Assignment: Love

To all of my wonderful Superwife fans out there, I have a homework assignment for you. Yes, homework… stop rolling your eyes already, you children – this one should be easy.

Right now, today, tomorrow and for every day for the rest of your being, tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Call your mom this instant. Hug your husband. Kiss your daughter. Email your grandpa. Text your cousin. Video chat with your sister.

Adam and I have witnessed, been through or helped someone else through so many unexpected and devastating events over the past few years, and upon reflection I know it’s only going to get worse as we continue to get older. We’re going to lose (more) parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, close friends…

In the last several years I’ve lost a grandmother, a grandfather and a dad (in-law, but I assure you the relationship was of father-daughter status). A beautiful friend died of alcohol poisoning; another, of carbon monoxide poisoning. I’ve seen many friends mourn grandparents. One girlfriend’s father recently died in an auto accident. Most recently, a dear friend’s sister was murdered by a jilted ex.

These things are real, people. Unexplainable, horrifying, devastating and heartbreaking things happen – sometimes in a tragic instant. To wonderful people. I really, truly do not know why, but I know my faith helps my heart. Please keep your relationships strong, and vocalize your love. Love out loud. The loss of Dirk is still an incredibly raw and throbbing vein of emotion in this house (and in many others), but knowing that we said and showed our “I love you”s helps in a small way. I know that Dirk knows I love him; I know that Dirk knows Adam loves him, and it comforts me to know that we didn’t hold back emotions in our relationship with him.

So, this is just a little PSA – Don’t hold back. Make extra time. Give a million heartfelt hugs.

LOVE OUT LOUD.

“Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated.” -Lamartine

Musical Melancholy

*sigh*

You know how music totally evokes an emotional reponse from our brains/hearts, even when we don’t want it to?

I can no longer listen to the following songs unless I’m alone with a box of kleenex:

  • Jane – Jefferson Starship
  • Lights – Journey
  • Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  • One More Day – Diamond Rio
  • Faithfully – Journey
  • If I Die Young – The Band Perry
  • Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
  • Dust in the Wind – Kansas
  • Open Arms – Journey
  • In My Life – The Beatles
  • We Built This City – Starship
  • FM – Steely Dan
  • Hey Nineteen – Steely Dan
  • I’d Love to Change the World – Ten Years After
  • If You Leave Me Now – Chicago
  • Cat’s in the Cradle – Cat Stevens

Damn. DAMN DAMN DAMN. (and fuck Journey.) You know what? I almost just puked writing this, my stomach is so fluttery just thinking about losing him.

Dirk

I still haven’t been able to bring myself to write a real Jenny-style tribute to the wonderful man that is my father-in-law, but I did want to share the obituary that I wrote. I will get around to writing heartfelt words that aren’t limited by newpaper guidelines, but I’m still healing and this wound is still very new. It was so extremely taxing just to get the obituary written in time to announce the memorial, and then putting together a 37 minute slideshow of all of the photos I could find, that I am not ready to write freely the words I really want to write about Dirk just yet. I promise Dirk, you’ll have your major spotlight on Superwife… just give me a little bit of time.

Link to Dirk’s online obituary in the Anchorage Daily News here.

Dirk Galen Fast, 53, died Oct. 29, 2010 in Talkeetna, Alaska.

Dirk was born in Alaska on August 18, 1957. He graduated from West Anchorage High School in 1976. He was a longtime resident of Talkeetna, and worked as a longshoreman for the Port of Anchorage.

Faith in God and his firmly held religious convictions were very important to Dirk and provided the principles that guided his daily life. He was a longtime member and active participant at the Cliffside Community Chapel in Anchorage, and he drew a great deal of comfort and strength from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dirk was an unequaled outdoorsman who found joy in everything. He spent most of his weekends fishing and hunting with his son, Adam. He was an adventurer with a knack for storytelling, and was always the life of the party. Dirk was generous, true to his beliefs and always faithful to his word. He was a man who loved without limits. He could befriend absolutely anyone, and spent the majority of his free time helping others. He was peaceful, kind, charming, clever, honest, strong and humorous; friends and family will remember him as a wonderful role model and someone with a simply infectious passion for life and all of its blessings.

Dirk is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Adam and Jenny Fast; granddaughter, Ellie Lynn Fast; parents, Bill and Bonnie Fast; sisters, Felicia Miller and Jana Helm; brother, Troy Fast; and many aunts, uncles, cousins and other loving relatives.

Memorial contributions may be made to a college fund for Dirk’s brand new baby granddaughter, Ellie Lynn Fast, who was born on Nov. 1, 2010. An account has been set up at Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union (Account Name: “Adam & Jennifer Fast: Ellie Savings”). 

The memorial that was held in Anchorage was amazing. I’m not lying when I say that Dirk was an awesome man… there were over 400 people that attended the service that Friday evening, and many people couldn’t even get in the door of the church it was so packed. Loads of people had to park in different parking lots and shuttle eachother to the church because the church parking lot filled up so quickly. Dirk touched so many lives, and that was apparent to everyone who witnessed the mass of people who came out to pay their respects. Standing up on the stage with Adam while he spoke about his Dad was incredibly difficult for me – I can’t even begin to think about how difficult it was for my husband. Looking out at the crowd was insane -I felt the loss for every single person.

A separate service was held in Talkeetna the following Sunday, and it was just as beautiful. There were about 125 people, and many got up to share funny and meaningful stories about Dirk. One of Dirks great friends, Mike, gave his entire speech directly to Adam. I cried more listening to Mike speak to Adam than I have since Dirk died. Mike told Adam, in front of everyone, that the very first time he met Dirk he could see the immense love he held for his son. He said that the first thing he ever heard from Dirk (aside from “Scott’s gonna be pissed you parked you boat in his spot“) was “my son Adam is coming to spend the weekend with me” – and that when he said Adam’s name, his whole body lit up. Mike said that Dirk became so animated whenever he spoke Adam’s name that he looked like a dog wagging an imaginary tail. He said in his entire life, he doesn’t think he’s ever said a word with so much love infused into it, but Dirk said Adam’s name like that in normal conversation on an every day basis. Dirk loved Adam with his entire being – they were family, father and son, and absolute best friends. Mike also said that, over the past 9 months, Dirk spoke about his soon-to-be grandbaby with the same inflection. He was so excited to become a grandpa, and everyone in Talkeetna knew it because Dirk made Adam and I and his growing grandbaby the talk of the town.

I thanked Mike for his wonderful speech in an email recently, telling him that I am so glad someone captured and explained the love Dirk had for Adam so well. One of the things that drew me to Adam and his family 14 years ago was the relationship between Dirk and Adam – I was so impressed and so jealous at the same time that someone could be that close to a parent. I was incredibly proud to become a Fast on our wedding day, but Dirk made me feel like this was my last name the moment Adam and I started dating. I’m so grateful to have shared such a fantastic time with him, and to see his relationship with his son – what a beautiful example they have set for when we raise our own children.

I promise… more on Dirk soon.


 

 
 

 

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And then there were three…

So for the whole three of you out there who weren’t actually AT the hospital listening to my screams when I gave birth (see photo below), I thought I’d post my “birth story” – mostly because my dear friend Nancianna told me that if I don’t write it down I’ll forget it, and because miss Molly threatened me on the phone recently. 🙂

As I wrote before, my father-in-law Dirk died on a Friday night (Oct 29th). We had an insane weekend following that, as there were between 50-60 people at our house the entire day on Saturday. Not that I’ve really experienced this before, but apparently when someone dies you just gather, eat, and cry. Luckily we have an ah-maze-ing group of family and wonderful friends who are supporting and loving, and every one of them had a personal relationship with Dirk because he was so awesome. So Saturday was crazy – and I felt weird all day because (well, besides the obvious reason) I felt like everyone was staring at me all day long. Like, “hurry up and have that kid so we can all smile again.” I know it’s probably a ridiculous thing to think, but I really felt like I was under extra pressure because I was due THAT WEEKEND. Anyway, Sunday (my due date, Halloween) was close to the same, but with people in and out in a steady stream. Adam and I decided to go to church in the afternoon, and to get away from our house we spent the evening withour friends Luke & Kaile at Luke’s dad’s house for a deep fried turkey with red beans and rice (made by a true Creole!). The red beans and rice were SO. GOOD. that I had like, two whole plates full.

Cut to Monday morning. Adam and I had been sleeping on the living room floor for three nights because we needed a distraction at night and there’s no television in our bedroom (and there never will be!). We’d been having trouble sleeping, so the television and Tylenol PM were *kinda* helpful. I really just stayed awake most of the night listening to Adam’s breathing because I was so worried about him, but the Tylenol PM seemed to help him a bit. For me, they worked about as well as a tic tac would for helping me sleep. ANYWAY, I woke up at about 9am feeling awful, and I told Adam I thought it was gas from the damn cauldron of red beans and rice I ate the night before. I felt like I *might* be having contractions, but I really wasn’t sure. My mom urged me to jump in the shower and start keeping track of how far apart my “pains” were just in case, and when she saw me writhing around on my bed after I got out of the shower she was like “YOU ARE IN LABOR, YOUNG LADY!” ( I guess the secret is red beans and rice!)

So… the next few hours were basically me trying to do my hair and calling out times every few minutes to monitor my contractions – “11:33! 11:52! 12:11! 12:20!” and so on. Around 2pm I started to get nervous because they were so bad I couldn’t talk through them. From 12pm on Adam had been like “should I start the car? should we go?” every ten minutes, and at 3pm he just took a stand and said “I’M STARTING THE CAR!” My contractions had gone from 20 minutes apart to 6 minutes apart within 2 hours.

Oh, did I mention that I made Adam and Luke go install the carseat at like, 2pm? Doesn’t everyone wait until the day of labor to install the carseat? Because that’s how it happened in Marley & Me too…

So I called my doctor’s office just before we left to go to the hospital to let them know, and I was informed that my doctor was not on call. Which made me immediately start bawling. Because I was supposed to have this complicated labor and all, and I didn’t want to explain to a new doctor all of my problems (including my emotional issues, which I had actually JUST that morning called to let my doctor’s office know about — extra stress and all). I didn’t get any good news out of the receptionist, just a “you’ll do just fine, don’t worry” – oh joy. So off to the hospital we went, me writhing and crying and freaking out about not having my own doctor.

It happens that my doctor has a daughter that is the same age as Adam’s sister’s sister (um, we have a gigantic family tree that I won’t even  try to explain here right now, but basically it’s Adam’s sister because we’re all so close)… and when she heard that my doctor wasn’t going to deliver my baby she called my doctor’s HOME NUMBER and left 12 messages. More on that later. 🙂

At the hospital I could barely even hold the pen to sign my check-in papers because I was in so much pain already. My contractions were 5 minutes apart and PAINFUL. So painful that every time I had one, I didn’t know whether or not I was going to pass out, fall down, pee my pants or vomit. It was a total out of control feeling, and it was awful, and it was every 5 minutes. Once I got a room the nurse gave me a hospital gown that was so old it was ripped and falling apart, and so I immediately started off my hospital stay complaining. Awesome. A new nurse, thankfully, got me a better gown and threw the first one right into the trash. Also, the room we were in was over 70 degrees (we checked the thermostat), and we were told there were no fans in the hospital. WTF? Adam immediately called his mom and asked her to go buy a battery-operated fan… thank GOODNESS for that, it saved my life over the next 6 hours!

So, we found out that I was already at 3cm dilated when I checked in, and were promptly told that there wouldn’t be a labor & delivery room until 5pm (it was 4pm by then). I was DYING for an epidural already, so of course, I freaked out again. Tears tears tears. The nurse told me to go walk around until 5pm, so that’s what I did. I was SO HOT that I walked out to the front door of the hospital and paced around in the entry way for 45 minutes while Adam and his mom and sister stood there watching me, teeth chattering. At one point Adam’s mom decided to time my contractions (why, I don’t know, since I was already in the hospital waiting to go into the delivery room). Every time I started to have one she would ask, “are you having a contraction?” – and I never answered, because I WAS HAVING A FUCKING CONTRACTION. Finally around the 6th time she asked me I just said “LYNN… please stop asking me if I’m having a contraction. Just look at my face and guess!” – and that shut her up (after she giggled at me). 🙂 Otherwise I think I was pretty nice… but I don’t really remember.

4:45pm rolled around and we were back in the “waiting” triage room… and I may have yelled a little bit for Adam to “go tell that effing nurse right now that I can’t wait any effing longer”… he did, and it worked. I had a wheelchair taking me to L&D within 5 minutes. Once there, they gave me a ball to sit on. A BALL. Did I mention I had NO. CONTROL. WHATSOEVER. when I was contracting? Like I could sit on A BALL without faceplanting. But I tried anyway, and Adam just watched and freaked out that I was going to faceplant. As soon as I started contracting I had to stand up though, because the sitting position was super painful. Oh, and also… I farted in front of my husband, for like the first time ever. Damn contractions. Luckily I was in so much pain he barely even laughed at me. Barely. Then a nurse came in and was like “oh, it looks like you had a little bit of bloody show” because apparently I bled on the ball. WHAT-EVER!!! “GET ME THE DAMN EPIDURAL” was all I could think. I think I was nicer about it when it came out of my mouth though, but I can’t be sure.

At 5:30ish, I was told I was dilated to 8.5cm – HOLY.SHIT. I was offered some drug that started with an R, or maybe an S, and I was so out of it that I was just like “give me everything, now, whatever.” Adam was concerned that whatever that drug was would affect the baby though, so he started freaking out. About that time, my doctor walked into the room – in plain clothes, with a big smile on her face. “So… I got home from grocery shopping today to find 12 frantic messages on my answering machine. Your sister Katie basically threatened me within an inch of my life, so I thought I’d come check on you!” HAHAHAHAHAHA! Thank goodness for sweet little Katie. So my doctor checked me, told me I was at 9cm, and then made Adam feel better by ordering the nurse to give me fentanyl, which wouldn’t affect the baby but would knock me out a little. As soon as I got that, I felt better. But only between contractions, because I still felt the awful pain when I contracted. My doctor also told me that I could still get the epidural and that the anesthesiologist was finally ready so I was like “BRING. IT. ON.”

Adam and my mom had to leave the room when I was getting my epidural put in, because they’re huge babies and couldn’t stand to watch. I would’ve laughed at them but I was in extreme pain and couldn’t think about anything but possible relief. The anesthesiologist pissed me off because he was like, “okay now sit up, and curl over your tummy, and when this next contraction is over we’ll administer the epidural.” So I actually believed him, like an idiot. As if curling over my tummy wasn’t awful enough, as soon as the contraction was through I told him, and expected an immediate needle in the back – that’s what you would expect, yes? NOoooooo… instead, I said “okay it’s over,” and he proceeded to get the needle out, swab my back, fiddle around and blah blah blah until RIGHT WHEN ANOTHER CONTRACTION STARTED, and then he put the needle in while telling me to hold still. Dick.

But whatever. It started working soon, and then I was just sleepy and numb. SO… 6:30pm-ish. Doctor tells me it’s time to start pushing. She puts everyone in the room to work – my mom and Adam’s mom each holding one of my legs, and Adam up by my head, holding the fan 2 inches from my face and helping push my back up. My favorite quote during labor – Doctor to Adam’s mom: “Oh, you’re wearing that white sweater? You’re going to get splashed.” BAAAAAHAHAHAHA, disgusting. I love my doctor. (BTW she didn’t get splashed.)

 Two and a half hours later (ish), doc says “well, we’re probably going to have to do a C-section” – cut to immediate fear and tears from me. “Either that or we’re going to have to turn your epidural down and use the vacuum.” Eeek. Horrible options, but I chose door #2. Apparently my epidural had relaxed my uterus so much it had just, well, petered out and stopped contracting. Also, the umbilical cord was short – so when I would push baby’s head out a little, as soon as I stopped pushing the umbilical cord was pulling baby back in! So down went the epidural (basically to off), and in went the pitocin – which got turned UP three times to make me start contracting hard again. OH. YAY. I was also warned that I was going to get cut (remember that whole “controlled tear” business?), in order to make room for the vacuum. DOUBLE. YAY. But whatever, I was so ready to be done.

I hadn’t really been making any major noise until this point, but with the epidural off and the pitocin on, and with a giant head coming out of me, I turned into “I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR”— and everyone in the waiting room did. Apparently I scared all of my friends into being kidless for a while. When the head finally came out I felt this huge “pop”, and then I heard the doctor say something like “oh, lemme just get this shoulder” and all of a sudden I felt the rest just come FLYING out of me (along with so. much. liquid). After hearing my moms do a little scaredy-scream (apparently they both thought my doctor almost dropped the baby because she really did fly out of me), I heard the doctor laugh and say “I don’t see a penis…” and then Adam said “IT’S A GIRL!!”Yaaaaaaaayyyyy! But I was still totally crying out loud like a weenie. For like 5 minutes.

Because we used the vacuum to assist, the NICU team was there and whisked Ellie away so quickly that Adam didn’t get to cut the umbilical cord. I didn’t hear a cry for a few minutes (couldn’t hear much over my own blubbering), but when I did it such a weird feeling. And SO AWESOME! I didn’t get to hold her, however, for about 30 minutes or so because I was getting stitched back up — 18 stitches total, and because the epidural was off I felt everysingleoneofthem. Awesome.  So Ellie bonded with her daddy for her first 30 minutes, and when I finally got to hold her I was just speechless. She was so little! And so beautiful! And she looked JUST like Adam! And she had so much HAIR!! And WE MADE HER!

Little Ellie Lynn was born at 9:43pm, she was 7lbs, 1 oz and 20.5″ - basically she’s perfect. She came out right on the day we wanted her to (“just wait until November,” we’d been telling her the whole time!), and it only took her 6 hours once we got to the hospital. I was only in labor from start to finish for like, 12 hours! What a good girl!

My wonderful doctor offered to turn the epidural back on for me for a little while so I could relax, and after she did so Adam invited the waiting room to come in and meet Ellie. Before everyone came in, I remember laughing because my mom was like “oh EW! I need something to clean off your feet with before people come in here, there’s blood all over them!”  Then in poured everyone I’ve ever met in my life (I kid, I kid), and after we all cooed over my gorgeous daughter for a few minutes, our friends all had a small glass of champagne and we toasted to our new family.

And then there were three… 

The waiting room crew

Brand New Daddy

Brand New Mommy

Brand New Baby

Three Weeks Old!

Our Little Bean

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It’s a Girl!!

And oh, so precious was the surprise! 🙂 I’ll try to post my birth story soon but for now, please enjoy:

Ellie Lynn Fast

Born Monday, November 1, 2010 at 9:43pm

7 lbs, 1 oz / 20.5″

*sigh*

I never knew my heart could break into a billion pieces in absolute grief, yet burst with new love and joy at the same time.

My father-in-law was murdered last Friday. Three days later, I had a baby. That is the short story.

I’m emotionally drained this evening after just having finished up writing the obituary to turn in to the paper tomorrow, so this will be short.

It’s ridiculous all of the things that go through your head when you lose someone. I’m still in complete shock, and I’m not sure I’ve really grieved yet. Sure, I’ve cried, but it took me a while to even get to that point. I just keep thinking of weird things like, “I wonder what food is at his house that needs to be cleaned out before it rots,” and “what is happening with his cell phone?” and “what was the last thing I said to him?”… fortunately I’m nearly positive that the last thing I said to him was “I love you.” And I know that the last time I saw him I got a big giant Dirk bear-hug before he walked out the door.

While writing the obituary this evening, I broke down into tears because I had to google “wording for an obituary when someone is murdered.” I also had to google “how to set up a memorial bank account for donations” — my daughter’s college fund being the memorial, this is all just too much to fathom.

I hate this.

I am overcome with worry and sorrow for my husband, who has lost his best friend. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a father-son relationship as close as Dirk and Adam’s. Dirk was not just Adam’s dad, he was “one of the boys” – friends with all of our friends, always present at parties and gatherings and hunting trips and fishing on the weekends… we even went to Mexico with him this year. I can’t fathom what Adam is going through internally right now, yet he is being so strong – I am so proud of him, yet heartbroken in a way I didn’t know existed.

*sigh* Okay, I thought I might be able to get through more but I can’t. I will follow this post with a photo and some info about my beautiful new daughter, and hopefully I’ll find the time/strength to post again soon. I figure I owe it to my patient readers who know I was due last Sunday. 🙂

For anyone in Anchorage who knew Dirk, the memorial will be held on Friday, November 12th at 4:30pm at New Grace Christian Church, 10821 Totem Road, Anchorage, AK 99516. I’m hoping the obituary will be in Tuesday’s Anchorage Daily News, as I’m submitting it tomorrow morning.

Thanks so much to everyone for your love and support. Please keep us in your prayers.

“Nudged”

Thought I would share this little email exchange between my grandma and I last week, because it surprised and touched me. My last post about Grandpa Bill’s Beer Bread came after a whole day where I thought about my grandpa a lot, and I just really missed him. When I woke up in the morning I was really craving pancakes, so I busted out my Krusteaz mix and made myself a plate full of mini pancakes – my grandpa used to make me dollar-sized pancakes for breakfast when I was little, but he called them “Jenny-sized” pancakes. Then I ate them with Karo syrup, because that’s what he always used instead of regular maple syrup. And since I was already on a Grandpa kick… then I made beer bread. 🙂

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From: Jenny
Date: 3/13/2010 7:34:39 PM
To: Grandma Nancy
Subject: Grandpa
 

Hi Grama!
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I just wanted to share with you that I thought about Grandpa a lot today. This morning when I woke up I made myself mini (“Jenny”) pancakes, and I ate them with Karo syrup. 🙂
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Then I made a loaf of beer bread from the recipe I have still hanging on my fridge (it’s been there since the day he dictated it to me at your dining room table), and I wrote about it on my blog. Thought you might like to see the entry:
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http://superlifejenny.com/
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Love you,
Jenny

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Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2010 10:53:11 -0800
From: Grandma Nancy
Subject: Re: Grandpa
To: Jenny

Guess he must have been nudging you as it was his birthday! Maybe that’s why you thought of him so much. Your entry on the beer bread is fabulous…… You have really made so many wonderful “additions” to the original recipe and I’m sure Grandpa would be tickled pink.

Love you much…………………Grama

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Huh. I really, truly had not known it was his birthday; I just felt close to Grandpa last Sunday!