

And she will be greatly missed.  It still hasn't quite hit me, and I keep imagining that she'll be in Porterville the next time I go visit.  It's strange to think that she's gone because for all my life, she lived about five minutes away from my parents' house.  I saw her at church every Sunday, she came to all my musicals and swim meets (never my dance recitals though, because good Baptists don't dance), and every birthday party  It's hard to imagine life in Porterville without here there.

I'm so sad she's gone, and I'm so sad I couldn't be there to say goodbye.  But I'm so grateful for how long I was blessed to know her, and for all that she taught me about being a woman of God.

I love you, Grandma.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Good and Bad of Gestational Diabetes

About six weeks ago I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  The only known risk factor was that my great grandmother had diabetes, and the only other possible problem is that I have celiac and don't know it.  (Apparently I had a bonehead doctor who didn't think to test me for celiac once she determined I was allergic to gluten, and undiagnosed celiac can lead to severe problems like cancer and, you guessed it, diabetes.  Needless to say, I am no longer seeing that doctor.)

Along with this diagnosis, I was given a hefty dose of information about risks involved in my pregnancy, all of which completely terrified me.  I understand it's the job of the nurses to inform me of everything that could possibly go wrong, but to tell an already anxious pregnant woman that all the things she worries about are now much more likely to happen is just mean.  The worst was being told I needed to perform "kick counts" to make sure my baby was still moving around enough, because gestational diabetes increases the risk of "fetal demise".  Great.  Thanks, nurse.  Now every time I don't feel my baby move for more than ten minutes I freak out.  I guess the bright side is that I'm getting a great lesson in trusting God with my baby's well-being, because at this point there's not much else I can do.

So now I am a crazy, worried, hormonal pregnant woman.  And what usually helps this crazy woman calm down?  Comfort food.  And guess what she can no longer eat?  Comfort food.  I've gotten used to not eating gluten, but I've never craved scones, cinnamon rolls, and donuts more than I do now.  Along with gluten, sugar is also forbidden.  I can have very few carbs without my sugar levels skyrocketing, so I'm only allowed small amounts fruit after lunch.  I'm eating only meat (which is not appetizing in the least), vegetables, cheese, and cottage cheese.  There is no longer any pleasure derived from food; it is only a means of nutrition at this point.

A few people have asked if I'll maintain these eating habits after pregnancy, and the answer is absolutely not.  To think that anyone would choose to go on a low-carb, high protein diet is beyond my comprehension.  Restrictive diets like that have never worked for me and usually lead to binging, so I tend to value everything in moderation.

As much as I'm complaining, I have been trying to focus on positive aspects of this whole situation.  First of all, once I have the baby, the diabetes should go away.  Praise God.  I can't imagine having to deal with this forever, and I have an incredible respect for those that do.  Second of all, it has helped me kick any sugar addiction I had.  I'm back to drinking my coffee with just some cream in it, and fruit tastes super sweet, just like dessert.  I've been more focused on my health, which hopefully makes the baby healthier.  If it weren't for this diagnosis, I wouldn't have known I needed to follow up to find out if I have celiac or not.  Having gestational diabetes also means that my midwife won't let me go past my due date, so I'm pretty excited to know that she'll definitely be here by May 25th, or May 26th at the very latest.  Sam and I are getting really impatient waiting to meet this little girl!

Speaking of Sam, I think every woman should be lucky enough to have a partner like him during pregnancy. He's been incredibly helpful and supportive, never complaining about the fact that we have salad and chicken for dinner every night because of my stupid diet.  He encourages me and makes me feel like I'm doing this great thing for our daughter by taking care of myself.  As I get more and more uncomfortable, I'm often pretty irritable and not super fun to be around.  I get in really bad moods when my sugar levels are too high because I feel like my body is poisoning our daughter, and like I can't even take care of her while she's in the womb.  He's very patient with me and helps me calm down, even when I'm being a brat.  He works incredibly hard to provide for us, and on his days off he's painting furniture for the baby, or hanging up pictures in her nursery, or installing her car seat.  I can't wait to see him as a daddy, because as amazing as he is as a husband, I feel like he'll be in his prime as a father.  I'm definitely a blessed wife and Ellery is a lucky little girl.

And for those who care to see my 34 week belly, here you go: