Thursday, October 31, 2013

Loss and Lifelock

It happens almost everyday.  It's part of the job, I guess.  As I am enrolling people in identity theft protection, I transfer them to an automated system to collect their social security number, they transfer back to me, and then I have to read this.  It's a required part of the script.  I read the excerpt that tells them that they can add identity protection for their spouse.  Some people get angry because they think their enrollment should cover a spouse.  Some laugh and tell me they are happily single.  But there are others that get to me.  Sometimes they get quiet.  Sometimes they announce it in a matter-of-fact manner.  And sometimes they say it with a freshness that makes their pain feel tangible, even through the phone.  They tell me their spouse has died.  Most of the time they tell me exactly how long it has been, as if they have been adding up each day in their head, waiting for the next month or year to pass.  Many times they tell me how it happened.  But almost every time I want to cry.  Not just because I am pregnant and emotional, although that can't help.  But because when I look at the ages of these people, I can't help but think about how many years they spent together.  I think about what they have lost.

I make friends with these people.  Not all of them, but the nice ones I do.  (I just don't tell them to have a blessed day anymore, since it's strictly forbidden.)  They tell me stories about their life and and their kids and their travels and for some of them, I may be the only conversation they have during the day.  Those people are the ones that really like to talk.  Yesterday I spoke to a sweet bubbly woman in Oklahoma.  When I asked about her enrolling her spouse, she told me that he died eight years ago.  She referred to him as her "honey", and she said she still couldn't believe that he had the nerve to leave her since they had so much more life to live together.  I told her that I was sorry, but that she seemed happy.  She laughed as she said that she knew that her husband would come back to haunt her if he ever caught wind that she wasn't living life to the fullest without him.  But still, I could hear it.  She still feels the loss of him.

Today it was a man in his 80's.  His wife has been gone for four years.  When I asked for his email address, he said he didn't even know how to turn on the computer he owned.  He said that for the four years since his wife had passed, it had been sitting in the other room, and he hadn't ever attempted to use it.  When I asked for his phone number, he laughed and said he couldn't remember it exactly.  And so I laughed.  And then he said it wasn't funny to be old and to not be able to remember things like that.  And I had to agree.  It is probably scary.  And he could barely read his credit card number from his card.  He repeated it three times before realizing that one of the 8's was really a 3.  (I would like to recommend that credit card companies remedy this by creating optional large print easy-to-read cards for senior citizens.)  He said that his home had been broken into in the last week, and the thieves took his 70-year-old rifle and his deceased wife's diamond jewelry out of her jewelry box.  He lives on a farm, and he is afraid that one day while he is out, they will come back for more. (I kind of want to find those thieves and give them a spanking.)  And at the end of the call, he apologized for telling me so many stories.  He said I was "awful nice", and then he apologized twice for using the word "awful" to describe me.  I laughed and told him that I understood exactly what he meant and that it was just fine.

Lately I have been missing children's ministry.  I miss teaching school.  I miss the regular contact with little people.  I miss teaching them about who God is and how much He loves them.  I miss making a difference, hopefully a positive one, in the day of a kid.  And it's hard to feel like my work makes a difference, like it really means something.  But some days, I get the right kind of call.  I get the person who is at home all day alone by themselves.  And they have a lifetime of wisdom and stories and they have no one to tell them to.  And on those days, I listen.  I laugh at their stories.  I slow waaaaay down so that they can understand what I am saying.  I yell a little louder when they can't hear me.  I tell them that I am happy to wait as long as they need me to so that they can go find their social security number because they can't remember it on their own anymore.  I wait as they look around the house for their phone number.  I agree when they talk about how the world has become scary and that the government can't be trusted*.  I express my condolences over the loss of the people they love, no matter how long it's been, because I would guess it would still hurt even after years have passed.

So when I think about it, this is important, too.  This little bit of listening and showing patience and compassion.  This little bit of being Jesus to people... even people I don't know and will never meet.  And I have three more weeks of it before I go on maternity leave.  So for three more weeks, I will listen to stories over the phone and show kindness whenever I can.  I will give people peace of mind in the form of identity theft protection for a simple $9 a month, although I would give it for free if I could.  I will say little prayers for them when I hang up the phone.  And for now, that will be enough.

And because I can tell you with no penalty or repercussions, please have a blessed day.

*For the record, I don't think either political party can really be trusted.  End of political commentary.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ten Things I Can't Do at 30 Weeks Pregnant

Ten more weeks.  I am 75% done with this pregnancy.  And in honor of the ten weeks left in Tiny Turner's gestational period, I am going to share my list of ten things that I am incapable of doing at this point.  Some are recent developments, and some have been plaguing me since this baby was the size of a sweet pea.  But they are very real.  And here they are, in no particular order... Things I can't do.

1. Sleep through the night.  I am preparing for the arrival of my newborn.  I get up every few hours to use the restroom, roll over in bed (this is a far more complicated process than it sounds), and to transfer from the bed to the couch (and back again, when time permits).  It's glorious, really.  The second I change sleep positions, my acrobat baby thinks it's time to practice for his career as a Cirque de Soleil performer.  It's cute.  For the first 15 seconds.  And then I pray for the half Unisom pill I took before bedtime to kick in and to override the in-belly baby circus so that I can rest.  It usually works.

2. Sleep without a pillow fort.  I like to call this Pillowpalooza.  I have a pregnancy pillow (a Snoogle, seen above... it's amazing), a body pillow (complete with silk pillowcase to prevent facial wrinkles), and a large collection of regular sized pillows.  I love it.  Jake loves the 1/4 of the bed he gets to sleep on.

3. Live without Tums.  It's amazing.  It can strike at any time.  Thirty seconds after I eat.  Four hours after I eat.  Sometimes when I haven't eaten anything at all.  Doesn't matter.  Heartburn just shows up whenever it chooses.  I hate heartburn.

4. Get up from my chair without the support of my arms.  I don't know exactly what to attribute it to.  Lack of working out so the muscles in my legs have disappeared?  Body totally off balance?  Either way, my arms get a workout every time I stand.  Hoisting myself up from a seated position is not the least attractive thing I do at this point, but it's close.  

5. Sit like a lady.  Crossed legs, at the knees or the ankles.  This is how I generally sit.  However, due to this thirty pound belly (let's play like the belly is where this all of this extra thirty pounds has landed), I sit like a man.  Not in public, I promise.  It's not comfortable to have your own belly resting on your lap.  It's just creepy.  So in the comfort of my own home, I sit however I like, even if it's not cute.  Side note: we went to a cloth diapering class several weeks ago, and we discovered a large percentage of the pregnant women in attendance chose to sit like a man even in this public setting.  I felt validated.

6. Use a regular bathroom stall.  Don't worry, I won't get into anything personal here.  However, when I go to exit the regular-sized public restroom stall, I have issues.  Standing directly in front of the toilet, facing the door does not allow room for the huge belly.  There just isn't room to pull the door all the way in and past the belly so that I can exit.  So I either end up leaning backwards, which is difficult when my balance is already iffy, in order to allow the door to pass or I resort to turning around and contorting my right arm around behind my back to open the door.  Or I just use the handicap stall, which also has the bonus of the handicap rail (please see #4).

7. Show any range of emotion without tears.  I can be happy or angry or embarrassed or stressed or scared or tired, and you will never know which one it is.  Because all I do is cry.  I am either completely fine and normal or I am crying.  Those are the only options.

8. Be sympathetic to other people's aches and pains.  Poor Jake.  I am sure he has experienced illness and soreness over the past 7 months, but do I actively care?  Can I care?  Not really.  Not right now.  I love him, and I do care about his physical troubles in theory.  But it seems that when he complains about his sore knee, all I can think about is how my back has been aching for the past 5 hours and how I can't get off my own couch without assistance.  And I just look at him with a blank stare that says "Don't even get me started".  I'm sure I am a joy to live with.

9. Shave my legs, paint my toenails, pick up anything off the ground.  Basically I can't do anything that requires me bending over at the waist.  A week or so ago I bought a piece of wrapped dark chocolate.  As I walked out of the grocery store, I accidentally dropped it on the ground.  I stood there for a good long while, trying to determine if it was worth attempting to pick up.  After all, I could bend at the knees and risk never getting back up without someone there to help me.  Or I could bend over at the waist, which would give me a better chance of returning to a standing position, but risk being highly unladylike with my backside in the air and increasing my chances of toppling over altogether.  At 28 weeks, I chose to pick it up.  At 30 weeks, I would probably just leave it.  And it was chocolate.  That's how you know it's serious business.

10.  Talk, walk, sleep, eat, climb stairs without sounding like an asthmatic.  I work as a telemarketer.  And several weeks ago my supervisor called me into the office to tell me that I was taking breathing pauses in odd places.  Her goal was to coach me into sounding more natural and normal.  Generally, I am happy for the constructive criticism.  I want to be better at my job.  But in this situation I just wanted to yell at her and ask her if she happened to notice to giant baby that I am carrying that compresses my lungs to the point of near asphyxiation.  And I wanted to cry.  (See #7)  Thankfully, I did neither.  Last week I was the top salesperson in my department.  Take that, supervisor.  It seems that callers don't mind that I sound like I am running a marathon when all I am doing is talking and typing.

Needless to say, I am anxious.  Anxious to meet this baby.  Anxious to obtain some of the mobility that I have lost during this pregnancy.  I know a newborn baby will bring it's own set of issues, things I won't be able to do once he arrives.  But I will be able to paint my toenails and lean over to pick up my shoes and take a deep breath. At least I can do those things if I choose to.  In the meantime, I will be tired, I will cry, and I will take shallow breaths.  And I will be very, very careful with my chocolate.

*Thanks to my sweet friends on my December 2013 Moms Facebook group for their helpful suggestions and contributions to this blog post.  I am incredibly thankful that we are all going through this together.*


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