Saturday, July 9, 2016

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

*This is a long post. For the reader's digest version, please scroll to the bottom.

Do you ever feel like you hit a plateau in your life, and you just keep going along at that level for a while until you get thrown off plane and everything changes?

Benji and I were sort of hanging out on a plateau for the past 8-ish months, grieving and recovering from our miscarriage and our time in Uganda, finishing our bachelor degrees, and always subconsciously wondering what's next? What's next? 

That's the big question people ask once you've graduated, and we started to almost avoid it because we didn't know. Vague answers like "make money, I guess..." "save the world..." "we're still figuring it out...." were the best replies to give ourselves and them. All of our peers seemed to be heading off to medical school or buying houses or at least having some sort of loose plan to guide their thoughts.

Benji was casually exploring different options for advanced education and the requirements for various programs and career paths. Everything felt "fine" and nothing felt "wrong" so we were still just hanging out on our plateau, praying and seeking and wondering.

I suggested one day that he just take the GRE and get it out of the way, since nearly all of the programs he might decide to pursue required it. So just like that we dropped the $200 fee and picked a test date 4 weeks out and said "just see what happens." We spent a few weeks sitting on the couch, him with his GRE study books and me with my NCLEX study books, wondering if this is what graduating college and not having any more homework is supposed to feel like.

One day Benji was driving home from work and he called me with excitement in his voice. He had just spoken with a woman about the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at the University of Utah Asia Campus and she had been extremely reassuring and inviting. Right then and there he decided to go for it.

Within a month he had taken the GRE, scored decently well, written his letter of intent, requested letters of recommendation from wonderful mentors, submitted the application, and received an email that said something like this:

"Dear Benjamin Lambson,

Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Utah Asia Campus Master of Public Health program....classes start August 27th, 2016."

Did I mention it's in South Korea?

Did I also mention I'm pregnant?

At this point in the story, I would like to pause and express gratitude for some serious tender mercies we've already experienced:

  • Benji has a dear cousin who has lived in South Korea for the past four years with four children while her husband worked there. Two of those children were born there. I can't believe we have a wonderful family member with so much expertise and experience available to us. Not to mention, she is incredibly faithful and loving and is the best resource ever.
  • BYU. I am still constantly in awe of the blessing it was to study nursing at BYU. I felt impressed to reach out to a professor (who has retired, bless him) and ask for his advice. His response was so positive and encouraging, AND he referred me to another awesome professor who--wait for it--served his mission in South Korea. 
  • My plan, since before I was ever accepted into nursing school, was to get a job at Primary Children's and work there until I turned into a fossil and became a monument on the wall. I never wanted to just be a nurse, I wanted to be a Primary Children's nurse. So what the heck happened and why did I willingly withdraw my applications to Primary and accept a job at the University of Utah Hospital?? Because for some reason at the time, it felt right to take a job that didn't require a minimum 15 month work contract. At the time, we had never even heard of the UofU Asia Campus. Turns out Heavenly Father knows everything, and He knew I might just need to have some flexibility in my first RN job.
  • And of course, the fact that both of our families live within 20 minutes of each other and are the most supportive and encouraging that anyone could possibly be. I think my brother Andrew's initial response when I told him about all of this was: "I hope your baby likes Kimchi." 
So now, to answer all of your questions (insofar as we have them answered ourselves...) :

When is your baby due? December 25th. *All I want for Christmas is you, Baby!* Which means as of this post, I'm 16 weeks pregnant. 

What are you going to do about your job? Right now the plan is for me to keep working at the U while Benji does his first semester abroad. I have the kindest boss and a great team of coworkers. The pay is really good (for RN's in Utah) and the benefits are even better, so it seems to make sense for me to stay here and save money and grow a baby. Also, you can't fly in an airplane after 36 weeks. 

Wait, won't that be hard to be separated? Yes. Yes it will. So grateful for FaceTime and prayer and Temple sealings. 

How long is the program? They say it can be done in 1-2 years, depending on how fast you take classes. They also say you have the option to complete a portion of it at the Salt Lake campus, but that's literally all we know about that at this point. We are definitely looking into every option. 

What's Public Health? I once heard this phrase from a Public Health nurse: "If you haven't heard from us, we're doing our job right." Public Health officials are like the healthcare team for communities--they work primarily to prevent injury and disease, research causes and solutions for widespread health issues, and improve the health and wellbeing of communities as a whole. Benji always says "A doctor takes care of individuals, and public health workers take care of a population."

What kind of job can you get with an MPH? Working for state or county health departments if you want to stay local, or if you're Benji probably pursuing work with an international ministry of health and working to solve global health problems, like Ebola, Zika, AIDS, maternal/fetal death rates in impoverished countries, etc. They often work on access to clean water, nutrition/obesity, and fighting Big Tobacco. All those billboards you see about talking to your kids about underage drinking? Thank a public health official. They also look at a lot of death/disease statistics, and lobby to the government to make environmental and health promotion laws to keep us all safer. 
*This is also why Benji did his internship in Uganda last summer researching menstrual hygiene disparities and the consequences for women and girls around the world. So, basically he's going to help save the world. 

Why South Korea?! Well for one, most applications for nearly every other MPH program in the country are due in January. Benji decided this is what he wanted towards the end of May. Luckily, the UofU Asia program was still accepting applications through the end of June for an August 2016 start date. So unless he wanted to wait until January to apply, and not even start for another year, this was the only option.
    Secondly, Benji is very passionate about international health. The major foci of interest for international public health workers are Africa and Asia. He's being custom made into the exact person with the exact experience the world needs. This program is perfect for him.

Will Benji be back for the birth? What happens after that? Baby is due the end of December, and Benji's finals week ends December 17th. Hopefully he'll be home a day or two before that, and I will stay securely pregnant until he can safely be there to cut the cord. Worst case scenario, he gets to watch via FaceTime and then come home asap to snuggle his family. Women have done it before me, and I can be brave if I have to.
    After that, honestly, we're trying to only see as far as Christmas. But if we had to speculate, the three of us will all go to Korea at the end of February for Benji's second semester.

Whew. Thanks for coming along for our massive catapult off the plateau. All prayers, international living advice, long-distance relationship experience, and overall well wishing are extremely welcome.

*READER'S DIGEST VERSION: Benji got into grad school in South Korea and I'm not going because I'm pregnant. Thank you have a nice day!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

On Mothering

It's May 2016.

I was supposed to be having my first baby this month, on May 21st.

It was all according to plan: go to Uganda. Come home. Wait 2 weeks for the malaria drugs to wear off. Conceive. Wait 9 months. Have a baby in May.

But at 10 weeks, our baby's heart stopped beating and we went down a different path with a different plan. It hasn't been easy and it hasn't been consistent. There have been many tears, some anger, avoiding friends and the internet, confusion, lots of questions. Sometimes other people's happy has been so, so loud.

This weekend is Mother's Day. My own sweet mom has been worried how I would feel approaching this month and this holiday, and I feel okay. I know that mothering is a lot more than birthing babies.

This is what mothering has looked like this year for me:

  • Friends, some of whom have babies, some of whom have miscarried babies, and some who have never yet tried to get pregnant offering to bring us dinner the moment they heard of our sorrow.
  • A professor from BYU who emailed me almost weekly while we were in Africa to make sure I was doing okay. She wasn't assigned to me, wasn't giving me a grade, and had no connection to my project at all except she cared about me.
  • Another professor, who has never been married or had children of her own, bringing our class food week after week, texting me, being patient with me, helping me solve problems. 
  • My mother in law bringing me a soft, special blanket right after my D&C procedure, and then sending me flowers months later when my period had come again.
  • My visiting teaching companion and her husband coming to celebrate graduation with us, even though we are still getting to know each other and she has her own worries and trials
  • The ladies who work in the temple, offering soft smiles, gentle directions, and sometimes whispered words of courage.
  • The little girls in my primary class who sit on my lap and hang on to my hands and run to hug me.
  • My own sisters, who have sent text messages at just the right time, have offered prayers, have leaned on my shoulder in quiet moments, have told me everything will work out.
  • My Grandma, who gave me needed and necessary advice on a difficult day where I felt impressed to call her. I still think back to that phone call almost daily.
  • Of course my own mother, who has been gentle and patient with every desperate text and phone call, bursts of anger, days of exhaustion and irrationality. She is always the one to go to to light up hope again.
I think Mother's Day is really a celebration of the divine gifts God has given to His daughters to nurture, love, forgive, be patient and long suffering, to sacrifice self and to pull strength up from depths we sometimes wonder if we have. 

So maybe this month other people's happy is also seeming too loud for you. Know that you're not alone. You are in good company with many women who have hurt waiting for their families to come to them (think of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elisabeth, and others). Your offering as a woman and as a mother is no less, regardless of how many children you have. Your influence is still significant.

“How is it that a human being can love a child so deeply that you willingly give up a major portion of your freedom for it? How can mortal love be so strong that you voluntarily subject yourself to responsibility, vulnerability, anxiety, and heartache and just keep coming back for more of the same? What kind of mortal love can make you feel, once you have a child, that your life is never, ever your own again? Maternal love has to be divine. There is no other explanation for it. What mothers do is an essential element of Christ’s work. Knowing that should be enough to tell us the impact of such love will range between unbearable and transcendent, over and over again, until with the safety and salvation of the very last child on earth, we can [then] say with Jesus, ‘[Father!] I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.’11 ”

Friday, October 30, 2015

Physical Assessment

I woke up early this morning without an alarm, which is not normal for me. After about an hour of trying to fall back asleep, I decided to seize the day and take advantage of those quiet morning hours. I ate a banana while waiting for my toast to pop, then I sat down with the Book of Mormon and started to read.

I was impressed by this verse: "And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people." Mosiah 3:7

My Nurse brain started to wander as I pondered that scripture. In school, we are taught a very in depth assessment, from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. I started with His head:

He understands the pain of headache and migraine. He knows the humiliation of losing all your hair or having some disfigurement that causes people to point and stare. He has felt the pain of acne or acne scars and wanting to be clean and beautiful. He has felt the anguish of mental illness, including hearing voices no one else can, sinking in the depths of depression, difficulty forming relationships, hallucinating, and experiencing so much internal pain that the only solution you can think of is to physically harm yourself or others.

He knows the pain of blindness and deafness. He understands what it's like to hear someone saying unkind or untrue things about you. He has had to see all the disgusting, deplorable, and sorrowful sights that mankind has beheld throughout all time. He knows how scary it is to slowly lose your eyesight. He has had to smell every offensive smell. He comprehends the frustration of speech impediments or not being able to speak at all. He has felt every toothache and root canal. He understands thirst-both the physical and the mental variety.

He has endured all of your debilitating back pain. His shoulders have felt the heaviest of burdens, the crack of a whip, and the sting of sunburn. His arms have ached with physical loads, with emptiness of loss, and with progressing weakness. He even comprehends not having arms at all.

His hands. His mighty, scarred, loving hands. They know blisters. They know neurological incapability. They know arthritis. They know carpal tunnel. They know how many times you have practiced that song and still can't get it right!

He has felt all the chest pain: physiological and emotional. His heart has been broken over and over and over. He knows the fear of waiting for a transplant for yourself or a loved one. He knows what recovery feels like. He knows the physical heart heaviness of loss.

LDS Bible Videos

He has had every stomach ache. He has felt the never-ending hunger pangs. He has thrown up with morning sickness and chemotherapy. He comprehends the intense pain of digestive disorders. He has passed kidney stones. He perfectly understands UTIs.

He has felt the pain of miscarriage or the sorrow of a continually empty womb. He completely understands menstrual disorders and pains and the tremendous effort and sacrifice of labor.

He has felt muscle pains and weakness. He knows paralyzation. He comprehends the loss of amputation. He knows better than anyone the mental and physical agony of burns. He has experienced the loss of mobility and freedom.

On top of all of that, he has felt embarrassment, shame, loneliness, confusion, frustration, anger, poverty, addiction, hopes, dreams, and desires. He has felt perfectly what it is like to be your parent, your sibling, your child, your neighbor. He knows YOU.

LDS Bible Videos

He comprehendeth all. things.

"And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." Alma 7:12

I know everyone reading this has gone through something listed above, is going through something listed above, or someday will. I testify that He will never leave you comfortless. He did not suffer all things so that He could stay in Heaven and watch us. He did it so He could succor us, and He longs to succor us. Turn to Him. He can heal your broken heart, mind, and body. 

LDS Bible Videos

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Llama Drama

So there we were.

Driving south on I-15 for a "secret adventure date" as Benji called it.

While in Africa, we decided we wanted to go on more intentional dates with each other and take turns planning it. This week was his turn. He said it would be "super fun" and "not even cost anything."

I was wearing my African elephant pants. This proved to be serendipitous because we arrived at the Rhada Krishna temple in Spanish Fork and they rapidly became Indian elephant pants.

Benji pulled a bag of carrots out of his bag and we approached the Llamas. For anyone who doesn't know, my husband loves animals. They fascinate him. He loves them. Once upon a time he took an "animal restraint" class at BYU and loved it. During said class, they visited these llamas and learned how to put them in a harness. I found out he called ahead and asked if we could come visit these llamas today.

We walked around a bit and noticed one llama who wasn't in any sort of enclosure. He was just strutting around like he owned the place. We gave him a carrot and then went inside to look for the woman who manages the temple grounds, the same woman who had taught Benji how to harness the llamas two years ago.

We were told she wasn't there, so we went back out and flirted with the beautiful parrots and gave some wormy apples to the llamas.

Then we heard a splash.

Rogue Llama (as we will heretofore refer to him) had found his way into the koi pond and was trapped under the floating fountain, tangled up in the string that tethered the fountain to the shore. We watched him struggle and then Benji (animal lover that he is) ran off to find help. I pulled my resources and started filming him struggle. (My training is with humans, not animals. Don't judge.)

All of a sudden, the woman we had been told was not on the premises comes rushing towards the pond with a frantic look on her face. She began whistling to Rogue Llama and edging her way around the pond, Benji close behind her. I stayed where I was, continually documenting the whole event.

Next thing I know my husband is in the pond.

"Now can you remember how to harness him??" Our old lady friend shouted in her British accent. Benji replied that he did, but she still continued to shout and command and point out everything she would have done better the entire time he was in the water.

"No! Don't pull him out there it's too deep!"
"Attach the rope to the harness! No on the other side!"
"Pull him out!"

At this point she noticed me on the other side of the pond and said "You! Go help him pull!"

I wasn't about to say no so I scampered over to the deep end and began to help pulling. "Now Benjamin, you push from behind while your friend pulls!"

So Benji's in the water up to his armpits pushing on Rogue Llama's behind and I'm trying to pull him out by his neck. The Llama was not helping us at all. Our old lady friend is shouting the whole time, and finally Benji says "Hey, I'm trying! It's really slippery over here!"

After pushing and shoving, we get half the llama's body out on the bank. I was then invited to grab onto the llama's legs and pull. Slimy llama legs. My favorite.

Eventually Benji had the back legs and I had the front legs and we were commanded to lift 500+ pounds of dead weight paralyzed terrified llama out of the water and over a lamp that was fixed in the ground. (Benji: "this llama is really heavy." Lady: "I know but you're a man!")

Then he just lied there. The lady said "Oh he has to recover, poor thing." Yeah my husband needs to recover, poor thing!

Anyways. The llama did get out, and we got to eat at their Indian buffet for free, and our "secret adventure date" stayed true to it's name, and the whole excursion was Free 99!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dear Little Lambs

Dear Little Lambsons,

This is your mother. I miss you.

I don't remember how many of you there are, or who comes first and last, or how many brothers and sisters there are. But I know you are mine, and I miss you.

I wish I could have you all RIGHT NOW. I wish I could've had you months ago. People tell me I'm crazy for wanting you so badly, people say your dad and I haven't been married long enough. I don't care what people say. I want you.

I'm trying to convince myself that leaving you where you are and me where I am is the selfless thing for right now. It might not be safe, you see, for you to come and grow while we are learning and serving in Africa. I have to take some medications to protect myself from those nasty mosquitoes, and unfortunately, those meds would hurt you.

Also, I'm learning how to be a nurse right now. It is tough stuff. Tougher than I imagined. In my whole life I only ever wanted to be three things: a wife, a mom, and a nurse. There is a proper order of things in this world and I've done what I can to do things in wisdom and order. But it makes my heart ache. When I'm studying the different kinds of baby cries or how explaining something to a four year old is different than a fourteen year old, all I think about is you.

Hopefully, the waiting will make it all the better when you do come. Hopefully, you will always know how deeply you are loved and how anxious we were to meet you. Hopefully, this period of waiting is helping me become more of the mother you need.

Until then,

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Coping words

Sometimes, I have a desire to just write.

I haven't had that desire in a few months, so I didn't. I just lived. But today, I desire. Share my feelings with me.

This is another nurse post.

I went into nursing for one reason. I wanted to become a pediatric nurse and work at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake. Two of my siblings are alive because of that hospital. And I just love it. I literally get giddy when I see the sign: "the child first and always."

Some people are obsessed with shoes or TV shows or etsy shops. I'm obsessed with a children's hospital. It's fine.

I used to work there. I remember when the manager called me for an interview. I had applied for so many CNA jobs that I had to ask her where she was calling from. She said, "Infant unit at Primary Children's" and my eyes bugged out of my head. I don't even remember applying for that job. I believe it was truly a tender mercy dropped into my life.

And then, I finally (FINALLY) got in to nursing school. And it wasn't feasible to keep my job there, an hour and a half away from school, with twelve hour shifts starting at 6 a.m.

So I quit. And I cried when I did. And I told her I'd be back.

AND TODAY I WENT BACK. For clinical.

You would have thought I had springs in my shoes and a motor in my mouth. I could hardly sit still or stop talking. I started rehearsing inside my head Bethany. Seriously, stop talking. I felt like a proud mom showing off a new baby or something, because I was there with many of my nursing friends and I just wanted to shout "SEE?! I TOLD YOU THIS PLACE WAS MAGIC."

So I don't really know why I'm writing. I have all these feelings. Happiness because I get to spend time as a nursing student at my hospital this semester. Fear because I am so worried that I won't get a job there when I graduate. Guilt because I'm supposed to be working on living in the moment and not worrying about the future.

When I got home, Benji could sense how pent up I was. We talked about trusting Heavenly Father with our lives and working hard in the here and now and not worrying about after graduation. (He is THE best. I don't know how he stays so patient.) And I started to calm down and then we went to our inner tube water polo game (a story for another time).

Someday, I hope I get to work at that hospital as a nurse. I hope I get to do for other patients and families what was done for mine. I hope I get to feel excited to go work again. But for now, thanks for listening to my discombobulated thought process.

And I will continue to strive to be present and Trust.

Miss BlogAlot:

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